Archive for July, 2012

TO EXPAND OR NOT TO EXPAND MAY DEFEAT HEALTHCARE REFORM GOALS

On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court partially upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as the “Healthcare Reform Act” while declaring the requirement for the states to expand Medicaid unconstitutional as drafted. Specifically, the Supreme Court determined that under the Healthcare Reform Act, Congress’ requirement for the states to increase the Medicaid eligibility to all individuals who have an income at or below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level failed because the states were not provided an opportunity to consent and Congress granted the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) the authority to revoke the Medicaid funding to the states who do not expand eligibility. The Supreme Court found the restriction on Medicaid funding exceeded Congress’ authority. Therefore, in order to save the Healthcare Reform Act, the Supreme Court restrained the DHHS Secretary’s authority to withhold Medicaid funding.

Without fear of losing …

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Time to get back to the basics and focus on the patient/ consumer

I recently had a medical procedure in a physician’s office. My experience reaffirmed that we have a long way to go towards the delivery of consumer-oriented healthcare. This is a cultural shift from the traditional physician reference model to a consumer driven decision. Here are some basic suggestions every physician group should test their business against to measure if their practice is consumer oriented.

  • Greet the patient – When a patient arrives at the office, greet them. They are the customer and the reason you go to work in the morning and receive an income.
  • Respect the patient’s time – When a patient arrives at the office on time, take them to the examination room within 10 minutes. Do not leave the patient in the examination room for 30 or more minutes waiting for the physician. Worse, is the physician coming in and leaving the examination room prolonging a visit with unproductive patient treatment time.
  • Medical treatment pre-certification when the patient schedules …

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Tax Implications of the ACA – Just Bad Timing?

The tax provisions that the press prefers to call the “Bush tax cuts” will sunset and income tax rates (as well as phase-out provisions for itemized deductions and personal exemptions and numerous other provisions) will revert to pre-2001 levels. In addition, the individual income tax provisions contained in the ACA take effect. There are three primary taxes placed directly on individuals contained in the ACA.

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Free Lunches and Medicaid Expansion

An old joke told by economists (that may be some type of oxymoron) tells the story of some potentate who hires a noted economist to teach him all there is to know about economics. The economist after considerable labor produces a weighty tome that is rejected by the potentate as being too long. The economist tries again with a shorter version that is again rejected. This continues until finally the economist produces a single sentence for the potentate that she declares is the entire sum of economic wisdom: There is no such thing as a free lunch.

That wisdom was brought to mind after reading the response of some to the portion of Supreme Courts ruling on the Affordable Care Act that addressed the expansion of Medicaid eligibility. The court ruled that the expansion was large enough to constitute a whole new program so the Federal government could not withhold the Federal match for a state’s existing Medicaid program if the state chose not to participate in the expansion. …

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Lessons Learned from Tennessee’s HIE

Does Georgia have lessons to learn from its neighbor’s failed attempt to start up a statewide HIE?

By NEW HealthFlock BLOGGER:  Jennifer Dennard, Social Marketing Director – Billian

The hot topic of Health Information Exchange showed no signs of cooling down last week, as Tennessee announced it was shuttering its statewide HIE project, otherwise known as the Health Information Partnership for Tennessee (HIP TN). Despite receiving $11 million in government funds, and conducting numerous data exchange tests and demonstrations since it was formed in 2009, HIP TN “did not reach the point where it helped exchange clinical data in a production environment,” according to an iHealthBeat announcement, which also pointed out the state is now focusing its attention (and presumably whatever is left of its money) on helping providers attest for Meaningful Use incentives.

News from Tennessee always catches my eye because of its implications for Georgia. The healthcare IT and finance …

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A Comment on Health Reform

Let me start by using the ole cliché “I’m not a politician”. I don’t profess to be one and have no plans to run for any type office in the future. However, others would say “everybody plays a little politics”. So I will try my best to be “politically correct” with what I am about to say.

Health Reform is what it is and is not what it will be. Today there is a law that is highly debated by the citizens of this country. In March 2012 the Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed US citizens and found that 59% stated that they did not have enough information to understand how they would be impacted by the American Care Act. This number is higher than the same survey number two years ago. I also wonder how many of the folks who say they understand really don’t. Obviously it is a difficult law for the American public to comprehend which contributes to the confusion and the ongoing debate. Only 20% of Americans in the Kaiser study said they have felt any personal impact of the new law. …

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Capital Continues to Pump into Healthcare Technology, What this Means for Georgia

As the healthcare industry continues coming to grip with the recently passed Obamacare legislation, we must now move on with other issues of importance that are contributing to the ongoing expansion of the industry, as well as economic development through jobs and new business growth.  There is perhaps no better place to observe this growth and the valuable contributions to the overall healthcare industry than what is taking place in healthcare technology, or “HCIT,” as it is commonly referred to in the industry.

HCIT has frequently been referred to as the fastest growing segment of the healthcare industry measured by revenues and investment activity, and one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the entire US economy.  And as the industry has speculated about the changes that will come from Obamacare for some time now, HCIT companies are being pursued as some of the most influential and well-positioned players that will play a critical role in making those policies …

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Where the Supreme Court Got It Wrong: Access for the Very Poor

It is hard to believe (at least in my mind) that anyone living in the United States today has not heard something from their neighbor, news, radio, etc. on Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a result of last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court.  And to no surprise, there is roaring approval by some and steep condemnation from others.  Even on HealthFlock, we have bloggers on have differing opinions (pro vs. con).  While no one I can find believes that the the Affordable Care Act is perfect, I personally applaud the decision for what it does to address our “access” problems.

From my vantage point as a practice manager and operations leader working for a large health system, I am encouraged to see that the country is taking steps forward (through the ACA) to address our staggering problems around access to quality medical care, particularly for the poor.  Statistics routinely point to lack of affordability, availability, and acceptable of health services in our health …

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ObamaCare: Ready for the Next Stage

The fate of ObamaCare now moves from the legal and constitutional stage back to the political arena. As most Americans know by now, Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the more liberal members of the Supreme Court of the United States to create a 5-4 decision upholding ObamaCare as constitutional based on the ability of Congress to levy taxes. The high court has finally ruled on ObamaCare. So, what does this all mean?

Well, it might not be the decision most conservatives would have liked, but at least it is settled … for right now. Many health policy experts and political pundits are saying that the Chief Justice had a mental lapse or that he was pressured by the liberal media into upholding ObamaCare.

So how can the Chief Justice justify his historic position on the president’s signature legislative achievement?

First, he doesn’t have to … as it is all laid out in the opinion. The Chief Justice wrote in the majority opinion that ObamaCare was unconstitutional based on …

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A National Healthcare Solution Must Encourage Innovation & Technology

By Bart Foster
CEO of SoloHealth, a consumer-focused healthcare technology firm @Bart_Foster

Last Thursday the Supreme Court upheld the administration’s healthcare reform bill thus passing the biggest revamp of the U.S. healthcare system since the 1960s and setting the stage for a new, more widely available system for all Americans—not to mention a renewed political fight over its merits. A national healthcare reform is essential as our system is broken and in need of an overhaul. Overall, this bill is a positive step in the right direction. But, as they say, the devil is in the details. And there are a lot of details in this 2,500+ page bill.

As an entrepreneur in the healthcare business I see every day how our overburdened, over bureaucratic healthcare system fails. That failure is hitting America’s health and wallet hard. But the solution isn’t necessarily the government paying and providing for everyone’s healthcare; it’s giving people the tools and opportunities to …

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