What We're Reading: Hospital Closures; Mixed Messages on PBMs; VA Wrongly Denies Sexual Trauma

AJMC Staff

Rate of Hospital Closures Expected to Pick Up

Patients living in rural areas have fewer options for a hospital as closures continue at a rate of about 30 a year. However, an analyst expects that the number of hospitals shutting down may actually increase in the next 1 year to 18 months, reported Bloomberg. As hospitals consolidate, payers are also increasingly pushing patients toward outpatient services, online providers, and retail clinics.

Trump Administration Gives Mixed Messages on PBMs

As part of his promise to lower prescription drug prices, President Donald Trump has targeted pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), but some days his own administration seems to be interested in empowering PBMs. This mixed message has made it difficult for lobbyists and policy makers to determine the administration’s overall strategy, according to STAT. Even while Trump has decried PBMs, CMS’ new proposal to allow Medicare Advantage plans to negotiate drug prices using step therapy will most likely rely on PBMs.

The VA Improperly Denied Military Sexual Claims

Thousands of veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder may be left without benefits after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) improperly handled as many as 1300 sexual trauma claims. According to USA Today, the employees vetting the claims were not trained properly, and the VA didn’t even order required medical exams in more than half the cases. Although the VA put special rules in place to vet claims of sexual assault, the VA stopped conducting audits of sexual trauma claims in 2015.
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