Right now the prospects for passage of comprehensive health reform appear dim. If nothing is passed, what are the implications for various participants in the health system? Is it more of the same, or will there be significant program, provider and payer initiated changes?
Health care news and research
The current issue of Health Affairs has several articles focusing on the use of telemedicine and HIT to solve health problems in the developing world. The articles describe some success stories, challenges and opportunities for use of wireless and health information technologies to provide desperately needed improvement for persons in these areas.
New research published in Health Affairs finds that geographic variation in Medicare spending is not strongly driven by price variation. Utilization differences appear to be the major cause of that variation.
Many states have created workers’ compensation fee schedules based on Medicare reimbursement for physicians. Doing so can create traps if the frequent changes in the Medicare payment mechanisms are not carefully followed. A new NCCI report examines these issues.
The Massachusetts Attorney General investigates and discovers that hospitals and some physicians have market power and consequently are able to demand high payments and those payments are the main cause of increases in the cost of health insurance, not utilization increases.
Four times a year public companies regale us with their (usually optimistic) views of the firm’s past performance, future prospects and market environment. Interesting information can occasionally be found by reviewing analyst call transcripts. Some current releases are discussed.
Rhode Island released a report on payments to hospitals from various sources and looked at factors accounting for significant differences in payment levels. The variation is likely entirely due to hospital bargaining power by large systems, which in turn is driving health insurance premium increases.