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Posts Tagged ‘Affordable Care Act’


Real Time Coverage @BIOConvention #BIO2019: After Trump’s Drug Pricing Blueprint: What Happens Next? A View from Washington; June 3 2019 1:00 PM Philadelphia PA

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD @StephenJWillia2

 

Speaker: Dan Todd, JD

Dan Todd is the Principal of Todd Strategy, LLC, a consulting firm founded in 2014 and based in Washington, DC. He provides legislative and regulatory strategic guidance and advocacy for healthcare stakeholders impacted by federal healthcare programs.

Prior to Todd Strategy, Mr. Todd was a Senior Healthcare Counsel for the Republican staff of the Senate Finance Committee, the Committee of jurisdiction for the Medicare and Medicaid programs. His areas of responsibility for the committee included the Medicare Part B and Part D programs, which includes physician, medical device, diagnostic and biopharmaceutical issues.

Before joining the Finance Committee, Mr. Todd spent several years in the biotechnology industry, where he led policy development and government affairs strategy. He also represented his companies’ interests with major trade associations such as PhRMA and BIO before federal and state representatives, as well as with key stakeholders such as physician and patient advocacy organizations.

Dan also served as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency charged with the operation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. While at CMS, Dan worked on Medicare Part B and Part D issues during the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act from 2003 to 2005.

Cost efficiencies were never measured.

Removing drug rebates would cost 180 billion over 10 years. CBO came up with similar estimate.  Not sure what Congress will do. It appears they will keep the rebates in.

  • House  Dems are really going after PBMs; anytime the Administration makes a proposal goes right into CBO baseline estimates;  negotiations appear to be in very early stages and estimates are up in the air
  • WH close to meet a budget cap but then broke down in next day; total confusion in DC on budget; healthcare is now held up, especially the REBATE rule; : is a shame as panel agrees cost savings would be huge
  • they had initiated a study to tie the costs of PartB to international drug prices; meant to get at disparity on international drug prices; they currently are only mulling the international price index; other option is to reform Part B;  the proposed models were brought out near 2016 elections so not much done; unified agenda;
  • most of the response of Congress relatively publicly muted; a flat fee program on biologics will have big effect on how physicians and health systems paid; very cat and mouse game in DC around drug pricing
  • administration is thinking of a PartB “inflation cap”;  committees are looking at it seriously; not a rebate;  discussion of tiering of physician payments
  • Ways and Means Cmmtte:  proposing in budget to alleve some stresses on PartB deductable amounts;
  • PartD: looking at ways to shore it up; insurers 80% taxpayers 20% responsible; insurers think it will increase premiums but others think will reduce catastrophic costs; big part of shift in spending in Part D has been this increase in catastrophic costs
  • this week they may actually move through committees on this issue; Administration trying to use the budgetary process to drive this bargain;  however there will have to be offsets so there may be delays in process

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Other articles on this Open Access Journal on Healthcare Costs, Payers, and Patient Care Include:

The Arnold Relman Challenge: US HealthCare Costs vs US HealthCare Outcomes

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that the federal healthcare program will cover the costs of cancer gene tests that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration

Trends in HealthCare Economics: Average Out-of-Pocket Costs, non-Generics and Value-Based Pricing, Amgen’s Repatha and AstraZeneca’s Access to Healthcare Policies

Can Blockchain Technology and Artificial Intelligence Cure What Ails Biomedical Research and Healthcare

Live Conference Coverage @Medcity Converge 2018 Philadelphia: Oncology Value Based Care and Patient Management

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CMS releases MACRA rule proposal: Will HHS force physicians to drop fee for service for fee for outcome?

Streamlined implementation aims to increase flexibility, decrease reporting burden for physicians

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled a proposed ruletackling the initial implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).

According to an HHS announcement accompanying the rule, the primary aim is to simplify and streamline the existing patchwork of value-based payment models that have increasingly replaced the traditional fee-for-service system via a new framework dubbed the Quality Payment Program. This structure provides doctors with two paths for compliance:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expects most providers to opt for the MIPS track initially, according to CMS Acting Principal Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, M.D., who spoke on a conference call announcing the rule.

Participation in Advanced Alternative Payment models would exempt doctors from MIPS reporting requirements while also qualifying them for financial bonuses in exchange for taking on the risks related with providing “coordinated, high-quality care,” according to CMS. The agency expects both the number of physicians participating in this track and the number of payment models available to grow over time.

CMS also reports that doctors will have the flexibility to switch among various components of the Quality Payment Program as dictated by the needs of their patients or their practices.

Opinions from around the web

In this video, Gilberg, senior vice president for the Medical Group Management Association’s Government Affairs Office, discusses CMS’ Physician Value-based Payment Modifier. In 2015, Medicare will begin applying the modifier under the physician fee schedule to various providers to show value of care.

“Cost and quality … make up the value equation, in the mind of the payer, in terms of Medicare,” said Gilberg.

In addition to explaining how the modifier works, Gilberg also highlights other quality measures facing providers under the Physician Quality Reporting System and via the EHR Incentive Programs, better known as meaningful use.

View Video at

http://www.physicianspractice.com/mgma14/understanding-medicare-value-based-payment-models

When the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) legislation passed in April 2015, everyone cheered the repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula for Medicare physician payment. Now, even before the MACRA regulations are even promulgated, it’s time to pay attention because Medicare physician payments in 2019 will be impacted by their performance in 2017, just a year from now.

Other related articles

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Wherefore Goes the Laboratory?

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

Writer and Curatorthat both public and private payers develop clear and consistent evidence criteria for payment of

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/7/17/larryhbern/Wherefore_Goes_the_Laboratory?

 

Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics are becoming more integrated in terms of payment initiatives

We have already seen the impetus for targeted-design of drugs. However, how this plays out in the complex world of personalized-medicine remains to be seen.  Certainly, the genomics of cancer and other diseases has been a matter of continuing investigation, and is not clear with respect to patient management.  The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) has issued a position statement on Personalized Medicine, emphasizing the role of laboratory medicine in the delivery of Personalized Medicine (PM).  The AACC stresses the need for Congressional funding for basic and clinical research in the field of PM tests. Important in this view is  the need to develop evidence based criteria for the reimbursement of companion diagnostics. In addition, the recommendation urges that laboratory professionals become more engaged in educating physicians about the availability of and limitations of PM tests, and to partner with other  healthcare professionals.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has issued new data on the cost savings of accountable care oganizations (ACOs).    The American Hospital Association Senior Vice President Linda Fishman calls attention to the need for the CMS to make the program more attractive to new and current participants. CMS announced in May that the Office of the Actuary found the Pioneer ACO model geberated more than $384 million in savings to Medicare over the first two years of the program while continuing to provide high-quality care.

An important issue, quite easily overlooked, is the importance of the restructuring of the electronic health record (EHR) to accomplish this task. There are unresolved issues that need serious attention:

1. The EHR needs to be functionally more than just a repository for data.

It has to be linked to multivariable algorithms that parse the data in real time, and thereby assist physicians in decision-making.  This would be essential for a population-based model for value-based payments by Medicare and all providers in the next several years, in accordance with the Affordable Care Act.

2. The EHR has to be accessible to all of the providers of care to the patient, and the information also protected from intrusion.  This means that if a patient has cancer, and is also diabetic, and has for example, rheumatoid arthritis, the data has to be available to all providers actively engaged in treatment. This might be the endocrinologist, a primary care physician, a rheumatologist, radiologist, and oncologist. This is not by any means a consideration in the current design of the EHR.

3. The access to laboratory and pharmacy data must be seamless, which has not been the case.

If these considerations were considered in a patient-focused design of the EHR, the benefits would almost certainly accrue.  I call attention to the fact that there are ongoing medical studies and pertinent findings that could also contribute to the quality of care, but these might take some time to be incorporated into an evidence-based program going forward.

