NIH Effectivity Board Hasn’t Met In 7 Years For Unknown Causes

A surprising report in Stat says some members of the oversight board, designed to improve efficiency at the National Institutes of Health, aren’t even sure if the board still exists. Other health industry news includes health care hiring rising in April, a federal investigation of Cerebral, and more.

Stat: A Panel Meant To Make NIH More Efficient Hasn’t Met For 7 Years

An oversight board tasked with making the National Institutes of Health more efficient and more effective mysteriously meeting seven years ago, according to stopped a STAT review of agency records — and its members don’t know why. The group, which Congress created in 2006, was intended to serve as a sounding board for the NIH director, providing periodic feedback and recommendations aimed at improving the government’s largest science agency. But it hasn’t met since the summer of 2015, and several prominent researchers whom the NIH website still lists as board members appeared confused as to whether the group still exists. (Facher, 5/9)

In health industry news from Florida, Indiana, and Connecticut —

WMFE: DeSantis Wants To Know How Much Florida Hospitals Spend On People In The Country Illegally

The DeSantis administration is asking Florida hospitals to determine how much money they spend on health care for patients living in the country illegally. Hospitals have until May 23 to submit a record of any such funds to the state Agency for Health Care Administration. AHCA Secretary Simone Marstiller sent a letter to the Florida Hospital Association, which represents the state’s hospitals, with a reminder that all partners must participate. (Prieur, 5/8)

Indianapolis Star: Indiana Hospital Care Ranks 7th Highest In Nation. Costs Too Opaque

Last week, an Indiana employers group unveiled the latest tools in the fight to decrease hospital costs — a new hospital pricing transparency website and the so-called Rand 4.0 study which found that Indiana hospital costs seventh highest rank in the nation. The two additions to the landscape could provide fodder for the debate about hospital costs in Indiana. Five years ago, a study found that the prices Indiana employers pay for health care were “shockingly high” compared to those that Medicare pays. That study, also conducted by researchers at the Rand Institute, helped spark a statewide movement among business leaders to find ways to lower health care costs that has now spread to state lawmakers. (Rudavsky, 5/9)

The CT Mirror: As Hospital Systems Grow In CT, Rural Patients Lose Services

On a Sunday evening in February, Bea Trotta’s 94-year-old mother started having trouble breathing at her home in the northwestern corner of the state. She felt exhausted. An ambulance drove her 30 minutes to the nearest emergency room, at Sharon Hospital, where she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Her heart wasn’t pumping enough blood to keep her body functioning. When Trotta arrived at the hospital to meet her mother, staff told her the case was too complex to be handled there. If her mother wanted treatment, they’d have to transfer her to another facility that could provide a more advanced level of care. (Golvala, 5/8)

In other health care industry news —

Modern Healthcare: Healthcare Hiring Rose In April, Jobs Report Shows

Healthcare hiring accelerated in April even as ongoing staff shortages continue to challenge the industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data published Friday. Employers in the sector added an estimated 34,300 jobs last month, up from 23,300 in March, preliminary data show. The healthcare industry contributed to 428,000 hires made across the economy in April. Physician offices, home health providers and hospitals saw the largest gains among healthcare employers. (Devereaux, 5/6)

Cincinnati Enquirer: Nurse Burnout? Hospitals Offer Job Flexibility Pay Hikes

The numbers tell a bleak story for the industry. A third of nurses in the United States plan to leave their jobs by the end of the year, according to a survey conducted by staffing firm Incredible Health. Another 20% plan to leave the industry altogether, a separate survey made by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found. The reasons are largely due to the incessant burnout, stress, and fatigue that nurses have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. But other factors include financial considerations and a perceived lack of flexibility in the industry as well as too few advancement opportunities. (Sutherland, 5/9)

Modern Healthcare: Kaiser Permanente Posts $961 Million Net Loss In Q1

Kaiser Permanente recorded a $961 million net loss in the first quarter as COVID-19 cases and labor expenses surged, the Oakland, California-based integrated health system announced Friday. A 9.5% year-over-year increase in operating expenses coupled with investment losses diluted Kaiser’s balance sheet. It reported $24.2 billion in operating revenues, which didn’t keep pace with its $24.3 billion in operating expenses. Kaiser had a $2 billion net income on $23.2 billion of operating revenue in the first quarter of 2021. (Kacik, 5/6)

The Boston Globe: Tufts’ Plans For Patients, Doctors Following Announced Closure Of Its Children’s Hospital Are Met With Mixed Feelings

More than three months after Tufts Medicine abruptly announced plans to shut its children’s hospital, the health system is revealing long-awaited details about the fate of dozens of doctors and nurses as well as thousands of patients, many of whom are on Medicaid and live with complex medical conditions. The details include employment opportunities for all physicians and a pledge to keep open a unique rheumatology clinic at Tufts, which several families had feared would close. “We’ve been working very closely with all of our physicians … to make sure we’re coming up with the right model of care,” Michael Dandorph, CEO of Tufts Medicine, the parent organization of Tufts Medical Center, said in an interview. (Bartlett, 5/8)

Carolina Public Press: Program Brings Sexual Assault Nurse Training To HBCU

By the end of summer, a handful of nursing students at Fayetteville State University will have started taking courses on how to care for sexual assault survivors. It’s a small start but one Sheila Cannon has worked toward for more than two years. The funding comes from the state legislature, which allocated $125,000 for a pilot training program in Cumberland County late last year. Cannon said she expects to train 10 students starting this summer, but she hopes the program can grow from meager beginnings into a program that continues to train sexual assault nurse examiners, or SANE nurses, year after year. (Martin, 5/7)

Modern Healthcare: Cerebral Is Under Federal Investigation

Cerebral, the digital mental health ‘unicorn’, said on Saturday it was under investigation by the federal government for “possible violations of the Controlled Substances Act.” The company said it received a grand jury subpoena from the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York on May 4. In a statement to Digital Health Business & Technology, Cerebral said at this time no regulatory, or law enforcement authority has accused Cerebral of violating any law. /7)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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