Lowe's Among The Companies Making Such Offer
Apr 26, 2016 By Michael Tomsic
Lowe’s home improvement company, like a growing number of large companies nationwide, offers its employees an eye-catching benefit: certain major surgeries at prestigious hospitals at no cost to the employee.
How do these firms do it? With “bundled payments,” a way of paying that’s gaining steam across the healthcare industry, and that Medicare is now adopting for hip and knee replacements in 67 metropolitan areas, including New York, Miami and Denver.
Health Plans Must Now Act Quickly If They Want Settlement Shares
Apr 26, 2016 By Michelle Andrews
Accidents happen, and if they’re someone else’s fault, you can go to court to try to get compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you win, though, the pot of gold you receive may be considerably smaller than you expect: Your health plan may claim some or all of it as reimbursement for money it spent on your medical care.
It’s completely legal and it happens all the time. But a recent Supreme Court decision gives consumers ammunition to push back.
They're 50th and 47th Nationwide
Apr 26, 2016 By Megan Hart
Kansas spends only about $12 per person on public health, making it one of the states putting the least money into preventing chronic and infectious diseases.
According to a recent report from the Trust for America’s Health, Kansas spent about $36 million in fiscal year 2015 on public health programs for its 2.9 million people, or about $12.40 per person. That ranked the state 47th in per capita spending compared to the other 49 states and the District of Columbia.
Politics Has Blocked Tool to Curb Drug Abuse
Apr 19, 2016 By Bram Sable-Smith
At Richard Logan’s pharmacy in Charleston, Mo., prescription opioid painkillers are locked away in a cabinet.
Missouri law requires pharmacies to keep schedule II controlled substances — drugs like oxycodone and fentanyl with a high addiction potential — locked up at all times.
Many Have Insurance, But Lack Funds
Apr 19, 2016 By Michelle Andrews
Denise Johnson works two jobs, but neither of them offers health insurance to part-timers like her. She signed up for a marketplace plan this year, but for routine medical care, Johnson still goes to the free clinic near her Charlottesville, Va., home.
The problem is her plan’s deductible of at least $1,000. She can’t recall the precise figure, but it doesn’t really matter. “It’s absolutely high,” said Johnson, 58. “Who can afford that?” She struggles to pay her $28 monthly premium.
Many Applicants Have Been Waiting For Months
Apr 19, 2016 By Andy Marso
Representatives of 15 groups that advocate for Kansas Medicaid populations sent a letter to state leaders this week urging them to eliminate a Medicaid application backlog that has left thousands of Kansans awaiting coverage.
The groups have formed a coalition called the KanCare Advocates Network. They represent children, pregnant women and Kansans who are elderly or disabled.
Up More Than 500 Percent
Apr 5, 2016 By Christine Vestal
When Ohio tallied what many already knew was an alarming surge in overdose deaths from an opioid known as fentanyl, the state asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate.
The rash of fatal overdoses in Ohio — a more than fivefold increase in 2014 — was not an isolated outbreak. Fentanyl is killing more people than heroin in many parts of the country. And the death toll will likely keep growing, said CDC investigators Matt Gladden and John Halpin at the fifth annual Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit here.
Agency Being Urged to Change Policy
Apr 5, 2016 By Phil Galewitz
Nearly a third of people without health insurance, about 10 million, live in families that received a federal earned income tax credit (EITC) in 2014, according to a new study.
But the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t tell those tax filers that their low and moderate incomes likely mean their households qualify for Medicaid or subsidies to buy coverage on the insurance exchanges.
Justice Department Spearheads Investigation
Apr 5, 2016 By Dan Margoiles
Kansas is one of 10 judicial districts nationwide selected to form units to crack down on nursing homes providing “grossly substandard” care, the Justice Department announced last week.
But Proposal Raises Ethical Issues
Mar 29, 2016 By Michelle Andrews
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist and Harvard oncologist have a proposal to get highly effective but prohibitively expensive drugs into consumers’ hands: health care installment loans.