Clin Lab News July 2015; 41(7). AACC
bmalone@aacc.org

 

 

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2:15PM 11/13/2014 – 10th Annual Personalized Medicine Conference at the Harvard Medical School, Boston

REAL TIME Coverage of this Conference by Dr. Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN – Director and Founder of LEADERS in PHARMACEUTICAL BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE, Boston http://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com

 

 

2:15 p.m. Panel Discussion Reimbursement/Regulation

 

Reimbursement and Regulation

     Moderator:

Sheila D. Walcoff, J.D.
CEO and Founder, Goldbug Strategies, LLC

Panelists:

2. Catalina Lopez Correa, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice President/CSO, Scientific Affairs
Génome Québec

1. Michael Kolodziej, M.D.
National Medical Director for Oncology Strategies, Aetna

Clinical Utility Test is done cheap the drug used as therapeutics is $10,000 – without knowing if it will work or not

3. Bruce Quinn, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Health Policy Specialist
Foley Hoag LLP

It is a whole ecosystem,

1. CMS – ACA

2. On diagnostics: clinical utility (six questions), clinical validity, analytical

$50 test kit from Abbott, 20,000 patients – $1 million market for test, Drug: $100,000 = $1 Billion for Pharma

Test coverage by Insurance:
  • If Patient sign Risks are known, Physician is educated, Patient is educated by Physician
  • Participation in Registry — test is covered
  • making information actionable to the Consumer

See more at: http://personalizedmedicine.partners.org/Education/Personalized-Medicine-Conference/Program.aspx#sthash.qGbGZXXf.dpuf

 

@HarvardPMConf

#PMConf

@SachsAssociates

@GenomeQuebec

@clopezcorrea

@Aetna (for Dr. Kolodziej)

 

@FoleyHoag (for Bruce Quinn)

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11:30AM 11/12/2014 – 10th Annual Personalized Medicine Conference at the Harvard Medical School, Boston

REAL TIME Coverage of this Conference by Dr. Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN – Director and Founder of LEADERS in PHARMACEUTICAL BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE, Boston http://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com

11:30 Personalized Medicine Coalition Award &  Award Recipient Speech

Presentation of Personalized Medicine Coalition’s 10th Annual Award for Leadership in Personalized Medicine.

Personalized Medicine Coalition Award Recipient

Mark J. Levin
Co-Founder and Partner
Third Rock Ventures, LLC

Presenter:

Brian Munroe
PMC Founder and Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
Endo

 Award in Science, Business Policy to individual to lead PM – Mark Levin

 

 

  • was at Ely Lilly in the 70s leading supplier of Insulin in the 20s and antibiotics in the 30s,Factor 8, pain drugs, chemotherapy
  • was at Genentech – Human growth Hormone and Human Insulin — both are PM, Interferon,
  • was at Mayfield Ventures
  • was at Millenium, CEO, early 90s, monoclonal antibodies
  • 2000 discussion on the need for PMC
  • Founder of Foundation Medicine – molecular informatics – expands therapeutics and PM
  • NOW — with Third Rock Ventures, LLC

 

Mark Levin – award acceptance speech – Team accomplishments most important

We need to thank the patients participating in Clinical Trials

  1. How I got involved in personalized medicine (PM): High School – Human Biology
  2. Genetics – drive
  3. PM – All diseases – genetic disorders — combination with extreme phenotyping, Muscular Dystrophy – splicing a gene for treatment
  4. Drugability and PM – gene therapy, replace factor, deliver a gene to the brain and the drug. inside CSF
  5. Gene editing – deliver to the Brain correct the gene in the Brain – therapy for ALS, Schizophrenia – understanding the genes involved in this disease, same
  6. Cancer cure – treatment of combination therapies several at the same time vs present time treat one other emerges
  7. cancer vaccine
  8. Sample of blood – proteomics — in Annual Exams at MDs Annual physical
  9. Convergent — comparison of Mutation across to 1000 patient’s mutations
  10. Future is MOST exciting
  11. Challenges of the Future: Biology and Technology, cells in microbiome, 10 million genes, SYSTEM BIOLOGY — will lead the way,
  12. FUNDING SCIENCE via NIH Scientist is the most important National task
  13. Preventative and Prognostics Medicine -need be part of DRUG development
  14. Justification – maximize value for patient vs $$ spent – maximum value – waste and no leadership
  15. Concern — Affordability of Healthcare to All, access to care vs economic Inequality
  16. Leadership and Management: We truly need NATIONAL CONVERSATION — with a Leader with set of goals to solve a problem in certain time
  17. Insurance, Pharma, HMO — budget challenge — attendees inn the room, need to provide leadership at the National Level

 

– See more at: http://personalizedmedicine.partners.org/Education/Personalized-Medicine-Conference/Program.aspx#sthash.qGbGZXXf.dpuf

 

@HarvardPMConf

#PMConf

@SachsAssociates

@VCapitalGuide

@hgbc_harvard

@MassBio

@MALifeSciences

@FierceBiotech

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Curation, HealthCare System in the US, and Calcium Signaling Effects on Cardiac Contraction, Heart Failure, and Atrial Fibrillation, and the Relationship of Calcium Release at the Myoneural Junction to Beta Adrenergic Release


Curation, HealthCare System in the US, and Calcium Signaling Effects on Cardiac Contraction, Heart Failure, and Atrial Fibrillation, and the Relationship of Calcium Release at the Myoneural Junction to Beta Adrenergic Release

Curator and e-book Contributor: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP
Curator and BioMedicine e-Series Editor-in-Chief: Aviva Lev Ari, PhD, RN

and 

Content Consultant to Six-Volume e-SERIES A: Cardiovascular Diseases: Justin Pearlman, MD, PhD, FACC

This portion summarises what we have covered and is now familiar to the reader.  There are three related topics, and an extension of this embraces other volumes and chapters before and after this reading.  This approach to the document has advantages over the multiple authored textbooks that are and have been pervasive as a result of the traditional publication technology.  It has been stated by the founder of ScoopIt, that amount of time involved is considerably less than required for the original publications used, but the organization and construction is a separate creative process.  In these curations we amassed on average five articles in one curation, to which, two or three curators contributed their views.  There were surprises, and there were unfulfilled answers along the way.  The greatest problem that is being envisioned is the building a vision that bridges and unmasks the hidden “dark matter” between the now declared “OMICS”, to get a more real perspective on what is conjecture and what is actionable.  This is in some respects unavoidable because the genome is an alphabet that is matched to the mino acid sequences of proteins, which themselves are three dimensional drivers of sequences of metabolic reactions that can be altered by the accumulation of substrates in critical placements, and in addition, the proteome has functional proteins whose activity is a regulatory function and not easily identified.  In the end, we have to have a practical conception, recognizing the breadth of evolutionary change, and make sense of what we have, while searching for more.

We introduced the content as follows:

1. We introduce the concept of curation in the digital context, and it’s application to medicine and related scientific discovery.

Topics were chosen were used to illustrate this process in the form of a pattern, which is mostly curation, but is significantly creative, as it emerges in the context of this e-book.

  • Alternative solutions in Treatment of Heart Failure (HF), medical devices, biomarkers and agent efficacy is handled all in one chapter.
  • PCI for valves vs Open heart Valve replacement
  • PDA and Complications of Surgery — only curation could create the picture of this unique combination of debate, as exemplified of Endarterectomy (CEA) vs Stenting the Carotid Artery (CAS), ischemic leg, renal artery stenosis.

2. The etiology, or causes, of cardiovascular diseases consist of mechanistic explanations for dysfunction relating to the heart or vascular system. Every one of a long list of abnormalities has a path that explains the deviation from normal. With the completion of the analysis of the human genome, in principle all of the genetic basis for function and dysfunction are delineated. While all genes are identified, and the genes code for all the gene products that constitute body functions, there remains more unknown than known.

3. Human genome, and in combination with improved imaging methods, genomics offers great promise in changing the course of disease and aging.

4. If we tie together Part 1 and Part 2, there is ample room for considering clinical outcomes based on individual and organizational factors for best performance. This can really only be realized with considerable improvement in information infrastructure, which has miles to go.

Curation

Curation is an active filtering of the web’s  and peer reviewed literature found by such means – immense amount of relevant and irrelevant content. As a result content may be disruptive. However, in doing good curation, one does more than simply assign value by presentation of creative work in any category. Great curators comment and share experience across content, authors and themes.
Great curators may see patterns others don’t, or may challenge or debate complex and apparently conflicting points of view.  Answers to specifically focused questions comes from the hard work of many in laboratory settings creatively establishing answers to definitive questions, each a part of the larger knowledge-base of reference. There are those rare “Einstein’s” who imagine a whole universe, unlike the three blindmen of the Sufi tale.  One held the tail, the other the trunk, the other the ear, and they all said this is an elephant!
In my reading, I learn that the optimal ratio of curation to creation may be as high as 90% curation to 10% creation. Creating content is expensive. Curation, by comparison, is much less expensive.  The same source says “Scoop.it is my content marketing testing “sandbox”. In sharing, he says that comments provide the framework for what and how content is shared.

Healthcare and Affordable Care Act

We enter year 2014 with the Affordable Care Act off to a slow start because of the implementation of the internet signup requiring a major repair, which is, unfortunately, as expected for such as complex job across the US, and with many states unwilling to participate.  But several states – California, Connecticut, and Kentucky – had very effective state designed signups, separate from the federal system.  There has been a very large rush and an extension to sign up. There are many features that we can take note of:

1. The healthcare system needed changes because we have the most costly system, are endowed with advanced technology, and we have inexcusable outcomes in several domains of care, including, infant mortality, and prenatal care – but not in cardiology.

