State News

West Virginia | Dec 14, 2017 | News Story

Overburdened Mental Health Providers Thwart Police Push For Drug Treatment

West Virginia has a severe shortage of behavioral health professionals who can help people beat their addictions to drugs and alcohol, according to this Stateline report. And with hundreds of people outside of the criminal justice system on waiting lists for treatment, county mental health officials are hesitant to make room for drug users when not enough beds and treatment services are available for existing clients, according to Jim Johnson, West Virginia’s recently appointed drug czar.

Minnesota | Dec 14, 2017 | Report

Diabetes Hospitalizations are Falling in Minnesota

Better efforts to coordinate care have resulted in a 22 percent drop in hospitalizations for diabetes according to researchers at the Minnesota Health Department. The decline between 2006 and 2014 resulted in fewer hospitalizations for diabetes related health problems (other than extremely high or low blood sugar levels). In 2008 the state launched several initiatives to control health care spending related to chronic conditions, focusing on obesity and smoking, improving disease management in primary care, and quality improvement systems that measure care and outcomes as part of state-wide partnership targeting diabetes. 

North Carolina | Dec 12, 2017 | News Story

North Carolina Submits Amended 1115 Waiver Application

North Carolina submitted an amended 1115 waiver to CMS in November 2017 seeking to invest $1.2 billion over five years in several targeted initiatives which look to transition from fee-for-service payments, advance the state’s goals to improve population health and increase high value care to improve access and sustainability.

Virginia | Dec 12, 2017 | News Story | APCD

Addition of Medicare Data to Virginia All-Payer Claims Database Provides Greater Analytical Insight on Enhancing Healthcare Delivery System

Medicare data was added to Virginia’s All-Payer Claims Database (APCD), which can be used to inform decision-making focused on improving the healthcare delivery system, according to a press release from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association. The database now includes information from federal health insurance plans such as Medicare, some commercial health insurers, healthcare subscription plans, health maintenance organizations, some third-party administration submissions, pharmacy benefits managers, and the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS). The APCD’s purpose is “to facilitate data-driven, evidence-based improvements in access, quality, and cost of healthcare and to improve the public health through understanding of expenditure patterns and operation and performance of the healthcare system.”

New York | Dec 12, 2017 | Report

Empowering New Yorkers with Quality Measures That Matter to Them

Although quality measurement and public reporting have grown dramatically over the last two decades, the information that New Yorkers want and need in order to make informed health care choices is severely lacking, leaving them without the tools to make better decisions. To better understand what quality information is currently available, what information consumers want, and the gaps between the two, UHF’s Quality Institute engaged in a 15-month inquiry supported by the New York State Health Foundation. Empowering New Yorkers with Quality Measures that Matter to Them also synthesizes research on quality measurement and reporting, interviews with a broad range of health care experts, and advice from a 17-member advisory group. It identifies the types of information consumers most want and the barriers to overcome to help New Yorkers become empowered health care consumers.

Michigan | Dec 11, 2017 | News Story

Blue Cross to Limit Opioid Scripts to 30-day Supply

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will begin a new policy on Feb. 1, 2018, that limits opioid prescriptions to members to 30 days and in some cases five days, according to an article in Modern Healthcare. Members who haven't had a recent prescription filled and are prescribed a short-acting agent will have their initial fill limited to five days. Blue Cross limits short-acting agents to 15 days and will be moving to a five-day fill limitation. In Michigan, 1,365 people died of opioid overdoses in 2016, compared to 884 in 2015 and 426 in 2012, meaning Michigan's overdose rate has tripled since 2012.

Arkansas | Dec 11, 2017 | News Story

Arkansas Adopts Limits on Opioid Prescribing

Arkansas’ state medical board has joined 24 states in adopting regulations limiting the number and strength of opioid painkillers doctors can prescribe, reports The PEW Charitable Trusts’ Stateline. The new restrictions, based on 2016 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, require doctors to take a variety of precautions when prescribing highly addictive opioid painkillers and limiting prescriptions for acute pain from an injury or surgery to a seven-day supply. Arkansas has one of the highest per capita opioid consumption rates in the nation and future analysis will be needed to determine the regulation’s impact on healthcare quality and cost.

Maryland | Dec 7, 2017 | News Story

Hospitals Find Asthma Hot Spots More Profitable to Neglect than Fix

Baltimore paramedic crews make more asthma-related visits per capita in zip code 21223 than anywhere else in the city, according to fire department records. This neighborhood is in the shadow of prestigious medical centers — Johns Hopkins, whose researchers are international experts on asthma prevention, and the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), according to the Washington Post. However, like hospitals across the country, the institutions have done little to address the root causes of asthma. The perverse incentives of the health-care payment system have long made it far more lucrative to treat severe, dangerous asthma attacks than to prevent them. 

Utah | Dec 6, 2017 | Report

Bills of Health: What’s Driving Medical Costs in Utah

People in Utah spend less per capita on health care than any other state, which in part could be due to behavioral characteristics and certain demographics according to a recent report by Utah Foundation. Examining total spending in the state of Utah is the focus of this report and other findings include that Utah has the shortest length of hospital stay in the country, that while health care spending is growing in Utah it is attributable more to population growth than overutilization, and that two- thirds of healthcare expenditures come from hospital services and physician and clinical services.

Illinois | Dec 5, 2017 | News Story

UnitedHealthcare Launches Value-Based Medicare Advantage Program with Oak Street Health

UnitedHealthcare and Oak Street Health announced they are establishing a value-based initiative for Medicare Advantage patients in 14 primary care centers in under-served communities in Illinois and two northwestern Indiana locations, according to an article in Healthcare Dive. The initiative will allow the two organizations to identify high-risk patients, help manage their chronic health conditions, effectively manage their medication needs and reduce emergency room visits and hospital re-admissions.