Thursday, October 17, 2013

Quick roundup of news concerning the exchanges

There’s been a lot of information circulating in the news about the federal health exchange this week. Here are six articles I consider worth reading up on: 
  • The consumer experience at state run health exchanges appear to be much better than those at exchanges run by the federal government, according to a New York Times report last week: 
  • Experts agree that the success of the health exchanges depends, in part, on younger, less sick (lower cost) consumers signing up. According to an initial analysis of the sign up, that seems to be happening:
  • The federal government will spend about $10,000 subsidizing health insurance costs for a poor, middle-aged man who lives in Georgia - and just $3,000 buying the same guy in nearby Tennessee a near-identical plan. The cost variation in the federal exchanges is wide: 
  • For the past 12 days, a federal health exchange system costing more than $400 million and billed as a one-stop click-and-go hub for citizens seeking health insurance has thwarted the efforts of millions to simply log in. The growing national outcry has deeply embarrassed the White House, which has refused to say how many people have enrolled through the federal exchange:
  • House Republicans last week called on the Obama Administration to suspend penalties for consumers because of all the trouble they continue to have signing up.
  • If you want to put it all in perspective, the last time there was a huge rollout of a new Medicare benefit - the Part D drug program - there were huge glitches. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Jon Stewart on Medi-can’t states

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart had harsh words this week for states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. His 3-and-a-half minutes on this topic last week are very funny - regardless of your political persuasion:

Video Shortlink:

DID YOU KNOW? One governor intends to bypass the legislature. After failing to gain enough support from Republican legislators, Ohio Governor John Kasich will ask a spending oversight panel to expand the state’s Medicaid program, according to reports last week. The Republican governor is expected to make the request to the Controlling Board on Oct. 21. Kasich will ask the seven-member board, made up of lawmakers, for permission to spend about $2.5 billion in federal funds to cover about 275,000 residents under Medicaid. If the Controlling Board approves the request, expanded coverage can start January 1.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

MINUTE RANT: On the misconception surrounding the future of small health systems

There is an OCH Regional Medical Center. It is located in Starkville, Mississippi (the same town that is home to Mississippi State University. The “OCH” derives from Oktibbeha County Hospital which is what it was originally. They consider themselves a small, rural health system. They are about the same size as Ozarks Community Hospital, but with more specialty services since there is no competition from larger health systems in their market. They made $2.8 million profit in 2012 and they are doing slightly better than break even in 2013 but they are looking for a big brother to acquire them because “the future looks bleak for small health systems.”

So, my question is “What should be the OCH response to statements like that from similar health systems?” (I could have picked any of a thousand systems. I thought one with a similar name may peak your interest.) My answer is “Bring it on. If it was easy, it wouldn't be any fun.”

“Oktibbeha County” has a distinctly Faulknerian sound to it, does it not?