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Insurance giant UnitedHealth is strengthening its effort to steer patients receiving outpatient surgery away from hospitals and toward cheaper physician offices or ambulatory surgery centers, Modern Healthcare reports.

The big picture: This is part of a growing effort to address the fact that hospitals charge higher prices for the same outpatient services than other facilities.

  • A rule by the Trump administration that would require Medicare reimbursement for a procedure to be the same regardless of the site of care was recently overturned in court.
  • Hospitals hate such efforts, which threaten their revenue, and are fighting them tooth and nail.

What they're saying: "There is considerable excess spending on care delivered in sub-optimal, high-cost settings that can and should be provided in higher quality, consumer responsive and more cost-effective sites," CEO Dirk McMahon said in an earnings call on Tuesday.

Context: Beginning in November, in most states, United won't pay for certain planned surgeries performed in an outpatient hospital setting unless they've been reviewed and the location deemed necessary.

Go deeper: Hospitals' increasing revenue from outpatient testing

Go deeper

38 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to “drain the swamp.”

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.

Trump pardons former fundraiser Elliott Broidy

President Trump has pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty late last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a campaign to sway the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.

Why it matters: Broidy was a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee early in Trump’s presidency, and attempted to leverage his influence in the Trump administration on behalf of his clients. The president's decision to pardon Broidy represents one last favor for a prominent political ally.

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals, hours from leaving office early Wednesday, hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

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