[ArticleProvider-friendly surprise billing fix, more funds for hospitals in year-end spending bill

(Healthcare Dive, December 21, 2020)

"Year-end legislation bipartisan leaders finalized a long-awaited ban on surprise medical bills, along with $900B in new COVID-19 relief. The sweeping package comes less than a week after leaders of major House and Senate committees announced they had finalized a surprise billing fix that would resolve any disputes between payers and providers on out-of-network bills via third-party arbitration, a method preferred by providers. The news was a blow to insurers, which lobbied for tying payments to in-network rates."

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[Article] Possible Aerosol Transmission of COVID-19 Associated with an Outbreak in an Apartment in Seoul, South Korea, 2020

(International Journal of Infectious Diseases, December 16, 2020)

"We investigated the epidemiological relationship among infected cases on a recent cluster infection of COVID-19 in an apartment building in Seoul, South Korea. All infected cases were found along two vertical lines of the building, and each line was connected through a single air duct in the bathroom for natural ventilation. Our investigation found no other possible contact between the cases than the airborne infection through a single air duct in the bathroom. The virus from the first infected case can be spread to upstairs and downstairs through the air duct by the (reverse) stack effect, explaining the air movement in a vertical shaft."

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[Article] Update on the CMS Radiation Oncology Model

(DataGen, December 17, 2020)

"This bundled payment model, which was first announced in a proposed rule on July 10, 2019, is anticipated to begin on July 1, 2021 and will run through 2025, and is notable for being one of the first mandatory models the industry has seen from CMS in years. RO participants include freestanding radiation therapy centers, hospital outpatient departments and physician group practices with radiation oncologists that furnish radiation therapy services. The model is mandatory for selected participants who were chosen by random selection of Core-Based Statistical Areas. Any entities that deliver radiation therapy within the selected CBSAs’ Zip Codes are included in the mandate. According to CMS, the model covers 30% of all eligible RO model episodes in the country."

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[Article] The 2010s saw the lowest population growth in U.S. history, new census estimates show

(Brookings, December 22, 2020)

"Newly released Census Bureau population estimates through mid-year 2020 reveal record lows in U.S. population growth, both annually and for the 2010-to-2020 decade. These statistics paint a portrait of a nation that is experiencing unprecedented growth stagnation, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Part of last year’s sharp decline can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought with it more deaths and further restrictions in immigration. Among states, 16 lost population in 2019-20 including California for the first time, and 34 showed lower growth or greater declines than in the previous year."

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[Article] Tenet agrees to sell urgent care business for $80M as it pivots to surgery centers

(Fierce Healthcare, December 18, 2020)

"Tenet Healthcare will sell its urgent care platform to FastMed for $80 million as the major hospital chain pivots to bolster its ambulatory surgery center business. The deal comes more than a week after Tenet agreed to buy up to 45 ambulatory surgery centers from SurgCenter Development for $1.1 billion. After the deal, Tenet’s United Surgical Partners will operate as many as 310 ambulatory surgical facilities across 33 states.

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