2. These changes that are notable are:

  • The disparities in outcome are magnified by a large disparity in highest to lowest income bracket.
  • This is also reflected in educational status, and which plays out in childhood school lunches, and is also affected by larger class size and cutbacks in school programs.
  • This is not  helped by a large paralysis in the two party political system and the three legs of government unable to deal with work and distraction.
  • Unemployment is high, and the banking and home construction, home buying, and rental are in realignment, but interest rates are problematic.

3.  The  medical care system is affected by the issues above, but the complexity is not to be discounted.

  •  The medical schools are unable at this time to provide the influx of new physicians needed, so we depend on a major influx of physicians from other countries
  • The technology for laboratories, proteomic and genomic as well as applied medical research is rejuvenating the practice in cardiology more rapidly than any other field.
  • In fields that are imaging related the life cycle of instruments is shorter than the actual lifetime use of the instruments, which introduces a shortening of ROI.
  • Hospitals are consolidating into large consortia in order to maintain a more viable system for referral of specialty cases, and also is centralizing all terms of business related to billing.
  • There is reduction in independent physician practices that are being incorporated into the hospital enterprise with Part B billing under the Physician Organization – as in Partners in Greater Boston, with the exception of “concierge” medical practices.
  • There is consolidation of specialty laboratory services within state, with only the most specialized testing going out of state (Quest, LabCorp, etc.)
  • Medicaid is expanded substantially under the new ACA.
  • The federal government as provider of services is reducing the number of contractors for – medical devices, diabetes self-testing, etc.
  • The current rearrangements seeks to provide a balance between capital expenses and fixed labor costs that it can control, reduce variable costs (reagents, pharmaceutical), and to take in more patients with less delay and better performance – defined by outside agencies.

Cardiology, Genomics, and calcium ion signaling and ion-channels in cardiomyocyte function in health and disease – including heart failure, rhythm abnormalities, and the myoneural release of neurotransmitter at the vesicle junction.

This portion is outlined as follows:

2.1 Human Genome: Congenital Etiological Sources of Cardiovascular Disease

2.2 The Role of Calcium in Health and Disease

2.3 Vasculature and Myocardium: Diagnosing the Conditions of Disease

Genomics & Genetics of Cardiovascular Disease Diagnoses

actin cytoskeleton

wall stress, ventricular workload, contractile reserve

Genetic Base of Atherosclerosis and Loss of Arterial Elasticity with Aging

calcium and actin skeleton, signaling, cell motility

hypertension & vascular compliance

Genetics of Conduction Disease

Ca+ stimulated exostosis: calmodulin & PKC (neurotransmitter)

complications & MVR

disruption of Ca2+ homeostasis cardiac & vascular smooth muscle

synaptotagmin as Ca2+ sensor & vesicles

atherosclerosis & ion channels


It is increasingly clear that there are mutations that underlie many human diseases, and this is true of the cardiovascular system.  The mutations are mistakes in the insertion of a purine nucleotide, which may or may not have any consequence.  This is why the associations that are being discovered in research require careful validation, and even require demonstration in “models” before pursuing the design of pharmacological “target therapy”.  The genomics in cardiovascular disease involves very serious congenital disorders that are asserted early in life, but the effects of and development of atherosclerosis involving large and medium size arteries has a slow progression and is not dominated by genomic expression.  This is characterized by loss of arterial elasticity. In addition there is the development of heart failure, which involves the cardiomyocyte specifically.  The emergence of regenerative medical interventions, based on pleuripotent inducible stem cell therapy is developing rapidly as an intervention in this sector.

Finally, it is incumbent on me to call attention to the huge contribution that research on calcium (Ca2+) signaling has made toward the understanding of cardiac contraction and to the maintenance of the heart rhythm.  The heart is a syncytium, different than skeletal and smooth muscle, and the innervation is by the vagus nerve, which has terminal endings at vesicles which discharge at the myocyte junction.  The heart specifically has calmodulin kinase CaMK II, and it has been established that calmodulin is involved in the calcium spark that triggers contraction.  That is only part of the story.  Ion transport occurs into or out of the cell, the latter termed exostosis.  Exostosis involves CaMK II and pyruvate kinase (PKC), and they have independent roles.  This also involves K+-Na+-ATPase.  The cytoskeleton is also discussed, but the role of aquaporin in water transport appears elsewhere, as the transport of water between cells.  When we consider the Gibbs-Donnan equilibrium, which precedes the current work by a century, we recall that there is an essential balance between extracellular Na+ + Ca2+ and the intracellular K+ + Mg2+, and this has been superceded by an incompletely defined relationship between ions that are cytoplasmic and those that are mitochondrial.  The glass is half full!

 

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The Affordable Care Act: A Considered Evaluation.

Part I.  The legislative act (ACA) and the model for implementation (Insurance Gateways).

Writer and Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP
and
Curator and Editor: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN 
This discussion is composed as two distinct chapters.  The first is a clarification of what is contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the model of care it is crafted from, the insurance mandate, the inclusion of groups considered high risk and uninsured, the inclusion of groups low risk and uninsured, and the economics involved in going from a fractured for profit health care industry to a more stable coverage for patients.  The second is taken from selected articles on the care process and the cost and consequences for improving quality at lower cost.   There are inherent problems at looking at this from a systems point of view, mainly impacted by the relationship of providers to hospitals and clinics, and by the relationships of insurers to the patients and providers in an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model.
This article has the following two parts:

Part I. The legislative act (ACA) and the model for implementation (Insurance Gateways).

Part II.  The Implementation of the ACA, Impact on Physicians and Patients, and the Dis-Ease of the Accountable Care Organizations.

Part I

The legislative act (ACA) and the model for implementation (Insurance Gateways)

A. Access and Coverage of Healthcare Reform Mandate

About 2.5 million young adults from age 19 to 25 attained health coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which took effect in September 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to the law’s approval, some 13.7 million young adults were uninsured, nearly one-third of the nation’s total uninsured population, according to the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.
Employer-sponsored health insurance forms the backbone of our health insurance system. This leaves small businesses difficult to provide their workers with comprehensive coverage. In 2007, only 25 percent of employees in small businesses had coverage through their own employers, compared with 74 percent of workers in large firms. Moreover, there are few sources of affordable coverage outside the employer-based system, leaving millions of employees in small businesses uninsured or with inadequate health insurance. In 2007, half as many workers in small businesses were uninsured or underinsured compared to employees in large businesses. Congressional health reform bills to reform the health system include provisions specifically aimed at helping small businesses and their employees gain access to affordable, comprehensive coverage.  Then there is another issue since the “Great Recession” of 2008, that there is no stable coverage for an unemployed workforce and indigent families with competing needs for food and health.  (Kaiser Health News, 2009; 67).
The law created insurance exchanges to close the gap.  Employer interest in insurance exchanges is growing. The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 29% of employers with 5,000 or more employees are considering private exchanges as an option for buying healthcare coverage for their employees. A day later, consulting firm Towers Watson released its Health Care Changes Ahead survey, which found that 37% of employers think private exchanges are a reasonable alternative to traditional employer coverage in 2014.
See Figure.  M. M. Doty, S. R. Collins, S. D. Rustgi, and J. L. Nicholson, Out of Options: Why So Many Workers in Small Businesses Lack Affordable Health Insurance, and How Health Care Reform Can Help, The Commonwealth Fund, September 2009.

Changes in Health Insurance Coverage in the Great Recession, 2007-2010

This issue brief examines changes in health insurance coverage over the last decade, with a focus on how changes in the economy, particularly during the “Great Recession” of 2007 to 2009, have affected coverage and the number of uninsured. The paper finds that the number of uninsured grew substantially during the first recession of the decade, increasing by 5 million people from 2000 to 2004; increased more slowly during the brief recovery, growing by 2.1 million people from 2004 to 2007; and then again rose significantly during the Great Recession, rising by 5.7 million people since 2007.
The paper also finds that coverage, especially for children, through the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs helped to prevent even more people from being uninsured. While the number of uninsured children declined in recent years, the number of uninsured adults rose. The only notable drop in uninsured adults was for young adults ages 19-25 in 2010, most likely due to the provision of the health reform law that permits young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance. The paper also considers trends in coverage by work status, race and ethnicity, citizenship status and geographical region.
http://kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/changes-in-health-insurance-coverage-in-the/

Uninsured adults with chronic conditions or disabilities: gaps in public insurance programs.

Pizer SD, Frakt AB, Iezzoni LI. US Department of Veterans Affairs in Boston, MA. 

