Report: Flu vaccinations to see surge in coming decade
LONDON — Lingering fears of pandemic flu in the United States and a spike in flu activity will help to keep vaccination levels high, according to a new report.
GlobalData, a British market research firm, released a report Monday showing that seasonal influenza vaccine demand will increase from 2012’s estimated 142 million to 158 million in 2022.
The report noted that after the H1N1 pandemic caused thousands of deaths in the United States in 2009, the number of those being vaccinated every year increased from 2007’s 24% to 41% in 2010 among those ages 5 to 64 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The driver for the growth in vaccinations will be the increase in the U.S. population and the rise in those considered high-risk, such as the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions.
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Cerberus close to acquiring parts of Supervalu
NEW YORK — The breakup of Supervalu to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management could be announced as soon as Thursday when Supervalu shares third-quarter results with analysts, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal published Friday.
Bloomberg also reported that a deal between Cerberus and Supervalu was imminent. According to that Bloomberg report, Cerberus would lead an investment of around $500 million in equity.
Bloomberg in December reported that Cerberus and Supervalu were negotiating a deal in which Supervalu would sell its Albertsons and Save-A-Lot operations to Cerberus, and Cerberus would take a stake in the remainder in what will still be a public company.
Supervalu’s stock rose 13.5% to $2.94 on Friday, after WSJ reported a deal with Cerberus was close. The company’s stock has been down more than 60% over the past 12 months.
Cerberus already has a stake in the Albertsons banner. In 2006, a Cerberus-led group acquired more than 650 underperforming Albertsons stores as part of a larger deal to dismantle that grocer. As part of that deal, Supervalu had acquired more than 1,100 Albertsons grocery stores.
For the full Bloomberg story, click here.
For the full WSJ story, click here.
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Bill would advance telemedicine
WASHINGTON — New legislation aims to increase access to telemedicine services through government-sponsored health programs.
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., recently introduced H.R. 6719, the Telehealth Promotion Act of 2012, which 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.
The bill would also create a new federal standard for medical licensure, requiring that providers in federal health plans be licensed only in the states of their physical locations and free to treat eligible patients anywhere in the country.
The bill won praise from a telemedicine industry association.
"This is a major step forward in congressional support for telemedicine and would extend the benefits of telehealth and [mobile health] to nearly 75 million Americans," American Telemedicine Association CEO Jonathan Linkous said. "Rep. Thompson clearly understands that telemedicine is a value — for patients, for the government and for the American taxpayer. We encourage other legislators to support this win-win bill, which will improve health care and decrease federal health expenditures."
In addition, the bill would change existing Medicare and Medicaid programs by creating incentives for hospitals to use telemedicine to lower readmission rates; expanding the "Medical Home" coordinated-care option; exempting accountable care organizations from telehealth fee-for-service restrictions and allowing them to use telemedicine as a substitute for in-person care; launching new pilot programs for remote patient monitoring for up to 10 Department of Health and Human Services-designated conditions; adjusting reimbursement timelines for home health to better facilitate remote patient monitoring; and creating a telemedicine service option in Medicaid to treat high-risk pregnancies.
"This bill represents a panacea for federal involvement in telemedicine, eliminating archaic barriers and expanding opportunities for remote health care," Linkous said. "If passed, this bill will almost instantly make our federally funded health system more effective and more efficient."
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