What We're Reading: Government Recovers $200 Million From State Health Exchanges

What we're reading, December 9, 2015: the federal government recovered $200 million from state's whose health insurance exchanges faltered; drug cocktails are responsible for majority of drug overdose deaths in Massachusetts; and healthcare organizations are not confident in their ability to share patient data while protecting patient privacy.

The Affordable Care Act remains a controversial topic in the United States, but the government recently announced it has been able to recoup more than $200 million in funding from states that tried to set up their own health insurance exchanges and ran into problems. The federal government had granted more than $4 billion to 17 states, but exchanges have struggled and Hawaii, Nevada, and Oregon all chose to close their exchanges, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The majority of drug overdose deaths in Massachusetts are being attributed to drug cocktails that combine a prescription opioid or heroin with some other drug or alcohol. Kaiser Health News reported that an analysis from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found fentanyl, which is more powerful than heroin, was present in more than one-third of the deaths. Even physicians specializing in addiction medicine and who treat patients in recovery face the challenge of what to prescribe that won’t cause a serious adverse reaction.

Demand for access to health data is on the rise, but healthcare organizations might not be able to ensure patient privacy, according to a new survey. More than two-thirds of healthcare organizations lack complete confidence in their ability to share data without risking patients’ privacy, according to Healthcare Informatics. In addition, the survey found individuals lack familiarity with advanced methods of de-identifying data and most organizations use data sharing approaches that increase risk.