Thursday Miscellany

Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

As the FEHBlog mentioned on Sunday, today was healthcare day at the White House. Here are links to the President’s executive order intended to strengthen Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act and the related fact sheet. Health Payer Intelligence explains that

In response to the executive order, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will open a special enrollment period on the federal health insurance marketplace platform. The special enrollment period will last from February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021.

This move will give the uninsured or underinsured individuals more time to enroll on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Not only will it open up the federally-facilitated marketplace, but this executive order will also allow state-based marketplaces on the federal platform to have a special enrollment period.

“The President will also direct federal agencies to reconsider rules and other policies that limit Americans’ access to health care, and consider actions that will protect and strengthen that access,” said the fact sheet.

The Wall Street Journal adds “Mr. Biden’s sweeping call to review decisions that could limit access to health care marks the start of a tougher battle that is likely to spur political conflict between his administration and Republicans.”

The FEHBlog did watch the Washington Post’s online Prognosis 2021 today. Dr. Vivek Murthy, the President’s nominee for Surgeon General, commented that the President’s goal of 100,000,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in his first 100 days in office / April 30, 2021 is a floor not a ceiling. The ultimate goal of achieving herd immunity “goes beyond” April 30. On January 26 and 27, over 2.65 million doses were administered according to the CDC. Progress is being made.

Prognosis 2021 also featured BCBSA CEO Kim Keck, who discussed the Affordable Care Act. She accurately quipped that the Affordable Care Act should be known as the Access to Care Act as we are still waiting for a law that would reduce healthcare costs.

Prognosis 2021 also included an interview with U.S. Senator and Doctor Bill Cassidy (R La.). He touted the recently enacted No Surprises Act intended to protect patients against out of network surprise billing in emergency care, air ambulance and ancillary care at in-network hospital situations. While this law will be a heavy lift to implement, the FEHBlog does expect it to be effective. Video highlights of Prognosis 2021 are available here.

Speaking of healthcare costs Healthcare Dive reports that “U.S. hospitals lost more than $20 billion from suspending elective surgeries over three months at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic’s onset in this country, according to an article published recently in the Annals of Surgery.” Holy smoke.

Patient safety advocate the Leapfrog Group announced

Recognizing Excellence in Diagnosis, a new national initiative to publicly report and recognize hospitals for preventing patient harm due to diagnostic errors. Developed in collaboration with The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) and key experts, the project is funded with a two-year grant of $1.2 million by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. * * *

Joining Leapfrog in leading this effort is SIDM, a nationally recognized organization focused on catalyzing efforts to improve diagnostic quality and safety, as well as convener of the Coalition to Improve Diagnosis, of which Leapfrog is a member. SIDM will develop resources to guide health systems and clinicians on improving diagnostic safety. * * *

Recognizing Excellence in Diagnosis will be conducted over two years. As a first step, the initiative will convene an advisory group of Leapfrog and SIDM representatives, patient and payor stakeholders, and experts in diagnosis and performance analysis. With guidance from the advisory group, the project will identify best practices in diagnosis and put together a roadmap for hospitals and health systems to achieve excellence. SIDM will facilitate the development of training and educational materials to support hospitals and health systems in their adoption of the best practices. In year two, Leapfrog will pilot test a national survey, similar to the annual Leapfrog Hospital Survey, to collect data from up to 100 hospitals and health systems on their adoption of identified best practices. A national report will be issued on the current status of diagnostic safety, best practices for achieving excellence, and strategies for payors and patients to incentivize improvement.

Good luck with this initiative.

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