More Than Half of Americans Favor State Insurance Exchanges; Lawmakers Split Along Party Lines

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

On the heels of the inauguration, a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health reports that while lawmakers are split along party lines about the creation of state-based health insurance exchanges, most Americans, regardless of their party affiliation, consider it a top healthcare priority.

The extensive survey goes on to discuss the differences in how Americans vs. lawmakers feel about a wide range of healthcare issues, including Medicaid expansion, Medicare cuts, and federal spending for such projects as finding new cures and treatments for major disease threats, research for health problems resulting from natural or man-made disasters, ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and help for chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Full details inside.

Reducing hospital readmissions transcends party politics, and a new transitional care program is taking aim at this increasingly costly issue. Launched by Univita Health and Aetna, members and their caregivers are engaged immediately upon admission to a hospital. Specially trained nurses from Univita and case managers from Aetna discuss their condition and discharge plan in order to determine the type of support they will need when they go home. Once home, both professionals continue to help the member in a number of different ways, including assessing their living conditions, and explaining the signs and symptoms that may warrant a call to the doctor.

Care managers are crucial to another collaboration, this one between Franciscan Alliance and Cigna. Care managers employed by Franciscan Alliance will become part of the physician-led care team and serve as clinical care coordinators. They will help patients with chronic conditions or other health challenges navigate the healthcare system by helping them identify patients discharged from the hospital who might be at risk for readmission, and helping them get follow-up care and any needed screenings.

Transitional care continues to get its due with the announcement that Medicare has accepted two codes, categorized as transitional care management services, that allow for efficient reporting of time spent discussing a care plan, connecting patients to community services, transitioning them from inpatient settings and preventing readmissions. Medicare’s acceptance of the new codes signals that the agency recognizes the importance of the work involved in transitioning patients from one care setting to the next, and its contributions towards improving the overall quality of healthcare, AMA officials say.

And in late breaking news, CMS announced that over 500 organizations will begin participating in the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative. The initative includes four models of bundling payments, depending on the types of healthcare providers involved and the services included in the bundle. They are: Retrospective Acute Care Hospital Stay Only, Retrospective Acute Care Hospital Stay Plus Post-Acute Care, Retrospective Post-Acute Care Only, and Acute Care Hospital Stay Only. Through this new initiative, CMS will test how bundling payments for episodes of care can result in more coordinated care for beneficiaries and lower costs for Medicare.

And don’t forget to take our new survey on mHealth, or mobile health, starting February 5th. An ever growing segment of the telehealth industry, telehealth is expected to reach 1.8 million patients by 2017. Tell us what your plans are, and you will get a free copy of the executive summary.

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

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