Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill that aims to save $200 billion over the next 15 years by linking health care cost increases to the growth of the state’s economy. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House and unanimously in the Senate.
Under the new law, hospitals and doctors will have to cut their rate of cost growth about in half. For example, Kaiser Health News explains, instead of going up 6 to 8 percent, costs would be allowed to rise 3.6 percent per year. The bill is a follow-up to Massachusetts’ famous health reform signed into law by former governor Mitt Romney. That law, like the Affordable Care Act (ACA), focuses mainly on insurance coverage, while the new legislation addresses health care costs that drive up insurance premiums.
No other state has tried to tie health care costs to the state’s economy,” said Massachusetts Association of Health Plans President Lora Pellegrini. “This is going to be really revolutionary and very important, and I’m sure the nation’s watching.”
The Massachusetts Hospital Association praised the bill. “We have great hopes and expectations that the bill will be successful and we are committed to working with the state to ensure that success,” the association said in a statement.
Michael Widmer, with the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, says he thinks the health care industry will embrace the bill’s spending goals, even though they are what he considers aggressive.
August 9th, 2012
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports, as of July 1, the addition of 89 new, approved Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), bringing the total number of these new health care delivery systems to 154, covering 2.4 million beneficiaries.
The ACO model is formed by groups of doctors and other health providers who have agreed to work together to coordinate care for people with Medicare. According to CMS, those participating in an ACO agree to take responsibility for the quality of care they provide in return for the opportunity to share in savings realized through high-quality, well-coordinated care.
The program is voluntary, but can provide a payback. Federal savings from the initiative, which will be shared with successful ACOs, is expected to be $940 billion over four years. The Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and other initiatives related to ACOs are a result of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
To ensure that savings are achieved through improving care coordination and providing care that is appropriate, safe, and timely, an ACO must meet 33 quality measures relating to care coordination and patient safety, appropriate use of preventive health services, improved care for at-risk populations, and patient and caregiver experience of care.
The selected ACOs operate in a wide range of areas across the country and almost half are physician-driven organizations serving fewer than 10,000 beneficiaries, CMS said. Their models for coordinating care and improving quality vary in response to the needs of the beneficiaries in the areas they are serving.
July 13th, 2012
More than 14 million Medicare patients have received at least one preventive service at no charge so far in 2012, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Approximately 1 million of these have taken advantage of the annual wellness visit, the agency reported.
Preventive benefits have been provided free of charge with neither deductible nor co-pay since 2011 as part of the Affordable Care Act, or health reform law, CMS said. Last year, 32.5 million people took advantage of the benefit, which includes services meant to make cost “no longer a barrier for seniors who want to stay healthy and treat problems early.”
June 29th, 2012
The U.S. Supreme Court announced June 28 a decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in its entirety. The court ruled that the individual mandate—among the most controversial aspects of the 2010 health care reform act—was a constitutionally allowable tax. The vote was 5 to 4.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new data and information initiative it says will be a key tool in the agency’s evolution from a fee-for-service based payer to a value-based purchaser of care. A new Office of Information Products and Data Analytics (OIPDA) will oversee CMS’ portfolio of data and information and make it more accessible to health care professionals and patients. Under OIPDA, the development, management, use, and dissemination of data and information resources will become one of CMS’ core functions. CMS says the agency and its partners will be better able to define and reward high quality, low cost care.
June 18th, 2012