Mar 23, 2019

States looking to cap hospital rates

Some states are trying to control health care costs by tying hospital payments in their state employee health plans to the amounts Medicare pays, Kaiser Health News reports.

Details: States experimenting with these measures include North Carolina, Montana, Oregon and potentially, Delaware.

The other side: This is a nightmare scenario for hospitals, which usually charge private insurance plans several times more than they get from Medicare.

  • Hospitals say Medicare underpays them, and they must charge private patients more to recoup the costs.

Reality check: Hospitals are doing very well financially, although it's also true that many rural hospitals — which have a lot of Medicaid patients — are already struggling.

What they're saying: "Government workers will get it first, then everyone else will see the savings and demand it," Glenn Melnick, a professor at the University of Southern California, told KHN. "This is the camel's nose. It will just grow and grow."

Go deeper: How hospitals protect high prices

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Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and U.S. ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. Meanwhile, Italy reported its first virus-related death on Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,359 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Health

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges

Clients use an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wells Fargo agreed to a pay a combined $3 billion to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for opening millions of fake customer accounts between 2002 and 2016, the SEC said in a press release.

The big picture: The fine "is among the largest corporate penalties reached during the Trump administration," the Washington Post reports.