Monday, August 3, 2015

CT health reform progress down again

Unfortunately CT’s progress toward health reform dropped again this month to 26.4.5% this month, adding to last month’s dip. News that the only about half of AccessHealthCT consumers are even using the coverage they pay dearly for, increasing concerns about SIM’s ethics and grants to insiders, SIM’s cool reception to consumer protections in risky financial models, transparency issues and budget cuts all contributed to the decline. Only Medicaid offered bright spots this month including a sharp reduction in phone wait times and a continued commitment to strong stakeholder engagement in reform planning. The CT health reform progress meter is part of the CT Health Reform Dashboard.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Advocates offer help with payment reform study for CT

Among the many important provisions in SB-811, is Section 17 directing the state Health Care Cabinet to conduct a study of successful payment reform models from other states. The Cabinet is to report back to the General Assembly with recommendations for policy changes that will provide a framework to control health care costs, reward value-based care and improve health outcomes for Connecticut residents. No one is more committed to meaningful reforms than consumers and advocates. As the ultimate payers for all health care – through our premiums, out of pocket costs, lost wages and taxes – consumers take the full burden of inefficient spending.  As veterans of current and past reform attempts, in a sign on letter, nineteen independent consumer advocates have offered the Cabinet their full support and assistance in developing a feasible, effective plan to control health care costs and build value. Based on CT’s history with reform, the advocates urge the Cabinet to ensure transparency, robust public input, build on what is working in our state, recognize unique populations, and to adhere to ethical standards that guard integrity. The next meeting of the Health Care Cabinet is scheduled for September 8th.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Happy Birthday, Medicaid -- Connecticut has a lot to be thankful for

Fifty years ago today President Johnson signed the Medicaid program into law. The program now covers one in five Connecticut residents with efficient, quality care. Since switching from a capitated, insurer-based program to a self-determined, care-focused program in January 2012, costs are stable (down slightly) per person, quality is up (fewer people are going to the ER for non-urgent problems), and 32% more providers are participating. It took the efforts of many advocates over more than a decade, and it was difficult, but we finally made that switch happen. And good health is a powerful thing. Children covered by Medicaid are more likely to finish school and have higher earnings as adults. In one study, economists estimated that just the taxes on the higher earnings of those adults make up the cost of Medicaid coverage for children now on the program. So Happy Birthday to Medicaid – especially to the many professionals that provide that healing care. Many many thanks to Connecticut’s Medicaid providers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New to the Book Club: The Myths of Modern Medicine: The Alarming Truth about American Health Care

The Myths of Modern Medicine: The Alarming Truth about American Health Care by John Leifer is very readable. The book organizes the problems in modern American health care into ten myths, that are accessible to any reader, but not dumbed down. The myths are simple and straightforward, without all the usual waffling. The descriptions not only outline the problem, but also include the causes – why our “system” is the way it is – and why it is hard to change. The author, a reformed hospital executive, is not sparing in blaming hospitals, but also points at insurers, physicians, employers, politicians, bureaucrats, and consumers. Myths debunked include – the US has the best health care system in the world, the concept of shopping for health care services, and that treatments are based on science and best practices. A great read for consumers, but important perspectives for all stakeholders. Click here for more books

Monday, July 27, 2015

Where We Live: Medicaid is 50 and Looking Good

Fifty years ago this week, Lyndon Johnson signed Medicaid into law. On today’s show, WNPR’s Where We Live celebrated the program that covers one in five CT residents with comprehensive care and brought $3.3 billion in federal funds to our state. More efficient than private insurance, leading the state in quality improvement as it cares for CT’s most fragile residents, Medicaid is modeling thoughtful reforms that save money by improving care. DSS Commissioner Rod Bremby, Christian Community Action’s Rev. Bonita Grubbs, Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Allan Weil, and Ellen Andrews of the CT Health Policy Project joined host John Dankowsky to explore how the prgram is living up to the original vision. Hear the conversation online.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Growing percent of AccessHealth CT members are not using their coverage

A new survey by AccessHealth CT found that 36% of their customers had not used their health coverage, compared to 26% last year. One in four (28%) don’t have a primary care provider. Enrollment in qualified health plans is now 96, 966, down 13,129 from the open enrollment period earlier this year. The biggest reason people left the exchange was cost – the coverage was too expensive/unaffordable. 7% dropped it because they didn’t use it. The survey found that 51% of enrollees this year were previously uninsured.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Care delivered by CT family members worth $5.9 billion, but capacity is uncertain

In 2013 almost half a million CT residents provided 427 million hours of unpaid critical health care services to family members according to an updated report by AARP. The value of that care was $5.9 billion, about what CT spends on Medicaid in total. Family care is expanding and becoming a vital piece of our health care system, as the job becomes more complex, costly, stressful and demanding. Most caregivers are employed, making this a business concern as much as a health system issue. The report outlines key challenges facing caregivers and policy recommendations that could help.