Readmission Penalites…Nice Job DC…

Kaiser Health News recently published a table with readmission rate penalties from Medicare data. The data shows the percentage of hospitals within a state who will be penalized for excessive readmissions as part of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. Here’s a quick choropleth map showing the geographic distribution of these penalties. Interestingly, all seven hospitals in DC will be penalized in year two of HRRP. And California….you’re not doing so well either at 66%.To access the table with percentages, click here.

What makes the area bordered by Missouri & Arkansas moving East so poorly ranked in terms of most health indicators & rankings?

How the ACA Affects Your Public Health Career

Is it a penalty or is it a tax? Or is it both? We’ve all heard that question being asked at least once. And if you watch TV for more than 2 hours a day, you’ve probably heard it multiple times. If you’re a patient (and if you haven’t been, you will eventually), this law comes with certain benefits and rights that I covered here (and also covered extensively by the media). If you’re a clinician, the law opens up new opportunities to form Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) that reward doctors when their patients are healthy. However, little has been discussed about the ACAs impact on the public health realm (with no surprise since we only invest $251/person in public health dollars compared to $8,086/person in health care dollars link). So what’s at stake for us public health practitioners? Continue reading…

The Importance of ACA on Public Health

On June 29th, 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) largely upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, aka Obamacare), deeming it’s individual mandate as constitutional when viewed as a tax. While constitutional, the polarized nature of today’s political and news systems have made this act the “topic of the day” for weeks now. Today’s panel discussion hosted by George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services sought to expand the discussion to understand the public health implications that the Affordable Care Act has on the public health community, for practitioners and consumers alike. Continue reading…

Public Health Alert: High Return on Investment

In a recent article written in The Nation’s Health, the American Public Health Association’s (APHA’s) newspaper, public health experts give reason to increase efforts in prevention and education as a better alternative to decreasing health care spending over simply investing in the treatment/medical sector. Titled “Bolstering public health investment can improve U.S. health,” the article advocates for doubling public health funding, from $11.6 bil to $24 bil per year, as a starting point, to meet needs of public health departments. As Dr. Marthe Gold, MD MPH mentioned: “Until we can turn off the flow of Americans who need to enter the medical system by changing social and physical environmental conditions that make them unhealthy, we are just going to keep putting more and more pressure on an expensive system and create needless suffering for people.” Continue reading…

Patients Lowering Health Care Costs

For the past decade, health care has been in the forefront of economists and policy-makers. In a system that currently¬†spends 17% of GDP on health care, and projected to increase by 5.8% yearly until 2020, it’s no secret to the average American that health care is going through major changes, both at state and federal levels. Meaningful Use, a set of policies intended to increase #HealthIT adoption, initially focused on ensuring adoption by practitioners and health care providers across the nation. With MU Stage 2 on the horizon, the ONC has now added a focus on the patient, giving patients the ability to gain timely access to their data. I have confidence that future stages (3, 4, etc), will only build on this framework to include the patient as a principal actor in the heath care process.

From a health policy standpoint, the patient has been largely ignored in the health care equation. Since the financial contribution of most patients is minimal, the role of the health care consumer has fallen out of sight. Most new proposed laws and reforms attempt to fix problems by reducing reimbursements and increasing adoption of technology to improve processes and lower costs. Yet none of these regulations include the patient in the cost-reduction program. This post promotes the patient as an important player and decision-maker in the health care process. So how can the patient help decrease health care spending?

Continue reading…