State News

Utah | December 6, 2017 | Report

Bills of Health: What’s Driving Medical Costs in Utah

People in Utah spend less per capita on health care than any other state, which in part could be due to behavioral characteristics and certain demographics according to a recent report by Utah Foundation. Examining total spending in the state of Utah is the focus of this report and other findings include that Utah has the shortest length of hospital stay in the country, that while health care spending is growing in Utah it is attributable more to population growth than overutilization, and that two- thirds of healthcare expenditures come from hospital services and physician and clinical services.

North Carolina | November 27, 2017 | News Story

North Carolina Seeks to Widen Medicaid Network by Paying Doc’s Debt

An amendment to North Carolina’s Medicaid waiver would allow for a shift to managed care, from fee-for-service by 2019 while also enticing physicians to treat North Carolina’s Medicaid population by paying off the physician’s debt, according to Modern Healthcare. Discussions of Medicaid expansion as well as Medicaid enrollee premiums and work requirements are taking place in the North Carolina legislature. Governor Roy Cooper says a successful managed care program through access to care is the priority.

South Dakota | November 14, 2017 | Report

Home Health Care Costs Increased in South Dakota; Overall Costs are Up

The cost to receive long term care services at home with a home health care aide has increased both nationally and in South Dakota, according to a report by Market Insider. Home is where most Americans receive long term care. Overall, the annual median cost of long term care services in South Dakota increased an average of 1.95 percent from 2016 to 2017. Although home health care is far less expensive than care in a facility, in South Dakota, home health care costs can add up to as much as $57,200 per year. 

Illinois | November 13, 2017 | News Story

Expensive Specialty Drugs are Forcing Seniors to Make Hard Choices

There is a growing problem with Medicare prescription drug coverage for seniors who take high-priced specialty drugs: There is no cap on how much they pay. Each prescription drug plan is structured a little differently, but people with very high drug costs almost inevitably enter what's called the "catastrophic" phase of coverage, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune. The number of seniors who reach the catastrophic phase has almost doubled over a four-year period, to more than 1 million people in 2015. That trend was driven in part by a new generation of high-priced hepatitis C drugs, but includes high out-of-pocket costs for people taking drugs for cancer, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia and HIV.

Texas | November 11, 2017 | News Story

Redesigning Hospitals with Patient Experience in Mind

The clinics at UT Health Austin all have an atrium, a cafe and a library with an outdoor deck. The main concourses are dotted with furnished alcoves. But according to Modern Healthcare, the one thing they don't have: designated waiting rooms. That's because patients can either go straight to their rooms, if available, or if they arrive early, to any of those decidedly non-institutional spaces, where in the future they'll be buzzed via a smartphone app. The clinics' design may be among the more futuristic in the country, but it points to a practice sweeping all sorts of healthcare systems: using technology to facilitate a better patient experience, rather than emphasizing cosmetic changes such as waterfalls and chandeliers. Whether it's better heating, ventilation and air conditioning, large screens in patient rooms, or comfortable places to wait for an appointment, design and technology are playing a big role in patient care—and not just in the strictly medical aspects of it but in the environmental and emotional aspects as well.

Kentucky | November 11, 2017 | News Story

WellCare Targets Opioid Prescribing in Kentucky Medicaid Program

Kentucky has been hugely affected by the opioid abuse epidemic. Last year, 623 state residents died from the opioid fentanyl, up 6% compared with 2015. In 2015, the state experienced the third-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country, according to an article in Modern Healthcare. WellCare, one of the state's Medicaid insurers, has created a program that monitors members who are prescribed opioids.
Program participants are connected to one physician, one pharmacy and then a social worker who can help with addiction treatment and support services. The hope is to tackle pharmacy shopping, which is when patients use multiple pharmacies and prescriptions to obtain the same opioids.

Alaska | November 9, 2017 | News Story

Alaska Joins the Collective Medical Network for Real-Time Care Coordination

The State of Alaska, the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association and Alaska Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians will join forces with Collective Medical Technologies to allow providers and plans to access data on every patient through an integrated electronic medical records system, reports State of Reform. The platform will make it easier for providers and care teams to treat the full spectrum of patient needs—physical, behavioral and social—through a coordinated and integrated approach. In Washington, Collective Medical saw a 24 percent reduction in narcotic prescriptions from the ER. Oregon saw nearly a 40 percent decrease in visits by high utilizers in the 90 days after an initial care guideline was created in their system.

Missouri | November 8, 2017 | News Story

A Hospital Without Patients: The Cutting Edge of Healthcare is Tucked Off a St. Louis Highway Exit. And it's Eerily Quiet.

The St. Louis-based Mercy Virtual Care Center, a virtual hospital where specialists remotely care for patients at a distance, may provide a glimpse into the future of healthcare delivery, reports Politico. Using advanced technology, Mercy Virtual is able to detect irregularities in hospitalized patients even before the bedside nurses notice the symptoms. The technology has decreased physician burnout, hospital infections and readmissions, in addition to reducing the number of days that patients spend on ventilators. 

California | November 8, 2017 | News Story

How 'Killer King' Became the Hospital of the Future

Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center closed its doors in 2007 amidst reports of patients being given the wrong drugs, preventable deaths and other incidents of mismanagement or incompetence. In its place, community leaders and elected officials created a new type of hospital, designed to serve as the hub of a wide network of neighborhood clinics that provide the day-to-day care residents need. But the new Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital is just one part of a larger system to improve the lives and protect the health of the community’s residents – the county is creating new senior housing, and is working with the hospital to bring healthier food options and increase jobs. Meanwhile, the hospital is working to provide more outpatient services outside its walls to support the county in revitalizing the community. 

Alaska | November 3, 2017 | Report

Alaska Health Care Authority Feasibility Study

The Alaska state legislature passed Senate Bill 74 in 2016, directing the Department of Administration to examine whether creating a Health Care Authority in Alaska is feasible and can serve as an effective tool to reduce costs, improve quality and maintain benefits and access. The Department’s effort focuses on identifying opportunities to coordinate plan administration and consolidate purchasing effectiveness for individuals whose health benefits are funded directly or indirectly by the state, including state employees, retired state employees, retired teachers, Medicaid recipients, University of Alaska employees, employees of state corporations, and school district employees. Study results were (released Aug. 30) can be found here. A public review and comment period concludes Nov. 13, 2017.