Posts Tagged ‘doctors

11
Mar
15

Fewer Uninsured. Hospital Profits Soaring. Thanks, ObamaCare

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Bruce Japsen: Hospital Profits Soar As Obamacare Prescribes More Paying Patients

Hospital operators continue to see profits and revenue not seen in a decade thanks to the Affordable Care Act and related efforts to sign up uninsured patients to coverage so facilities can reduce unpaid medical bills. Large hospital operators HCA Holdings HCA +2.78% (HCA), Tenet Healthcare THC +2.5% (THC) and Community Health Systems (CYH) in the last month issued robust 2014 earnings, revenues and large declines in uncompensated care costs, a key measure of expenses.

“We reported Tenet’s strongest quarterly EBITDA in more than 10 years,” Tenet chief executive officer Trevor Fetter boasted last week of a key earnings acronym in the hospital chain’s 2014 fourth quarter. Hospital operators are reporting more paying patients and fewer uninsured, which means far fewer unpaid medical bills. “For the last four quarters, the decline in self-pay admits and adjusted admits and the increase in Medicaid in expansion states have grown quarter over quarter,” Community Health CFO Larry Cash said.

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24
Feb
15

Medicare Saves $15B On Prescription Drug Costs. Thanks, ObamaCare

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Sarah Ferris: Medicare Drug Costs Shrinking Under ObamaCare

ObamaCare has led to substantial savings in prescription drug costs and a strong increase in the use of preventive services, administration officials announced Tuesday. “Our parents and grandparents on Medicare saved more than $15 billion on prescription drugs since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in 2010,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said. Those savings amount to nearly $1,600 per person enrolled in Medicare — an increase from about $1,400 in average savings last year. Tackling prescription drug costs has been a major goal of the Obama administration, pledging to close the coverage gap, known as the “doughnut hole,” by 2020. Because

Medicare drug plans have a limit on how much they pay for medication, beneficiaries are forced to pay for their treatments out of pocket before their catastrophic coverage kicks in. Under ObamaCare, recipients in the “doughnut hole” receive a rebate or discount from the government to help them save on prescription drug costs until the gap can ultimately be closed. Burwell also highlighted the growing use of preventive healthcare coverage under ObamaCare — another top issue for the administration. Many provider groups only signed onto healthcare reform with the promise that preventive care would be a central tenet. Nearly 40 million people have used at least one of Medicare’s free preventive services in the last year alone, the secretary said. Nearly 5 million enrollees received the annual wellness exam.

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29
Jan
15

Lowered Healthcare Costs? Thanks, ObamaCare

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Tara Culp-Ressler: How The Obama Administration Is Getting Serious About Lowering Health Costs

The Obama administration unveiled an ambitious plan on Monday that will make historic changes to the way that doctors get paid. The ultimate goal is to tie more of doctors’ payments to the quality of care they provide, hopefully driving down the trillions of dollars that the U.S. currently spends on health services every year. The reforms are targeted at Medicare, the government program that provides coverage for Americans over the age of 64. Most Medicare providers currently get paid through what’s called a “fee for service” system. They’re paid a flat free for every test or procedure they perform, regardless of whether those services actually improve their patients’ health. Now, the administration wants to shift the program so that more of its payments are tied to health outcomes.

Essentially, that means providers will be rewarded for keeping their patients healthy, and penalized for unnecessary services that don’t advance that goal. Proponents of payment reform are encouraged by the move — which they see as a serious step toward creating a health care system that’s based on the value, rather than the sheer volume, of services. The Affordable Care Act has been slowly moving in this direction over the past few years. The health law created alternative payment models — called “Accountable Care Organizations,” or ACOs — to incentivize providers to work together to improve patient care and cut down on costs. So far, there’s been some evidence that ACOs are successfully improving the quality of health care for Medicare patients. Some are also starting to generate cost savings. If ACOs save enough money, the participating providers earn bonuses, a goal that about a fourth of of them hit last year.

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29
Oct
14

The President’s Day

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Ebola suvivor Dr. Kent Brantly is applauded by President Barack Obama

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Healthcare professionals listen as President Barack Obama speaks about the government’s Ebola response

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With her children sleeping by her lap, Amber Brantly, wife of Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly, listens during an event attended by her husband and other American health care workers fighting Ebola as President Barack Obama speaks about Ebola

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29
Sep
14

McAllen, Texas Saved $20M On Healthcare?! Thanks ObamaCare

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NYT: A Health Care Success Story

IT may have been the most influential magazine article of the past decade. In June of 2009, the doctor and writer Atul Gawande published a piece in The New Yorker called “The Cost Conundrum,” which examined why the small border city of McAllen, Tex., was the most expensive place for health care in the United States. The article became mandatory reading in the White House. President Obama convened an Oval Office meeting to discuss its key finding that the high cost of health care in the country was directly tied to a system that rewarded the overuse of care. Five years later, the situation has changed. Where McAllen once illustrated the problem of American health care, the city is now showing us how the problem can be solved, largely because of the Affordable Care Act that Mr. Obama signed into law in 2010.

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The problem was that doctors in McAllen were responding to reimbursement incentives in the American health care system that rewarded activity rather than value. The more procedures and visits a doctor billed, the more he got paid. The Affordable Care Act was designed to change that. One of its provisions created the Medicare Shared Savings Program, which rewards doctors for keeping their patients healthy. Participation in the program requires primary care doctors to create networks, called accountable care organizations, or A.C.O.s, to better coordinate patient care. These networks are reimbursed for delivering high-quality care below a baseline of historical Medicare costs. In 2012, doctors in McAllen formed the Rio Grande Valley Accountable Care Organization Health Providers, and signed up for this experiment. The early results are in, and they are stunning: From April 2012 to the end of 2013, the Rio Grande Valley A.C.O. saved more than $20 million from its Medicare baseline. These changes didn’t just save money; they also improved patients’ health. From 2012 to 2013, the number of patients achieving control of their diabetes rose 11.8 percentage points. The number receiving vaccinations rose 12.2 percentage points.

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