Bob Herman Apr 14
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Medicare to boost hospital payments, scale back regulations

Phil Sandlin / AP

The Trump administration unloaded the annual Medicare hospital payment proposal Friday, just as many people headed home or took off for the Easter and Passover holidays.

The big figure for hospitals: Total Medicare payments for the nation's 3,300 general hospitals will go up by 2.9% on average in 2018, and that includes extra money for uncompensated care. (Small hospitals in rural areas aren't affected.) That amounts to an extra $3.1 billion of funding. Long-term-care hospitals are getting a slight cut to their payments.

Look for regulations to get scaled back: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is asking the industry for ways that Medicare "can contribute to making the delivery system less bureaucratic and complex" — a request that mirrors the rhetoric of President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

Public comments are due by June 13. Here are more highlights from the 1,832-page proposed rule:

  • Obamacare implemented many programs that penalize hospitals for excessive patient readmissions or infections. Those programs will continue with some proposed changes to how hospitals are measured.
  • Some payment policies — like exempting some physicians from payment cuts if they don't use approved electronic health records — come from last year's 21st Century Cures Act.
  • Medicare is asking hospitals to track four more end-of-life measures for cancer patients, like those who receive chemotherapy in the final two weeks before they die.
  • Private contractors would no longer look at medical claims at rural hospitals to ensure that patients are discharged or transferred within 96 hours, a change rural hospitals have wanted.
  • CMS wants to eliminate newspaper notices for when some health care facilities, like ambulatory surgery centers and health clinics, get terminated from the Medicare program. The agency called newspapers "an outdated means of communication" even though half of seniors rely on print newspapers for their news.
Ina Fried 55 mins ago
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Craigslist pulls personal ads after passage of sex-trafficking bill

Online classified site Craigslist has pulled its entire personal ad section after Congress passed a new sex-trafficking bill that puts more liability on Web sites.

Why it matters: Smaller tech companies and advocates for sex workers had feared a chilling effect if the bill becomes law.

Khorri Atkinson 3 hours ago
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China slaps reciprocal tariffs on U.S. imports

China's President Xi Jinping speaks next to President Trump. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri// AFP / Getty Images

China announced plans to impose reciprocal tariffs on $3 billion of imports from the U.S., hours after President Trump ordered levies on a range of Chinese goods.

The details: China's plan includes a 25% tariff on U.S. pork imports as well as 15% tariffs on American steel pipes, fruit and wine, according to Bloomberg.