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Illinois Expands Access to Dual Beneficiaries • Chicago Top Doc “Very Confident” About Reopening City • NorthShore to Centralize Heart Care

STATE EXPANDS ACCESS FOR DOUBLE VALUED BENEFICIARIES: A program providing health coverage to Illinoisans eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid will be rolled out nationwide next month.

Currently available in about 20 counties, the government-run Medicare-Medicaid Alignment Initiative (MMAI) program will be phased out in all 102 counties starting July 1 to address the COVID-19 public health emergency.)

The program aims to improve health outcomes, in part through the use of coordinators to help enrollees access and manage their medical care.

There are currently 61,597 beneficiaries enrolled in one of five MMAI plans in the state.

Illinois-based Aetna Better Health – with roughly 9,300 members, or 15 percent of the market – is the only plan so far approved to operate in all 102 counties, said Corey Taliaferro, the health plan’s executive director. Membership in the Aetna plan could double due to the expansion, Taliaferro said, noting that the state expects a total of 60,000 additional beneficiaries to join the program.

An MMAI plan operated by Cook County Health, which is only open to residents of Cook County, is slated to join the program next year, according to the state.

CHICAGOS TOP DOC IS “VERY RELIABLE” WHILE THE CITY REOPENS: With the city of Chicago fully reopening, an average of 79 new cases are reported each day, up from 135 in the previous week. And the average daily positivity rate is 1.4 percent versus 1.9 percent. At the same time, 45 percent of the city’s population are fully vaccinated and 53 percent of residents have received at least a first dose.

When asked if the city expects coronavirus cases to spike after moving into the final stage of its reopening plan on June 11, Dr. Allison Arwady, the Chicago Department of Health Commissioner, said she was “very confident” about the next few weeks.

With more and more people on the move during the bridge phase, it was “an opportunity to turn that dial, make sure things are under control and are going in the right direction,” Arwady said Thursday. “So I’m not worried about a big increase in COVID in the short term. Of course, I’m worried about people who haven’t been vaccinated yet. You remain at risk, but the risk is lower. “

NORTHSHORE WILL HEART CARE IN GLENBROOK HEADQUARTERS: NorthShore will discontinue open heart surgery at Evanston Hospital and cardiac catheterization at Skokie Hospital as the system aims to centralize cardiovascular services at Glenbrook Hospital.

The capacity expansion at Glenbrook is estimated to cost an estimated $ 170 million, according to an application filed with the state. Evanston and Skokie Hospitals will continue to offer cardiac catheter emergencies.

NorthShore specializes in specialization in its hospitals. By centralizing services such as cardiology and obstetrics in high-traffic facilities, many hospital chains want to improve care and save money on surgical equipment, space, and staff.

TRANSCARENT RECEIVES ANOTHER $ 58 MILLION TO INTERRUPT EMPLOYER-SPONSORED BENEFITS: Glen Tullman’s newest startup Transcarent has raised $ 58 million and attracted new funding from heavyweights like Merck, Bayer and Kleiner Perkins.

Transcarent picks up where Tullman’s youngest company, Livongo, left off: it’s essentially a digital healthcare concierge service for self-insured businesses that helps their employees get the most out of their health funds. The app can help employees connect with a doctor via text message, schedule a personal appointment, request a prescription, find treatment options to take at home, or even identify the hospitals with the highest success rates for a particular type of treatment. CONTINUE READING.

COUNTY-RUN HOSPITAL OPENS NEW DIALYSIS CENTER: Cook County Health has opened a dialysis center valued at $ 3.4 million in Provident Hospital on the South Side.

“This dialysis center is part of Cook County Health’s ongoing efforts to care for our needy residents in the communities they live in,” Cook County Chairman Toni Preckwinkle said during a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday.

The 6,600 square meter center with 12 chairs was needed to meet dialysis needs in the region. An estimated 15,000 people in Cook County suffer from kidney failure, which may be due to high blood pressure, diabetes, and other diseases that disproportionately affect blacks and browns, Preckwinkle said.

Each year, Cook County Health requires about 150 additional patients to be treated for end-stage kidney disease, hospital system CEO Israel Rocha said during the event Thursday, noting that the system previously sent about 80 percent of those patients to other clinics had to have limited capacity.

