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Newspaper company’s entry into clinical care may inspire other outside players

The Washington Post Co.’s investment in a home health care and hospice company is an indication of the growing interest of nonclinical companies seeing financial opportunities in businesses involved in patient care, investment analysts said. Up until the newspaper company’s Oct. 1 announcement that it was buying a majority stake in Mars, Pa.-based Celtic Healthcare, the nonclinical interest in patient care companies had been limited mostly to insurers or others that already had some connection to the health business. But analysts, without identifying other companies by name, said other non-health firms could follow the Washington Post Co.’s lead. An aging population that will need more care and the health reform movement — including an estimated 30 million new insured patients on the rolls in 2014 as a result of the Affordable Care Act — are creating what some companies believe to be a sure profit opportunity, analysts said. “It’s tempting,” said Sheryl Skolnick, ...

MedPAC moves toward backing geographic pay reductions

patient service to be adjusted throughout the country based on the doctor’s geographic location. Evidence suggests that varying the work component — one of the factors that determines how much Medicare pays for a particular service — would not affect patient access, members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission said during an Oct. 4 hearing in Washington. Medicare statute requires budget-neutral geographic adjustments to payments, increasing rates in areas considered to be high-cost and paying for it by reducing pay in low-cost areas. However, since 2004, Congress has approved temporary measures to prevent the positive geographic adjustments from being paid by other jurisdictions, thus leaving the pay boosts in place but negating the downward revisions. Doing so costs the government about $500 million a year. All of the commissioners who spoke on the issue appeared to express approval for allowing the geographic payment floor established by lawmakers to expire. Sev ...

Study provides further evidence to dispel HPV vaccine fears

Physicians have more research to help them reassure patients and families of the safety of the quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine. A study published online Oct. 1 in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found no significant adverse events associated with the vaccine. The findings should help alleviate concerns about the HPV vaccine, said Nicola Klein, MD, PhD, lead study author and research scientist and co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in Oakland, Calif. The vaccine has faced controversy since it received Food and Drug Administration approval in 2006. Its vaccination rates have been lower than other vaccines, Dr. Klein said. Thirty-five percent of girls 11 to 17 received all three recommended doses of the HPV vaccine in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest data. For the Archives study, researchers followed 189,629 girls and women 9 to 26 who received a total of 346,972 doses of the vaccine betwe ...