State News

Missouri | November 12, 2018 | News Story

St. Louis Archdiocese Will Open its First Rural Health Clinic in Washington County

The Archdiocese of St. Louis plans to open its first health clinic early next year in Washington County, in an effort to improve rural healthcare, reports the St. Louis Post Dispatch. The free clinic will offer primary care, chronic disease management, mental healthcare and social services — including housing and employment resources — for people without health insurance. Washington County is one of the poorest in the state, with a poverty rate of 22 percent. The county has the highest percentage of uninsured adults in the St. Louis region (at 17 percent) and ranks 109th out of 115 Missouri counties in health outcomes, including longevity and quality of life.

Delaware | November 12, 2018 | News Story

Delaware is One of the Worst States in Hospital Safety

Delaware tied for last place, along with North Dakota and Washington, D.C., in Leapfrog’s bi-annual Hospital Safety Grade report, according to Delaware Online. In a dramatic decline since 2012, when the state was ranked 8th in the country, not one of the state’s six hospitals earned an A rating. Leapfrog’s ratings take into account hospital injuries and infections, medical errors, data from the CMS and American Hospital Association and responses from patient surveys,  

Kansas | November 8, 2018 | Report

Most Kansas City Area Hospitals Do Well in a New Patient Safety Report

Seven of 20 Kansas City area hospitals got A’s in the Leapfrog Group’s Fall 2018 report card on patient safety, while nine got B’s and four got C’s, according to KCUR. Kansas ranked 24th in the nation, with nearly a third of its hospitals receiving an A grade. Missouri ranked 34th, with about 23 percent of its hospitals receiving an A grade. Kansas moved up three notches from Leapfrog’s last survey in Spring 2018; Missouri dropped 21 notches. New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, Massachusetts and Texas were the highest rated states. The lowest rated were Connecticut, Nebraska, Washington, D.C., Delaware and North Dakota.

California | November 6, 2018 | Report

Costs for Healthcare Services Vary Widely Across California Metro Areas

The Health Care Cost Institute processed data from 1.78 billion commercial claims filed between 2012 and 2016 in 112 U.S. cities, including six California metropolitan areas, in its nationwide comparison of healthcare-services costs, reports State of Reform. The analysis showed that costs across San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Oxnard and Riverside — as well as the rate of price increases — were not uniform between 2012 and 2016. San Jose was the second most expensive city in the national analysis, while Riverside was the 48th most expensive city. Researchers also found that outpatient costs in San Jose were 117 percent above the national average in 2016.

Colorado | November 5, 2018 | News Story

The View From Colorado: Discrimination, High-Priced Drugs, And Tough Questions For State Regulators

In 2014, Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) joined with consumer groups to address the high cost of specialty drugs in Colorado to open a dialogue with the state's Division of Insurance (DOI) and health insurers to address the unmanageable out-of-pocket costs, according to Health Affairs. Many plans charged coinsurance of up to 50 percent of the cost of drugs of the highest tier is discriminatory against people with disabilities and chronic conditions, in violation of the Affordable Care Act. Colorado's DOI enacted a regulation effective June 1, 2018, prohibiting plans from putting more than  Most recently, Colorado’s DOI took decisive action by promulgating a regulation, effective June 1, 2018, prohibiting plans from putting more than half of drugs for a particular condition on the highest cost tier. Though it is difficult to assess whether enforcement of the rule will affect premiums, increases for 2019 individual plans are modest—an average of just 5.6 percent. Plan specifics for 2019 plans are now publicly available, and a review of formulary tiering for HIV drugs reveals some significant improvements from 2018.  If carriers do not comply with the regulations of the ACA, the DOI should exercise its authority to assure that Coloradans have full access to the health care benefits and services they need.

Wyoming | November 4, 2018 | News Story

Hospitals and Doctors in Wyoming Encouraged by State to Provide Free Care to Low-Income Patients

Wyoming’s Volunteer Health Services Program, which shields providers or medical facilities willing to provide voluntary, free services to low-income residents from legal liability, has been approved by the legislature, according to the Casper Star Tribune. To participate in the new program, providers enter into a contract with the state that technically makes them state government employees or facilities, granting them sovereign immunity for the free care they provide. A patient wishing to participate must have an annual income that’s at or below 200 percent of federal poverty levels.  

California | November 1, 2018 | Report

Accurate Measurement In California’s Safety-Net Health Systems Has Gaps And Barriers

California implemented a pay-for-performance program in safety-net hospitals that incentivized measurement and improvement in key areas of ambulatory safety: referral completion, medication safety and test follow-up. A study in Health Affairs found that wide-scale measurement of ambulatory patient safety faces challenges, particularly for complex measures that require the integration of different types of data. Researches also documented wide variation in performance on a broad range of ambulatory patient safety measures. Health systems generally performed better in areas that require only a single contact with a patient and limited patient engagement or coordination with other providers. To prevent harm to patients in ambulatory care settings, the authors argue that hospital systems need research and policies that incentivize the adoption of robust data infrastructure as well as the development of measures in all areas of ambulatory patient safety.

Ohio | November 1, 2018 | News Story

Healthy Choices: In Ohio, One Tiny Government Office has Transformed the Way Healthcare is Delivered in the State

In Ohio, the Office of Health Transformation, created in 2011, convenes all agencies that touch healthcare, including Health, Medicaid, Mental Health and Addiction Services, Jobs and Family Services, Veterans Affairs, Administrative Services, as well as representatives of the private insurance market -- to dedicate some time to reforms and long-term health improvement and to agree on which population health goals are most urgent, according to Governing. The Office helped develop an integrated eligibility system so Medicaid beneficiaries could see whether they also qualified for food assistance, child care, child welfare and cash assistance after the state expanded its Medicaid program. Additionally, to prevent providers from declining to see the patients with the biggest mental health needs, and to help those patients avoid having to hunt down doctors who would see them, the state identified the 5 percent of patients that were the costliest in behavioral health and matched them with a provider who could best serve them. As a result of these efforts and Medicaid expansion, Ohio has made large strides in transforming healthcare delivery in the state. 

Massachusetts | October 29, 2018 | News Story

Blue Cross Wants to Reward Hospitals — For Keeping Patients Out of Hospitals

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the state's largest health insurer, is trying a new strategy to tackle healthcare costs: putting hospitals on a budget, according to the Boston Globe. Blue Cross will be paying hospitals not per patient and procedure but for how well they control costs while trying to keep patients healthy, rewarding hospitals when they collaborate with physician groups to manage costs and improve outcomes. Hospitals are still rooted in a fee-for-service system and represent the biggest portion of healthcare costs (accounting for more than one third of the $61.1 billion in MA) so this shift in incentives in the hospital system is historic. Blue Cross is testing the model with South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, and if it goes well it will begin to offer the program to other Massachusetts hospitals by 2020.

Alaska | October 26, 2018 | Report

New Analysis: Anchorage Leads the Nation in Healthcare Prices

The Health Care Cost Institute processed data from 1.78 billion commercial claims filed between 2012 and 2016 in 112 U.S. cities. Of all metro areas evaluated, Anchorage led the nation with the highest healthcare prices, according to State of ReformAnchorage's prices were 65% above the national average. Specifically, outpatient services were 22% above average, inpatient services were 61% above average and professional services (such as office and preventative visits or administered drugs) were 96% above average. From 2012-2016, Anchorage experienced an 18% growth in healthcare prices — the national average for price growth was 16%.