Little Noticed Financial Gauge Getting Attention
A quarterly report from the Commerce Department now is watched closely as an indicator of health care spending, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The Wall Street Journal: The Outlook: Services Sector Gauge Finally Gets Its Due
A quarterly reading from the Commerce Department has quietly emerged as one of the most consequential government reports, with the power to roil estimates for U.S. economic growth and the impact of the Affordable Care Act. The Quarterly Services Survey, or QSS, measures revenue at service-providing companies including hospitals, day-care centers and law offices. It usually attracts little notice even as reports on freight-rail traffic and wholesale inventories get parsed for clues to the health of the U.S. economy. But Federal Reserve policy makers and private economists are taking a much closer look at the gauge. This summer, the QSS found health-care revenue declined in the first quarter, defying predictions that the health law's rollout would spark a surge in spending by newly insured Americans (Leubsdorf, 9/7).
Bloomberg examines how the health law is affecting spending -
Bloomberg: Obamacare Effect Linked To Lower Medical Cost Estimates
Estimates of U.S. health-care spending for the next five years have been lowered by two federal agencies, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is getting much of the credit. ... Now, four years after its arrival, the law’s mandated program cuts and the medical practices it encourages -- limiting unneeded procedures, and keeping people out of the hospital longer -- are cited by economists as key ingredients in trimming the nation’s medical bill. While the recession has had an influence on the cost slowdown, it doesn’t explain it all, according to policy analysts and the CBO (Chen and Katz, 9/5).
Also, a report on one effort to keep costs down-
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Philadelphia’s Approach: Can One-On-One Attention Bring Down Health Costs?
Mary White's job description is simple: She helps her clients, who are all poor and face chronic medical problems, get regular medical care. She might check in on a patient at home, get an appointment scheduled, go with a client to the doctor's office, help fill out paperwork or even explain why it's not OK to take a cousin's medication simply because your prescription ran out. "We do everything we can, including camping out outside their home," said White, a community health worker for the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. ... The program, begun in 2010, uses outreach workers to help clients navigate the health care system .... It aims to improve their care and save money — for taxpayers and hospitals (Thomas, 9/6).