Kaiser Permanente, nurses agree to avert strike

A preliminary agreement focused on a new four-year contract with provisions for pay rises of 22.5% and above staff to avert what Fierce Healthcare said would have been the largest nursing strike in US history. Also: UnitedHealthcare and AARP, School Nurses in Wisconsin, and more.

Fierce healthcare: Kaiser Permanente signs tentative deal to avert nurses’ strike

Some 22,000 nurses have reached an interim agreement with Kaiser Permanente on a new four-year contract that includes a 22.5% pay increase and an increase in staff. The tentative agreement averted the largest private health worker strike in American history. Nurses working at nearly two dozen Kaiser Permanente locations were planning a two-day strike that was set to begin on Monday. (Landi, 20.11.)

To the health costs –

Fierce Healthcare: UnitedHealthcare and AARP join forces to reduce hearing aid costs

UnitedHealthcare and AARP are collaborating on a new program to reduce the cost of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. … Through AARP Hearing Solutions, which UnitedHealthcare now administers, AARP’s nearly 38 million members can purchase hearing aids through UnitedHealthcare Hearing. Pricing starts at just $699 per hearing aid, according to the company, and members also receive professional assistance from a licensed hearing care professional, as well as personal support from UnitedHealthcare Hearing during and after their purchase. (Landi, 18.11.)

Statistic: Patient groups urge government to enforce price estimates

People don’t get bills after going to a grocery store or mechanic. You know what it will cost you before you go. But in healthcare, patients receive bills and “benefit statements” after the fact—usually leading to confusion or shock as to how much they owe. (Hermann, 21.11.)

In other healthcare news —

The Boston Globe: NH doctor allegedly misinterpreted mammograms and ultrasound images of two dozen women later diagnosed with breast cancer

Patricia Eddy had always believed in early breast cancer detection and was relieved when her mammograms in 2015, 2016 and 2017 revealed nothing suspicious. It was only later that she learned the startling truth: Those three annual screening tests showed signs of cancer, she said, but her New Hampshire radiologist, Dr. Mark Guilfoyle, missed her every time. (Saltzman, Ostriker and Kowalczyk, 11/19)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: $8.2M grant will strengthen Wisconsin school nurse workforce

The Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services recently announced an $8.2 million investment to help K-12 schools statewide recruit and retain school nurses. Milwaukee will receive more than $1 million in funding. (Wells, 11/18)

Stats: Q&A: CEO on monetizing health data from the wreck of IBM Watson

A company being built from the ashes of IBM’s Watson Health division is launching new businesses with a very different message: The real value is in the healthcare data, not the fancy AI engine that might ultimately power it. (Ross, 21.11.)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.