Archive for March 2018
The oft-scrutinized section 340B prescription drug discount program is doing what the program is supposed to do, according to a new analysis published on the Health Affairs Blog. According to the report, 340B DSHs treat significantly more low-income patients than non-340B hospitals, provide a disproportionate amount of the nation’s uncompensated and unreimbursed care, and are more likely to provide specialized services that are critical to low-income patients but which are often underpaid. In addition, 340B …has saved billions in drug costs while providing free or discounted care to millions of patients who might otherwise be unable to get needed care. This is accomplished at no cost to taxpayers. In addition, the report concludes that 340B-eligible hospitals: care for significantly more … Read More
The Pennsylvania state senate has confirmed Wolf administration nominees for four health-related cabinet positions. Approved by the senate were Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller, Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith, and Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman. All had been serving on an interim basis. For more information about the new secretaries, see this Central Penn Business Journal article.
A federal court has rejected the manner in which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services collects certain Medicaid data from states in a ruling that has potential implications for eligible hospitals’ Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments (Medicaid DSH). In a case that challenged how CMS told hospitals to report third-party payments for Medicaid patients, the court ruled against CMS in two different ways: first, it found that CMS had not interpreted a 2003 law in a manner consistent with congressional intent; and second, it ruled that CMS could not clarify its interpretation through a published FAQ rather than through regulations. As a result of the ruling, some hospitals may get extra room under their hospital-specific Medicaid DSH limit. For … Read More
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee (HELP) held a hearing last week on the 340B prescription drug discount program. The hearing was prompted by complaints from pharmaceutical companies about the discounts they are required to provide to eligible providers and by concern that hospitals are insufficiently accountable for how they use the savings they derive from those discounts to serve their low-income patients. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently reduced its Medicare payments to participating hospitals. During the hearing, Senate Republicans expressed support for the program but spoke of the need for greater transparency in the use of the savings the 340B program generates for hospitals and a clearer sense of how those savings … Read More
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has issued its 2018 report and recommendations to Congress. The report includes MedPAC’s recommendations for next year’s Medicare fee-for-service payments; a review of the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D programs, with recommendations; and a report telehealth required by the 21st Century Cures Act. For Medicare fee-for-service rates, MedPAC proposes: the inpatient and outpatient rate increases, physician and other health professional rate increases, and outpatient dialysis increase included under current law no increase for ambulatory surgical centers, long-term-care hospitals, and hospice providers no rate increase for skilled nursing facilities a five percent reduction of payments for home health providers and the introduction of a two-year rebasing of home health rates beginning in 2020 a five … Read More
The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission has published its annual report and recommendations to Congress. MACPAC’s report addresses three primary areas: Medicaid managed care, telehealth, and Medicaid disproportionate share payments (Medicaid DSH). With 80 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries now enrolled in managed care plans, MACPAC offers three major recommendations for improving Medicaid managed care efforts: permit states to require all of their Medicaid beneficiaries to enroll in a managed care plan extend Medicaid managed care section 1915(b) waivers from two to five years permit states to obtain waivers to waive freedom of choice and selective contracting restrictions MACPAC notes the growing use of telehealth by state Medicaid programs and encourages states to continue this expansion while learning more … Read More
Amid the growing awareness of the impact of social factors on health, policy-makers are increasingly interested in finding ways to address those factors through state Medicaid programs. In a new blog post, the journal Health Affairs offers six ways for states to address social determinants of health through Medicaid managed care programs. classify certain social services as covered benefits under the state’s Medicaid plan explore additional flexibility afforded states through section 1115 waivers use value-based payments to support investment in social interventions use incentives and withholds to encourage plan investment in social interventions integrate efforts to address social issues into quality improvement activities reward plans with effective investments in social interventions with higher rates Learn more about how states can … Read More
The Medicare hospital readmissions reduction program is working, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. And it may even be worth expanding to additional medical conditions, MedPAC members believe. According to MedPAC, hospital readmissions among patients with medical conditions covered by the readmissions reduction program have declined faster than readmissions among patients with medical conditions not covered by the program, suggesting that expanding the program to additional medical conditions could lead to an even greater reduction in the number of avoidable Medicare-covered readmissions. Learn more about changes in the readmission rate since the readmissions reduction program was introduced and whether those reductions can accurately be attributed to the program this MedPage Today article.