Friday, April 29, 2016

Legislative Dems newest budget rejects most of Governor’s newest cuts

In the latest budget proposal for the next two years, Democrats in legislative leadership have rejected many of the Governor’s most recent cuts. The newest legislative proposal rejects the Governor’s plan to cut another 8,700 working parents off HUSKY. Because of cuts passed last year, 17, 688 working parents will lose coverage as of July 31st. The latest legislative proposal also reverse 85% of proposed hospital cuts, restores mental health cuts, and rejected proposals to expand the administration’s authority to cut the budget without legislative approval. The legislative proposal does cut payments to Medicaid ASOs that operate the program by 10%, nursing home payments by $5.25 million, home care payments by over $5 million, and rates for children’s dental care by 5%. The proposal increases health care premiums and co-pays for legislative and non-union state workers, expedites transitions under Money Follows the Person, and allows liquor stores to sell smokeless tobacco products. Interestingly the budget also calls for $26 million in unspecified Medicaid savings – we have lots of ideas to achieve that and improve care. The latest proposal builds off the version that passed the Appropriations Committee. That version differed significantly from the Governor’s initial proposal in February. Differing versions are driven both by differing priorities and by declining revenue projections in the last few months. Negotiations will continue; the legislative session is scheduled to end next Wednesday.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Forum on skyrocketing drugs costs and what can be done

May 17th the CT State Medical Society and the Office of State Comptroller are sponsoring CT Pharmaceutical Forum: Access, Affordability and Better Health. The forum will explore value and outcome-based purchasing programs to improve access to affordable prescription drugs. The forum will be in Room E2 of the Legislative Office Building from 9 am to noon. Click here to register.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Update – Palliative Care Webinar time change

Due to an unavoidable conflict, the time for the webinar: The Potential of Palliative Care for People with Serious Illness by the MAPOC Complex Care Committee will be an hour later than originally scheduled. The webinar will still be on May 9th but will be at 10:30 am. All registered participants should have received an email about the change. Registrants will receive a link to the slides and video after the webinar, whether or not they can attend. We apologize for any inconvenience. Click here to register.


Palliative care offers great potential to improve and extend the lives of people with serious illness, allowing them to get care at home if they wish, while controlling costs. In addition to her considerable expertise and knowledge, Dr. Diane Meier is an enthusiastic advocate for palliative care. She directs the Center to Advance Palliative Care in addition to her position on the faculty at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Among many awards, she won a 2008 MacArthur Fellowship. Join the MAPOC Complex Care Committee webinar May 9th at 10:30 am to hear from Dr. Meier about the potential of palliative care and how it could benefit seriously ill Connecticut Medicaid members.

Connecticut most costly for nursing home care, above US average for all LTSS costs

A new survey of Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) costs by Lincoln Financial finds that Connecticut was among the costliest states in the nation last year. Connecticut ranked highest for nursing home care (both private and semi-private rooms) and in the top five for assisted living arrangements. Home health care was slightly less costly, relative to other states, but Connecticut was above the national average in all categories. Neighboring Rhode Island was the least costly for home health care provided by a licensed nurse. Lincoln Financial’s site also has sobering projections for LTSS cost trends, out to 2040, by service, state, and by metropolitan region.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Webinar: The Potential of Palliative Care for People with Serious Illness

Palliative care offers great potential to improve and extend the lives of people with serious illness, allowing them to get care at home if they wish, while controlling costs. In addition to her considerable expertise and knowledge, Dr. Diane Meier is an enthusiastic advocate for palliative care. She directs the Center to Advance Palliative Care in addition to her position on the faculty at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Among many awards, she won a 2008 MacArthur Fellowship. Join the MAPOC Complex Care Committee webinar May 9th at 9:30 am to hear from Dr. Meier about the potential of palliative care and how it could benefit seriously ill Connecticut Medicaid members.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Private employer costs higher in New England, but health costs are less of the total

 According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, New England employers paid the highest total compensation per worker in December 2015 averaging $38.14/hour, well above the US average of $31.70. Health insurance and other benefit costs were also high in New England but not as a percent of total compensation. At $2.93/hour health insurance was the most costly benefit for New England employers, compared to $2.40/hour nationally. However health insurance comprised 7.7% of total compensation in New England. In comparison, health insurance comprised 8.5% of total compensation in West South Central states (AR, LA, OK and TX), 8.3% in West North Central states (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, SD and ND) and 8.2% in East South Central states (AL, KY, MS and TN). Life and disability benefits cost New England employers 19 cents/hour compared to 15 cents/hour nationally.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Connecticut’s Medicaid redesign update-- Pros and Cons


Connecticut’s Medicaid program has earned national recognition for combining improved access to high quality care with an impressive record of cost control. Shifting the program from a financial risk payment model to care coordination through person-centered medical homes (PCMHs) four years ago is widely credited with that success. Last year the administration began developing a new, ambitious reform plan, Medicaid Quality Improvement and Shared Savings Program (MQISSP) committed to build on and support the success of the PCMH program. The goals of MQISSP are to “improve health and satisfaction outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries”.
Under MQISSP, the state intends to contract with competitively selected networks of providers, both Federally Qualified Health Centers and advanced networks (i.e. Accountable Care Organizations). Networks will coordinate person-centered care among a continuum of providers and community resources. Networks will share in the resulting savings in the total cost of care for their attributed members if they meet quality standards. Over the last year, the Department of Social Services (DSS) has worked with the Care Management Committee of Connecticut’s legislative Medical Assistance Program Oversight Council to develop the program. The Care Management Committee includes legislators, providers, consultants, and consumer advocates. As of April 2016, that process is largely complete and drafting has begun on the MQISSP application for networks.
Among fourteen major issues decided to date, most are very positive (pros) and will support the goals of improved quality and satisfaction. But three are problematic For more information, read the CT Health Policy Project brief.
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