As Hyperactivity Diagnoses Rise, Concerns Grow About Overmedication Of Children

Topics: Public Health, Quality, Health Disparities

Apr 01, 2013

New CDC data shows that nearly one in five boys have a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Other public health issues highlighted by news outlets include stroke risks in younger people, prescription-drug deaths and OSHA policies.

The New York Times: More Diagnoses Of Hyperactivity In New C.D.C. Data
Nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to new data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These rates reflect a marked rise over the last decade and could fuel growing concern among many doctors that the A.D.H.D. diagnosis and its medication are overused in American children (Schwarz and Cohen, 3/31).

NPR: As Stroke Risk Rises Among Younger Adults, So Does Early Death
Most people (including a lot of doctors) think of a stroke as something that happens to old people. But the rate is increasing among those in their 50s, 40s and even younger (Knox, 4/1).

Los Angeles Times: Prescription Drug-Related Deaths Continue To Rise In U.S.
Despite efforts by law enforcement and public health officials to curb prescription drug abuse, drug-related deaths in the United States have continued to rise, the latest data show. Figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that drug fatalities increased 3% in 2010, the most recent year for which complete data are available. Preliminary data for 2011 indicate the trend has continued (Glover and Girion, 3/29).

The New York Times: As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester
OSHA, the watchdog agency that many Americans love to hate and industry often faults as overzealous, has largely ignored long-term threats. Partly out of pragmatism, the agency created by President Richard M. Nixon to give greater attention to health issues has largely done the opposite. OSHA devotes most of its budget and attention to responding to here-and-now dangers rather than preventing the silent, slow killers that, in the end, take far more lives. Over the past four decades, the agency has written new standards with exposure limits for 16 of the most deadly workplace hazards, including lead, asbestos and arsenic. But for the tens of thousands of other dangerous substances American workers handle each day, employers are largely left to decide what exposure level is safe (Urbina, 3/30).

English: Percent of Youth 4-17 ever diagnosed ...

English: Percent of Youth 4-17 ever diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: National Survey of Children’s Health, 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Concerns Raised About Effect Of Medicare’s Readmission Penalty

English: Created by vectorizing Image:Medicare...

English: Created by vectorizing Image:Medicare and Medicaid GDP Chart.png with Inkscape (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image representing New York Times as depicted ...

Image via CrunchBase

Topics: Delivery of Care, Health Costs, Hospitals, Marketplace, Medicare, States

Apr 01, 2013

The New York Times explores the new policy that penalizes hospitals if they have too many patients return within 30 days. Meanwhile, in Maryland, officials are weighing an ambitious plan to control hospital costs.

The New York Times: Hospitals Question Medicare Rules On Readmissions
While federal statistics show the effort is beginning to reduce costly and unnecessary readmissions, a growing chorus of critics is asking whether the government policy, which penalizes hospitals that have high readmission rates, is unfair. They are also questioning whether hospitals should be responsible for managing the personal lives of patients once they are released — or whether they should focus on other ways to improve care (Abelson, 3/29).

Kaiser Health News: Maryland’s Tough New Hospital Spending Proposal Seen As ‘Nationally Significant’
Maryland officials have proposed what analysts call the most ambitious initiative in the country to control soaring medical spending, a plan that would bring relief to employers and consumers footing the bill while bluntly challenging the state’s powerful hospital industry. The blueprint, which needs the Obama administration’s approval, would use Maryland’s unique rate-setting system to keep hospital spending from growing no faster than the overall economy — roughly half its recent rate of increase (Hancock, 4/1).

In other health industry news, federal officials release more details about hospital problems and a federal watchdog focuses on Medicare spending for equipment.

The Associated Press: Reports Of Hospital Mistakes Now Available Online
At St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, (Oregon) employees failed to notice that a cleaning machine was accidentally reprogrammed to leave out the disinfection cycle. Eighteen patients received colonoscopies with scopes that had been only rinsed with water and alcohol. … Hospitals make mistakes. When they are reported — by patients, employees or family members — state and federal officials investigate. Now, for the first time, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has released those inspection reports for hospitals nationwide from the past two years. The release was in response to requests from the Association of Health Care Journalists, which has compiled them into a searchable database available to the public
(Peterson, 3/31).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: IG Report Slaps Medicare For Not Recouping More Overpayment For Equipment
Medicare has made nearly $70 million in overpayments to suppliers of consumer medical equipment and more than half of that money is unlikely to be recovered, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General (Carey, 4/1).

