Can House Ways And Means Committee Break Through Gridlock On Hill Over Surprise Medical Bills?
The issue of protecting patients from surprise medical bills has been looked at as a rare problem that may draw a bipartisan compromise. But lawmakers have yet to settle on who gets stuck with the bill if not the patients. The House Ways and Means committee is just the latest to try put forward legislation. In other health care industry and costs news: air ambulance coverage, state's efforts on surprise billing, CEOs' earnings, Medicare payments, and more.
Powerful House Committee Is Latest To Take Stab At ‘Surprise’ Billing Fix
The leaders of a powerful House committee are aiming to break through a legislative quagmire as Congress tries to deliver on the stubbornly elusive goal of protecting patients from "surprise" medical bills. A one-page plan from Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and ranking member Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is at odds with a detailed bipartisan deal struck between key House and Senate committees late last year to settle billing disputes that can leave patients on the hook for thousands of dollars in unexpected expenses. (Roubein and Goldberg, 1/16)
CMS Rejects Wyoming Plan To Lower Air Ambulance Costs
The CMS earlier this month rejected a Wyoming Medicaid waiver proposal that aimed to lower air ambulance costs for all residents of the state. Wyoming essentially proposed making air ambulances into a public utility by using a Medicaid waiver to make all residents eligible for Medicaid coverage of air ambulances, regardless of their income level. The Wyoming Department of Health submitted the waiver to the CMS on Oct. 28, 2019 and it was denied on Jan. 3. (Cohrs, 1/16)
Georgia Health News:
Kemp Targets Surprise Billing, Pays Homage To Isakson With Parkinson’s Research Initiative
Gov. Brian Kemp pushed for a legislative remedy for the problem of surprise medical billing in his Thursday address to Georgia lawmakers.Kemp, a Republican, also touted his waiver proposals, passed last year by the General Assembly, as solutions to lower health care costs and add a pathway for uninsured Georgians to access medical services. The governor said he would establish a professorship for Parkinson’s disease research at the University of Georgia, in honor of recently retired U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. (Miller, 1/16)
Typical NYC Hospital CEO Earns More Than $1 Million A Year
The median salary for the CEO of a New York metropolitan area hospital or health system was more than $1.1 million in 2017, plus about $58,000 in other compensation such as retirement-plan contributions and fringe benefits. That calculation comes from a Crain's analysis of the 2017 IRS Forms 990 of more than 60 hospitals and health systems in New York City, Long Island, Westchester County and northern New Jersey. (LaMantia and Schifman, 1/16)
MedPAC Recommends Boosting Hospital Payments By 3.3%
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission on Thursday voted unanimously to recommend hospitals receive a 3.3% raise in 2021. The CMS has scheduled a 2.8% pay raise to hospitals for inpatient and outpatient services. MedPAC recommended that Congress increase net payments by 3.3% but change the structure of the pay boost to close the gap between reimbursement rates for physician offices and hospital outpatient departments. They also recommended incentivizing hospitals to reduce mortality and improve patient satisfaction by tying some of their raise to quality improvements. (Brady, 1/16)
New Medicare Payment Models Need More Patient Education
The CMS should focus more on patient education and engagement when it develops alternative payment models such as the Kidney Care Choices Model, members of the CMS Advisory Panel on Outreach & Education said Wednesday. While many healthcare experts think alternative payment models give providers incentives to deliver cost-effective and high-quality care, patients could see it differently. They might think that their doctor is recommending a course of treatment because that's how their physician gets reimbursed, not because it's the best choice, said Dr. Margot Savoy, vice chair of the advisory panel and chair of Temple University Physician's department of family and community medicine. It could "feel shady to them." (Brady, 1/15)
Kaiser Health News:
Employers’ Dream Of Controlling Health Costs Turns To Workers’ Sleep
Charlie Blakey had a sense he was sleeping poorly since he often would wake up tired and hear from his wife how loudly he breathed during the night. So he jumped at the chance when his employer, Southern Co., an Atlanta-based electric utility, offered to test him in 2018 for sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder in which people repeatedly stop breathing while asleep. After he tested positive, the utility arranged for him to have a machine that provides continuous airflow through a mask while he sleeps — at no cost to him. (Galewitz, 1/17)
Changed By Canada, Boston Hospital Leader Decries Health Care's 'Administrative Complexity'
'Administrative complexity': that's the health policy term for every time you've tried and failed to understand a medical bill. Or needed multiple phone calls to get prior approval from your insurance company for care you needed. That complexity is increasingly seen as a massive and growing problem in the American health care system. A study published this month estimates that the country's health care bureaucracy costs over $800 billion a year. (Goldberg, 1/17)
Kaiser Health News:
Listen: How High-Deductible Plans Hurt Rural America
KHN senior correspondent Markian Hawryluk joined Colorado Public Radio’s Avery Lill on “Colorado Matters” to discuss his recent story on how high-deductible health plans are especially hurting rural America. (His segment begins at 11 minutes and 40 seconds in, after you click on the link for the full show.) Such insurance plans are more prevalent in rural areas, where incomes tend to be lower, compared with urban areas, leaving patients with hefty bills they cannot afford when a health care crisis occurs. (1/16)