Archive for July, 2019


Can Medicare Feed its Way Out of Some Readmissions?

Feeding some Medicare patients after they are discharged from the hospital could reduce readmissions and save taxpayers millions, a new study has concluded.

According to the new Bipartisan Policy Center report Next Steps in Chronic Care:  Expanding Innovative Medicare Benefits, providing a limited number of free meals to certain Medicare patients could eliminate nearly 10,000 readmissions a year and save more than $57 million.

Participating patients would be those with more than one of a limited number of chronic medical conditions and the meals would be for one week only.  According to the report, more than 575,000 Medicare beneficiaries would be eligible to participate in such a program, with their meals costing $101 million a year, or $176 a person for one week, but the nearly 10,000 Medicare readmissions that would be prevented would reduce Medicare spending more than $158 million a year.

Such a program, if implemented, would be yet another approach to addressing the social determinants of health in many communities.

Learn more about how such an approach would work and whom it would serve in the Bipartisan Policy Center report Next Steps in Chronic Care:  Expanding Innovative Medicare Benefits.…

Update Patient Satisfaction Survey, Hospital Groups Suggest

The survey that asks patients about their satisfaction with their hospital experience should be revised, several hospital groups have declared.

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey has become outdated and needs revision, according to the Federation of American Hospitals, the American Hospital Association, America’s Essential Hospitals, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Catholic Health Association of America.

According to the hospital groups, the 32-question HCAHPS survey needs to be updated to address more effectively matters involving value-based care, health care technology, patient priorities, and post-discharge transitional care.  The groups also called for the survey to be shortened and for it to be available for patients to respond to digitally.

Learn more in Modernizing the HCAHPS Survey:  Patient Experience Leaders Modernizing the HCAHPS Survey, the report that presents the hospital groups’ findings and recommendations.…

New Bill Would Address Social Determinants of Health

The federal government would provide funding to help address social determinants of health within Medicaid populations under a new bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week.

According to a legislative summary prepared by one of the bipartisan bill’s sponsors,

Economic and social conditions have a powerful impact on our health and wellness. Stable housing, reliable transportation and access to healthy foods are all factors that can make a difference in the prevention and management of many health conditions like diabetes, asthma and heart disease. Known as social determinants of health, a focus on these non-medical factors can improve health outcomes and wellbeing. States are increasingly looking to deploy social determinants of health interventions to manage costs and improve health outcomes within their Medicaid programs. However, one of the greatest challenges to high-impact interventions is the difficulty in navigating and coordinating fragmented and complex programs aimed at addressing healthcare needs, food insecurity, housing instability, workforce supports, and transportation reliability, among others.

To address these challenges, the bill would

… help states and communities devise strategies to better leverage existing programs and authorities to improve the health and well-being of those participating in Medicaid. The legislation will provide planning grants

Governors Look at Surprise Medical Bills

While action on surprise medical bills may be slow in coming at the federal level, many states have introduced measures to address this challenge and others are exploring possible actions.

Since 2017, 11 states have introduced surprise medical bill laws, six of them doing so this year alone.

Surprise billing is an issue of importance to the nation’s governors, and their professional group, the National Governors Association, has prepared a report outlining the key issues they must address when attempting to craft surprise billing policies.  Learn more about what governors view as the key considerations in developing such policies in the National Governors Association report Protecting Consumers From Surprise Medical Bills:  Considerations for Governors.

ACA’s Medicaid Pay Bump Helped But Benefits Now Lost, Study Says

Health status and access to care improved for Medicaid patients when the Affordable Care Act mandated a temporary rate increase for physicians serving newly insured patients covered through that law’s Medicaid expansion.

But when the mandate for increased physician payments ended and state Medicaid programs reverted to their previous, lower payments, many of those benefits were lost.

Or so reports a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

According to the study, even a $10 rate increase improved access to care enough to reduce by 13 percent Medicaid recipients’ complaints about not being about to find a doctor.  Utilization also increased.  The temporary Medicaid pay increase has even been credited with improving school attendance and reducing chronic absenteeism.

Despite the benefits of the temporary increase in Medicaid payments to physicians, most states returned to lower payments when the mandated ended, most of the gains resulting from the better pay for treating Medicaid patients disappeared, and the disparities between privately insured individuals and Medicaid patients returned to their pre-Affordable Care Act levels.

Researchers estimate that increasing Medicaid payments to physicians by an average of $26 a visit would eliminate disparities in access to care.

Learn more from the National …