Archive for February 2016

New Look at Preventive Care

The organization America’s Health Rankings issued a new report documenting the use of preventive health care services across the country. The organization’s “Spotlight: Prevention” …takes an in-depth look at the status of clinical disease prevention across the country and the inequities within subpopulations. The aim of this spotlight is to drive awareness and understanding about the roles of key clinical preventive services and interventions—Access to Health Care, Immunizations, and Chronic Disease Prevention—in improving the health of individuals and our communities. The report takes a state-by-state look the use of preventive services in the country today. Find an introduction to “Spotlight: Prevention” go here and go here for a look at the status of prevention efforts in Pennsylvania based on such … Read More

Posted in Uncategorized

Hospitals Not Using Observation Status to Avoid Readmissions Penalties

Hospitals are not moving returning patients to observation status to avoid incurring financial penalties under Medicare’s hospital readmissions reduction program, according to new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Since that program’s inception, more than 3300 hospitals have reduced the rate at which they readmit Medicare patients within 30 days of their discharge from the hospital. A moderate increase in the classification of Medicare patients in observation status led some critics to suggest that observation status was being used to avoid penalties for readmissions. The study disagrees, concluding that …we found a change in the rate of readmissions coincident with the enactment of the ACA, which suggested that the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program may have had a … Read More

Posted in Health care reform, Medicare, Uncategorized

Do Return ER Visits Yield Better Outcomes?

Patients who visit hospital emergency rooms for care, return home, and then return to the ER within 30 days have better outcomes than those who are admitted to the hospital from the ER. And their care costs less as well. This according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. What does this mean? According to the study’s abstract, These findings suggest that hospital admissions associated with return visits to the ED may not adequately capture deficits in the quality of care delivered during an ED visit. To learn more about the study and its surprising findings, see this Fierce Healthcare article or go here for a link to the JAMA article “In-Hospital Outcomes and Costs Among Patients Hospitalized During a Return Visit … Read More

Posted in Uncategorized

Medicaid Implications of the President’s FY 2017 Proposed Budget

The National Association of Medicaid Directors has published a detailed memo outlining how President Obama’s proposed FY 2017 would affect Medicaid. See that memo here.  

Posted in Uncategorized

Cutting ER Visits: Harder Than Expected

The first two years of major expansion of access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act did not produce the significant reduction in hospital ER visits that many expected. Or so reports a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the CDC, even though eight million people gained health insurance under the health reform law in 2013 and 2014, ER visit rates changed little. Still, the CDC survey found some progress: visits among Medicaid patients and the uninsured fell slightly, although Medicaid patents still frequent hospital ERs more than the privately insured. Among those who did visit the ER, many said their primary care practice was not open at the time or that the … Read More

Posted in Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals, Uncategorized

PA Introduces Improvement to Medicaid Provider Enrollment

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services has launched a new online portal to facilitate provider enrollment in the state’s Medicaid program. According to DHS officials, the new portal will enable the state to enroll providers electronically and automate the provider enrollment process. Under the new approach, documents previously transmitted by mail or fax will be uploaded to the portal, providers will be able to view the status of their application, and the time needed to review and process provider applications will be reduced. Learn more about the new Medicaid provider portal from this state news release.

Posted in Pennsylvania Medicaid policy, Pennsylvania Medical Assistance

DSH/340B Hospitals Have Lower Medicare Drug Costs

Medicare disproportionate share (Medicare DSH) hospitals that qualify for the federal 340B prescription drug discount program have lower Medicare Part B drug costs than other Medicare providers. So concludes a new study performed for 340B Health, an association that represents more 1100 public and non-profit hospitals and health systems that participate in the 340B drug pricing program. According to the organization 340B Health, Medicare pays disproportionate share hospitals in the 340B drug discount program on average 13 percent less for separately payable drugs reimbursed through Medicare Part B. This is in comparison to what it pays other hospitals and physician practices in the Part B market. The study also shows that 340B DSH hospitals are treating more vulnerable patients than … Read More

Posted in Medicare, Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals

GAO Suggests Changes in Federal Medicaid Funding Formula

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has recommended changes in how the federal government matches state Medicaid funding for its share of overall Medicaid spending. In testimony submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, GAO reminded Congress that in the past …GAO has examined multiple concerns regarding how the FMAP [federal medical assistance formula] allocates funds among states, including during times of economic downturn, and has suggested improvements. In particular, the GAO is concerned about how the FMAP formula’s use of per capita income in targeting federal Medicaid matching funds may not accurate reflect economic conditions at the state level, especially during economic downturns, and fail to respond to states’ individual needs during those downturns. In response to … Read More

Posted in Uncategorized

Wolf Administration Weighs Addressing Balance Billing

The Wolf administration is floating a proposal that would end medical balance billing in situations in which out-of-network providers are involved in the delivery of care patients receive from providers they believe to be in their health insurer’s provider network. Such situations typically arise when patients receive inpatient care at hospitals they know to be within their insurer’s provider network but some of the professionals involved in providing that care are not part of that network. The results can be large bills for services their insurers do not cover. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has published draft legislation to address such balance billing and is seeking public comment on the proposal. See that draft legislation here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Report on One Year of Medicaid Expansion in PA

Taking advantage of the Affordable Care Act, Pennsylvania expanded its Medicaid program a little more than a year ago. Now, Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas reflects on that year, offering statistics on how many people have taken advantage of enhanced access to Medicaid coverage, who those people are, and where they live. Secretary Dallas also offers his perspectives on how the transition to the expanded Medicaid program went and how the new program differs from the old. Read Secretary Dallas’s report here, on the Wolf administration’s blog.

Posted in Affordable Care Act, Pennsylvania Medicaid policy
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2012 Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania