Texas Bill Targets Abortion Providers, but Local Providers Worry About Impact on Sexual Health

After debate long into the night Friday, Senate Bill 29 was passed by the Texas House of Representatives, meaning all government funds will be cut off from any part of an organization that provides abortion in Texas. As abortion bills across the south make headlines, the bill in the Texas legislature may impact women’s health in Dallas and across the state. Taxpayer dollars have long been barred from funding abortions, but this bill would not allow Dallas County or another government entity to send any funds to an organization like Planned Parenthood, which provides a number of health services. Senate… Full Story

McKesson Plans for $150 Million in Lawsuit Fines for Next Fiscal Year

In an earnings call last week, pharmaceutical giant McKesson Corp. said it expects to spend $150 million in 2021 on defending itself from opioid lawsuits, up from $100 million this year, Axios reports. McKesson is the sixth largest company in terms of revenue in the country, and the $150 million is a drop in the bucket relative to its $214 billion in revenue last year, but the lawsuits are adding up, with cases in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and New York in process or recently settled. States and cities are accusing many of the major drug players of knowingly sending inordinate… Full Story

Surprise Billing Legislation May Go Federal

The fight against surprise medical billing may get a leg up from the federal government if President Trump gets his way. Last week, the President and other White House officials voiced support for a congressional ban on surprise medical bills by barring hospital contracts with physicians who aren’t in the same network as the rest of the hospital, Modern Healthcare reports. The fight for more patient protection from surprise or balance billing has been raging in Texas for years, as subsequent bills have added mediation to the process, with the latest version of a bill including an arbitration piece that… Full Story

Health Insurers To Pay Record Rebates After Individual Market Stabilizes

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that insurers are more profitable than ever, and are expected to pay around $800 million in rebates to individual market consumers, a record since the passing of the Affordable Care Act. The insurers did not meet the ACA medical loss ration threshold, which requires 80 percent spending of premium revenues on healthcare claims or quality improvement activities. Though the early years of the ACA were often volatile and insurers reacted with increased premiums, by 2017 the individual market had stabilized, and premiums were expected to level out as well. But with… Full Story

Two North Texas Docs, One Nurse Sentenced to Federal Prison in Opioid Case

The healthcare professionals were sentenced to federal prison last week for illegally distributing opioids and other controlled substances in the Eastern District of Texas. After pleading guilty last October, Dr. Howard Gregg Diamond, a Sherman physician, received a 20-year sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substance and 10 more years for health care fraud. Diamond began writing fraudulent prescriptions for hydrocodone, fentanyl, oxycodone and other opiates in 2010 from his pain management offices in Sherman and Paris, Texas. In 2014, an individual died after taking morphine, oxycodone, alprazolam, and zolpidem that Gregg distributed. Court documents also show… Full Story

North Texas Leads on Medical Marijuana and E-Cigarette Legislation

Fort Worth Republican Rep. Stephanie Klick’s bill to expand medical marijauna coverage has passed the Texas House of Representatives by a vote of 133-10, and will head to the Senate where it will be debated further. Klick’s bill was accompanied by another more expansive medical marijauna bill authored by Brownsville Democrat Rep. Eddie Lucio III, which also passed by an overwhelming majority. Currently, Texas’ Compassionate Use Act says that intractable epilepsy is the only condition that can be legally treated by cannabis with low levels of THC. Klick, a nurse, is the author of the 2015 Compassionate Use Act. But the… Full Story

New Rules for Safety Net Hospitals Reduce Readmission Penalties, UTSW Research Shows

In order to reduce health system costs nationwide, legislation created penalties for hospitals if patients are readmitted within a certain time frame after being treated, but new research from UT Southwestern Medical Center reveals that a rule adjustment  is causing penalties to drop for hospitals that treat riskier patients. Hospitals such as Parkland that care for socioeconomically disadvantaged patients are more likely to have patients who leave the hospital and go back to unstable environments where they can’t or don’t follow doctor’s orders closely, which can result in a return of symptoms. Patients may have transportation hurdles that keep them… Full Story

Despite Insurer Pushback, Bill to Protect Poor and Disabled Texans Clears Committee

After an extensive investigation into the managed care of poor and disabled Texans who use Medicaid, a bill to help fight against healthcare companies who are profiting from the system cleared the Texas House of Representatives Human Services committee last week, reports the Dallas Morning News. Houston Republican Rep. Sarah Davis, authored the 60-page bill and told DMN she hopes to “assure that Texas’ most vulnerable populations are receiving the health care that taxpayers are paying for.” The DMN investigation revealed how government officials in charge of administering medicaid and serving patients often ended up working for the healthcare companies that… Full Story

McKesson Self-Reported $1.6 Million in Back Pay Errors to Federal Government

A subsidiary of Irving-based McKesson Corp. self-reported violations for 515 employees and will pay $1,650,452 in back wages and benefits for employees in Colorado and Tennessee. The issue was reported by the Department of Labor late last week. McKesson Specialty Distribution LLC, which distributes the federally funded Vaccines for Children program, reported the infraction to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, who confirmed it. Employees working on a federal contract with the Centers for Disease Control were not paid correct overtime rates or appropriate fringe benefits. “McKesson Specialty Distribution made every effort to correct violations once they identified… Full Story

Lawsuit Accuses Timberlawn Hospital of Negligence in Teenage Rape

A lawsuit alleges that a 13-year-old girl was raped by a 17-year old fellow patient at the since-closed Timberlawn psychiatric hospital, reports the Dallas Morning News. The father of the girl brought the suit against the hospital in Dallas County court. He says his daughter, who was being treated for depression, is still disturbed about the assault and still needs medical treatment. Universal Health Services, Timberlawn’s parent company, declined to comment according to DMN. The 144-bed hospital voluntarily closed last year after the state threatened to fine the facility and take away its licenses due to concerns about patient safety.… Full Story