After the second consecutive year that healthcare cost growth exceeded a state target, Massachusetts’ Health Policy Commission recommended a series of steps intended to respond to the continually rising cost of care, reports the State House News Service in the Patriot Ledger. The recommendations, from the Commission’s annual cost trends report, include price caps for the most expensive providers, greater scrutiny around hospital outpatient and ambulatory care expansions and new affordability standards for health plans. The Commission noted that price growth is a primary driver of the state’s overall spending growth and that premiums and out-of-pocket spending are rising faster than incomes.
Colorado’s Office of Saving People Money on Health Care released a report documenting the burden that out-of-pocket expenses causes consumers and the importance of addressing it. The report reflects the voices of Coloradans, particularly those with chronic illnesses, who have faced affordability burdens with whom the Office engaged in research about their experiences with health challenges. The report aims to foster conversations among community members, policy makers and providers to collectively take action to further equitable access to affordable healthcare and improve the wellbeing of Coloradans.
Hawaii stands out nationally for the detailed data on specific race groups under the Asian American and Pacific Islander umbrella for its COVID-19 data, reports the Honolulu Civil Beat. Advocates argue that the disaggregated data is necessary to better understand what’s driving health disparities and develop culturally appropriate interventions to address the disparities. A CDC analysis of the data found Marshallese, other Micronesians and Samoans had the highest rates of COVID-19 between March 2020 to February 2021.
70 percent of Georgia adults reported having burdensome healthcare costs in the last year and 80 percent are worried about being able to afford healthcare in the future, according to The Current. Specifically, 58 percent of adults encountered cost-related barriers to getting needed care, including skipping doses of medication and foregoing care altogether. Results were drawn from the Altarum Healthcare Value Hub's CHESS survey.
Multiple Michigan behavioral health clinics will now be able to seek Medicaid reimbursement for mental health services, according to MLive News. Thanks to the new "transforming behavioral health initiative," thirteen selected Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics will be reimbursed through Medicaid for expanded services, including 24-hour psychiatric crisis services. The new model, supported by both federal and state funding, is intended to address disparities in who can afford and/or access mental health services.
A study by USC Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy reveals preliminary evidence concerning Connecticut's 2016 Surprise Billing Law, reports AboutHealthTransparency.org. The law requires that a patient’s out-of-pocket costs be no greater than their in-network cost-sharing amounts if they are unknowingly treated by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility. Researchers observed a stark and sudden increase in allowed amounts for fully insured plans within the state, coinciding directly with the implementation of the law. These findings suggest that the law, by pegging the minimum out-of-network payment requirement to the 80th percentile of provider charges, may have driven a substantial increase in allowed amounts paid to emergency physicians from fully insured plans. These increased allowed amounts are likely to be passed to consumers in the form of higher premiums.
More than half of Massachusetts adults said they had experienced healthcare cost hardship in the past year, and almost three-quarters said they were worried about their ability to afford care in the future, according to a State House News Service article in The Patriot Ledger. Results were drawn from the Altarum Healthcare Value Hub’s CHESS survey.
A recent study in JAMA Network Open shows that Maryland’s reimbursement model—that sets annual statewide caps for hospital spending—reduces costs and the incidence of avoidable complications, reports Rice University. Maryland’s model holds hospitals to a global budget for total expenditures related to the care of state residents across all sites (inpatient, emergency department and outpatient), and also requires the state to meet spending and savings targets, such as $330 million or more in Medicare savings, as well as quality-of-care-targets. The study also found that in the first three years following the adoption of the all-payer model, Maryland patients undergoing common surgical procedures had significantly fewer avoidable complications and the rate of growth of hospital bills was lower.
Texas is expanding telehealth services for children through a grant of more than $530,000 to rural health clinics, according to State of Reform. The grants will help four hospitals expand or implement telehealth pediatric services through video chats and phone calls. The funding is part of a grant program to establish and administer a tele-connectivity resource program for children’s health in rural Texas.
Wyoming residents shared stories of people who died without healthcare at a vigil held to advocate for Medicaid expansion, according to Oil City News. Attendee Linda Jones's friend Earl lost his job and insurance while recovering from a fall injury, eventually selling his prized car to pay medical bills. His health declined rapidly and he was found dead in his home.