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Much of the healthcare in Minnesota is provided by hospitals and insurers that are classified as nonprofit. This Star Tribune commentary finds the excess of revenue over expenses at these nonprofits is “eye-popping.” The authors argues that Minnesota needs a state standard that separates actual charitable activities from those that more closely resemble business promotion.
According to the Star Tribune, Minnesota’s enviable health rankings arise from a number of causes. The state has a relatively strong economy with high levels of employment. Employers have provided comprehensive health coverage, and taxpayers provide generous public programs. Nonetheless, it is unsustainable for an increasingly large percentage of resources to be devoted to health care. Is nonprofit health care benefiting the community?
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced that the state’s 2010 smoking ban in restaurants and bars has improved air quality by 89 percent, decreased average weekly emergency department visits for heart attack by 21 percent, and had no negative impact on bar or restaurant income. A separate announcement celebrated the continued decline in cigarette smoking among North Carolina students; however, found a dramatic and concerning trend in the increased use of electronic cigarettes and other non-cigarette tobacco products.
A law effective Jan. 1, 2015, promotes price transparency for consumers, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. The law states that doctors who use outside pathologists or laboratories are required to disclose the actual amount charged for the services to patients. S.B. 1630 helps to protect patients from inflated healthcare costs and surprise medical bills.
Vermont was supposed to be the first state for a single-payer healthcare system in the United States. After the bill was defeated in 2014, Governor Peter Shulmin declared that it was not the right time for Vermont to become a single payer state, according to an article in Politico.
Mathematica Policy Research found that the National Capital Region, which includes Virginia, has a complex hospital market with multiple overlapping submarkets. The hospital sector, especially in Northern Virginia, is characterized by significant geographic segmentation. In addition, fee for service is still dominant, and accountable care organization activity is nascent and scattered.
Cost variations exists across the state, especially in the small group market, according to report by Citizen Action of Wisconsin. Other key points includes the lack of correlation between quality and health insurance costs and cost rankings of premiums by city.
Lucinda Jesson, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, stated in the Star Tribune that the DHS was able to save over $1 billion and created greater transparency and value in Minnesota healthcare purchasing—which works state wide to develop common strategies for performance measurement, promote greater transparency of healthcare costs, and creating greater accountability for healthcare results. This story explores what actions have been taken to achieve these reductions and what additional steps are being taken.
The Star Tribune reported on an analysis that finds dramatic spending variations depending on the clinics that Minnesotans choose—from $269 to $826 per patient—even after adjusting for sicker or more problematic patients. The analysis, by MN Community Measurement, a non-profit agency formed a decade ago to compare clinics by the cost and quality of care, was billed as a major advance in the consumer healthcare movement.Clinics have previously been ranked on their costs for individual procedures, such as colonoscopies. But that approach doesn’t take into account which clinics are least expensive overall, perhaps because they had fewer medical errors or could deliver quality care with fewer procedures.
Washington released a Common Measure Set, which will create a common way of tracking health and healthcare performance, as well as inform public and private healthcare purchasers. The state approved 52 measures for inclusion in the “starter set”; these measures are divided into three categories: Population, Clinical, and Healthcare Costs. Washington acknowledged that the topics identified were of significant importance, but readily available measurement/public reporting and/or nationally vetted measures did not yet exist. The lack of a robust infrastructure in Washington to enable cost-effective aggregation of clinical data for public reporting was a particularly rate-limiting element of the work.