This is part of Kaiser Health News’ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.

States Boost Laws, Regulations Governing Abortion

English: Histogram of abortions by gestational...

English: Histogram of abortions by gestational age for the United States in 2004. Horizontal axis is weeks and vertical axis is thousands of abortions. Data is taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated version of Image:US abortion by gestational age 2002 histogram.svg, but data is almost identical. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time series of induced abortions in Norway

Time series of induced abortions in Norway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Delivery of Care, Women’s Health, Politics, States

Apr 01, 2013

States have passed a record number of abortion bills since 2011, including curbs on clinics and chemically induced abortions, and in North Dakota, a ban on abortions as early as six weeks. On the other side, New York and Washington are weighing measures to ensure abortion rights.

The Wall Street Journal: States Harden Views Over Laws Governing Abortion
States are becoming increasingly polarized over abortion, as some legislatures pass ever-tighter restrictions on the procedure while others consider stronger legal protections for it, advocates on both sides say. … At the same time, Washington state is weighing a measure that would require all insurers doing business in new health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act to reimburse women for abortions. And New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking to update his state’s laws to clarify that women can obtain an abortion late in pregnancy if they have a medical reason (Radnofsky, 3/31).

The Associated Press: Abortion Clinics Need License, Check For Coercion
Michigan abortion clinics will need a state license and must check to make sure women are not being bullied or pressured into getting an abortion under a new law that took effect Sunday. Other regulations make clearer the proper disposal of fetal remains, after anti-abortion advocates expressed concern some were not disposed of with dignity (Eggert, 3/31).

In Montana, lawmakers are seeking to cut funding to some organizations that provide women’s health care.

The Associated Press: Women’s Health Funding Faces Cuts: House Budget Excludes $4.5M For Title X Funds
When Jennifer Strickley first learned she had ovarian cancer, it was Planned Parenthood that detected the disease. She had been going to a clinic in Billings (Montana) for about a decade, as the discounts on Pap tests, contraception and regular checkups provided an essential break for the single mom working without health insurance as a waitress to support her two kids … Strickley is one of 26,000 Montanans who rely upon clinics that receive federal family planning and preventive health funds in the form of Title X. … But the Montana House unanimously passed a state budget that excludes these funds — some $4.5 million — accounting for 30 percent of the budgets for 20 community clinics and five Planned Parenthood Clinics in the state (4/1).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.


What The Health Law’s Future Holds

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Costs, Insurance, Marketplace, Health Reform, Uninsured

Mar 25, 2013

At the health law’s three-year mark, news outlets look ahead to the major provisions slated to take effect in 2014, exploring their impact on insurance premiums and who might be left uncovered.

Politico: No Simple Procedure: Putting The Affordable Care Act Into Practice
Welcome to the eye of the Obamacare storm. This year represents a deceptively calm interlude — after the partisan war whoops of “repeal and replace,” and before 2014, when millions of Americans are supposed to get covered under the health care law. It’s a year of nuts and bolts, trying to get many complicated moving parts in place for a policy that large swaths of the country still oppose (Cheney, 3/24).

The Hill: On Third Anniversary, Obama Touts Health Law‘s Benefits
President Obama on Saturday touted his landmark healthcare reform law on its third anniversary, but cautioned that there was “more work to do to implement” its provisions (Mali, 3/23).

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Obamacare’s Effect On Premiums Debated
With full rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care law just months away, attention is shifting from political battles to how it will affect health insurance premiums for millions of Americans. Some experts and studies predict sticker shock for people with individual coverage, who include about 5 percent of Georgians, though others say the fears are overblown. Workers with employer-based insurance, as well as those on Medicare and Medicaid, are expected to feel less financial fallout (Markiewicz and Williams, 3/24).

