Balboa Pharmacy has agreed to a $105,000 settlement to resolve accusations that it violated the Controlled Substances Act. Authorities said the San Diego-based pharmacy illegally filled prescriptions for dangerous drugs such as opioids to its patients without resolving or attempting to resolve "red flags" raised by the prescriptions.
The University of California at San Francisco health system has begun billing patients' insurers for email consultations that require medical evaluation or more than a simple reply. The CMS allows Medicare reimbursement for complex emails, and UCSF's move could reduce burnout by compensating health care professionals for what had been unpaid work, but it could also increase administrative burdens, irritate patients who are unexpectedly billed for co-pays, and hinder the transition to value-based care.
The Biden administration on Friday set up a new service at 1-800-232-0233 for Americans to order free COVID-19 tests by phone. A text-based line at 1-888-720-7489 was also launched to help callers with hearing problems as part of the White House's efforts to expand access to the free tests.
There is evidence that the Omicron variant is peaking in the US and that coronavirus case numbers could decline to more manageable levels soon, but caution is still needed, according to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci, M.D. If new case numbers follow decreasing patterns like those seen in the Northeast, a turnaround across the country may be possible in the coming months, Fauci noted.
Physical activity can provide a boost to the immune system, so it may be helpful to continue exercising even during a mild case of COVID-19. "However, if symptoms of chest pain or discomfort, lightheadedness or palpitations arise, one should stop and seek medical attention," said UCLA cardiologist Dr. Gabriel Vorobiof.
Students in the Los Angeles Unified School District will not be allowed to wear cloth masks under a policy taking effect today. Instead, the district will require that students wear "well-fitted, non-cloth masks with a nose wire" following guidance from Los Angeles County health authorities.
A Congressional Budget Office report found commercial health insurance providers generally pay significantly higher prices for physician and hospital services than Medicare, and the prices paid by insurers also vary more widely among geographic areas compared with prices paid by Medicare. The report suggests that health care provider organizations are gaining market power, which could lead to higher insurance premiums.
CDC researchers who analyzed data from 259 hospitals and 383 emergency departments from late August through early January found a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine lowered risk of hospitalization or ED visits by 94% when the Delta variant was widespread and 82% as the Omicron variant began to spread. Two other studies released by the CDC found that individuals who received three doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine were less likely to test positive or develop symptomatic illness than those with less protection.
The FDA expanded its authorization of Gilead Sciences' Veklury, or remdesivir, to treat outpatients with COVID-19 and mild to moderate disease who are at high risk for hospitalization. Veklury was previously only authorized for inpatient use.
Statistics and current trends indicate that the Great Resignation may slow down as 2022 progresses. Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed a decrease in the unemployment rate this past December, and Omer Glass of GrowthSpace says employers are putting more effort into improving benefits and retaining staff members.
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