The Supreme Court and the Buzz on Healthcare Reform

Monday, April 2nd, 2012
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Forget Hunger Games; healthcare reform was the main draw this past week as the Supreme Court presided over three days’ worth of hearings on the Affordable Care Act.

According to news reports, two of the top issues addressed by the justices were whether the rest of the law could stand if the individual mandate requirement that most Americans get insurance or face a penalty was struck down; and the validity of expanding the state-federal Medicaid healthcare program for the poor. The judges will release their final rulings in June.

One thing many people could have used last week was a new vocabulary and glossary report just published by Thomson Reuters. Confused about what a mandate is, or the difference between EHR and EMR, or ED and ER? The report will clear it up for you, and even provide informational statistics and charts on key healthcare issues like state by state insurance status and annual fraud, and waste and abuse costs.

Interest was so high in CMS’ Health Care Innovation Challenge initiative that the agency announced it will need several additional weeks to process the applications and announce winners. CMS received approximately 3,000 applications, representing tens of thousands of clinicians, information technology entrepreneurs, medical suppliers, health centers, hospitals, community-based organizations and individual citizens from every corner of the nation. CMS first announced the challenge in December; it plans to award up to $1 billion in grants to applicants with the most compelling new ideas to deliver better health, improved care and lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP, particularly those with the highest healthcare needs.

In another innovation challenge, hearts were thumping when HHS announced the winners of its contest seeking innovative technology applications to help solve tough health IT problems. The first place winners created THUMPr, an app whose simple, user-friendly interface enables users to create personal heart health profiles.

And lastly, a sad statistic: CDC announced that 1 in 88 children have been diagnosed with autism by the time they are eight, and costs for this disease have tripled to $126 billion in the United States since 2006. The majority of those costs aren’t spent on healthcare, but on educational and care issues, but it’s a disorder that keeps on increasing, and could use our undivided attention.

These stories and much more in this week’s issue of the Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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