MPR News: U Study: After Reform, 1 In 10 Poor Will Lack Health Plan
A University of Minnesota study says 1 out of every 10 low-income people living in the state will still lack access to government health care coverage, despite the Medicaid expansion under the federal health care law. The law expands government coverage, said researcher Lynn Blewett, but there will still be low-income people without access to coverage: illegal immigrants, who are excluded from government programs, and some residents who are in the United States legally but have not been here long enough (Stawicki, 3/24).

The Medicare Newsgroup: CMS Innovation Center Continues Testing, Waiting for Results
With the goal of improving quality and cutting costs, the Affordable Care Act established The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center) in January 2011 to test new methods of care delivery. However, the Innovation Center’s initiatives remain in the early stages of implementation and testing, according the December 2012 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services‘ (CMS) “Report to Congress” on the Innovation Center’s progress (Solana, 3/22).

This is part of Kaiser Health News‘ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.


Health Care In The States Officials Unveil More Details Of Colo. Exchange Funding


Health-Insurance-rates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Eric Whitney, Colorado Public Radio

March 22nd, 2013, 2:35 PM

A week after approving a tax on health insurance policies, Colorado officials are offering more details of their plans to fund the state’s health insurance exchange after federal backing runs out in 2014.

Last week the state’s exchange board approved, with broad support,  a 1.4 percent fee on all policies sold in the exchange. This week the board asked state lawmakers for the right to charge health plans up to $1.80 per member per month for up to three years to fund start-up costs.

That bill also asks for up to $5 million in state tax credits for insurers that contribute a like amount to the exchange. That’s one of the mechanisms currently used to fund Colorado’s high risk insurance plan, which will be shut down when the Affordable Care Act’s ban on denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions takes effect in 2014.

The goal is create multiple revenue streams and keep prices as low as possible for consumers. The board can create some of those streams, including some fees, on its own. Others require legislation.

The board thinks it will cost $22 million to $24 million per year to run the exchange. State law says the exchange can’t use any state tax revenue.

The state’s health insurance plans say they’re OK with the new fees and proposed tax credit.

“The idea of having a wide and broad funding structure for the exchange is important to carriers,” said Mark Reece, associate director of the Colorado Association of Health Plans. “This bill adequately meets that … assessment structure we’ve been looking for.”

Reece conditioned his organization’s support on additional details that remain to be worked out with the bill’s Democratic co-sponsor, Beth McCann.

Business groups, including the local chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses and Colorado Competitive Council, also voiced support for the bill, and for the exchange as a means of increasing coverage and competition in the state’s insurance markets.

Two consumer groups also testified in favor of the temporary per member per month assessment and tax credits for insurers supporting the exchange. No one testified against the bill.

No lawmakers expressed opposition to the bill upon its introduction, but no vote was taken. The committee hearing the bill laid it over to give its sponsor more time to work out details with interested parties.

This story is part of a collaboration that includes Colorado Public Radio, NPR and Kaiser Health News.


Voluntary Insurance Benefits

Share of federal excise taxes paid by US house...

