In the News

Hospitals Look to Health Law Cutting Charity, The New York Times, 5-26-14

Abby Goodnough writes that though the number of hospitals tightening access to free or discounted care appears limited so far, many say they are considering doing so, and experts predict that stricter policies will become increasingly common.

Medicaid Surge Triggers Cost Concerns for States, The Associated Press, 5-26-14

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar reports that before President Barack Obama’s law expanded Medicaid eligibility, millions of people who were already entitled to its safety-net coverage were not enrolled. Those same people are now signing up in unexpectedly high numbers, partly because of publicity about getting insured under the law.

Emergency Docs Report Higher Patient Volumes, ModernHealthCare, 5-21-14

Paul Demko reports nearly half of emergency room doctors report that patient volume has increased since the start of the year, when coverage kicked in for the first wave of Obamacare enrollees, according to a survey conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

CMS Offers Flexibility On Stage 2, But Little Time to Flex, ModernHealthCare, 5-21-14

Joseph Conn reports that so far, reactions from Medical Group Management Association members have been positive about CMS’ proposed rule change, according to Robert Tennant, its senior policy analyst. “It’s not everything we were looking for, but it was a good start and recognition that the program parameters were proving challenging for vendors and their customers. The extra time is going to allow the momentum to continue.”

  Medicine’s Top Earners Are Not the MDs, The New York Times, 5-18-14

Elisabeth Rosenthal writes that though the recent release of Medicare’s physician payments cast a spotlight on the millions of dollars paid to some specialists, there is a startling secret behind America’s health care hierarchy: Physicians, the most highly trained members in the industry’s work force, are on average right in the middle of the compensation pack. That is because the biggest bucks are currently earned not through the delivery of care, but from overseeing the business of medicine.

US Mines Personal Health Data to Aid Emergency Response, The New York Times, 5-16-14

Sheri Fink reports that for the first time, federal officials scoured Medicare health insurance claims to identify potentially vulnerable people and share their names with local public health authorities for outreach during emergencies and disaster drills.

The CDC Releases Its Report on Prescription Drug Use in the US, Press Release, 5-14-14

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its 2013 report on prescription drug use revealing, among other facts that about half of all Americans in 2007-2010 reported taking one or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days.  Use increased with age; 1 in 4 children took one or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days compared to 9 in 10 adults aged 65 and over.

Health Insurance Giants to Make Payment Data Accessible to Public, Modern HealthCare, 5-14-14

Paul Demko reports that a new initiative by three of the country’s largest health plans has the potential to transform the accessibility of claims payment data, according to healthcare finance experts. UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Humana announced a partnership on Wednesday with the Health Care Cost Institute to create a payment database that will be available to the public for free.

 Reform Update: New Payment Models Could Motivate Providers to Cut Wasteful Services, ModernHealthCare, 5-14-14

Melanie Evans writes the overuse of pricey medical technology and medication presents a complex challenge for policymakers, hospitals and doctors trying to reduce costs. But the payoff could be substantial, and early results of experiments by Medicare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts suggest new payment models may be the motivation providers need to tackle the daunting task.


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