Writing last month in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the authors liken drug loans to mortgages, noting that both can enable consumers to buy big-ticket items requiring a hefty up-front payment that they could not otherwise afford.
But such policies won't be subject to Medicaid fee
Mar 29, 2016 By Andy Marso
Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Monday that will allow insurance companies to avoid paying a privilege fee when they sell health plans that cover only in-network care.
The state already allowed insurers to sell network-only plans if they registered with the Kansas Insurance Department as health maintenance organizations, or HMOs, and paid the fee.
More Children Being Born At-Risk For Withdrawal
Mar 29, 2016 By Christine Vestal
As soon as the home pregnancy test strip turned blue, Susan Bellone packed a few things and headed straight for Boston Medical Center’s emergency room. She’d been using heroin and knew she needed medical help to protect her baby.
“I felt so guilty. I still do,” said Bellone, a petite, energetic woman. At 32, and six years into her heroin addiction, having a baby was the last thing on her mind. “I was not in the right place to start a family,” she said. “But once it was happening, it was happening, so I couldn’t turn back.”
CMS Introduces Various Initiatives to Cut Costs
Mar 22, 2016 By Julie Appleby
Aetna and Cigna inked deals in early February with drugmaker Novartis that offer the insurers rebates tied to how well a pricey new heart failure drug works to cut hospitalizations and deaths. If the $4,500-a-year drug meets targets, the rebate goes down. Doesn’t work so well? The insurers get a bigger payment.
In another approach, pharmacy benefit firm Express Scripts this year began paying drugmakers a special negotiated rate for some cancer drugs — to reward the use of the medicines for the specific cancers for which they have the most demonstrated effectiveness.
Four Centers Receive HHS Grants
Mar 22, 2016 By Megan Hart
More than $1.4 million in federal grants will help four Kansas health centers enhance their treatment programs for opioid abuse.
In announcing the grants earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said abuse of and addiction to opioids, such as heroin and prescription painkillers, “is a serious and increasing public health problem.”
Cleveland Clinic Among Those Providing Training
Mar 22, 2016 By Phil Galewitz
She didn’t want to spend the rest of her days seeing doctors, the 91-year-old woman confessed to Kevin Newfield, M.D., as he treated a deep wound on her arm.
“You don’t have to, but you have to tell me what you do want,” Newfield replied.
“I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of being 106,” she told the surgeon and her daughter, who was in the room with them.
Other Businesses Often Impacted Hard
Mar 15, 2016 By Sarah Varney
For years, Sybil Ammons was the director of nursing at Stewart County’s only hospital. Now, she’s the county coroner.
Since the hospital here closed three years ago, Ammons says more than a dozen local residents were unable to get medical care quickly enough and were either harmed or died because of the delays. “We’ve had a stroke, several heart attacks,” she said, standing along Richland’s main street in this small town about 150 miles south of Atlanta. “We’ve had traumas out on the four-lane.”
Safe Injection Sites Would Cut Overdoses
Mar 15, 2016 By Sarah Breitenbach
A bustling economy. Record-low unemployment. A ballooning heroin problem.
That’s how Mayor Svante Myrick describes Ithaca, N.Y., where he hopes to open the nation’s first safe injection facility — a place where heroin users could shoot their illegal drugs under medical supervision and without fear of arrest.
New Law Allowing Them on College Campuses Affects Hospital
Mar 15, 2016 By Sam Zeff
July 2017 may seem like a long way away, but when you’re planning to allow guns on college campuses, it might as well be just around the corner.
How Kansas colleges will comply with the law allowing guns on campus while maintaining security is complicated. But it’s perhaps most complex at the University of Kansas Medical Center and KU Hospital in Kansas City, Kan.
But no Action Being Taken by Legislature For Now
Mar 8, 2016 By Jim McLean
Poll results released Monday by the Kansas Hospital Association show a majority of Kansans continue to favor expanding Medicaid to cover more low-income adults.
