Mid week update

The Washington Post reports that  four Republican Senators (Lindsey Graham (SC), Ron Johnson (WI), Bill Cassidy (LA) and Dean Heller (NV) have introduced an ACA reform bill that “would leave in place most of the financial props that support the ACA, eliminating only a tax on medical devices. At the same time, it does not attempt to replace the current law’s policies with more conservative federal approaches, instead allowing each state to define its own rules for health plans that may be sold to residents and the help consumers should receive to afford that insurance.” The bill would repeal the ACA’s individual and employer mandates, but not the ACA’s taxes, other than the medical device tax. Here’s a link to the gang of four’s explanation of the bill, including its text.

The Chattanoogan reports on its Senator Lamar Alexander’s effort to craft a bipartisan ACA reform bill. Sen. Alexander who chairs the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee will hear from a state insurance commissioner, doctors, and patient advocates tomorrow.  He expects to release legislative language next week. Time is running short on both bills for a variety of reasons.

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the individual health insurance market yesterday which featured the FEHBlog’s go to guy, Avik Roy’s testimony. It’s worth reading.

Here a few tidbits:

  • Healthcare Dive reports on a recent study concluding that “77% of healthcare consumers say it’s important or very important to know costs before treatment and 53% want to discuss financing options before care.”

The survey results show a gap in what patients expect and what hospitals, medical groups and healthcare providers are delivering to patients, said KaLynn Gates, president and corporate counsel of HealthFirst Financial.

Gates suggested providers that offer financial guidance, as well as meet clinical needs of their patients, are “much more likely to thrive in this era of rising out-of-pocket costs and growing competition for patients among traditional and non-traditional providers.”

  • McKnight’s Long Term Care News tells us that according to a MedPAC and common sense directing hospital patients to higher quality nursing homes can reduce unnecessary readmissions. 

But discharge planners currently are limited by rule as to how they can educate or steer patients on their post-acute options, critics complain. MedPAC recommended modifying discharge planning rules to allow hospitals to recommend specific nursing home and home health providers — a practice that’s already allowed in the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement program. The group also discussed the possibility of having discharge planners openly consider post-acute providers’ quality ratings when developing discharge plans, and offering quality data to patients prior to discharge.

Perhaps in the meantime health plan case managers can fill the gap.

  •  Epic, which is the largest electronic health records vendor, announced new software that “will allow patients to grant access to their data to any providers who have internet access, even if they don’t have EHRs. In addition, using Share Everywhere, a provider granted access can send a progress note back to the patient’s healthcare organization for improved continuity of care.” The software will be embedded in Epic’s EHR and also will be available to patients as a cell phone app later this year. 

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