First Edition: September 25, 2014
Today's headlines include coverage of an Obama administration report projecting that hospitals will save billions of dollars this year as previously uninsured patients gain coverage through the health law.
Kaiser Health News: Administration Says Hospitals Will Save $5.7B From Unpaid Bills Due To Health Law
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey reports: “Hospitals are projected to save $5.7 billion this year as previously uninsured patients gain coverage through the 2010 health care law, the Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday. States that have expanded their Medicaid programs will see about 74 percent of those savings, an HHS report said. While 27 states and Washington, D.C. have expanded the federal-state insurance program for the poor to date, the survey was done when 25 states and D.C. had done so” (Carey, 9/24). Read the story.
Kaiser Health News: Personal Attention Seen As Antidote To Rising Health Costs
Georgia Public Radio’s Sarah McCammon, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: “Kevin Wiehrs is a nurse at a busy doctor’s office in Savannah, Ga. But instead of giving patients shots or taking blood pressure readings, his job is mostly talking with patients like Susan Johnson. Johnson, 63, a retired restaurant cook who receives Medicare and Medicaid, has diabetes, and she already met with her doctor. Afterwards, Wiehrs spends another half hour with her, talking through her medication, exercise and diet” (McCammon, 9/25) Read the story.
The New York Times: Affordable Care Act Reduces Costs For Hospitals, Report Says
The Obama administration increased the pressure on states to expand Medicaid on Wednesday, citing new evidence that hospitals reap financial benefits and gain more paying customers when states broaden eligibility. In states that have expanded Medicaid, the White House said, hospitals are seeing substantial reductions in “uncompensated care” as more patients have Medicaid coverage and fewer are uninsured (Pear, 9/24).
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: HHS: Obamacare Coverage Is Reducing Hospitals’ Unpaid Bill
The Obama administration is projecting that hospitals will face $5.7 billion less in uncompensated care costs than they otherwise would have in the first full year of the Affordable Care Act's coverage expansion. Millions more people with health insurance means fewer uninsured patients are coming through hospitals' doors. That means fewer costs from bad debt or charity care from people unable to pay their bills, which amounted to about $50 billion for the nation's hospitals in 2012 (Millman, 9/24).
The Associated Press: Report: Admission Of Uninsured At Hospitals Dips
The number of uninsured patients admitted to hospitals has dropped markedly this year, reducing charity care and bad debt cases, particularly in states that have expanded Medicaid coverage under the new federal health care law, a government report released Wednesday concluded (9/24).
USA Today: HHS: Health Law Will Lead To Big Drop In Free Hospital Care
The Affordable Care Act will lead to $5.7 billion in savings in uncompensated hospital care costs this year, the Obama administration said Wednesday, reducing one of the biggest financial challenges hospitals face. The states that expanded Medicaid so all low-income residents would have medical coverage will reap about 74% of the savings nationally, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said (Jayne O’Donnell, 9/24).
Los Angeles Times: White House Reassessing Obamacare Enrollment Goal For 2015
The Obama administration, which is scrambling to prepare a new push to enroll Americans in health coverage under the federal health law, is reassessing how many more people will sign up, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said Wednesday. About 7.3 million people are enrolled in health plans being sold through marketplaces created this year by the Affordable Care Act, according to federal figures (Levey, 9/24).
Los Angeles Times: Number Of Latinos With Insurance Coverage Surges Under Healthcare Law
The federal healthcare law has dramatically increased coverage among Latinos, according to a new report that provides a comprehensive look at the effects of the Affordable Care Act on a historically underinsured community. Overall, the percentage of Latinos ages 19 to 64 lacking health coverage fell from 36% to 23% between summer 2013 and spring 2014 (Levey, 9/24).
The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Burwell Steers Clear Of Specific Pledges On Healthcare.Gov
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell told reporters Wednesday that officials are “continuing, step by step” in their effort to get HealthCare.gov ready to open for its second year of business in 50 days’ time but steered clear of specific commitments that have haunted officials who preceded her. In her first on-the-record question session with reporters since taking the top job at HHS, Ms. Burwell got several inquiries about whether the department’s preparations to fix and revamp the site were on schedule, and answered all of them without making the kinds of comments that people could hold against her later (Radnofsky, 9/24).
The Associated Press: Money Employers Give For Insurance Can Be Taxed
When employers give workers money to help pay for health insurance, the cash may be subject to taxes for both employer and employee. The IRS treats money given to workers as compensation, even if it’s intended to replace a benefit like insurance, says Steven Friedman, an attorney with Littler Mendelson, a New York-based firm that specializes in employment law (9/24).
The Wall Street Journal: As Doctors Lose Clout, Drug Firms Redirect The Sales Call
Kendall French used to pitch drugs to doctors who could prescribe them. But many of those doctors now work for hospitals that don't give them final say over what is on the menu of medicines they can pick. So when the GlaxoSmithKline GSK.LN +0.66% PLC saleswoman began plugging two new lung-disease drugs to a big San Diego hospital system this spring, it was to an administrator who doesn't see patients but helps write the menu, also called a "formulary," of approved medications. Ms. French urged the administrator in the system, Sharp HealthCare, to consider the two drugs' effectiveness. It was the kind of pitch she once used to persuade doctors to write prescriptions (Rockoff, 9/24).
The Wall Street Journal’s Pharmalot: Pharma Pushes CMS For Transparency On Sunshine Database, Again
With just one week left before the launch of the controversial Open Payments database – which will reveal how much money doctors receive from drug and device makers – three of the biggest industry trade groups are complaining they have not had an opportunity to review important background information about relationships with physicians. And the trade groups – the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, BIO and AdvaMed – are reiterating concerns expressed last month that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has still not explained why one-third of the payment information submitted by drug and device makers, as well as group purchasing organizations, was removed from the database (Silverman, 9/24).
The Associated Press: NY Mandates Insurance Coverage For Ostomy Supplies
New York will require health insurers to provide coverage for equipment and supplies for treating ostomies, intended to help ease the financial burden for people with the chronic condition. The amendments, signed this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, take effect Jan. 1. An ostomy is a surgically created opening in the body for the discharge of waste (9/24).
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