Archive for January, 2013

Immigration reform could add millions of people under Obama health law – The Hill’s Healthwatch

January 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Comprehensive immigration reform could make millions of people suddenly eligible for assistance under President Obama’s healthcare law, assuming a final deal paves the way for undocumented immigrants to receive papers.

Illegal aliens are now prohibited from purchasing coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, which will launch next year.

They are also ineligible for Medicaid under most circumstances, making the law’s expansion of the program fruitless for people without documents.

The landscape  could change completely if Hispanic lawmakers get their wish — an overhaul of U. S. immigration policy that includes a path to legalization.

Helping people get and stay healthy, illegal immigrants or not, has to be cheaper in the long run. Sort of like Stephen Covey’s “sharpening the saw” — it takes time and resources to sharpen the saw, but once done, the work goes easier.

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Is Concierge Medicine Finally Ready for Takeoff? – HealthLeaders Media

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

For years observers have been predicting the impending migration of physicians into direct pay or concierge medicine, where no longer will they have to accept low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements or haggle with private payers.

Has that time finally arrived?

A recent survey of more than 13,500 physicians found that 6.8% of them would “embrace” direct pay or concierge medicine within the next three years. That includes 9.6% of practice owners, 7.7% of primary care physicians, and 6.4% of specialists, according to the survey conducted by physician recruiters Merritt Hawkins for The Physicians Foundation.

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Physicians have limited choices in front of them for how they will provide care in the future (and the future is now) — (1) maintain the status quo, (2) combine, merge, or consolidate with, or sell to, with other physicians, (3) sell to, or affiliate with, hospital systems or managed care companies, or (4) become independent of other physicians, of hospitals, and of managed care companies by doing concierge medicine.

Telehealth to Expand in Rural Communities with FCC $400 Million Fund

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

The FCC has announced $400 million will be made available through a healthcare connect fund to create and expand telehealth networks and services.

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Mining Electronic Records for Revealing Health Data

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

The New York Times reported last week ( another value of electronic health records — to supplement or even replace clinical research to improve patient care:

Over the past decade, nudged by new federal regulations, hospitals and medical offices around the country have been converting scribbled doctors’ notes to electronic records. Although the chief goal has been to improve efficiency and cut costs, a disappointing report published last week by the RAND Corp. found that electronic health records actually may be raising the nation’s medical bills.

But the report neglected one powerful incentive for the switch to electronic records: the resulting databases of clinical information are gold mines for medical research. The monitoring and analysis of electronic medical records, some scientists say, have the potential to make every patient a participant in a vast, ongoing clinical trial, pinpointing treatments and side effects that would be hard to discern from anecdotal case reports or expensive clinical trials.



Beth Kassab: Patients lose when hospitals take over doctors

January 20, 2013 Leave a comment

When a big hospital chain buys an independent doctor’s office, we often hear the move will “enhance care”, “integrate care” or “improve health-care efficiency.”

Spare us the euphemisms.

Patients are the losers in these deals.

We pay higher costs. We get fewer choices because doctors are pressured to refer patients only to providers who also work for the hospital. And, because these acquisitions are so common today, an independent doctor’s office is becoming as quaint as the house call.

Unfortunately, this is the entire article and is much too short to discuss a topic full of so many nuances.  Tough issues need far more analysis and thought than this.  The question to study is, if the goal of physician practice acquisitions is integration of healthcare to enhance and improve the patient experience while reducing costs, then where are the disconnects?  Why are hospitals and physicians failing (assuming this “reporter” is correct in her bottom line conclusion)?

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Physician groups eye mergers but blindsided by legal fights –

January 9, 2013 Leave a comment

Declining payments and increasing financial pressures have led more physicians to become employees of large medical groups and hospitals. At the same time, the Affordable Care Act is prompting smaller practices to consolidate as a way to more easily participate in new health system delivery models such as accountable care organizations.

But as physicians attempt to escape administrative burdens and financial stress, they are encountering another hurdle­ — legal disputes brought about by mergers.

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Preventive Services, Including Contraceptive Coverage, Under the Health Care Law

January 3, 2013 Leave a comment

All Women Should Have Access to Preventive Health Services, including Contraception, Without a Co-Pay, and Have It No Matter Where They Work

The health care law makes preventive care more accessible and affordable to millions of Americans by making certain preventive services, including all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, available without co-payments or other cost sharing requirements. This is especially important to women, who are more likely than men to avoid needed health care, including preventive care, because of cost. This requirement is a huge step forward for women’s health. Over the next few years, as an increasing number of health plans come under the law’s reach, more and more women will have access to a wide range of preventive services without co-payments or deductibles.

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