RESPONSIBLE AURORA PHARMACIST WHO Tampered With Vaccines CONDEMNED: The Wisconsin pharmacist, who pleaded guilty to attempting to spoil more than 500 doses of COVID-19, was sentenced to three years in prison.

Steven R. Brandenburg, 46, intentionally removed a box of COVID-19 vaccine vials made by Moderna from the hospital cooling system on two consecutive night shifts in late December 2020 because he was skeptical of vaccines in general and the Moderna vaccine in particular. Brandenburg was also fined nearly $ 84,000 to pay Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wisconsin.

HEALTH SYSTEMS COMMIT TO WORKING WITH VARIOUS SUPPLIERS: Attorney Aurora Health, Rush University Medical Center System, and CommonSpirit Health are among 12 health systems committed to spending at least $ 1 billion on minority and female suppliers over the next five years.

The “Impact Purchasing Commitment” plan was developed by the Healthcare Anchor Network in collaboration with Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth, according to a statement from the groups. The institutions also commit to working with at least two of their major existing providers to develop recruitment pipelines in uninvested communities.

“Supporting minority-owned companies and women through our local purchasing efforts in the supply chain is an important step in addressing health inequalities,” said Jim Skogsbergh, president and CEO of Advocate Aurora Health, in the statement. “We know that job creation and access to well-paying jobs for people help improve their health and wellbeing.”

Health systems that adopt the Impact Purchasing Commitment include: Advocate Aurora Health, Baystate Health, Bon Secours Mercy Health, Cleveland Clinic, CommonSpirit Health, Henry Ford Health System, Intermountain Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Providence, Rush University Medical Center, Spectrum Health and UMass Memorial Health.

UNITEDHEALTHCARE DRIVES THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT POLICY: Following backlash, UnitedHealthcare said Thursday it would delay the implementation of its new policy that would retrospectively deny claims of patients to emergency rooms that are not considered urgent.

The insurer planned to begin a more careful review of its approximately 26.3 million commercial emergency room visits from July 1 to determine the original reason for the emergency room visit, diagnostic and other services provided during the visit, and outcome of the visit Experience in deciding on approval to review – or deny – patient claims. The announcement sparked criticism from organizations like the Chicago-based American Hospital Association, who say it could discourage patients from going to the emergency room, a dangerous outcome during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nathan Seth Trueger, Emergency Doctor at Northwestern Medicine, said that while it’s great that the backlash has led UnitedHealthcare to pause its policies, the news has spread and patients will likely still be unsure whether to seek emergency care. Read more under Modern Healthcare.

STATE EXPANDS SHIELD COVID TESTS TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS: Illinois elementary schools can access the COVID-19 saliva test developed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at low cost or free of charge.

The Illinois Department of Health will offer the test for free for low-income schools and for $ 10 for all other institutions.

Last month, IDPH expanded covidSHIELD testing to middle and high schools across Illinois outside the city of Chicago.

WALGREENS EXTEND VACCINATION HOURS FOR A MONTH OF PRESSURE FOR SHOTS: Deerfield-based Walgreens will extend walk-in vaccination times at 4,000 pharmacy locations across the country on June 18th and 25th today. The move is part of the Biden administration’s National Action Month to meet the president’s July 4th goal of more than 70 percent of adults getting at least one COVID-19 vaccination, Walgreens said in a statement.


Raymond Grady, former CEO of Evanston Hospital at NorthShore University HealthSystem, has joined the Chicago company Juniper Advisory. Grady most recently served as CEO of Methodist Hospitals in northwest Indiana and was previously Chief Administrative Officer of Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, now part of Advocate Aurora Health. He has served on the boards of the American Hospital Association, the Illinois and Indiana Hospital Associations, and the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.

Jason Parrott joined Vida Health as Senior Vice President of Enterprise Growth and Partnerships. He will work for the San Francisco-based virtual nursing company out of Chicago, Vida said in a statement. Parrott previously served as Senior Leader of Healthcare & Well Being Strategy for Chicago-based Boeing, which was a Vida customer.

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