In the News: Jan 25–Feb 1

Researchers Successfully Use CRISPR to Induce Stem Cells

Researchers from the Gladstone Institutes have for the first time succeeded in turning skin cells from mice into stem cells by activating a specific gene in the cells using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) technology. Through this innovative method, CRISPR is used to target a unique sequence of DNA that is deleted or replaced to turn on genes associated with stem cell genes or turn off those associated with other cell types.

Stem cells can be turned into any cell type in the body and are believed to be a potential key therapeutic agent in incurable conditions, including Parkinson disease and blindness. The ability to target a single location on the genome responsible for reprogramming the entire cell has spurred scientists to further study the genome in totality.

This is the latest example of innovative technology potentially disrupting health care. For a discussion of the ways that health care providers can leverage technology to benefit patients and caregivers, tune into our on-demand webinar, Disrupters to Watch in 2018.

Idaho Guidelines Would Allow Insurers to Circumvent ACA

Idaho officials released new guidelines that would allow insurers to offer “state-based” plans to consumers that are not required to comply with some of the basic requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange plans, such as essential health benefits.

While these exemptions could increase the availability of cheaper plans, they also would likely result in higher premiums for individuals with preexisting conditions. The legality of Idaho’s new guidelines is currently in question, since essential benefits cannot be waived under federal law.

Sg2 believes that states will continue to respond to federal deregulation with their own counter or supportive legislation. To learn more amid another year of health policy uncertainty, read the recent expert insight, 2018 Policy Landscape: Federal Deregulation Sparks State Regulation.

Hospitals’ Financial Health Is Associated With Medicaid Expansion

Health Affairs recently documented a major consequential divide of Medicaid expansion. Researchers found that, from 2008 to 2016, nonexpansion states had significantly more hospital closures than states that expanded Medicaid benefits, where rates of hospital closures actually declined.

This study found Medicaid expansion could be an effective solution to hospital closures, as increased coverage minimizes uncompensated care and strengthens hospitals financials. Authors noted that hospital closures reduce access to care, may jeopardize local economies and may be particularly detrimental in rural communities.

Sound service distribution planning is critical to health systems that are challenged to keep their hospital doors open. Whether you are in an expansion or nonexpansion state, Sg2’s publication on Service Distribution guides you through making difficult choices in a consolidating landscape.

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