Noteworthy News

Archive for August, 2012


Dental Benefits Victim of Economizing By States

Prevented by the Affordable Care Act from reducing Medicaid eligibility, many states are seeking to reduce their Medicaid spending by eliminating or cutting optional benefits – especially for dental services for adults. Approximately half of all states have cut back on optional Medicaid dental benefits for adults in the past few years.  The cuts, moreover, have no partisan foundation:  both Democratic and Republican governors are making such reductions. Some states cover only pain relief and emergencies; others cover preventive examinations but do not pay for any needed work those exams uncover. Read more about how states are adjusting their Medicaid [&hellip

“Medicaid Works,” Foundation Declares

Medicaid improves access to care and saves lives and deserves to be expanded in the manner envisioned in the Affordable Care Act, according to a new blog entry on the web site of the health care-focused Commonwealth Fund. According to the blog commentary, Medicaid “fulfills the two main purposes of health insurance – ensuring access to needed care and providing adequate financial protection from burdensome medical expenses.”  It also cites research that “confirms that expanding Medicaid not only improves access to care and financial protection of vulnerable individuals and families, but actually saves lives.” In addition, the blog suggests that [&hellip

Analysts Look at GME

Medicare graduate medical education payments – GME – help pay for the training of future physicians and also underwrite an important source of labor in many hospitals.  They are an important funding source for teaching hospitals – including many urban safety-net hospitals. Between the current interest in reducing federal spending, the perceived need for more physicians to care for people when more Americans are insured as a result of the Affordable Care Act, and the perception that the country’s medical schools may not be producing enough primary care physicians, policy-makers, analysts, and others are taking a hard look at Medicare [&hellip

The Value of Including Safety-Net Providers in Integrated Delivery Systems

As health care reform efforts look increasingly to integrated care systems in search of ways to provide better, more economical care, the importance of including safety-net providers in such delivery systems should not be overlooked. So conclude the authors of “Including Safety-Net Providers in Integrated Delivery Systems:  Issues and Options for Policymakers,” a new issue brief from the Commonwealth Fund. The brief notes that in many places, safety-net hospitals and other safety-net providers have far more experience caring for low-income patients than other providers and can play important roles in integrated delivery systems such as accountable care organizations (ACOs). The [&hellip

New Medicare Readmissions Policy to Hit Safety-Net Hospitals Hardest

A new Medicare reimbursement policy that will penalize hospitals financially for readmitting patients within 30 days of discharge will have a disproportionate impact on hospitals that care for large numbers of low-income patients. According to an analysis by Kaiser Health News, hospitals that treat significant numbers of low-income patients – those eligible for Medicare disproportionate share (DSH) payments – are more likely to be penalized by Medicare than other hospitals.  Those that serve the most poor patients are twice as likely to suffer the maximum Medicare penalty as those that care for the fewest low-income patients. The penalties apply to [&hellip

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