The statewide poll conducted in mid-February found that 62% of Kansas voters supported expanding KanCare, the state’s privatized Medicaid program, to cover approximately 150,000 non-disabled adults earning less than 138% of the federal poverty level, which is $16,242 for an individual and $33,465 for a family of four.
Michigan Among 11 Advocating Reforms
Mar 8, 2016 By Michael Ollove
Outraged by exorbitant prices for certain prescription drugs, lawmakers in at least 11 states have introduced legislation that would require pharmaceutical companies to justify their prices by disclosing how much they spend on research, manufacturing and marketing.
The bills are similar to a provision in President Barack Obama’s proposed 2017 budget.
Study Contradicts Notion They Cut Costs
Mar 8, 2016 By Chad Terhune
Retail clinics, long seen as an antidote to more expensive doctor offices and emergency rooms, may actually boost medical spending by leading consumers to get more care, a new study shows.
Rather than substituting for a physician office visit or trip to the hospital, 58 percent of retail clinic visits for minor conditions represented a new use of medical services, according to the study published Monday in the journal Health Affairs. Those additional visits led to a modest increase in overall health care spending of $14 per person per year.
Most Support is Among Democrats; Alternatives Are Preferred
Mar 1, 2016 By Jordan Rau
Americans are divided about the idea of creating a single-payer government health insurance system, as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has proposed, but support shrinks when negative arguments are highlighted and alternatives are presented, according to a poll released last week.
Higher Earners More Likely to Marry, Creating Reluctance to Relocate
Mar 1, 2016 By Shefali Luthra
If someone is well-educated, the odds are that he or she will marry someone with similar credentials, according to census data. And that trend has consequences when it comes to access to health care in rural areas.
Rural areas have for years been facing a doctor shortage. That means for the roughly 20% of Americans who live in those areas, it’s harder to get care when it’s needed.
Many Have to Travel Hours to Clinics
Mar 1, 2016 By Esther Honig
At a domestic violence shelter in Hays, director Tiffany Kershner sits with a client in a small meeting room. Leyila, 35, who asks that only her first name be used to protect her privacy, recently left an abusive marriage.
Today she’s hoping she can get an appointment with an OB-GYN, but Kershner knows that’s no easy task in Hays. “We’re looking for the money to try and help with the exams and help with the doctor’s visits,” Kershner said. “But there’s just not a lot of money for it, so we’re just looking for any particular grant we can write.”
Budget, Staffing Cuts During Recession Linger
Feb 23, 2016 By Michael Ollove
State health officials were heartened when President Barack Obama this month asked Congress for $1.8 billion to combat the spread of the Zika virus because they fear they don’t have the resources to fight the potentially debilitating disease on their own.
Budget cuts have left state and local health departments seriously understaffed and, officials say, in a precariously dangerous situation if the country has to face outbreaks of two or more infectious diseases — such as Zika, new strains of flu, or the West Nile and Ebola viruses — at the same time.
Wariness Prompts Many to Consumer Sugary Drinks Over Tapwater
Feb 23, 2016 By John Daley
The water crisis in Flint, Mich., is making some public health messages harder to get across — namely, in most communities, the tap water is perfectly safe. And it is so much healthier than sugary drinks.
It’s a message Patty Braun, M.D., a pediatrician and oral health specialist at Denver Health, spends a lot of time on in Denver, even before lead was found in the water system of Flint.
No Softening of Stance in Sight
Feb 23, 2016 By Jim McLean
Kansas’ rejection of Medicaid expansion has cost the state more than $1 billion, according to the association that represents the state’s hospitals.
“This 10-figure sum represents a loss of nearly 11 Kansas taxpayer dollars every second since Jan. 1, 2014 — funds that go to the federal government to be spent in other states for Medicaid expansion,” the Kansas Hospital Association, which keeps a running total of the amount on its website, said in a news release issued Monday.
Their Rates of Uninsured Remain Far Higher Than Whites
Feb 16, 2016 By Bryan Thompson
A recent national report credits the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, for helping to reduce racial and ethnic inequalities in health insurance coverage. But Kansas has not made as much progress as other states.
