Monday, November 20, 2017

Chartbook: CT drugs costs high and growing fast

14.4% of our state’s economy was devoted to health care services in 2014, slightly below the US average, according to a new Chartbook on CT Health Spending. Based on newly released data from CMS actuaries, the analysis finds that CT health costs per person are not surprisingly high but we out-perform most other states in controlling the rate of increase, particularly for Medicaid members. Since 2009, Medicare and Medicaid have been paying more of CT’s health care bills than private insurance. Over half of CT health spending is consumed by hospitals and physicians/clinics, but drug costs are the largest driver of growing health costs. Per person drug costs for CT residents are the second highest in the nation and rising at the third highest rate among states.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

CT trains lots of doctors but we don’t keep them

A new report on physician workforce finds that CT is a hub for training physicians, both medical school and residency training but we are falling behind in retaining those graduates. The report from the Association of American Medical Colleges finds that physician capacity in CT now is is good ranking 6th highest among states in the number of physicians per population, and 10th in primary care. But the future is less rosy. Our physicians are slightly older than the rest of the nation, and we are not retaining students who study and train here. CT ranks 4th among states in medical residency slots per population, 3rd in primary care, and about average in medical school slots. But we are very poor at keeping those students practicing in our state, ranking 42nd overall. Successful states have proactive policies to retain and attract physicians to serve their residents including assistance with student debt that averages $180,000 for new graduates, opening new schools, which CT has done, funding residency slots, and recruiting physicians with local roots.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November CT Health Reform Dashboard – status quo, again and again and again

Like the last two months, November’s CT’s Health Reform Dashboard has changed little. Growing and understandable mistrust remains at the core of problems in CT. Medicaid policy development and implementation is still mired in mistrust, incomprehensible and misleading consumer “notices”, rushing ahead without data, quality problems, and a lack of transparency while state officials refuse to answer questions. CT’s Health IT quagmire gets worse. The state budget is terrible causing thousands more working parents to lose coverage. At the federal level, ACA protections and supports are in jeopardy, Medicaid is not secure, and the budget is also terrible. The Health Care Cabinet workgroups continue digging into our work to control drug costs in CT, but we need to up the game and be sure reforms address the total cost of medications to the entire system. Consumers understand that we pay the entire bill – premiums, taxes, and lost wages – not just out-of-pocket costs. Saving in one area just adds costs in another – and we end up paying more in the end anyway.