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What We’re Reading: Ascension Health Cyberattack; Medicare, Medicaid Integration Rule; Influenza A Wastewater Data Release

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Ascension Health was hit with a cyberattack; a new federal policy is aimed at integrating Medicare and Medicaid coverage; the CDC is planning to post data on influenza A found in wastewater in a public dashboard.

Ascension Health Hit With Cyberattack

Ascension Health, one of the country’s largest hospital chains, announced Thursday that it had been hit with a cyberattack, according to The Hill. Ascension said in a statement that it detected activity on “select technology network systems” on May 8, which is now believed to be a cybersecurity threat. Teams responded immediately to activate “remediation efforts” while Ascension continues to investigate the situation. As a result of the attack, Ascension explained that there is currently a disruption to clinical operations; it is assessing the impact and duration of the disruption with help from Mandiant, a third-party cybersecurity expert. Ascension also noted that it would notify individuals if sensitive information was leaked.

Medicare, Medicaid Integration Rule to Shake Up Market

A new federal policy aimed at integrating Medicare and Medicaid coverage appears ready to benefit health insurers who have Medicaid expertise and serve a substantial population of Medicare Advantage members with complex medical needs, according to Modern Healthcare. CMS issued a final rule last month that emphasizes its commitment to supporting Dual Special Needs Plans (D-SNP). It aims to enhance health outcomes and cut costs through tightly coordinating Medicaid and Medicare benefits. By 2030, it will limit most D-SNP enrollment to a single integrated Medicare-Medicaid plan per geographic service area, or one county. These changes may increase competition among insurers, prompting mergers and acquisitions. Insurers like Centene and Molina Healthcare view this as an opportunity, leveraging their Medicaid expertise to capitalize on strategic growth prospects. Conversely, leading Medicare Advantage carriers like UnitedHealthcare and Humana express anticipate revenue risks and potential shifts in their market strategies.

US to Post Influenza A Wastewater Data to Assist Bird Flu Investigation

The CDC is planning to post data on influenza A found in wastewater in a public dashboard as soon as today, May 10, according to Reuters. CDC wastewater team lead Amy Kirby told Reuters that the agency identified spikes of influenza A, a H5N1 subtype, in some sites and is investigating the source; however, there is no indication of human infection with H5N1. The CDC has been collecting wastewater influenza data in about 600 sites since the fall to better track respiratory infections. That data can now be helpful in tracking the H5N1 bird flu outbreak that has infected 1 dairy farm worker and 42 dairy herds in 9 states. Although the findings do not indicate the source of the virus, the dashboard will allow individuals to check for influenza A increases in their area.

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