Friday, May 19, 2017

Health care has highest job opening rate in US

At 5.2% in March, the health care and social assistance sector had the highest rate of job openings in the US labor market, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However the rate of hiring in health care and social assistance was only average. At 19.3 million the health care and social assistance sector had more total US jobs than all sectors but professional and business services or state and local government. While professional and business services had relatively healthy job openings and hire rates, state and local government was among the lowest in both rates.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

2016 estimate finds CT uninsured rates going down

Early estimates of health coverage finds that 3.9% of CT residents were uninsured last year, well below the US average of 9%, according to the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey. CT’s uninsured rate fell by 7.2% between 2013 and 2016, very close to the national 8.0% drop. Last year 41.6% of state residents had public coverage and 62.2% had private insurance. As in past years, states like CT that elected to expand Medicaid and/or develop a state-based insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act had lower uninsured rates. The survey also found that high deductible health plans are growing nationally from covering 25.3% of Americans under age 65 in 2010 to 39.4% last year.

Friday, May 12, 2017

New state health comparison tool shows challenges and opportunities for CT

In good news, CT is 11th best among states in the number of people who had no trouble finding a doctor in 2015 according to State Health Compare. But CT is also 17th worst among states in the percent of residents with high medical cost burdens. Depending on how you look at it, it may be good or bad news but CT is 19th lowest among states in the percent of state budget devoted to Medicaid, and 28th lowest in state public health spending per person. Created by SHADAC, State Health Compare is a new online comparison tool with state-level estimates across 46 measures of health and health care from six federal agency sources. Categories include health insurance coverage, cost of care, health behaviors, outcomes, access, utilization, quality of care, public health, and social and economic factors. Metrics include costs of potentially preventable hospitalizations, percent of residents who needed but did not get care due to cost, chronic disease prevalence, weight assessment in schools, and adult cancer screening rates. Data for most measures is available for multiple years, allowing trend analysis. Within most of the 46 measures, the tool allows visitors to dive deeper into the data by subpopulations such as by age, race/ethnicity, and education level. The tool provides a map, state rank and trend display for each metric. The data can be downloaded and exported.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Health Care Cabinet tackles drug costs

At yesterday’s meeting, CT’s Health Care Cabinet agreed to create four working groups to develop recommendations and options to control drug spending in the state. We also reviewed a report from CT’s APCD on the Top 50 Highest Total Cost Drugs in CT. The Cabinet has been taking a deep dive into rising prescription drug costs for the last three months with presentations from academics, drug company and industry representatives, DSS, CT’s Attorney General, a Pharmacy Benefits Management company, wholesale drug distribution, and pharmacists. The Cabinet considered a draft summary document on the Cabinet’s activities to date, updates on legislative proposals, further reading, and potential themes and areas for further action. The group decided to create four working groups to develop strategies – pricing, price transparency, research initiatives in other states, and consumer/provider education. The subgroups will engage voices beyond the Cabinet’s membership.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

CT rates well among states in public health emergency preparation, but room for improvement

This year CT earned 7.3 points out of 10 possible in the latest assessment of preparedness for community health emergencies, a small increase from 7.2 over last year. But CT did better than the US average at 6.8. The National Health Security Preparedness Index has measured states’ ability to respond to health security threats such as a Zika outbreak or a natural disaster for the last four years. The Index includes metrics such as vaccination rates, hazard plans for public schools, the number of paramedics and hospitals. Compared to the US average, CT performed best for Incident and Information Management – public health alerts to communities and multi-agency coordination --  but worst for Health Security Surveillance – monitoring and identification of disease outbreaks. Vermont scored best among all states with 7.8 points. The report includes detailed information on Connecticut’s performance and challenges on many metrics. The report concludes with areas that need work to ensure public safety in public health emergencies.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May CT Health Reform Dashboard – Medicaid U turn, federal relief premature

CT’s May Health Reform Dashboard is unsettled again. Mistrust remains at the core of problems in CT. Medicaid policy development and implementation have taken a very disappointing turn away from collaboration, transparency, and data for reasons that don’t make any sense (there are a few theories). Just a few of the persistent problems in PCMH+, Medicaid’s current risky experiment with payment reform, include ineffective consumer notices, blocking access to meetings, no evidence of a system to even detect underservice, and the plan to move ahead pushing another 200,000 people into the experiment January 1st before there is any meaningful information (much less a proper evaluation) of what happened to the first 137,000 people. If there’s a problem, we won’t know for at least six months after it’s too late. No one is listening to cooler heads. We just keep hearing that they are watching things and we have to trust them. (see mistrust brief) Conflicts of interest are getting worse as is the state budget outlook.

Friday, April 28, 2017

CT health prices higher than US average and growing faster

Health care prices in Connecticut are higher and rising more quickly than the US average, according to the Healthy Marketplace Index. The Index is a map-based tool from the Health Care Cost Institute that compares local prices for inpatient, outpatient and physician services across the US for 2012, 2013 and 2014. The researchers found significant price variation between communities, especially in outpatient care. Among the four CT communities included in the tool, none have prices in any category below the US average. Bridgeport leads the state in both inpatient and outpatient prices; physician costs are highest in New Haven. Compared to neighboring states, CT health care prices are lower than New York City (except physicians) but higher across all three categories than in Providence.

2014 health cost ratios
relative to US average
Physician services

Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk
New Haven – Milford
Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford
Norwich – New London
New York – Newark – Jersey City
Providence – Warwick
US average