August Healthcare News

Here’s what’s going on in the healthcare industry this month:

Could a molecular ‘on-off switch for agony’ lead to a safer painkiller? READ

A boy in Pakistan became a local legend as a street performer in recent years by traversing hot coals and lancing his arms with knives without so much as a wince. A thousand miles away, in China, lived a family wracked by excruciating bouts of inexplicable pain, passed down generation after generation. Scientists eventually determined what the boy and the family had in common: mutations in a gene that functions like an on-off switch for agony. Now, a bevy of biotech companies, including Genentech and Biogen, are staking big money on the idea that they can develop drugs that toggle that switch to relieve pain without the risk of addiction.

Hospital Finance Measure On State Ballot May Stump Voters READ

California voters will be asked to weigh in this November on a hospital financing measure so politically and financially complicated that they might be tempted to avoid it altogether. The initiative, Proposition 52, would make permanent the “Hospital Quality Assurance Fee,” which the state collects from private hospitals to bring in additional federal dollars for Medi-Cal, California’s version of the federal Medicaid health care program for the poor. The federal government matches money that California puts up to fund Medi-Cal services.

Did Blue Shield Of California Short-Change Consumers On Refunds? READ

A class-action lawsuit filed earlier this month claims that Blue Shield of California stiffed consumers on more than $34 million dollars in refunds on premiums they paid in 2014. Federal law requires insurers to issue refunds if they don’t spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care or on improving the quality of care.