The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the agency is out of money to combat Zika and warns that federal funding delays have slowed long-term studies of the virus and production of new tests for it. Friday's warning from CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden came as lawmakers start to sort out a stopgap government funding bill that is being targeted to also carry long-delayed money to battle Zika, which is spreading more widely in the U.S. It can not only cause microcephaly—in which babies are born with grave brain defects—but other problems that the country will face for decades.
HCA Holdings announced it will spend $2.7 billion this year to expand access in its hub markets as a two-year volume bonanza from the Affordable Care Act and improved economy starts to taper. Nashville-based HCA, the nation's largest investor-owned hospital chain, is developing more than a dozen free-standing emergency rooms in its markets through 2017 to go along with the 57 already open, HCA Chief Financial Officer Bill Rutherford said at an investors' conference last week. HCA also is adding ambulatory surgery centers, urgent-care clinics, diagnostic centers and new hospital wings to provide convenience and the right setting for the severity of illnesses and injuries.
The CMS last week said it was tweaking one track of its Accountable Health Communities model, aimed at addressing social determinants of health, to make it available to a broader swathe of applicants. The track promotes community services by screening patients, giving them information about services, and referring them. The changes increased the maximum amount of funding available to recipients and lowered the number of beneficiaries they'd be required to screen. The CMS first announced the Accountable Health Communities Model in January. It was the first-ever model from the CMS Innovation Center to target the health-related social issues of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.