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President Biden will face conflict between competition, capitation

President-elect Joe Biden rightly says fighting the pandemic and shoring up insurance coverage will dominate the first six months of his term. But what’s the plan for lowering the cost of care—Americans’ No. 1 pre-pandemic concern?

The incoming administration faces a stark choice. Either it can dramatically expand antitrust enforcement and rely on competition to drive down the exorbitant price Americans pay for care. Or it can vigorously pursue payment reform and aggressively push providers into risk-based payment arrangements where profits depend on delivering better outcomes at lower cost.

To do a little of each guarantees the new administration will fail at both.

A careful reading of the Biden campaign website suggests he leans toward the competition model. On the insurance side, his plan for achieving universal coverage begins with repairing the damage done to the Obamacare exchanges and convincing the last dozen holdout states to expand Medicaid. But he

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Advocate Aurora Health defends COVID-19 vaccine security after ‘bad actor’ spoils doses

Advocate Aurora Health officials said Thursday they are still confident in the system’s security protocols despite an employee intentionally removing 570 doses of coronavirus vaccine from refrigerated storage over the weekend, saying the act was the result of a “bad actor” and not “bad processes.”

A pharmacist at Aurora Medical Center-Grafton in Wisconsin admitted to removing 57 vials, which each containing approximately 10 doses of the Moderna vaccine, from freezers at least twice between Dec. 24 and Dec. 26. The employee, who has not yet been identified, returned the vials into storage each time and has been fired. Local and federal authorities are investigating the incident.

A pharmacy technician found the vials outside of refrigerated storage on the morning of Dec. 26.

Some of those doses were used to vaccinate 57 front-line healthcare workers on Dec. 27. Aurora Health Care Medical Group President Dr. Jeff Bahr said those workers have

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Hospitals try to cross cultural divides to build trust in COVID-19 vaccination

At Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, N.Y., Dr. Alan Roth oversees care delivery operations for one of the most diverse patient populations in the country, serving people from 130 countries speaking more than 160 languages.

During the 30 years Roth has worked at Jamaica Hospital, Queens County has doubled in size from a population of 1.2 million to 2.4 million with the increase almost entirely made up of immigrants, including an estimated 400,000 individuals with undocumented resident status.

Roth acknowledged there is a challenge to serving people from so many different backgrounds and understanding their cultural religious beliefs. But the dynamic has also provided opportunities for the hospital to learn effective ways of building relationships with various cultures that goes beyond providing language translation services or hiring a more diver clinical staff.

“Translation is the easiest,” Roth said. “You need to have an understanding of their customs and beliefs,

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California lockdowns extended as some hospitals limit care

California’s top health official said hospitals in hard-hit Los Angeles County are turning to “crisis care” and bracing for the coronavirus surge to worsen in the new year, as he extended strict stay-home orders Tuesday in areas where intensive care units have few beds.

Dr. Mark Ghaly said that Southern California and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley still have what is considered no ICU capacity to treat patients suffering from the coronavirus and that the state’s restrictions would continue in those regions. Much of the state is under orders to stay home.

Ghaly implored the state’s 40 million residents to do just that, and to continue social distancing and wearing masks if they must go out this holiday weekend. He said that while hospital and positivity rates appear to be stabilizing from a Thanksgiving-related surge, that isn’t the case in the southern part of the state, including Los Angeles County.

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Long-term care facilities celebrate, share lessons learned from COVID-19 vaccine clinics

As pharmacists from CVS and Walgreens have entered long-term care facilities to vaccine staff and residents against COVID-19, they have been resoundingly been met with cheers, leaders say.

“As CVS wheeled the cart in, everyone started cheering,” Vassar Byrd, CEO of Rose Villa Senior Living, a life plan community in Portland, Oregon, said Monday during a webinar held by LeadingAge, an association representing aging services providers.

At Brookdale Charleston Gardens in Charleston, West Virginia, staff referred to the first clinic, held Dec. 18, as a “vaccine party,” CEO Cindy Baier said.

Under the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, which pairs long-term care facilities with either Walgreens or CVS for vaccine administration, vaccination clinics began in mid-December. Long-term care staff and residents have been prioritized for immunization based on how the virus has spread in congregate living facilities and disproportionately affected the elderly.

“It truly is a

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Hospitals’ 2020 fundraising on pace to top 2019

Early into the COVID-19 pandemic, Sharp HealthCare’s fundraising team thought maybe it could raise a few million dollars to buy more personal protective equipment.

The three foundations that support the San Diego-based health system ended up with a record number of donors in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30—about 40% of whom were first-timers—and a fundraising total that easily beat the prior year.

“We were incredibly overwhelmed with support,” said Bill Littlejohn, CEO of the Foundations of Sharp HealthCare, which raised $29 million in its fiscal 2020, about $4 million over the prior year.

In the same way wildfires trigger donations to the Red Cross, the crisis that consumed hospitals in 2020 also made them more visible to community members who hadn’t thought to donate before. While there aren’t hard numbers yet, healthcare philanthropy leaders say hospital fundraising totals are on pace to meet or in many cases exceed

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