Study: Health differences explain most geographic differences in Medicare costs   05/28/2013
Wide geographic variation in Medicare costs is largely explained by health differences across communities rather than inefficient care delivery, according to a Center for Studying Health System Change study published today in Medical Care Research and Review. The study examined multiple ways of adjusting for patient health, finding that a fuller accounting of health status explained at least 75% to 85% of Medicare geographic cost differences between high- and low-cost areas. “Although data limitations may preclude ever developing the perfect case-mix adjustment approach, our results suggest that the portion of the geographic variation that can be explained by patient health is much greater than previously estimated, leaving less of the geographic variation potentially attributable to inefficiency,” the authors state.
'Good things happen' to engaged patients, AHA chair says in Modern Healthcare   05/28/2013
Better engagement with health care users is a promising strategy for improving patient care and outcomes, AHA Chairman Benjamin Chu, M.D., group president for Kaiser Permanente’s southern California and Hawaii regions, states in an op-ed piece today in Modern Healthcare. “When patients and families see their physicians and medical staff as part of their very own health care team, good things happen,” Chu writes. “Patients are more likely to stick to their treatment or prevention program when the physician is their health coach and they are the star player. As a physician, a hospital administrator and health care consumer, I know that patients and families who are active members of their health care team have better results and outcomes, with fewer emergency visits and hospitalizations. These are attractive benefits at a time when our population is aging and we are seeing increasing rates of chronic disease.” Chu co-chaired last year’s AHA Committee on Research report “Engaging Health Care Users: A Framework for Healthy Individuals and Communities.” Modern Healthcare subscribers can access the op-ed piece online.
Court rejects request to review CA Medicaid ruling   05/28/2013
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Friday denied a request by the California Hospital Association and other groups for the full court to review a decision by a three-judge panel of the court that reversed an injunction to prevent a proposed 10% Medicaid payment cut to hospitals and other health care providers. CHA is evaluating next steps in terms of the judicial process. “California cannot implement the [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] and expand Medi-Cal while at the same time gutting the foundation of the program,” said CHA President and CEO Duane Dauner. “CHA and our coalition partners look forward to working with the Legislature and the Administration to address this major problem.” The AHA and eight state hospital associations had filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the full court to review the decision.