Before the Affordable Care Act, blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans were much more likely than whites to be uninsured. But an analysis by the nonprofit Center for Global Policy Solutions shows that gap has narrowed because of the health reform law.
Federal Rules And Attitudes Are Among Issues
Feb 16, 2016 By Christine Vestal
After more than a decade of getting high on illicit opioid painkillers and heroin every day, Christopher Dezotelle decided to quit. He saw too many people overdose and die. “I couldn’t do that to my mom or my children,” he said.
He also got tired of having to commit crimes to pay for his habit — or at least the consequences of those crimes. At 33, he has spent more than 11 of his last 17 years incarcerated. The oldest of seven children, he started using marijuana and alcohol when he was 12.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Says There Not Enough Evidence to Show Benefit
Feb 16, 2016 By Shefali Luthra
Sparking strong reaction from doctors and child development experts, an influential task force says there’s “insufficient evidence” to argue definitely that the benefits of screening all young children for autism outweigh the harms.
“There’s not enough evidence for us to recommend for or against screening in children for autism under 30 months,” said David Grossman, M.D., vice chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and a Seattle pediatrician. “Clinicians need to make a judgment on their own about whether to screen. There is no right answer on that.”
Many Cut Commissions to Brokers to Discourage Enrollment
Feb 9, 2016 By Michelle Andrews
Stung by losses under the federal health law, major insurers are seeking to sharply limit how policies are sold to individuals in ways that consumer advocates say seem to discriminate against the sickest and could hold down future enrollment.
In recent days Anthem, Aetna and Cigna, all among the top five health insurers, told brokers they will stop paying them sales commissions to sign up most customers who qualify for new coverage outside the normal enrollment period, according to the companies and broker documents.
Indiana, Minnesota File Lawsuits For Prisoners, Medicaid Enrollees
Feb 9, 2016 By Michael Ollove
A handful of federal lawsuits against states that have denied highly effective but costly hepatitis C drugs to Medicaid patients and prisoners could cost states hundreds of millions of dollars.
The drugs boast cure rates of 95% or better, compared to 40% for previous treatments. But they cost between $83,000 and $95,000 for a single course of treatment.
Presumed Eligibility For Some Applicants Considered
Feb 9, 2016 By Andy Marso
Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Susan Mosier said last week that she’s open to ideas to streamline the state's current backlog of Medicaid applicants, including presumed Medicaid eligibility for nursing home residents.
When asked about a temporary lifeline for nursing homes drowning in uncompensated care while the department works through a computer system transition, Mosier said it was a “good concept” and that she liked the idea.
Aimed at Individuals Who Earn Too Much For Medicaid
Feb 2, 2016 By Michelle Andrews
In January, more than 350,000 lower income New Yorkers began paying $20 a month or less for comprehensive health insurance with no deductibles and low copayments, under a federal health law program. Minnesota has similar coverage in place through the same program, with more than 125,000 enrollees.
Compounded by Sinking Socioeconomic Status
Feb 2, 2016 By Lisa Gillespie
Don’t blame suicide and substance abuse entirely for rising death rates among middle-aged white Americans, asserts a new study out last week.
They’re both factors, but the bigger culprit is almost two decades of stalled progress in fighting leading causes of death — such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease — according to a Commonwealth Fund analysis of data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The fund studied actual and expected death rates, and causes of death, for working-age adults from 1968 through 2014.
New Computer System Kicks Many Out of Program Without Notice
Feb 2, 2016 By Andy Marso
Thousands of Kansans seeking Medicaid benefits are being forced to wait months because of continuing problems with a new computer system and a change in the state agency responsible for handling some eligibility determinations.
The application backlog began to form in July when state officials moved Medicaid eligibility processing to the long-delayed Kansas Eligibility Enforcement System, or KEES. The software switch forced employees to use dozens of time-consuming workarounds to make the system function.