Health Aff (Millwood). 2009;28(6):w1141-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.28.6.w1141
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19843552
Among nonelderly U.S. adults (ages 25-61), uninsurance rates increased from 13.7 percent in 2000 to 16.0 percent in 2005. Despite the existence of public insurance programs, rates remained high for low-income people reporting serious health conditions (25 percent across years) or disabilities (15 percent). Previous research has established that low-income workers, those facing more stringent Medicaid eligibility requirements, and people employed by smaller firms are more likely than others to lack health insurance. Residents of southern states had even higher rates (32 percent with health conditions, 22 percent with disabilities). Those who did not belong to a federally mandated Medicaid eligibility category were about twice as likely as others to be uninsured overall, and uninsurance among this group increased more rapidly over time.
To address this growing problem, President Barack Obama and leaders in Congress passed health insurance reform legislation that is still taking shape. A common feature of the major proposals at this point is that coverage would be expanded by building on existing arrangements. This approach allows people to keep their current insurance if they wish to do so. The Medicaid program is particularly complicated because it is jointly financed and operated by the federal and state governments and because each state has implemented it differently.
See Table 1.

Ultimately, if Congress decides not to eliminate categorical eligibility restrictions, our results indicate that the preservation of eligibility expansions for people with disabilities or chronic conditions would target a population that is particularly vulnerable to uninsurance and its deleterious effects on health.

How Many Are Underinsured? Trends Among U.S. Adults, 2003 And 2007

Cathy Schoen, Sara R. Collins, Jennifer L. Kriss and Michelle M. Doty
Health Aff 2008; 27(4) w298-w309  http://dx.doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.27.4.w298
With health insurance moving toward greater patient cost sharing, this study finds a sharp increase in the number of underinsured people. Based on indicators of cost exposure relative to income, as of 2007 an estimated twenty-five million insured people ages 19–64 were underinsured—a 60 percent increase since 2003. The rate of increase was steepest among those with incomes above 200 percent of poverty, where underinsurance rates nearly tripled. In total, 42 percent of U.S. adults were underinsured or uninsured. The underinsured report high levels of access problems and financial stress. The findings underscore the need for policy attention to benefit design, to assure care and affordability.
See Table 1 and Table 2
About seven in ten underinsured adults had annual incomes below $40,000 or below 300 percent of poverty—similar to the income distribution of the uninsured. In contrast, nearly two-thirds of those with more adequate insurance had incomes above $40,000. Underinsured adults were more likely than either of the other two groups to have health problems.
Based on a composite access indicator that included going without at least one of four needed medical care services, more than half of the underinsured and two-thirds of the uninsured reported cost-related access problems during the year. Among adults with at least one chronic health problem, half of uninsured adults and two in five underinsured adults said that they skipped doses of or did not fill a prescription for their condition because of cost—double to triple the rate reported by those insured all year, not underinsured.

Healthcare Costs: Another Top 1% Issue

By Chris Kaiser, Cardiology Editor, MedPage Today  Sep 11, 2013  http://www.medpagetoday.com/TheGuptaGuide/PublicHealth/41539

In the U.S., the top 1% of patients ranked by their healthcare expenses accounted for 21% of total healthcare expenditures in 2010, with an annual mean expenditure of $87,570, according to 2010 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Rockville, Md.  In addition, the top 5% of the U.S. population ranked by healthcare expenses accounted for half of the total of healthcare expenditures, with an annual mean expenditure of $40,876, wrote Steven B. Cohen, PhD, and Namrata Uberoi, MPH, in the Statistical Brief No. 421.  Both of these figures are down from 1996, when the top 1% accounted for 28% of the total healthcare expenditures and the top 5% accounted for slightly more than half.  The total healthcare expenditures for 2010 were $1.26 trillion.

It is important that policy makers are aware of the the “concentration of healthcare expenditures … to help discern the factors most likely to drive healthcare spending and the characteristics of the individuals who incur them,” the authors noted.

Overall, there was a huge divide between the top and bottom 50% of the population in terms of total healthcare expenses. The top 50% accounted for 97% of total healthcare costs, while the lower 50% accounted for only 3% of the total healthcare expenditures.  In terms of income status,

  • the top 5% of those designated as poor accounted for 57% of the total healthcare expenditures, with an annual mean expenditure of $46,600, while
  • the top 5% of those in the highest income group accounted for 45% of the total healthcare expenditures, with an annual mean expenditure of $40,800.

The report also broke down healthcare spending by the number of chronic conditions, age, race/ethnicity, sex, and insurance. The survey found that chronic diseases take a big chunk of healthcare dollars.

The top 5% of those with four or more chronic conditions accounted for 30% of all healthcare expenditures, with an annual mean of $82,000 — a figure that is

  • seven times higher than those in the top 5% with no chronic diseases and nearly
  • three times higher than the top 5% with one chronic condition.

A report from 2012 found that Medicare could cut up to 10% of its spending if it focused on chronic disease prevention and coordinated care for those with chronic conditions.   Conditioned on insurance coverage status, the uninsured had the most concentrated levels of healthcare expenditures and the lowest annual mean expenses. Regarding public insurance, the top 5% accounted for 56% of the total healthcare expenditures.

Virtually every state experienced deteriorating access to care for adults over the past decade

GM Kenney, S Zuckerman, D Goin, S McMorrow, Urban Institute  May 2012

We use the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to examine state-level changes in three key access indicators over the past decade. Specifically, we explore changes in the likelihood of having unmet medical needs due to cost, receiving a routine checkup, and receiving a dental visit for all nonelderly adults and for the subgroup of uninsured adults. We also consider differentials in access between uninsured and insured adults within each state in 2010, and how these differences are reflected in the relationship between access to care and state-level uninsurance rates.

We find that the deterioration in access to care observed in national trends during the past decade was evident in virtually every state in the country. Similarly, consistent with the national trends, the situation deteriorated more for the uninsured than for other adults in most states, which exacerbated the differentials in access and use between the insured and uninsured that had prevailed at the beginning of the previous decade. At the end of the decade, the uninsured in every state were at a dramatic disadvantage relative to the insured across the three access measures we examined. This analysis suggests that the potential benefits of the coverage expansion in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are large and exist in every state.

We also found that states with higher uninsurance rates have worse access to care for all three measures, which implies that these states have the most to gain from the ACA. In particular, the ACA coverage expansion has the potential to reduce unmet needs due to costs and other cost-related barriers, problems that are more severe in states with high uninsurance rates.

DOCUMENTATION ON THE URBAN INSTITUTE’S AMERICAN COMMUNITY SURVEY-HEALTH INSURANCE POLICY SIMULATION MODEL (ACS-HIPSM)

Matthew Buettgens, Dean Resnick, Victoria Lynch, and Caitlin Carroll    May 21, 2013

We use the Urban Institute’s American Community Survey – Health Insurance Policy Simulation Model (ACS-HIPSM) to estimate the effects of the Affordable Care Act on the non-elderly at the state and local level. This model builds off of the Urban Institute’s base HIPSM, which uses the Current Population Survey (CPS) as its core data set, matched to several other data sets including the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Household Component (MEPS-HC), to simulate changes under ACA. To create HIPSM-ACS, we apply the core behavioral components of the base HIPSM to ACS records to exploit the much larger sample size for more precise estimates at the state and sub-state level. The modeling on the ACS-HIPSM produces projections of coverage changes related to state Medicaid expansions, new health insurance options, subsidies for the purchase of health insurance, and insurance market reforms (see Appendix 1 for more detail on HIPSM).

We simulate eligibility for Medicaid/CHIP and subsidies using the Urban Institute Health Policy Center’s ACS Medicaid/CHIP Eligibility Simulation Model, which builds on the model developed for the CPS ASEC by Dubay and Cook.  (Dubay, L. and A. Cook. 2009. “How Will the Uninsured be Affected by Health Reform?” Washington, DC: Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.)

We simulate both pre-ACA eligibility and the MAGI-based eligibility introduced by the ACA. This allows us to simulate different scenarios for Medicaid maintenance-of-eligibility under the ACA. The distinction between pre-ACA eligible and newly eligible is also important in determining the share of a beneficiary’s costs paid by the federal government.

Using the three-year pooled sample, the model simulates eligibility for comprehensive Medicaid and CHIP coverage or subsidy using available information on the regulations for implementing the ACA, including the amount and extent of income disregards for eligibility pathways that do not change under the ACA and for maintenance-of-eligibility for each program and state in place as of approximately June 2010.

Under the ACA income eligibility is based on the IRS tax definition of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), which includes the following types of income for everyone who is not a tax-dependent child: wages, business income, retirement income, investment income, Social Security, alimony, unemployment compensation, and financial and educational assistance (see Modeling Unemployment Compensation in the appendix). MAGI also includes the income of any dependent children9 required to file taxes, which for 2009 is wage income greater than $5,700 and investment income greater than $950. To compute family income as a ratio of the poverty level, we sum the person-level MAGI across the tax unit.

