Top 10 stories of 2019 | Congress passes LAB Act | Sequencing test predicts serious infections

Dear LabPulse Member,

It's hard to believe that we've been up and running for nearly a year now, and December is a great time to take stock of the highlights in the young life of LabPulse.com.

I took a look at our top stories for 2019 based on page views and found, unsurprisingly, that artificial intelligence, lab automation, and utilization management were hot topics. It wasn't all heavy and futuristic, though, as our human interest stories, such as an interview with pathologist-turned-novelist Dr. Barbarajean Magnani, PhD, also held great appeal with readers.

Throughout the year, my colleague Bruce Carlson, publisher of LabPulse sister company Kalorama Information, has been writing articles about IVD markets, with features including point-of-care products, cancer diagnostics, and tests for sexually transmitted diseases. Today, we published his take on the top 10 product news stories for the year -- that is no small feat considering the deluge of developments in 2019!

Economic issues have been front and center, and various healthcare-related bills have been hotly debated in the U.S. Congress. Dissatisfaction with out-of-network billing -- also known as surprise billing -- to consumers during visits to hospitals in their insurance networks has been growing. This month, Yale University researchers published a study in Health Affairs showing that out-of-network billing by pathologists and other specialists costs the U.S. healthcare system $40 billion a year.

Also this month, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) unveiled an agreement proposing that the U.S. government set payment rates and an independent arbitration process for claim amounts over $750. The plan was to attach it to end-of-year spending legislation.

But in the end, Congress wound up passing a $1.4 trillion spending package without the surprise billing provisions, and President Donald Trump signed off on it on December 20. The spending legislation included the Laboratory Access for Beneficiaries (LAB) Act, which addresses payment issues associated with the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) and gives providers a reprieve.

On the clinical news front, we published an article about the use of a marketed blood test for predicting serious bloodstream infections in hospitalized pediatric cancer patients. Another research group reported on the development of a saliva test for HPV type 16, which has been rising in incidence and has been associated with oropharyngeal cancers.

LabPulse.com is taking a break for the holidays, so we won't be publishing next Tuesday, December 31. We wish you well during this festive season and, of course, hope you have a very happy new year. See you in 2020!

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