With the March 31 deadline for health coverage enrollment in Qualified Health Plans quickly approaching, Washington Healthplanfinder is increasing outreach efforts to help residents sign up for new health plans.
Washingtonians who are still seeking coverage should enroll as soon as possible to ensure they meet the deadline. Continue reading →
Facing heavy bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill as well as from patient groups, businesses, insurers and others, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Monday it did not plan to move ahead “at this time” with several proposed changes to the Medicare prescription drug program.
The draft regulation, which had been released in January, would have wide-ranging impact on the drug program, also known as Part D, including new limits on the number of plans insurers could offer consumers and new rules about what drugs those plans must cover.
It also would prohibit exclusion of pharmacies from a plan’s “preferred pharmacy network” as long as the pharmacies agreed to the plan’s terms and conditions. Continue reading →
With several states weighing whether to expand Medicaid under the federal health law, supporters are looking to powerful business groups to help sway skeptical state legislators.
But those groups are split on the issue — just like the public at large.
Nationally, the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents mostly small employers, remains opposed to the expansion, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has no position, saying it’s a state issue. Continue reading →
“It’s the real deal of what’s going on in their world from a medical standpoint,” says Topol, whose work is part of a clinical trial. “The integration of that with the classical medical record is vital.”
Similar efforts are underway around the country, as physicians and other providers seek to monitor patients remotely through new technologies, aiming to identify problems early and cut costs and inefficiencies in the healthcare system. Continue reading →
CDC Links Severe Diarrhea in Children to Antibiotics Prescribed by Doctors – “A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention links severe diarrhea in children to the antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices. U.S. health institute urges the physicians to improve the practice of prescribing antibiotics as they found that a majority of the Clostridium difficile (C.dificile) infections that trigger diarrhea and which is life threatening, is diagnosed among children in the general community, who received antibiotics prescribed at the doctor’s offices for other health conditions.”
State Flu Shot Rule for Preschoolers Curbs Kids’ Hospitalizations: CDC – WebMD – “A Connecticut law requiring flu shots for children entering preschool or daycare has reduced flu-related hospitalizations of young children by 12 percent, according to a new study. In the United States, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York City are the three places that require a yearly flu shot to stay in daycare or preschool. The Connecticut law took effect in 2010.”
Why High-Impact Exercise Is Good for Your Bones – NYTimes.com – “Bones should be jarred, for their own good. Past experiments have definitively established that subjecting bones to abrupt stress prompts them to add mass or at least reduces their loss of mass as people age. What has been in dispute, however, is how much force is needed to stimulate bone — and how to apply that force in daily life.”
Study: Prostate Surgery Helps Some Men Live Longer – WSJ.com – “Men with early-stage prostate cancer who had their prostates surgically removed were significantly more likely to be alive nearly two decades later than men who went without surgery and were monitored through so-called “watchful waiting,” the latest findings from a long-running Swedish study show.”
Nurse numbers, education linked to patient death rate | Reuters – “Both the quality and quantity of nurses on a hospital staff have significant influence on the chances patients will die following even simple surgery, according to a large new study. Researchers found the proportion of staff nurses with a bachelor’s degree and the number of patients each nurse had to care for could add up to a difference of 30 percent or more in mortality rates for inpatients.”
Big employers are pretty sure they’ll keep offering workers health care coverage. But they seem a lot less sure than they used to be, according to a new survey.
Only one large company in four recently surveyed by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health is confident it will provide medical coverage in a decade. That’s down from 73 percent in 2007 and 38 percent in 2010.
Much of the doubt reflects “the uncertainty around the long-term implications of the Affordable Care Act,” said Julie Stone, a benefits consultant at Towers. Continue reading →
Periodically Washington State Department of Health issues an update on disciplinary actions taken against health care providers, including suspensions and revocations of licenses, certifications, or registrations of providers in the state.
The department also suspends the credentials of people who have been prohibited from practicing in other states.
Information about health care providers is also on the agency’s website.