Current eligibility is determined based on state rules for 2010. State rules include income thresholds for the appropriate family7 size, asset tests, parent/family status, and the amount and extent of disregards8, for each program and state in place as of the middle of 2010 .

we estimate two separate probit models, each with the following covariates:

  1. Age Category: 0 – 5, 6 – 18, 19 – 44, 45 – 64.
  2. Health Status
  3. Worker Status (Household Level)
  4. Wage (Logarithmic Transformation)
  5. HIU Income to Poverty Threshold Ratio
  6. Number of Children
  7. Presence of a child in Public Coverage
  8. Citizenship Status
  9. Number of Adults in the Family

The dependent variable is an indicator of non-group non-exchange policy holder status. Again we compare each respondent’s predicted probability to a standard uniform random number and assign enrollment in the non-group non-exchange to those observations with probabilities that exceed the random number. Appendix Table 5 shows the overall new enrollment in the non-group non-exchange coming out of our model. It shows that the large majority of non-group enrollees outside the exchange are expected to come from single-person policyholders.

We develop a model, again based on HIPSM output, to predict which single ESI policy holders in the ACS are likely to switch to a family plan. We restrict our model to HIUs in which there is at least one single policy holder and at least one other member of the HIU that could potentially be covered by an ESI family plan. The eligible dependents include those with baseline non-group or uninsurance that had not already taken up coverage in a previous model. Note that we only model moving from an individual plan to a family plan; we did not model adding a dependent to a current family plan. Within the eligible group of single ESI policy holders, we use the following covariates to estimate the probability that they will switch to a family ESI policy:

  1. HIU Type: Individual, Unmarried with child, Married without Child, or married with children
  2. Age Category: 0 – 5, 6 – 18, 19 – 44, 45 – 64.
  3. Health Status
  4.  Worker Status (Individual Level)
  5. •Wage (Logarithmic Transformation)
  6. •HIU Income to Poverty Threshold Ratio
  7. •HIU Income to Poverty Threshold Categories (<138% FPL, 138% – 200% FPL, 200% – 300% FPL, 300% – 400% FPL, 400%+ FPL)
  8. •Number of Children
  9.  Presence of a child in Public Coverage
  10.  Citizenship Status
  11.  Firm Size
  12.  Education Status

These estimates assume that the ACA is fully implemented with the Medicaid expansion in all states and that the same basic implementation decisions are made across the states. At the time of writing, even states such as Massachusetts which have been on the forefront of ACA implementation had not finalized their plans, so any modeling of variation in state decisions would necessarily involve a lot of guesswork. Also, it will take several years for enrollment in new programs such as the exchanges and Medicaid expansion to ramp up so the full effects that are estimated under the simulation model would not be felt until 2016 or later. Enrollment in the initial years would also be affected by state and federal decisions. For example, in the proposed rules released by HHS in January 2012, the deadline for establishing unified eligibility and enrollment between Medicaid and the exchange was pushed back to 2015.

Health insurance status change and emergency department use among US adults.

Ginde AA, Lowe RA, Wiler JL.
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO.   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22450213 
Arch Intern Med. 2012 Apr 23;172(8):642-7.   http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/archinternmed
Recent events have increased the instability of health insurance coverage. We compared emergency department (ED) use by newly insured vs continuously insured adults and by newly uninsured vs continuously uninsured adults. Overall, 20.7% of insured adults and 20.0% of uninsured adults had at least 1 ED visit. However, 29.5% of newly insured adults compared with 20.2% of continuously insured adults had at least 1 ED visit. Similarly, 25.7% of newly uninsured adults compared with 18.6% of continuously uninsured adults had at least 1 ED visit. After adjusting for demographics, socioeconomic status, and health status, recent health insurance status change was independently associated with greater ED use for newly insured adults (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 1.32; 95% CI, 1.22-1.42 vs continuously insured adults) and for newly uninsured adults (IRR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.26-1.54 vs continuously uninsured adults). Among newly insured adults, this association was strongest for Medicaid beneficiaries (IRR, 1.45) but was attenuated for those with private insurance (IRR, 1.24) (P < .001 for interaction). Recent changes in health insurance status for newly insured adults and for newly uninsured adults were associated with greater ED use.

Health Insurance and Access to Health Care in the United States

Catherine Hoffman, Julia Paradise
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2008; 1136.    http://dx.doi.org/10.1196/annals.1425.007 
Reducing the Impact of Poverty on Health and Human Development: Scientific Approaches pages 149–160, June 2008

In the United States, where per capita health care costs are the highest in the world and continue to escalate, health insurance has become nearly essential. Having reasonable access to health care rests on many factors: the availability of health services in a community and personal care-seeking behavior, for example. However, these and other factors are often trumped by whether a person can afford the costs of needed care. Health insurance enables access to care by protecting individuals and families against the high and often unexpected costs of medical care, as well as by connecting them to networks and systems of health care providers.
Health insurance, poverty, and health are all interconnected in the United States. This article synthesizes a large and compelling body of health services research, finding a strong association between health insurance coverage and access to primary and preventive care, the treatment of acute and traumatic conditions, and the medical management of chronic illness. Moreover, by improving access to care, health insurance coverage is also fundamentally important to better health care and health outcomes. Research connects being uninsured with adverse health outcomes, including declines in health and function, preventable health problems, severe disease at the time of diagnosis, and premature mortality.
Most working-age adults obtain health coverage for themselves and their dependents as a benefit of employment. However, this benefit has been gradually eroding as health premiums, in tandem with higher health care costs, grow at a rate far outpacing rates of general inflation and wages. In 2005, 61% of the nonelderly had insurance through an employer, down from 66% in 2000.1 Low-wage workers are far less likely than higher-wage workers to have access to job-based coverage. In 2005, more than half of workers in poor families and more than a third of those in near-poor families had no offer of job-based coverage in the family.2 When it is available, health insurance is often unaffordable for low-income people, whose household budgets are strained to meet food, housing, and other basic needs.

Figure 1. Health insurance coverage of the nonelderly population, 2006.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1196/annals.1425.007/asset/image_n/NYAS_1136007_f1.gif    Source: Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured/Urban Institute analysis of Current Population Survey, March 2007.
Those with Medicaid coverage are the most likely to be in fair or poor health because the program’s eligibility requirements include being severely disabled and/or low-income (fig. 2).

Figure 2. Percentage of U.S. nonelderly population reporting fair or poor health, by income and insurance status, 2006.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1196/annals.1425.007/asset/image_t/NYAS_1136007_f2_thumb.gif       Source: Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured/Urban Institute analysis of Current Population Survey, March 2007.
The model for healthcare reform was selected from that enacted in Massachusetts. Important statements from the Massachusetts Act are as follows:
to promote patient-centeredness by, including, but not limited to, establishing

  • 1137 mechanisms to conduct patient outreach and education on the necessity and benefits of care
  • 1138 coordination, including group visits and chronic disease self-management programs;
  • 1139 demonstrating an ability to effectively involve patients in care transitions to improve the
  • 1140 continuity and quality of care across settings,
  • 1146 establishing mechanisms to protect patient provider choice,

Individual Mandate

A provision called the individual mandate, requires all Americans to buy some form of health insurance. Whether it is constitutional was in question before the Supreme Court. While the mandate is separate from the provision allowing young adults up to the age of 26 to be covered under their parents’ policies, the court could have decided to scrap the entire law — instead of just the mandate — leaving millions of young adults in the lurch. The mandate was upheld.

For many young adults, affording health insurance on their own will be particularly difficult.  The unemployment rate for young adults age 16 to 24 was 16.4% in March, twice the national average for the population as a whole.  And many of those who do find jobs, often aren’t being offered health benefits.  Less than a quarter, or 24%, of workers between the ages of 19 and 25 were offered health insurance by their employers in 2010, down from 34% in 2000, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, an independent public policy organization. Meanwhile, nearly 57% of the rest of the working population between the ages of 26 and 64 were covered.

B. Economics of Universal Delivery of Care – Stakeholders’ Trade offs

There is no question that repealing the Affordable Care Act would cause health costs to skyrocket, particularly for seniors who rely on Medicare to help pay for their healthcare.
According to a new report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a healthcare analysis non-profit, repealing the Affordable Care Act would be disastrous for seniors, who would be forced to pay higher premiums, prescription drug costs, and copayments.
According to the report, if health care reform is repealed:
  • Medicare Part A deductibles and copayments would increase.
  • Part B premiums would go up.
  • Savings from closing the Part D donut hole would be eliminated, and the gap in prescription drug coverage would be reopened; under the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 3.6 million Medicare Part D beneficiaries saved an average of $600 each in 2011 once they hit the donut hole, and the donut hole will be closed by 2020.
  • Free preventive services would be eliminated; under the Affordable Care Act, seniors can now get many preventive services for free, including an annual wellness visit, mammograms and other cancer screenings, and other important health services.

