The Daily Rise: Wednesday, June 1

UnitedHealth Exits Another Exchange

UnitedHealth Group is leaving yet another state health insurance exchange.

On Tuesday, the nation’s largest health insurance company announced that it was leaving California’s insurance exchange at the end of the year. In April, UnitedHealth announced that is was dropping out of most state exchange, but didn’t make clear its intentions for the Golden State. In the last two years, UnitedHealth has lost more than a billion dollars from its state exchange business.

This isn’t exactly shocking news for anyone who has been following UnitedHealth’s financial moves. Last year, our policy director Jonathan Wilcox detailed the insurer’s routine practice of denying life-saving treatments as part of its “fail first” policies in a piece published at The Hill.

Judge Orders Treatment for Hep C Patients

As many as 28,000 patients with Hepatitis C could soon receive access to life-saving treatments in Washington state.

Last year, Washington state’s Medicaid provider began restricting access to the most effective Hepatitis C treatments to only the sickest patients. In effect, Washington state was forcing patients to get sicker before they were provided the right treatment.

A class-action lawsuit was filed earlier this year challenging the state’s policy that restricted access to treatments based on a fibrosis score, which measures liver scarring.

Now, thanks to U.S. District Court Judge John C. Coughenour, Washington will be forced to provide access to the right treatment for all patients “without regard to fibrosis score.”

“For people who have been living with this disease and feeling like there’s no hope if they can’t get this cure, this is life-changing,” Ele Hamburger, a lawyer with the firm that filed the lawsuit, told the Seattle Times.

Hospitals Embrace Certified Electronic Health Records

The Department of Health and Human Services says that certified electronic health records are now the norm in almost every hospital in the United States.

According to data released in conjunction with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s annual meeting:

  • 96 percent of hospitals use certified electronic health records in 2015, compared to 72 percent in 2011
  • ​84 percent of hospitals had at least basic EHR technology in 2015, compared to 9.4 percent in 2008

“As we kick off the 2016 ONC Annual Meeting today, these data showing nearly universal adoption of certified electronic health records by U.S. hospitals are an indication of how far we have come for clinicians and individuals since the HITECH Act was passed,” Karen DeSalvo, the national coordinator for health information technology, said in a statement, according to Morning Consult.

Join Our CancerConnect Community

We’re proud to announce the launch of Patients Rising CancerConnect Community.

Our online community will help patients create and share information, provide support and build a community with others. Check out our specialized social network now available at http://www.community.patientsrising.org.

“The new Access to Care group on CancerConnect will allow patients to express their concerns and problems with access to care issues so that community members can help each other effectively resolve them. Patients Rising and the Patient Advocate Foundation will co-moderate the group and provide resources to support patients with access to care issues” explains Charles Weaver, MD, a medical oncologist and Executive Editor of CancerConnect and Women Magazine. “We are pleased that leading advocacy groups like Patients Rising continue to select CancerConnect as the preferred social media application for use on their websites for their audience.”

Other advocacy groups using the CancerConnect social media application include the Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Research Foundation, the Lynne Cohen Foundation, and the IBD Support Foundation. The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition will launch their CancerConnect community later this month.

The launch of the Patients Rising CancerConnect Community is part of our ongoing partnershipo with OMNI Health Media.

You’ll receive updates about new resources, patient stories and insights, advocacy work, and alerts about patient-support events.

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