To find this information click on “Provider Credential Search” on the left hand side of the Department of Health home page (www.doh.wa.gov).
The site includes information about a health care provider’s license status, the expiration and renewal date of their credential, disciplinary actions and copies of legal documents issued after July 1998.
This information is also available by calling 360-236-4700.
Consumers who think a health care provider acted unprofessionally are also encouraged to call and report their complaint.
Here is the March 7th update issued by the Washington State Department of Health: Continue reading →
Q. My pre-Affordable Care Act individual health policy runs from May 2013 to May 2014. Will I be able to sign up for an exchange policy to begin May 1, 2014?
A. Yes, when your individual plan comes up for renewal you have a limited window starting 30 days before your policy year ends to sign up for a marketplace plan, says Sabrina Corlette, project director at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.
But you don’t have to wait to switch until your policy year ends, say experts. Continue reading →
Federal efforts to strengthen inspections of the nation’s nursing homes are gaining momentum after a government probe uncovered instances of substandard care.
The March 3 report by the HHS Inspector General found that an estimated one-third of residents suffered harm because of substandard care and that the chances of nursing home inspectors discovering these “adverse events” are “slim to none,” said Ruth Ann Dorrill, a deputy regional director for the inspector general and the manager of the investigation. Continue reading →
Demand for doctors – whether in person or via a computer screen – is expected to surge as millions more Americans become insured under the Affordable Care Act. About 10 million people already rely on telemedicine, often from doctors who live in another state.
As a result, more physicians are applying for medical licenses in multiple states – a costly and time-consuming proposition for some.
Without a license to practice medicine in the patient’s state of residence, both doctors and patients may be at legal risk.
Many states are embracing telemedicine by encouraging it in their Medicaid programs and requiring private insurers to pay for it. Continue reading →
The Obama administration on Wednesday released a broad set of regulatory changes to the health law that would give some consumers additional time to stay in plans that do not comply with all its coverage requirements and all consumers more time to enroll in coverage come 2015. Continue reading →
The Obama administration’s decision to allow non-compliant or previously cancelled health plans to continue for another two years will not apply to Washington state, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner said Wednesday.
Here are details from the commissioner’s office.
The Obama administration first made the offer to extend non-complaint or cancelled plans for one year last November, but left the decision up to individual state insurance commissioners and the health insurers.
Washington state’s insurance commissioner decided that allowing cancelled health plans to continue would not be in the best interest of the health insurance market and would ultimately harm consumers.
Since this announcement last fall, all of the health insurers in the state have confirmed that they support this decision.
Today’s announcement applies only to those non-compliant or cancelled plans that were given extensions into 2014. Since Washington state did not allow the first extension of these plans, the additional two years also do not apply here.
“The decision I made in November was done in the best interest of the health insurance market in Washington,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Advocates and health insurers continue to support my decision. They understand that allowing previously cancelled plans to continue would only raise premiums for everyone and would greatly disrupt the competitive market that we are building in Washington.”
Like Washington, many states decided against extending non-compliant plans, which had large out-of-pocket costs and no coverage for maternity care or prescription drugs.
Kreidler urged individuals to consider all of their options for new plans that have increased benefits, such as maternity care, coverage for prescription drugs and no rejection because of a pre-existing condition, among others.
It’s crunch time for Obamacare: With less than four weeks left to sign up for coverage this year through the health law’s insurance marketplaces, consumer groups, insurers, hospitals and state and federal officials are ratcheting up their enrollment campaigns to deliver more people — particularly young adults.
Enroll America, a nonprofit group with ties to the Obama administration, is sending buses to Texas and Ohio to talk up new coverage options.
Tenet Healthcare Corp., a large national hospital chain, is reaching out to people without insurance who frequent their emergency rooms.
The federal government will air ads during the “March Madness” college basketball playoffs that start March 16, and during shows popular with young people, such as Family Guy, The Vampire Diaries and The X Factor. Continue reading →