U.S. Faces Crisis in Cancer Care

http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/videos/2013/09/us-faces-crisis-cancer-care?et_cid=3474892&et_rid=442219320

Wed, 09/11/2013

Delivery of cancer care in the U.S. is facing a crisis stemming from a combination of factors—a growing demand for such care, a shrinking oncology work force, rising costs of cancer care, and the complexity of the disease and its treatment, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. The report recommends ways to respond to these challenges and improve cancer care delivery, including by strengthening clinicians’ core competencies in caring for patients with cancer, shifting to team-based models of care, and communicating more effectively with patients.

Adding to stresses on the system is the complexity of cancer and its treatment, which has grown in recent years with the development of new therapies targeting specific abnormalities often present only in subsets of patients. Incorporating this new information into clinical care is challenging, the report says. Given the disease’s complexity, clinicians, patients, and patients’ families can find it difficult to formulate care plans with the necessary speed, precision, and quality; as a result, decisions about cancer care are often not sufficiently evidence-based.

Another challenge is the cost of cancer care, which is rising faster than other sectors of medicine, having increased from $72 billion in 2004 to $125 billion in 2010, says the report.  The single largest insurer for those over 65, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is struggling financially.

The report recommends strategies for improving the care of cancer patients, grounded in six components of high-quality cancer care. The components are ordered based on the priority level with which they should be addressed.

  1. Engaged patients. The cancer care system should support patients in making informed medical decisions that are consistent with their needs, values, and preferences. Cancer care teams should provide patients and their families with understandable information about the cancer prognosis and the benefits, harms, and costs of treatments. The National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and other stakeholders should improve the develop­ment and dissemination of this critical informa­tion, using decision aids when possible.  Patients with advanced cancer face specific communication and decision-making needs, and cancer care teams need to discuss their options, such as revisiting and implementing advance care plans. However, these difficult conversations do not occur as often as they should; recent studies found that 65 percent to 80 percent of cancer patients with poor prognoses incorrectly believed their treatment could result in a cure.
  2. An adequately staffed, trained, and coordinated work force. New models of team-based care are an effective way to promote coordinated cancer care and to respond to existing work-force shortages and demographic changes. And to achieve high-quality cancer care, the work force must include enough clinicians with essential core competencies for treating patients with cancer. Professional organizations that represent those who care for patients with cancer should define these core competencies, and organizations that deliver cancer care should ensure their clinicians have those skills.
  3. Evidence-based cancer care. A high-quality cancer care delivery system uses results from scientific research to inform medical decisions, but currently many medical decisions are not supported by sufficient evidence, the report says. Clinical research should gather evidence of the benefits and harms of various treatment options so that patients and their cancer care teams can make more informed treatment decisions. Research should also capture the impacts of treatment regimens on quality of life, symptoms, and patients’ overall experience with the disease. Additional research is needed on cancer interventions for older adults and those with multiple chronic diseases. The current system is poorly prepared to address the complex care needs of these patients.
  4. A learning health care information technology system for cancer care. A system is needed that can “learn” by enabling real-time analysis of data from cancer patients in a variety of care settings to improve knowledge and inform medical decisions. Professional organizations and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should develop and implement the learning health care system, and payers should create incentives for clinicians to participate as it develops.
  5. Translation of evidence into practice, quality measurement, and performance improvement. Tools and initiatives should be delivered to help clinicians quickly incorporate new medical knowledge into routine care. And quality measures are needed to provide a standardized way to assess the quality of cancer care delivered. These measures have the potential to drive improvements in care, inform patients, and influence clinician behavior and reimbursement.
  6. Accessible and affordable cancer care. Currently there are major disparities in access to cancer care among individuals who are of lower socio-economic status, are racial or ethnic minorities, lack health insurance coverage, and are older. HHS should develop a national strategy that leverages existing commu­nity interventions to provide accessible and afford­able cancer care, the report says. To improve the affordability of care, professional societies should publicly disseminate evidence-based information about cancer care practices that are unnecessary or where the harm may outweigh the benefits. CMS and other payers should design and evaluate new payment models that incentivize cancer care teams to provide care based on the best available evidence and that aligns with their patients’ needs. The current fee-for-service reimbursement system encourages a high volume of care, but fails to reward the provision of high-quality care.

Institute of Medicine Calls for Immediate Reforms in Health Care (2012)

By Kimberly Scott, Managing Editor, G2 Intelligence
A new report from the Institute of Medicine released Sept. 6 calls for a broad range of reforms to make timely changes to the U.S. health care system that would provide high-quality care at lower cost. “Unmanageable” complexity in the science and administration of health care, coupled with costs that have increased at a greater rate than the economy as a whole for 31 of the past 40 years, make the status quo “untenable,” said Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America.
“If unaddressed, the current shortfalls in the performance of the nation’s health care system will deepen on both quality and cost dimensions, challenging the well-being of Americans now and potentially far into the future,” the report said.
The report, which follows a series of IOM studies on various aspects of the U.S. health care system, was written by the IOM’s 18-member Committee on the Learning Healthcare System in America. It was sponsored by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, the Charina Endowment Fund, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
A theme of the report is that “health care now must be a team sport,” Smith said. Physicians in private practice interact with as many as 229 other physicians in 117 practices for their Medicare patients, he said. An elderly patient with multiple chronic diseases can be on up to 19 medications a day, he said. About 30 percent of health care spending in 2009, an estimated $750 billion, was wasted on
  • unnecessary services,
  • excessive administrative costs,
  • fraud, and other problems, the report said.
An estimated 75,000 deaths might have been avoided in 2005 if every state had delivered care at the quality of the best-performing state, it said.
The report is available at http://www.iom.edu

Graphical Excursion into National Healthcare Expenditures

Dan Munro, Forbes
According to the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, this number has been historically underreported – by a significant amount. In their report (The Hidden Costs of U.S. Health Care), they cite two important components that have not been included in tradtional calculations. The first is out-of-pocket spending by consumers on professional services and the second is the “imputed value of supervisory care provided to a friend or family member.” Using a conservative annual growth rate of 4% (from Deloitte’s baseline year of 2010), here’s what Deloitte suggests is our real NHE.

 NHEbyDCforHS1  NHE annual growth rate of 4%

http://blogs-images.forbes.com/danmunro/files/2012/12/NHEbyDCforHS1.png

The Kaiser Family Foundation also provided a comparison of cumulative increases in health insurance premiums – relative to Workers’ Contributions, Inflation and Workers’ Earnings (from 2000 to 2012).

percentageincreasekff  % increase in HI premiums

http://blogs-images.forbes.com/danmunro/files/2012/12/percentageincreasekff.png

Another annual chart is Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report: 2012 Results (slide #2 – 2011 data).

salaries1  physician compensation  (Medscape)

For those that may be relying exclusively on the transformative effects of PPACA (Obamacare) – this chart highlights the nominal impact of PPACA reform on our National Healthcare Expenditure. It’s from a Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief (May, 2010) – The Impact of Health Reform on Health System Spending (Exhibit #3 – page 5).
NHE-BeforeAfter   nominal impact of PPACA reform on our National Healthcare Expenditure  (Commonwealth Fund)
This last one from Mary Meeker’s landmark report – USA, Inc. (slide #111) – is definitely not new but it is foundational. It compares per capita costs and life expectancy across all 34 OECD member countries using OECD data from 2009.
cost1  per capita costs and life expectancy across all 34 OECD member countries using OECD data from 2009.

C. Political Divisions – Destiny of Healthcare Reform

An Oncology Perspective on the Supreme Courts Pending Decision Regarding the Affordable Care Act

By SK Stranne, MG Halgren, P Shughart. Washington, DC.
Beginning on March 26, 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments regarding challenges to the recent federal health care reform legislation. The Court scheduled this unusually lengthy series of arguments to last for three days—a reflection of both the high stakes and the complexity of the legal issues involved.  We provide a summary of the questions under consideration by the Supreme Court regarding the health care reform legislation, and we explore how the pending decision on this high-profile matter may impact the oncology community.
Congress enacted the reforms through two separate bills. The two laws, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act[1] and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010,[2] have become known collectively as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Court is not charged with deciding whether the ACA is good health care policy, only constitutionality.

