The Best of Cardio and Health IT News: Week of 3/7/16

Readmissions, Obamacare, and more

CMS targets hospital readmissions after CABG 

A proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) would penalize hospitals that perform an index coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and then have an unexpected 30-day readmission, even if the patient was discharged from a different hospital. "The proposed CABG 30-day readmission measure includes Medicare beneficiaries who are 65 years old or older who at the time of the index admission had been enrolled in a Medicare fee-for-service program for at least 12 months," Cardiovascular Business reports. "CMS intends to add CABG to its readmissions reduction program in 2017."

Most support keeping, building on Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) continues to have public support, with 36 percent of those surveyed saying it should be expanded, according to the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. That's the position advocated by presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Nearly a quarter of respondents would like to see a single government plan, as advocated by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, while 16 percent would repeal the ACA and not replace it. Repealing the act and replacing it with a Republican alternative was favored by 13% of respondents.

Analysis: U.S. health spending wouldn't be substantially decreased by price transparency

"Menu-izing the costs of care doesn’t turn the average American into a skilled healthcare shopper, but don’t blame the consumer," says Health Exec. "While some 43 percent of U.S. healthcare spending does indeed go into 'shoppable,' non-emergent care—everything from flu shots and blood tests to colonoscopies and electively timed surgeries—only around 7 percent of out-of-pocket spending goes to such services. The result, according to a new analysis from the Health Care Cost Institute, is that the healthcare system as a whole wrings little cost benefit out of the push for price transparency."

Cardiovascular risk increases with heavy alcohol consumption

Drinking alcohol is associated with higher cardiovascular risk immediately after consumption, according to systematic review and meta-analysis. "After 24 hours, there was a lower risk for moderate drinkers," Cardiovascular Business reports. "But the risk increased in heavy drinkers for the following day and week."

Major markets could see mega-regional healthcare systems

Consolidation is a trend expected to continue in the healthcare industry, according to Fierce Healthcare. The trend, with increased leverage and revenues, has led to the creation of super-regional system in several large markets. "In Chicago, consolidation reached a crescendo in 2014 when fully integrated health system Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Winfield, Illinois' Cadence Health finalized a merger, with Northwestern expanding to include four hospitals under the deal," reported Becker's Hospital Review. Since then, Northwestern has expanded its reach, finalizing a deal with KishHealth in Dekalb, Illinois. The system now boasts six hospitals and more than 4,000 workers.