Wednesday, October 18, 2017

President’s plan to end cost sharing payments would cost CT plans $7 million this year

An analysis by Avalere Health estimates that health plans in CT’s insurance exchange, Access Health CT, would lose $7 million in reimbursements this year unless Congress acts to restore payments. Nationally, plans stand to lose over $1 billion this year. Under the Affordable Care Act, low to moderate income Americans purchasing exchange coverage are protected from excessive premium and cost sharing payments to health plans. However, whether the federal government is required to reimburse health plans for those costs has been disputed in court. While plans can roll the lack of reimbursements into premiums for next year, because 2017 health plans contracts are already set, they cannot adjust premiums for this year. Despite the ongoing legal challenge, the federal government has consistently made those reimbursement payments every month for over three years. Last week President Trump announced he intends to end those reimbursements to health plans. Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that ending those reimbursements would result in more uninsured next year and actually increase the federal deficit by $194 billion through 2026 due to sharply higher insurance premiums. A Senate deal to restore the payments is moving through the process.

Monday, October 16, 2017

CT ranks 3rd highest among states in high-deductible health plans

Analysis of new federal data by SHADAC finds that most people (59.3%) in CT covered by employer-sponsored health plans were in high-deductible plans last year, up from 40% in 2013. For purposes of this study, high-deductible plans are defined as meeting the minimum deductible amount required for Health Savings Account eligibility ($1,300 for an individual and $2,600 for a family in 2016). The rate varies significantly between states but CT ranks 3rd highest in the nation, behind only NH and KY. The national average was 42.6%.

The survey found little change in the percent of CT employers offering coverage from 2012 to 2016 (55.8% to 52.6%). Employers with over 50 workers are almost three times more likely to offer health benefits and that gap is growing. As in the past, both premiums and deductibles were higher for employers with less than 50 workers last year. CT workers employed by small firms were more likely to be enrolled in a high-deductible plan (62.4% vs. 58.7%).

Monday, October 9, 2017

Antibiotic prescribing down in CT but more needs to be done

Between 2010 and 2016, antibiotic prescriptions per person have declined 8% in CT, according to a report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The rate declined even faster (15%) for children. Unfortunately, CT’s rate is still higher than all but 16 other states. Overuse of antibiotics is blamed for contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria or “superbugs”. Every year 2 million Americans become infected with bacteria that do not respond to antibiotics and 23,000 die of that illness. Public health officials have been working to bring down the rate of antibiotic prescribing, especially for conditions that do not respond to antibiotics, e.g. most colds which are caused by viruses.

In more good news, the biggest drop in prescribing was for broad spectrum antibiotics, the most likely to trigger antibiotic resistance, which declined 18% in CT from 2010 to 2016 compared to 13% nationally. Unfortunately, a great deal of work remains. The study found that last year 63% of antibiotics were prescribed for conditions which might be appropriate and another 21% for conditions which were not indicated.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Webinar; CT Health Link -- new CT Health Information Exchange

Next Thursday, September 28th from 10:00 to 11:30am the Complex Care Committee of the Medicaid Council (MAPOC) will host a webinar demonstrating a new statewide Health Information Exchange. The ability for all providers treating each patient to access the information they need to provide the best care is critical. The CT State Medical Society, with KaMMCO Health Solutions, has built a health information exchange, CT Health Link, to serve exactly this purpose for Connecticut. CT Health Link offers a suite of HIT tools to help health professionals across the state connect, analyze, engage and transform health care in our state. Join us to hear about this new tool and how it can especially benefit consumers with complex health needs.

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Meeting number: 596 303 372  

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Call-in toll-free number: 1-(866) 578-5693 (US) 
Conference Code: 785 357 2699