Issues Before the Court

[1] whether Congress has exceeded its powers with respect to two specific provisions of the ACA
One of these provisions is the law’s requirement that individuals maintain a minimum level of health insurance, which is often referred to as the “minimum coverage requirement” or the “individual mandate.” The other contested provision is the law’s expansion of eligibility and financial support for the Medicaid program, through which the federal government provides grants to state governments to help fund health insurance for the poor.
[2] the Obama administration contended that two powers delegated to Congress each provide sufficient authority for the minimum coverage requirement
[a] Immediately preceding the minimum coverage requirement in the text of the ACA itself, Congress offered its own lengthy justification of why the Commerce Clause, which is a provision in the Constitution that delegates to Congress the power of regulating commerce among the states, authorizes this individual mandate.
[b] the problem is … as much as they say, ‘Well, we are not in the market,’ … [the uninsured] haven’t been able to meet the bill for cancer, and the rest of us end up paying because these people are getting cost-free health care.” Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
[c] the Constitution’s Taxing and Spending Clause also gives Congress authority to enact the minimum coverage requirement and collect a penalty for noncompliance via federal income tax returns.
The arguments in favor of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion relied on the Taxing and Spending Clause and also on the Appropriations Clause, both of which are generally regarded as giving Congress significant discretion in dictating how federal funds are spent. However, the Court has previously indicated that Congress may not use its spending power to unduly coerce the states. The ACA’s opponents argued that the Medicaid expansion is unconstitutionally coercive because it attaches new terms (ie, the requirement to cover more people) to substantial existing funds (ie, the grants the federal government already gives to the states for the original Medicaid program and its various pre-ACA expansions). Due to the size of the Medicaid program, the argument goes, the states have no real alternative but to continue participating in Medicaid under the ACA’s terms.
The severability discussion concerns whether the Court would strike only the provision in question, only the provision in question plus some closely related provisions, or the entire ACA. The arguments on this issue mainly addressed the minimum coverage requirement and focused on the degree to which certain provisions of the ACA are linked with that provision and what Congress would have intended to occur if the provision were found unconstitutional.

Convergence is Coming: A Brave New World

KPMG Report  by Liam Walsh
Healthcare payers, providers and life sciences companies should be thinking beyond transformation and focus more on convergence and the implications of operating in a collaborative and integrated healthcare delivery model.  This has come about because
  • the business of healthcare is changing to an ‘outcomes-based’ system
  • that compensates organizations based on the effectiveness of a product or service, not as a consumable.
The result is a driver of consolidation, and participants will fall substantially over the next decade. It is expected that the evolving system will bring about significant benefits with a more effective system when the dust settles.  However,patients will have less choice in the market, either due to services having been consolidated with one provider or because payer incentives drive patients to more cost-effective options. But the rapid development of a digitalized data handling with introduction of superior analytics, and moving more information onto ‘smart devices’ is already beginning to transform the way we source, deliver and pay for healthcare services.  The restructuring is transforming the healthcare business models.

Transforming Healthcare: From Volume to Value

KPMG Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals  Sept 2012
Over the next decade, all parts of the healthcare services and life sciences industry will need to change, from revenue based on volume to revenue based on value, to be sustainable and cost effective.  The emphasis on sustainability requires
  • contracting for healthcare value and
  • improving the productivity of the healthcare workforce.
Given the current high costs and variable outcomes, the U.S. healthcare system is undergoing an unprecedented transformation.

Bundle with Care — Rethinking Medicare Incentives for Post–Acute Care Services

Judith Feder, Ph.D.

n engl j med  2013; 369(5):400
Although health policy experts disagree on many issues, they largely agree on the shortcomings of fee-for-service payment. The inefficiency of a payment method that rewards increases in service volume, regardless
of health benefit, has become practically indefensible. But replacing discrete payments for each service with bundled payment for a set of services does not simply promote efficiency; it also potentially promotes
skimping on care or avoidance of costly patients.
The Medicare program already has considerable experience not only with capitation payments to health plans for the full range of Medicare services but also with bundled payments for sets of services: inpatient hospital services are bundled into “stays,” skilled-nursing-facility (SNF) services are bundled into “days,” and home-health-agency (HHA) services are bundled into “episodes.”
The tip-off to the risk involved in offering powerful incentives for these providers to keep costs low is the presence of extremely high and varied profits, in a service area devoid of standards for high-quality care. In 2010, SNFs and HHAs earned profits of 19%, on average, and the top quarter earned in excess of 27%.
In theory these high and widely varying profits might reflect variations in efficiency. But two factors other than relative efficiency probably explain these margins. First is that classification of patients into payment categories for rate-setting purposes
  • is not sufficiently precise to eliminate variation in expected costs among the patients within a category.
Second is the long history of patient selection in nursing homes and recent evidence that the HHAs with the highest profit margins
  • provide fewer visits, despite serving patients with greater measured care needs.
Given the weakness of patient classification and quality norms, policymakers would do well to heed previous advice that, in these circumstances, a hybrid approach better balances efficiency and appropriate care.
Rather than replace fee for service with a single-payment system, I believe we should rely ona hybrid approach in which both savings and risk are shared. Providers would receive a share, rather than the full amount, of any excess payments over the actual costs incurred. Similarly, Medicare would pay a share of any provider costs that exceeded the amount of prospective payments. To encourage efficiency, the system would ensure that providers could earn a sufficient share of profits but would also bear the larger share of losses.
Sharing savings and risk would essentially produce for Medicare, which sets payment rates administratively, profit levels similar to those a competitive market would provide. When some providers are earning  excessive profits in a market, others will offer services at lower prices (earning lower profits) to attract more business. Sharing savings and risk gives Medicare a means of keeping profits high enough to maintain access for beneficiaries, while narrowing the range of profit levels closer to those a competitive market would produce.

Study: Bigger hospitals drive cost increases

By MATT DOBIAS | 5/7/12
For everyone out there worried that President Barack Obama’s health reform law will spur monopolies and make it easier for hospitals to raise their prices, a new study says it’s already happening, and it’s not because of the health law.
A study in the May edition of Health Affairs finds that hospitals’ power to win steep payment increases — and insurers’ relative inability to resist — varies quite a bit from one market to another and from one kind of hospital or hospital network to another. Reputation, location and the type of medical services provided play a role.

State Laws Hinder Obamacare Effort To Enroll Uninsured

President Barack Obama has set aside $67 million to make it easier to enroll in his health-care overhaul. Laws pushed by Republicans in 12 states may keep that from happening. Under the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. government plans to pay a network of local groups known as navigators to explain the law’s new coverage options to the uninsured and guide them through its online insurance markets (Bloomberg News: Nussbaum and Wayne, 8/23/2013).

Modern Healthcare: Reform Update: Employers Take Closer Look At Private Insurance Exchanges

With public small-business insurance exchanges opening Oct. 1, two studies released this week show employer interest in private insurance exchanges is growing. …
  1. the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 29% of employers with 5,000 or more employees are considering private exchanges as an option for buying healthcare coverage for their employees.
  2. A day later, consulting firm Towers Watson released its Health Care Changes Ahead survey, which found that 37% of employers think private exchanges are a reasonable alternative to traditional employer coverage in 2014 (Block, 8/22).

D. Looking in on the ACOs

ObamaCare’s Health-Insurance Sticker Shock

By Merrill Matthews and Mark E Litow, Forbes
Thanks to mandates that take effect in 2014, premiums in individual markets will shoot up.
Central to ObamaCare are requirements that

  1. (1) health insurers accept everyone who applies (guaranteed issue),
  2. (2) cannot charge more based on serious medical conditions (modified community rating), and
  3. (3) include numerous coverage mandates that force insurance to pay for many often uncovered medical conditions.

Guaranteed issue incentivizes people to forgo buying a policy until they get sick and need coverage (and then drop the policy after they get well).  While ObamaCare imposes a financial penalty—

  • —to discourage people from gaming the system,
  • it is too low to be a real disincentive.

The result will be insurance pools that are smaller and sicker, and therefore more expensive.
How do we know these requirements will have such a negative impact on premiums? Eight states—New Jersey, New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington, Kentucky, Vermont and Massachusetts—enacted guaranteed issue and community rating in the mid-1990s and wrecked their individual (i.e., non-group) health-insurance markets.
States won’t experience equal increases in their premiums under ObamaCare.  Ironically, citizens in states that have acted responsibly over the years by adhering to standard actuarial principles and limiting the (often politically motivated) mandates will see the biggest increases, because their premiums have typically been the lowest.
While ObamaCare won’t take full effect until 2014, health-insurance premiums in the individual market are already rising, and not just because of routine increases in medical costs. Insurers are adjusting premiums now in anticipation of the guaranteed-issue and community-rating mandates starting next year. There are newly imposed mandates, such as the coverage for children up to age 26, and what qualifies as coverage is much more comprehensive and expensive. Consolidation in the hospital system has been accelerated by ObamaCare and its push for Accountable Care Organizations.
Unlike the federal government, health insurers can’t run perpetual deficits. Something will have to give, which will likely open the door to making health insurance a public utility completely regulated by the government.

