Editor’s Corner: Fierce Healthcare’s 10 most read stories tracked COVID, vax mandates and mega deals

It was a momentous year for healthcare as the industry grappled with another 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as financial disruptions, critical labor shortages and disparities being addressed. long standing in health.

Looking back at the most-read stories of 2021, it’s no surprise that the pandemic and vaccine mandates have been a priority for our readers. Five of Fierce Healthcare’s top 10 stories this year focused on COVID-19 vaccines and various mandates at the employer, state and federal levels that healthcare workers get vaccinated.

Fierce Healthcare hasn’t just covered vaccination mandates in 2021. This year has also seen hospitals and healthcare systems locked in a labor shortage that has fueled labor disputes from New York to California. . As healthcare workers took to the picket lines, Fierce Healthcare stayed on top of the latest developments, covering Kaiser Permanente contract negotiations (ninth most-read story) as well as stories about other labor disputes who made it into the top 20.

Last year was also marked by billion-dollar mega-deals and record amounts of money being paid into the healthcare market. The sixth most-read story this year was UnitedHealth’s $13 billion bid for Change Healthcare.

Fierce Healthcare’s editorial team has been hard at work throughout 2021 to bring you the biggest stories shaping the provider, payer, technology, digital health and retail healthcare markets. The stories featured here were written by Paige Minemyer, Robert King, Dave Muoio and myself. And this year, we also welcomed new editors Anastassia Gliadkovskaya and Rebecca Torrence to our team.

In 2022, we look forward to bringing you more essential stories that keep you in the loop and (fingers crossed) fewer COVID headlines as the pandemic moves through our rearview mirror.

Here’s a look at the stories readers of Fierce Healthcare have been most drawn to this year.

1. How many employees have hospitals lost due to vaccination mandates? Here are the numbers so far

As health organizations began announcing COVID-19 vaccination mandates for healthcare workers last fall, Dave Muoio has regularly updated this list of the number of hospital workers and healthcare systems. health lost due to vaccination mandates.

2. Coronavirus tracker

Our coronavirus tracker has proven to be an essential resource for keeping readers up to date with the latest news on the pandemic.

3. As CMS requirement looms, at least 174 health systems currently mandate vaccination for their staff

On September 9, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it would release an interim final rule in October requiring hospitals, dialysis centers, day surgery centers and other facilities to vaccinate their staff as condition of participation in Medicare and Medicaid. Despite the pushback from employees and some worker groups, more health systems have begun to take a strong stance on COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.

4. When will primary care physicians receive the COVID-19 vaccine? Many still in the dark

As frontline hospital workers across the country began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, the discussion then turned to who would have access to the vaccine next. Many primary care physicians reported in January that they had no direct connection to the vaccine rollout and did not understand their turn.

5. Federal judge orders nationwide pause on CMS COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

More on the vaccine mandate as CMS’s nationwide COVID-19 vax requirement for healthcare workers goes to court. In a recent modest victory for the Biden administration, a federal appeals court authorized a vaccination mandate for healthcare workers in about half of the states. Expect this issue to continue to occur until 2022.

6. UnitedHealth Group’s Optum buys Change Healthcare for $13 billion

In January, UnitedHealth Group’s Optum unit announced plans to buy Change Healthcare for $7.84 billion in cash plus about $5 billion in debt. Optum said the agreement will strengthen the insurer’s portfolio of health technology services and capabilities. The companies pushed back the deal’s deadline to April 2022 pending the completion of an investigation by the Justice Department, which probed the deal on antitrust grounds.

7. 12 more states sue CMS over COVID-19 vaccine requirements for healthcare workers

Fierce Healthcare readers are definitely staying on top of the latest developments in the vaccine mandate as the Biden administration’s demand now faces multiple lawsuits. The CMS-formulated rule remained in legal limbo for weeks after some states successfully sought injunctions.

8. Humana Rumored to Consider Centene Takeover Again: Report

In September, rumors swirled again that Humana was interested in buying Medicaid managed care company Centene. The speculation is based on gossip that a Humana private jet was spotted near Centene’s headquarters in St. Louis, according to media reports. Two years ago, Humana ended speculation that it intended to buy its insurance competitor.

9. Kaiser Permanente union allows strike vote as contract talks stall

Healthcare workers have participated in labor strikes across the United States, citing concerns over staffing, patient care, working conditions and employee retention. In September, leaders of a union representing 24,000 nurses and other health professionals allowed a member to vote to strike against health care giant Kaiser Permanente after negotiations stalled on a contract that was due to expire at the end of September. end of the month.

ten. UnitedHealthcare removes Envision from its provider network

UnitedHealthcare continues its trend of pressuring physician recruitment firms by removing Envision Healthcare from its network. Envision has reported that its clinicians will no longer be in-network for UnitedHealth plans beginning Jan. 1. Envision has 25,000 clinicians working in hospitals in 45 states and Washington, D.C.

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