Share of federal excise taxes paid by US households reporting different income levels, 1979-2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Voluntary Insurance Benefits What are Voluntary Benefits? Voluntary benefits are insurance products that employees may choose to purchase through their companies at rates that are lower than they could get on their own. A few examples of voluntary benefits are dental, vision, life, disability, supplemental health and cancer insurance. Many employers offer voluntary benefits because they allow companies to provide a more robust benefits package at no cost to them. How do voluntary benefits work for employees? For an example of how voluntary benefits work we’ll need our good friends Gary and Greta. Tonight, they’re going to a restaurant for dinner. Gary and Greta’s entrées include soup and salad with the price of their meals. In this case, their meal is like their company’s health plan – they get what they want along with a few added extras. Hopefully, their food tastes better than their health plan. Anyway, tonight Gary and Greta want more than the basic entrée, soup and salad. They’d also like to order some appetizers, a bottle of wine and dessert. These extras are kind of like voluntary benefits – Gary and Greta get more than the basic offering, but only pay for what they order. Like appetizers, desserts and wines, voluntary benefits come in many varieties that help protect your financial and physical well-being. For example, for a little extra money that’s simply deducted from his paycheck each month, Gary can purchase disability insurance that will help offset loss of income if he is unable to work due to sickness or injury. He can choose supplemental insurance to cover copays, deductibles or other costs of care not covered by his regular health insurance. And benefits are paid directly to the employee, so Gary can use the money however he needs to. Most consumers don’t plan for loss of income, or for expenses like childcare and travel that are necessitated by illness or injuries but not covered by medical insurance. Yet studies show that unexpected illness and injuries account for more than 350,000 bankruptcies every year. By enrolling in these voluntary benefits, Gary is rewarded with greater peace of mind. As an added bonus, the premiums Gary pays for voluntary benefits are paid using pre-tax dollars. Voluntary benefits may also include options like vision and dental insurance, which can protect more than your eyes and teeth. Annual eye exams, for example, can help detect health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure. And did you know that gum disease is a serious risk factor for heart disease? Keeping your teeth and gums in good shape helps protect your overall health. Now, what are the advantages for employers who offer voluntary benefits? Offering voluntary benefits to employees provides a great incentive for people to stay with your company. Your employees can receive more benefits – and you don’t pay any extra. You’re also helping your employees protect their health, their savings and everything they’ve worked so hard to achieve. As an added bonus, offering voluntary benefits provides the opportunity to lower your payroll taxes with each enrolled employee. Summary of Voluntary Benefits Voluntary benefits allow employees to purchase additional insurance products through their company at rates that are lower than if they bought them on their own. Premiums are paid from pre-tax dollars and deducted from the employee’s paycheck, making payment simple and convenient. Voluntary benefits are also a way for employers to offer an added incentive to employees without having to pay extra. Everybody wins when voluntary benefits are a part of a company’s employee benefits package. What are Voluntary Benefits? Watch Healthcare Video: What are Voluntary Benefits.


Contact Badgley and Associates to enroll in a great new plan. Nationwide toll Free 7 days a week 888-737-0594


Targeting Companies That Cut Health Care Costs

Maryland Health Insurance Plan Federal Press A...

Maryland Health Insurance Plan Federal Press Announcement (Photo credit: MDGovpics)

Topics: Health Costs, Delivery of Care, Marketplace, Insurance, Medicare, Politics

Sep 21, 2012

Reuters reports that the health care sector will be “a focal point” for years to come and looks at investments in companies that are likely to make money by helping to reduce costs. Meanwhile, Kaiser Health News examines whether competitive health care models like Medicare Part D and the Federal Employees Health Benefits program are taming costs as effectively as supporters suggest.

Reuters: Targeting The U.S. Healthcare Market
No matter what the outcome of the U.S. election, healthcare looks to be a focal point in the economy for years to come. The United States spent 17.9 percent of its gross domestic product on healthcare in 2010 – more than double what other wealthy nations spend on a per-person basis. In one sign of the growing importance of healthcare to the economy, S&P Dow Jones Indices added health insurer UnitedHealthcare to the Dow Jones industrial average, replacing Kraft Foods (Randall, 9/20).

Kaiser Health News: Is A Competitive Health Care Model All It’s Cracked Up To Be?
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan says his proposal to overhaul Medicare would use market competition to tame costs in the government health program relied on by almost 50 million people. As models, he often cites the health program for federal employees – including members of Congress — and Medicare’s prescription drug program (Appleby and Werber Serafini, 9/20).

Meanwhile, news outlets report that FEHBP premiums will rise about 4 percent next year –

The Washington Post: FEHBP Premiums To Rise About 4 Percent On Average
Premiums in the health insurance program for federal employees and retirees will rise by just under 4 percent on average in 2013, although rates will hold virtually steady in the largest plan, government officials said Thursday (9/20).

The Hill: Federal Workers’ Health Care Premiums To Rise 3.4 Percent
Members of Congress and other federal workers will see only a modest increase in their healthcare premiums next year. The average premium for federal employees will rise 3.4 percent next year, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced Thursday. The increase translates to an extra $2.75 per paycheck for individuals, or $6.39 for families. Federal workers’ premiums went up 3.8 percent this year — slightly less than the 4 percent increase seen in the private sector (Baker, 9/20).

This is part of Kaiser Health News’ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.