Study: Mental health, substance abuse admissions climb after parity law   02/27/2013
Inpatient admissions for mental health and substance abuse rose 6% and 20%, respectively, in 2011, the first full year under an interim final rule that implemented the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, according to a report released today by the Health Care Cost Institute. Per capita spending on mental health and substance abuse admissions rose 12% and 29% in 2011, respectively, while out-of-pocket spending for these hospital stays rose 12% and 32%, the study found. Still, "relatively small amounts are spent on mental health and substance use admissions for individuals covered by employer-sponsored health insurance," the authors note. The 2008 law, which the AHA supports, requires group health plans to offer the same financial and treatment limits for mental health and substance-related disorder benefits as they do for medical and surgical benefits, but does not mandate behavioral health coverage. The interim rule which the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury have yet to finalize, took effect in July 2010.
Census: Low-income workers offered health coverage less   02/27/2013
Individuals with family incomes less than 138% of the federal poverty level were least likely to work for an employer that offered health insurance benefits in 2010, according to a report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Forty-three percent of these workers were offered health insurance benefits, compared with 81% of workers in families earning 401% or more of the poverty level, which in 2010 was $22,113 for a family of four. Between 1997 and 2010, the rate of employment-based health insurance coverage declined from 64% to 57%, according to the report. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care extended Medicaid coverage to people earning up to 138% of the poverty level. For states that expand their Medicaid program, the federal government will finance 100% of the newly eligible enrollees through 2016, dropping down to 90% by 2020.
Bariatric surgery safer at both designated centers, other hospitals   02/27/2013
Limiting Medicare coverage of weight-loss surgery to hospitals designated as centers of excellence has not improved patient outcomes, which have improved substantially regardless of whether the hospital has the designation, according to a study in today's Journal of the American Medical Association. "However, there are concerns about the effect of the policy on patient access," the authors said. "…These findings suggest that CMS should reevaluate this policy." In 2006, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a national coverage decision limiting coverage of bariatric surgery to hospitals designated as centers of excellence by the American College of Surgeons or American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
Tennessee voters support Medicaid expansion   02/27/2013
Most Tennessee voters want the state to expand its Medicaid program to reduce the number of uninsured residents, according to a survey released yesterday by the Tennessee Hospital Association. Funded by the AHA and conducted by Alexandria, VA-based Public Opinion Strategies, the THA poll found that 59% of insured voters believe the state should accept the federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Just 35% said the state should not expand the program. "The mandate is clear and decisive," THA President Craig Becker said. "Tennesseans believe accepting the funds and expanding the Medicaid population in the state would mean critical resources for our rural hospitals that are financially struggling and will be crippled by the cuts that already are law."
Hurricane Sandy relief funds distributed for health care employees   02/27/2013
The Hurricane Sandy Health Care Employee Relief Fund has distributed $608,717 to 47 health care organizations, mostly hospitals and health systems, in Long Island, NY, New Jersey and New York City, the United Hospital Fund announced today. The funds will help 4,124 employees the organizations identified as suffering significant losses in the hurricane. The founding sponsors of the relief fund include the Greater New York Hospital Association, Healthcare Association of New York State, Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, New Jersey Hospital Association, Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association and United Hospital Fund, with the generous support of the AHA. "Many health care employees worked to ensure the safety of others during extremely difficult circumstances, often while experiencing wrenching personal losses," said United Hospital Fund President Jim Tallon. "…I know I speak on behalf of all the donors in saying that we hope the funds we are distributing today will provide some additional assistance to health care workers who still need help to recover from Sandy's devastating effects."