The Oregon Health Authority (OHA), along with the Oregon Health Leadership Council, announced that 40 organizations have signed a compact to adopt “value-based payments” which reward healthcare quality rather than healthcare quantity, according to OHA. The agreement targets moving to 70 percent of payments following advanced value-based payment methods over five years and supports the work of the cost growth target program, which is beginning implementation this year. In Oregon’s healthcare transformation efforts, value-based payments are one of a few key tools to achieve meaningful cost containment while prioritizing quality care.
A federally commissioned study found that Indiana’s Medicaid expansion program had mixed results in improving health and access to care, reported Kaiser Health News. Indiana’s Medicare expansion program, called the Healthy Indiana Plan, requires eligible beneficiaries to make monthly contributions to a health savings account that is then used to pay for covered healthcare services. A federally funded study found that although the program increased healthcare coverage, it did not improve healthcare access, affordability or health status compared to both states that did and did not expand Medicaid.
Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) released its first healthcare Benchmark Trend Report, detailing total healthcare spending for 2019 and comparing it to baseline data collected for 2018, according to a DHSS press release. The report follows Executive Order 25, signed by the governor in late 2018, which established a state healthcare spending benchmark, a rate-of-growth benchmark and several healthcare quality measures. The first spending benchmark went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019 and was set at 3.8%, with the target expected to decrease gradually to 3% over the following three years.
A report from Hawaii State Department of Health reveals many COVID-19 inequities, particularly among Pacific Islanders, Native Hawaiians and Filipinos, reports State of Reform. Pacific Islanders accounted for a quarter of Hawaii’s COVID-19 cases, despite making up four percent of the state’s population, and had the highest age-adjusted mortality rate in the country. The report also shows that while Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders make up a quarter of the state’s population, they have received 13 percent of the state’s vaccinations. The report includes several recommendations, including collaborating with community organizations and stakeholders and increasing the representation of historically marginalized communities in government leadership positions and workgroups.
The Washington Health Alliance released its 15th Community Checkup report that comprehensively reviews medical claims data to measure progress toward improving health outcomes for Washington residents. The report summarizes information from 1,869 clinics, 322 medical groups, 105 hospitals, 15 health plans, 39 counties and all nine Accountable Communities of Health on more than 100 performance measures in order to: (1) compare Washington’s performance with national benchmarks; (2) rank providers’ performance on primary care delivery; (3) monitor opioid prescribing and healthcare spending trends; and (4) spur action by health plans, healthcare professionals, and purchasers like employers and union trusts.
Insurers and policymakers have created healthcare price transparency websites to facilitate price shopping and reduce spending, but a study in Health Affairs reveals that they may not work as planned. Researchers analyzed the use of New Hampshire’s public price transparency website and learned that the large online advertising did increase visits to the website. However, this increase in visits did not translate to an increased use of lower-price providers. Researchers posit that the limited success of such transparency tools in reducing spending is driven by structural factors limiting consumers’ ability to use healthcare price information as opposed to a lack of awareness of these tools.
The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing evaluated the impact of telemedicine policy changes during COVID-19, reported State Network. The report found that the percent of telemedicine visits increased from 0.2% of services before the pandemic to 20.3% during the height of the pandemic. The top diagnoses among adult telemedicine users were opioid dependence, generalized anxiety, major depression, hypertension, diabetes and back pain. Urban providers delivered a higher proportion of services via telemedicine compared to rural providers, which may be due to lower broadband access in rural areas. Federal qualified health centers were the highest adopters of telemedicine; at the height of the pandemic, telemedicine visits were 61.3% of all visits.
Virginia’s governor has signed the Commonwealth Health Reinsurance Program into law, according to State of Reform. The program requires the State Corporation Commission to establish a reinsurance program with the goal of expanding access to healthcare and lowering premiums, especially for those who are not eligible for federal subsidies. The law will help offset premiums that currently average $650 a month.
The Georgia General Assembly unanimously passed a bill that would automatically enroll children who receive food stamps into Georgia’s Medicaid program, according to Northwest Georgia News. An estimated 60,000 Medicaid-eligible children will gain healthcare coverage through an automatic enrollment process that eliminates bureaucratic paperwork. Once the bill is signed by the governor, it will need approval from the federal government.
A study of healthcare costs found the charge for a natural baby delivery at North Dakota’s six largest hospitals can range from $4,343 to $15,056—a difference of 347%, according to the Dickinson Press. The cost comparisons were part of an analysis of hospital costs in North Dakota presented to the North Dakota Legislature, which is studying healthcare costs compared to other states. The North Dakota insurance commissioner pointed out that the wide range of prices and difficulty in getting price information illustrate the disadvantage consumers find themselves in when trying to compare prices.