Trending News Today: Could Prescribing Higher Doses Combat the Opioid Epidemic?

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Medicare provisions intended to prevent fraud may incentivize health care providers to deny services to patients who need long-term care, according to Kaiser Health News. Current federal laws require Medicare to pay for home care if it is ordered by a physician and if a patient has limited mobility; however, some home health care agencies believe that Medicare will only cover rehabilitation services and that insurance will not pay if the patient did not improve, according to the study.

Yesterday, Aetna settled a lawsuit for $17 million over a privacy breach that revealed the HIV status of more than 12,000 individuals, according to NPR. This breach occurred during the summer of 2017 when the insurer sent letters that divulged patients were taking HIV drugs through a clear window in the envelope. Aetna said that they responded through outreach efforts, an immediate relief program, and this settlement, in addition to implementing protection measures to prevent a similar breach from happening again, according to the article.

Health experts have suggested that physicians prescribe higher doses of opioids in an effort to curb the effects of the opioid epidemic, according to the Los Angeles Times. Currently, many physicians prescribe lower doses of the drugs over a longer period of time to prevent addiction. Recent research suggests that providing a high level of pain relief immediately may reduce the time patients are on opioids and decrease their risk of addiction and abuse, according to the article.