Trending News Today: Former CEO Charged in Opioid Prescription Kickback Scam

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

The lowest-performing medical centers of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are located in Texas and Tennessee, according to USA Today, who obtained internal documents detailing the VA’s star ratings. Although the VA has assigned star ratings for each of its medical centers based on quality of care and service for years, the agency has refused repeatedly to make them public until now, because the ratings were meant for internal use only, according to the report. As detailed in the documents, VA hospitals in Dallas, TX; El Paso, TX; Nashville, TN; Memphis, TN; and Murfreesboro, TN, all received 1 out of 5 stars for performance as of June 30, 2016. A large proportion of the highest-rated facilities are located in the Northeast — in Massachusetts and New York – and the upper Midwest, including South Dakota and Minnesota, USA Today reported. Medical centers in those areas scored 5 out of 5 stars. Each quarter, the VA determines the ratings for 146 of its medical centers based on dozens of factors, including infection rates and death, wait times, and instances of avoidable complications, reported USA Today.

The former CEO of Insys Therapeutics Inc and 5 additional former executives and managers were charged on Thursday for conspiring to defraud health insurers and for bribing physicians in exchange for prescribing the company’s fentanyl painkiller, Subsys, reported The Wall Street Journal. Former CEO, Michael Babich, 40, resigned from Insys in November 2015. He was charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, and conspiracy to violate the anti-kickback law, the Journal reported.

A new study found that lower income parents who receive health insurance through their employers are more likely to forgo family coverage, instead opting to enroll their children in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), according to Kaiser Health News. Lead study author Douglas Strane said the growing reliance on these programs is something lawmakers should keep in mind when considering whether to renew financing for the CHIP program in 2017. “These aren’t just safety net programs for uninsured families,” Strane said in the report. “If CHIP isn’t renewed, we could place substantial pressure on working families.” In the Health Affairs study, investigators analyzed data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey between 2008 and 2013 for families with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, in which at least 1 parent had employer-sponsored coverage, Kaiser reported.