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More than $209 million of Target debentures tendered, company says

BY Alaric DeArment

MINNEAPOLIS — About $209.3 million worth of Target Corp.’s debt has been put up for sale as the company moves to refinance $679 million worth of debt due between 2028 and 2031, the mass merchandise retailer said.

Target announced plans to purchase $170 million in 6.75% debentures due 2028, $154.9 million in 6.65% debentures due 2028 and $354 million in 7% debentures due 2031.

The company said the $209.3 million tendered so far represented 20.31%, 25.22% and 38.32% of the totals of the three respective security titles.

 

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Re-introduced bill aims to curb hospital re-admissions through telehealth technology

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — Legislation to expand the use of telehealth technology under Medicare to reduce hospital re-admissions in rural and underserved communities has been re-introduced by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

The bipartisan Fostering Independence Through Technology Act, S. 596, would create a pilot program to provide budget neutral incentives for home health agencies across the country to use remote patient monitoring to better monitor Medicare beneficiaries, improve health outcomes and reduce Medicare expenditures.

Thune and Klobuchar’s bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create pilot projects providing incentives for home health agencies to purchase and utilize remote patient monitoring and communications technologies. The technology would establish performance targets based on historic Medicare spending. The performance targets would measure success both through health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries and savings under Medicare due to the technology.

“This innovative RPM technology has the ability to revolutionize patient care and dramatically reduce the amount of money Medicare spends on hospital re-admissions each year,” stated Thune. “Not only could this technology reduce costs and improve health outcomes, but it also offers patients the individual freedom to stay in their homes, reducing costs associated with nursing homes and long-term care facilities. I’m pleased to have worked with many industry stakeholders in developing this legislation over the past few years, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this legislation through Congress.”

“Telehealth technology is critical to reducing healthcare costs and ensuring that all Minnesotans have access to high-quality and affordable health care,” added Klobuchar. “By expanding the use of innovative home care technology, this legislation will make health care more efficient and will allow seniors to stay in their homes longer without jeopardizing their health, safety or access to healthcare professionals.”

Due to recent changes in law, hospitals are now subject to payment penalties when a Medicare beneficiary is re-admitted to a hospital within a prescribed period with a complication that is preventable. Currently, about 1-out-of-5 Medicare patients who are hospitalized end up back in the hospital within 30 days, which creates significant unnecessary costs. This technology would aim to allow patients to be more closely monitored using non-invasive technology to help address possible post-hospitalization complications before they result in a re-admission to the hospital.

 

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New site for diagnosing, treating UTIs speaks to rise in telehealth-type services

BY Antoinette Alexander

TreatMyUTI.com is an online service founded by a group of physicians that offers online access to physician diagnosis and treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infections with no office visit, exam or lab test required.
 
This is important because it speaks to a much larger trend within health care, and that’s the continued rise of telehealth-type services as patients and providers increasingly battle a crisis of access and affordability of health care.
 
As reported by Drug Store News, telehealth is expected to experience a sharp rise in the number of patients, according a report by health market research firm IHS, which projects that telehealth will reach 1.8 million patients around the world by 2017.
 
It also is important to note that Washington has taken notice. For example, a new bill, H.R. 6719, the Telehealth Promotion Act of 2012, introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., would establish that "no [medical] benefit covered shall be excluded solely because it is furnished via a telecommunications system," allowing greater access to telemedicine services through Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Tricare, Department of Veterans Affairs and federal employee health plans.

More recently, legislation to expand the use of telehealth technology under Medicare to reduce hospital re-admissions in rural and underserved communities has been re-introduced by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
 
Now factor in the physician shortage. As its stands, the physician shortage is at about 10,000 and growing, and is expected to reach almost 30,000 by 2015, and more than 65,000 by 2025. And the national average wait times for a face-to-face appointment with a physician tops 20 days.
 
Clearly, there’s a need for greater access to healthcare services. Time will tell just how much traction a service like TreatMyUTI.com will actually get, but what is important is that healthcare professionals, like those that founded the site, continue to think out of the box and look for innovative ways to meet the healthcare needs of Americans.

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