California Sues Sutter Health, Alleging Excessive Pricing

California’s attorney general announced a lawsuit Friday against Sutter Health, alleging the hospital giant engaged in anticompetitive conduct that drove up prices for patients and employers in the state.

The lawsuit marked a bold move by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra against the dominant health care system in Northern California as concerns mount nationally about consolidation among hospitals, insurers and other industry middlemen.

“It’s time to hold health care corporations accountable,” Becerra said at a news conference Friday. “We seek to stop Sutter from continuing this illegal conduct.”

Come for your drugs, leave with more shopping: Walmart’s new growth strategy?

(Reuters) – Walmart Inc’s (WMT.N) efforts to develop closer ties with health insurer Humana Inc (HUM.N), which came to light on Thursday, point to a brave new world of retail where superstores become healthcare centers offering basic medical care.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Walmart is seen on shopping trolleys at their store in Sao Paulo, Brazil February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File photo

They are also aimed at boosting Walmart’s slowing growth in brick-and-mortar store sales as it faces increasing pressure online from Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O). Deepening its existing partnership with Humana, or even acquiring the company outright, could be a step toward turning its 4,700 or so U.S. stores into healthcare centers that aim to attract more shoppers over 65.

Time’s Running Out: The Frail In Puerto Rico Face End Of Hurricane Relief Programs


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Straddled across Ausberto Maldonado’s backyard in Bayamon, a suburb of San Juan, is a nagging reminder of Hurricane Maria’s destructive power.

“See, that tree broke off that branch, which is as thick as a tree — and now it’s in my yard,” said Maldonado, a 65-year-old retiree.

The downed tree — and the rats attracted to it —prevent Maldonado from hanging his laundry. To get the tree removed, he must show up at a local government office. But the diabetic ulcers on his feet make it painful for him to walk.

Starbucks coffee in California must have cancer warning, judge says

(Reuters) – Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) and other coffee sellers must put a cancer warning on coffee sold in California, a Los Angeles judge has ruled, possibly exposing the companies to millions of dollars in fines.

A little-known not-for-profit group sued some 90 coffee retailers, including Starbucks, on grounds they were violating a California law requiring companies to warn consumers of chemicals in their products that could cause cancer.

One of those chemicals is acrylamide, a byproduct of roasting coffee beans that is present in high levels in brewed coffee.

Pfizer’s rare heart disease drug succeeds in late-stage study

(Reuters) – Pfizer Inc’s experimental drug to treat a rare and fatal disease linked to heart failure reduced deaths and need for hospitalizations in a late-stage study.

FILE PHOTO: A company logo is seen at a Pfizer office in Dublin, Ireland November 24, 2015. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

The company’s clinical study investigated the efficacy, safety and tolerability of an oral dose of tafamidis capsules compared with a placebo in 441 patients.

Pfizer said tafamidis met the main goal of statistically significant reduction in deaths and frequency of cardiovascular-related hospitalizations compared with a placebo at 30 months. The data also showed that tafamidis was generally well tolerated by the enrolled patients.

Podcast: KHN’s ‘What The Health?’ VA Secretary Out, Privatization In?

David Shulkin, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, was fired Wednesday night by President Donald Trump. To replace him, Trump will nominate his White House physician, naval Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson. Shulkin, however, is not going quietly. He took to The New York Times op-ed page to claim he was pushed out by those who want to privatize VA health services for profit.

Meanwhile, two more states, Iowa and Utah, passed legislation that would sidestep some of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Iowa wants to allow the sale of health plans that cover fewer benefits — or restrict coverage for people with preexisting health conditions. Utah wants to expand Medicaid to those higher up the income scale — but not as high as prescribed by the ACA.

Scrutinizing Medicare Coverage For Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy

For years, confusion has surrounded the conditions under which older adults can receive physical, occupational and speech therapy covered by Medicare.

Services have been terminated for some seniors, such as those with severe cases of multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, because therapists said they weren’t making sufficient progress. Others, including individuals recovering from strokes or traumatic brain injuries, have been told that they reached an annual limit on services and didn’t qualify for further care.

Neither explanation stands up to scrutiny. Medicare does not require that older adults demonstrate improvement in order to receive ongoing therapy. Nor does it limit the amount of medically necessary therapy, for the most part.

Listeria class action filed against South Africa’s Tiger Brands

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A class action lawsuit was filed on Thursday against South Africa’s Tiger Brands, after one of its food factories was linked to a listeria outbreak that has killed 180 people since early 2017, the lawyer running the case said.

FILE PHOTO: A couple leaves Tiger Brands factory shop in Germiston, Johannesburg, South Africa, March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Richard Spoor, a human rights advocate who previously masterminded a massive class action on behalf of gold miners with silicosis, filed the lawsuit on behalf of families affected by the listeria outbreak. The case against Tiger Brands was clear, Spoor said.

FDA expands use of Amgen leukemia drug Blincyto to patients with relapse risk

(Reuters) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday expanded the use of Amgen Inc’s leukemia drug Blincyto to include patients who are in remission but still have residual signs of the disease.

FILE PHOTO: A view shows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland August 14, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

The drug, part of a class known as bispecific antibodies, is already approved for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) whose cancer has returned after treatment or did not respond to previous treatment, such as chemotherapy.

Alzheimer’s Stigma a Barrier to Prevention, Care: Survey

News Picture: Alzheimer's Stigma a Barrier to Prevention, Care: Survey

Latest Alzheimers News

WEDNESDAY, March 28, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s disease may discourage Americans from learning about their risk and from joining clinical trials for potential new treatments, a small survey reveals.

“We found that concerns about discrimination and overly harsh judgments about the severity of symptoms were most prevalent,” lead researcher Shana Stites said in an Alzheimer’s Association news release.

“By understanding what the biggest concerns are about the disease, we can help develop programs and policies to reduce the stigma,” Stites added.