A rural safety net hospital and the only hospital serving Clark County, Wisconsin, managed to remain open by contacting city hall for help getting a loan, according to AP News, but other hospitals in other rural states are not as lucky. While 155 rural hospitals have closed in the past 15 years. However, as of 2017, 16 of Wisconsin’s 76 rural hospitals are operating on a financial deficit as their unpaid medical bills climb. Advocates and hospital administrators worry that Wisconsin may end up mirroring other states that have seen numerous rural hospital closures.
Nevada is imposing $17.4 million in fines on 21 diabetes drug manufacturers that have either failed to comply with or were many months late in complying with a drug pricing transparency law passed two years ago, reports The Nevada Independent. The law, which was passed by the Legislature in 2017, requires diabetes drug manufacturers to annually report to the state production costs, administrative expenditures, profits, financial assistance, coupons, and other information. It also requires manufacturers to provide additional information for drugs determined to have experienced a significant price increase, including a list of each factor that contributed to the increase and the percentage of the total increase attributable to each factor
The University of Missouri has created a week-long immersion program designed to inspire future doctors, pharmacists and nurses to practice in rural communities, reports KCUR. Program participants meet with local leaders and healthcare providers, as well as tour local businesses, to understand the role of a healthcare provider in the community at large. This program is different from the university’s other rural healthcare recruitment initiatives because it focuses on giving students a picture of life in a small town.
Alabama Medicaid reforms will bring regional control and coordination of primary care services through seven Alabama Coordinated Health Networks (ACHNs) serving more than 700,000 Alabama Medicaid enrollees, according to Alabama Arise. Every ACHN will have a Consumer Advisory Committee, a new accountability provision that advocates hope will increase consumer oversight. Moreover, each ACHN will receive funding to develop and implement Quality Improvement Projects focused on three initial priorities (childhood obesity, infant mortality and birth outcomes, and substance use disorders). Alabama’s Medicaid reforms are an encouraging move toward improved patient-centered care.
A report forecasting the implications of Medicaid expansion in Florida predicts that over 800,000 Floridians would gain coverage within the first five years of expansion. Additionally, the move could free up $119.3 million in state funds and fiscal gains may occur in corrections, public health, and uncompensated care for uninsured Florida residents.
A study of California’s 2017 surprise billing law – which requires fully-insured plans to pay out-of-network physicians at in-network hospitals – found significant reductions in the share of services delivered out-of-network by certain specialties at inpatient hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers since the law went into effect. The decline ranged from 15 percent (for pathology services) to 31 percent (for neonatal-perinatal medicine). Additionally, the share of emergency medicine services delivered out-of-network dropped by 5 percent in the period after the law took effect.
Connecticut’s “Centers of Excellence” network will enable state residents to identify which providers perform best for certain procedures, helping them make informed decisions about where to receive their care, reports The CT Mirror. By steering patients to providers who offer cost-effective treatments, the state hopes to reduce its healthcare costs by millions of dollars in the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years combined. The resource will be released in 2020 and will serve an estimated 210,000 state employees, retirees and dependents.
For the third year in a row, the number of people without health insurance in North Carolina remained roughly the same, according to North Carolina Health News. More than 1 million North Carolinians, or 10.7 percent, did not have health insurance in all of 2018, reports the U.S. Census Bureau, who attributed the national trend in increasing uninsured rates to a decline in Medicaid enrollment. By contrast, North Carolina's Medicaid enrollment hasn't changed significantly in three years, and the state has the 9th highest uninsured rate in the country. It's estimated that expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would reduce the state's uninsured rate by 3 percent.
Blue Shield of California launched a 12-month pilot program that will allow more than 1,300 Sacramento-area residents to get free Lyft rides to primary care appointments; X-ray or lab visits; and to pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy, reports The Sacramento Bee. Blue Shield will pay for eligible members’ rides directly and will allow members to bring a caregiver to help with walkers and other aspects of their medical care. The program, called RideQ, will be evaluated on its ability to improve health outcomes and care experience, reduce costs and increase physicians’ job satisfaction. RideQ is part of a larger initiative to identify and eliminate the non-medical barriers that keep people from receiving needed care.
A proposed merger between the parent companies of Exeter Hospital and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover is being called unlawful by the Attorney General's office, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. The Charitable Trusts Unit of the Attorney General's office claims that the merger threatens even higher healthcare costs for New Hampshire consumers, owing to the fact that they are only 18 miles apart, offer many of the same inpatient and outpatient services and both own a significant number of healthcare professional practices.