State News

Vermont | April 30, 2014 | News Story

Vermont Named a Top State for Healthcare Access, Quality, Costs and Outcomes

The Commonwealth Fund named Vermont as one of the top ranking states for improving healthcare access, quality, outcomes and lowering costs in the five years preceding implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s major coverage provisions, according to Vermont Biz.

New Hampshire | April 15, 2014 | Report

Lack of Competition Handicaps Transparency Initiatives

This report by the California Healthcare Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found price transparency in New Hampshire has been successful, not in stimulating consumer shopping directly, but by drawing attention to the variation in prices and fostering changes in benefit design. The lack of insurer competition in the state is likely a significant limitation of the state’s transparency efforts. While the consumers have access to information that promotes shopping, there are few alternatives for consumers to choose from.

New York | April 15, 2014 | Report

DSRIP Waiver Approval Will Aid in NY Medicaid Restructuring

New York announced the CMS approval of a Medicaid waiver to fund the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program. This Medicaid waiver restructures the Medicaid program using the state’s Medicaid Redesign Team’s recommendation and $8 billion in reinvestments to reward milestones in system transformation, clinical management and population health. Although planning began in 2014, key delivery reforms will launch in 2015 creating 25 Performing Provider Systems (PPSs)—networks of providers who will be held accountable for health outcomes—that aim to reduce avoidable hospital use by 25 percent within the first five years.

District of Columbia | April 7, 2014 | News Story

How the District’s Obamacare Exchange Is Unlike Any Other

The District’s healthcare exchange, D.C. Health Link, is significantly different than any other state exchange, according to The Washington Post. It is signing up young adults at the highest rate of any exchange, about 46 percent. In addition, only 15 percent of those signing up for coverage qualify for government assistance. District residents are picking platinum, gold, silver, and bronze plans almost equally in contrast to the rest of the nation where the silver plan is by far the most commonly chosen plan (63 percent).

Hawaii | April 5, 2014 | News Story

Hawaii’s Trailblazing Healthcare Underscores Disparities

Health insurance coverage has been pivotal for keeping Hawaiians healthier than the average American, according to the LA Times. Hawaiians live longer, die less frequently from common diseases, such as breast and colon cancers, and pay less for their care compared to other Americans. For many residents, having health insurance prevents skipping needed care, encourages early detection and treatment of medical issues and allows for thorough follow-up care.

Alaska | March 27, 2014 | News Story

Study: Healthcare Costs in Alaska Top Nation’s Cities

Four of Alaska’s cities are included in the list of places with the most costly care, according to Alaska Dispatch News. For example, in Anchorage, the cost for an eye exam was 72 percent higher than the national average, a physical was 63 percent higher, and a teeth cleaning was 42 percent higher. Rising costs are blamed on a variety of issues, such as increasing salaries, rents, and shipping.

Connecticut | March 23, 2014 | Report

The Power of Data: Consumer Involvement and Accountability for Connecticut’s All-Payer Claims Database (APCD)

This report, funded by the Connecticut Health Foundation, identifies opportunities to influence the design, development and governance of Connecticut’s APCD to maximize its usefulness specific to patient safety and health equity/disparities researchers, and consumers. Key findings include: (1) APCDs are providing consumers access to patient safety and quality reports to make informed healthcare decisions, (2) health equity/disparities researchers are working together in data, cost, and quality collaboratives, (3) NIH is funding health data research using the APCD, (4) state cost and quality councils are utilizing APCD data to regulate hospital performance and reimbursement, (5) APCDs are predominantly operating within state agencies, independent of health insurance exchanges, and (6) opportunities for engaging stakeholders to influence the design and implementation of Connecticut’s APCD.

Maine | March 19, 2014 | News Story

In Healthcare, What Makes Maine Different?

Los Angeles Times: Maine is one of the healthiest states in the U.S. as a result of a highly personalized, collaborative medical system created in the 1970s. This article examines the system of community-based, coordinated care in Maine  and its positive impact on the quality and value of care that residents receive.

Arkansas | March 18, 2014 | Blog

The Arkansas Payment Reform Laboratory

This Health Affairs blog post is the first in a series of post describing a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded evaluation of payment and delivery reform in the state of Arkansas. This post focuses on the basics of the state's patient-center medical home and episode-based payment initiatives. This post provides significant detail as to how the episode based payment is operated and how it is significantly different from the previous fee-for-service payment models.

New York | March 15, 2014 | News Story

Surprise Medical Bills: Out of Network, Not by Choice

The Emergency Medical Services and Surprise Bills Law was passed to require disclosure and restrictions on the amounts consumers can be charged for surprise medical bills. The measure aims to address the issue of surprise medical bills, as described in this New York Times article, and will go into effect on March 31, 2015. Addressing the issue of surprise medical bills is of interest in many states and this Consumers Union case study of New York’s work can be used by other state advocates to achieve similar legislation. [More information and resources on surprise medical bills can be found here.]