Archive for February, 2012


New Report Explores “Medical Homes”

Greater use of “medical homes” appears to be one of the centerpiece strategies of health care reform.  A new approach to primary care, its proponents believe it offers the promise of both better and more efficient care.

Preparing the health care system to embrace and work effectively with medical homes, however, is a challenge.  A new Commonwealth Fund report, Guiding Transformation:  How Medical Practices Can Become Patients-Centered Medical Homes, examines these challenges and addresses how they can be overcome.  Read a summary of that report and download the entire document here.…

Insurers Turn Attention to the Chronically Ill

Private health insurers are now paying more attention to relatively small numbers of patients who consume large amounts of health care services.

Traditionally, public sector insurers, most notably Medicaid programs, have invested greater time and effort in managing the care of chronically ill patients, but as the Affordable Care Act is implemented, this is now a concern for private insurers as well.  Under health care reform, insurers will neither be able to charge higher premiums for people with chronic medical conditions nor deny them coverage, so they are developing new ways to help manage the care of such individuals more effectively and keep them healthier and less in need of medical services.

Read more about the latest efforts of private insurers to address this long-standing challenge in this New York Times article.…

Trend Away From Nursing Home Care Continues

As nursing home costs continue to rise and Medicaid and Medicare payments for nursing home services continue to fall, more states and other organizations are making a greater effort to find new ways to meet the long-term-care needs of the elderly and infirm.

Among the approaches receiving more attention in recent years are the growth of managed care plans for the elderly in need of nursing assistance, the proliferation of adult day care centers, greater participation in the federal PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) program, and an increase in the number of nursing homes that are closing those doors.  Many nursing home operators, in fact, are embracing these new approaches to caring for the elderly.

Learn more about this trend, what has prompted it, and how it employs new approaches to serving the elderly in this New York Times article.…

CMS Unveils Stage 2 “Meaningful Use” Criteria

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released its proposed regulation presenting the stage two requirements for achieving “meaningful use” of health care information technology that providers will have to meet to receive special, supplemental Medicare and Medicaid funding to support the development of their health care IT capabilities.  This funding was created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Read more about the stage 2 criteria in this CMS fact sheet and download the entire (455-page) regulation here.…

The Challenges Confronting Independent Hospitals

Across the country, independent hospitals face numerous challenges to their continued existence:  the economies that large health systems enjoy, declining public payments, growing costs, increasing demands for charity care, eroding margins, and more.

In “Rising medical costs squeeze independent hospitals,” the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review looks at these challenges from the perspective of hospitals in the Pittsburgh area.…