Friday, May 17, 2013
The agenda and speakers list for the June 18th CT Health Intern Academy are now online. Free and open to anyone interested in learning more about health policy, the event will be June 18th, from 9:30 am to 2 pm at the Legislative Office Building. The agenda includes panels on Health Policy Trends, State & Congressional Advocacy, Health & the Media, Networks & Collaboration and a tour of the Capitol. Speakers include State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, along with small business, nonprofit, lobbying, insurer, broker, policy and fiscal analyst, provider, state legislative and Congressional staff, state agency, community organizer, reporter and social media experts. Lunch and parking are available, but registration is required. The Academy is made possible with support from the CT Health Foundation. For more information, visit www.cthealthinern.org.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
The 2013 CT Mission of Mercy free dental clinic will be at the Webster Bank Arena, 600 Main Street in Bridgeport Friday and Saturday, June 7 and 8. The clinic serves Connecticut’s uninsured and underserved residents who often have no other option for dental care. 1,605 volunteers delivered $1.3 million in donated care at last year’s clinic in Danbury. The clinic served 2,008 people from 168 communities.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
New data from CMS shows that prices charged by Connecticut hospitals for the same procedure vary widely, by as much as three fold. An analysis by C-HIT found that Yale-New Haven Hospital charges $85,902 for a cardiac pacemaker while Manchester Memorial charges $22,493 for the same procedure. Stamford Hospital, featured in a recent Time magazine article on extreme health care pricing, charges $25,493 to treat pneumonia while Charlotte Hungerford charges only $8,177. The data gives hospital charges, and the lower prices Medicare pays, for 100 common procedures. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance plans pay less than charges. However uninsured patients are usually billed the higher charge price.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Connecticut health care thought leaders give our state a C on health reform again this winter; down from a C+ earlier this year. Connecticut maintained our C+ for effort in this survey. Among issue areas only Medicaid improved again. Connecticut lost ground on the health insurance exchange, health insurance market reform, and public education. The overwhelming suggestions to improve progress are to engage consumers in policymaking (on every survey in the last year), improve the policymaking process, especially transparency, work on affordability and improve the CT Health Insurance Exchange. The Thoughtleader survey is part of the CT Health Policy Project’s Health Reform Dashboard.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Insurance premiums for HealthyCT, the new nonprofit health insurer co-op, have been posted on the insurance dept.’s website. HealthyCT is the only insurer that has submitted rate proposals for 2014 so far, despite an April 30th due date. Average monthly premiums for individuals will be $427/month and for small groups $445/month. While the benefit plans will change next year and previous prices are not strictly comparable, in 2010 individual premiums in CT averaged $306 per month. 2014 rates will vary by customer based on age, residence, and the plan selected; rates must still be approved by the insurance department. Policymakers have options to control premium increases but they must act soon to be effective.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Learn valuable skills from health professionals working in the real world of health care and policy at this year’s CT Health Intern Academy. The event will be June 18th, from 9:30 am to 2 pm at the Legislative Office Building. Free and open to anyone interested in learning more about health policy, the event includes panels on Health Policy Trends, State & Congressional Advocacy, Health & the Media, Networks & Collaboration and a tour of the Capitol. Speakers include State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, along with small business, nonprofit, lobbying, insurer, broker, policy and fiscal analyst, provider, state legislative and Congressional staff, state agency, community organizer, reporter and social media experts. Lunch and parking are free, but registration is required. The Academy is made possible with support from the CT Health Foundation. For more information, visit www.cthealthinern.org.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Cabinet meeting update: SIM project described, exchange plans offering low rates to doctors, Charter Oak redux?
Yesterday’s Cabinet meeting focused on the state’s $2.8 million State Innovation Model (SIM) grant. The plan is to develop a grant proposal by the fall to create a multi-payer approach to design care delivery and payment reforms that touch 80% of CT residents. The project will test innovative models to lower costs and maintain or improve quality. (We have 31 ways to start that.) McKinsey consultants and others have been hired to guide the project which will be headed by a planning committee with three workgroups focused on developing coordinated state models for care delivery, payment, and HIT. The Health Care Cabinet will offer stakeholder input. We are promised all materials and meetings will be completely public and transparent. In a separate discussion concerns about the CT Health Insurance Exchange were raised. It was reported that physicians are being offered Exchange contracts from insurers with payment rates significantly below commercial rates. Exchange staff reported that they do not regulate or monitor provider payment rates but require the plans to comply with network adequacy standards. It was noted that there are many ways that providers can be listed on a panel but not accept appointments. In fact, this is exactly what happened in the capitated HUSKY program and was only uncovered with a secret shopper survey. The exchange has rejected conducting such a survey to monitor real access to care. Concerns were raised that low provider rates combined with high costs, that will leave many young, healthy state residents out of the exchange, will lead to the same dynamic that now plagues the Charter Oak Program -- skyrocketing premiums and plummeting enrollment levels.