Long-Anticipated Vertical Merger Guidelines From FTC And DOJ ‘Don’t Say Much,’ Some Complain
"They don't really do much new, and they don't refer at all to healthcare or use any healthcare-related examples," said Douglas Ross, a veteran antitrust attorney. The guidance update from the agencies comes as concerns mount over the growing consolidation of hospitals and physician practices. In other news on the health industry and costs: Medicare payments for acupuncture, an interview with the Gates Foundation CEO, the cost of teeth aligner treatment, and more.
New Vertical Merger Guidelines Disappoint Antitrust Experts
Many healthcare antitrust experts are disappointed that the federal government's new proposed guidelines on vertical mergers give little detail on how the government will analyze deals between firms at different levels in the supply chain, such as hospitals and physician groups. While the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Justice Department highlighted potential competition risks from vertical mergers in the long-anticipated guidelines, the first update since 1984, some elected officials and antitrust attorneys say the release still doesn't give enough information to step up oversight of physician practice acquisitions by hospitals, insurers and private-equity firms. (Meyer, 1/21)
Medicare Will Pay For Acupuncture Therapy For Back Pain
Medicare will cover acupuncture services for beneficiaries with chronic low back pain, the CMS said on Tuesday. People enrolled in Medicare will be able to receive up to 12 acupuncture treatments during a 90-day period if they have non-specific lower back pain that lasts 12 weeks or more, but not if it's not associated with surgery or pregnancy. They will be eligible for eight more sessions if their symptoms improve, but Medicare won't cover more than 20 sessions each year. (Brady, 1/21)
A Q&A With Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann
Sue Desmond-Hellmann has some experience when it comes to health care. She began her career as an oncologist in San Francisco, and later worked in Kampala, Uganda, treating patients with AIDS-related cancer. She later was appointed president of Genentech, before serving as chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco. For the past 5 1/2 years, she has served as CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. At age 62, she will step down from that post at the end of this month. (Stat Staff, 1/21)
The New York Times:
This Company Says It Will Fix Your Smile. It May Shush You If It Doesn’t.
To fix some crowding in her teeth, Taylor Weakley, an environmental scientist in Denver, ordered teeth aligners two years ago from SmileDirectClub, a start-up she had seen advertised on social media. At $1,850, the products were cheaper than braces, and she did not have to visit an orthodontist to get them. (Griffith and Eavis, 1/21)
The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Getting Mental Health Care Can Be Hard Enough. Then Comes Paying For It.
Eventually, the Dugans, of Linwood, N.J., placed their son, now 16, in residential treatment in Utah. He was there for a year-and-a-half, though the Dugans’ insurance company, United Behavioral Health, started denying their claims in September 2018. The family paid the $12,000-a-month price tag out-of-pocket, using up their savings and taking out a second mortgage. The Dugans had to bring their son home in late December, not because he was ready, but because of the cost, Joe said. (Bond, 1/22)
Dallas Morning News:
Plano’s DoctorLogic Raises $7 Million To Fuel Hiring And Sales Efforts
DoctorLogic, a fast-growing Plano website creation and marketing firm, will put a new $7 million investment to work by developing new features for its product suite and hiring additional employees. The company has created more than 10 million webpages to date and works with 330 medical practices, said DoctorLogic founder and CEO Stuart Lloyd. Austin-based Unbundled Capital led the new funding round. (DiFurio, 1/21)
Philanthropist Supports Intermountain's $500 Million Pediatric Project
Intermountain Healthcare committed to fund at least half of a $500 million project that will bolster children-oriented programs and facilities, spurring a $50 million donation, the integrated not-for-profit health system announced Tuesday. Salt Lake City-based Intermountain aims to build a second Primary Children's Hospital campus in Lehi, Utah; expand telemedicine and digital services; increase the number of pediatric emergency clinicians in rural areas; grow Primary Children's Hospital and its services in Salt Lake; and add behavioral health services. (Kacik, 1/21)