Health Insurance Premiums Will Rise

Merrill Matthews, Resident Scholar at Institute for Policy Innovation, Forbes
Subsidies cover a portion of the cost of health insurance, up to a maximum out of pocket for the family. The amount of the subsidy is based both on the cost of coverage and income. There has been a lot of head scratching over how to deal with the fact

  • that a family’s income can vary significantly within a year, up or down, in ways no one predicted at the beginning of the year.

So how does the government determine the correct level of subsidy? The PPACA has so many unknowns in the mix that actuaries don’t know how much to charge. This is a problem for setting annual rates.

Traditionally in the individual market, where people buy their own (i.e., non-group) health coverage, applicants sign a contract and the insurance company guarantees that premium for a year. No more. Health insurers started sending out notices in January informing insurance brokers and agents that

  • the companies will no longer guarantee that premium rate.

After carefully evaluating its individual market and rates, Aetna decided to discontinue its offer of an initial 12-month rate guarantee. This change applies to policies with a January 15, 2013 or later effective date, in all states where plans are sold. Existing members who are currently in a rate guarantee period will not be affected. Aetna published a notice saying in part, “While the policies will not have a 12-month rate guarantee, we fully expect the rates to stay the same until December 31, 2013.” While that announcement may alleviate the concerns of some, Aetna is not the only company ending the rate guarantee.
While the individual market has been relatively small (about 19 million people, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute) compared to those with employer-based coverage (about 156 million), most honest analysts expect millions of employers to drop coverage and dump their employees into the individual market.

ACOs Can Save Medicare $$$, Study Finds

By David Pittman, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today. Aug 27, 2013
An accountable care organization (ACO) established by a private insurer reduced costs of care for Medicare enrollees, a study in Massachusetts found.  Providers participating in the Alternative Quality Contract (AQC) — an early commercial ACO backed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts — reduced spending on Medicare beneficiaries by 3.4% after 2 years compared with enrollee costs at nonparticipating providers, ( Journal of the American Medical Association).

Medicare enrollees served by 11 provider groups in the AQC from 2007-2010 were compared with Medicare patients served by non-AQC providers. The study looked at quarterly medical spending and five quality measures, such as avoidable hospitalizations and 30-day readmissions. The AQC started in 2009 with providers bearing a financial risk for spending in excess of a global budget, gaining from spending below the budget, and receiving rewards for meeting performance targets.
Per-enrollee spending was $150 higher for patients of AQC providers than for those of non-AQC providers before the ACO took effect in 2009. Year-1 savings weren’t significant (P=0.18), but

  • by year 2, the AQC lowered Medicare beneficiary spending by 3.4% and the difference in spending between the AQC and non-AQC providers had dropped to $51 (P=0.02)

Savings came from reductions in outpatient services, including

  • office visits,
  • emergency department visits,
  • minor procedures,
  • imaging, and lab tests.

Also, savings were greater in patients with five or more conditions (P=0.002). Previous research showed the AQC reduced quarterly spending on Blue Cross patients by $27 per enrollee in year two.
ACOs have received sour press of late as nine of 32 pioneer ACOs — Medicare’s first and most advanced ACO provider groups — told the agency last month they want to leave the program. Despite that outlook and ACOs’ struggles to achieve consistent cost savings, Medicare-led ACOs (253) now outnumber commercial ACOs (235), according to a recent report from the consulting group Leavitt Partners.

New Care Models Look at Social Factors in Health

By David Pittman, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today. Aug 22, 2013
Models such as PCMHs, ambulatory intensive care units, and medical neighborhoods should thrive on connecting patients’ clinical care with broader social services that can help provide better housing and other benefits. (ReportingOnHealth.org)
“The medical neighborhood coordinates care for patients at a community level, working with organizations in the community that can help expand the impact of healthcare and, more specifically, focus on the social determinants,” Manchanda (founder and president of HealthBegins) said. “And this fits more into the model of community-centered health home.” (Medicaid Medical Home)

  • Lack of access to good housing, places to exercise, safe neighborhoods, and health food sources make people more vulnerable to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other diseases.

Evidence is growing linking people’s physical environments and social conditions to their health. Three in four doctors wished the healthcare system would pay for the cost associated with connecting patients with needed social services. That aspect of the situation is improving with advent of PCMHs and other delivery models which pay for the care coordination of the most at-risk patients. This will be addressed by electronic medical records (EMRs) will help collect social history if EMR vendors provide an avenue for it to be requested and stored. The facilitation of internet communications will allow clinicians to share data with social services about their patients, and connect with patients themselves.

What Do Employers Want From Hospitals? The Rules of the Road

Aegis Health Group. 2013; 5(7).
Corporate America has long viewed the healthcare system as one of the biggest drains on the economy—and on the profitability of businesses nationwide. With the advent of Accountable Care Organizations as the model of the future for managing overall population health, hospitals are ideally positioned to harness this opportunity

  • to build profitable partnerships with employers.

In this paper hospital executives will learn about new approaches to this challenge along with some simple, tried-and-true rules of the road for attaining mutually beneficial partnerships with employers.

Why does Corporate America think the current state of healthcare is a quagmire – and that they are in the middle of it?

COST OF POOR HEALTH IN BILLIONS

 Medical & Pharmaceutical     $227
Wage Replacement                  $117
Lost Productivity                        $232

They are ready to take control of the issues and turn them from business detractors to business advantages. Consider this:

  • »» According to the 17th annual Towers Watson Employer survey on “Purchasing Value in Healthcare,” employee healthcare costs have increased 42 percent since 2007.
  • »» Total costs average more than $11,600 per employee each year, with employers paying out 34 percent more compared to just five years ago.
  • »» Healthcare now costs employers $576 billion annually.
  • »» These dollars relate not only to insurance premiums and the actual cost of care provided, but absenteeism and lost productivity when workers either do not show up or perform marginally on the job due to illness.

On the flip side workers have felt the sting as well. With more employers scaling back benefits or selecting higher-deductible plans, employee out-of-pocket expenses and payroll deductions for premiums increased 82 percent, averaging $5,000 per year according to the same Towers Watson survey. The escalation of healthcare costs almost mirrors the increasingly poor health of U.S. adults. Only one in seven workers are of a normal weight and free from any chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease.
A full 62 percent of employers want to increase employee wellness and preventive health programs. Hospitals are well positioned to provide

  • the medical talent, best practices and expertise required for a comprehensive workforce health initiative (WHI).

As the country moves toward an accountable care model of healthcare delivery, the timing has never been better for hospitals to take a leadership role in developing population health programs in the workplace and beyond.

Employee View: Who provides the greatest value in healthcare?

Primary Care                  60%
Prescription Drugs        50%
Hospitals                         47%
Specialty Care               46%
Wellness Programs      43%
Health Insurance
Plans                               39%
Retail Clinics                  31%
In a Deloitte Center for Health Solutions survey in 2012, employers ranked primary care and hospitals as providing the most value to the healthcare system. Yet it is not unusual for 30 percent of employees to report they have no primary care physician. These are consumers who may be at significant risk for hidden health problems that may become chronic conditions later on. Employers have a vested interest in linking these employees with a primary care doctor sooner rather than later.

What are the Six Sigma Elements of an Effective Workforce Health Initiative?

The most effective workforce health initiatives take a data-driven approach to enhancing the health of a defined population. The five key steps in the Six Sigma process actually reflect the major tactics of a WHI and population health strategy.

 48-Graph-4-30_2012  Age-Adjusted Prevalence of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Adults, U.S., 1961–2011

49-Graph-4-31_2012  hypertension, treated awareness

52-Graph-4-35_2012  Total Economic Costs of the Leading Diagnostic Groups, U.S., 2009

278px-Preventable_causes_of_death

8443-exhibit-2-7  nonelderly population uninsured

8443-exhibit-2-8  nonelderly uninsured under ACA with all states expanding Medicaid

8443-exhibit-2-3  increase in medicaid_CHIP all states expanding medicaid

Causes_of_death_by_age_group

correlates of in-hospital mortality

healthprices  time price of HC over 50 years

fs310_graph3  leading causes of death by income class worldwide

FUSA_INFOGRAPHIC_50-state-medicaid-expansion_rev_06-27-13_FACEBOOKCOVER

milliman1   2012 Milliman Medical Index

hhs_medicare_docs   participating in and billing Medicare

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