Humana Unveils Program That Encourages Hospitals To Improve Quality.
Modern Healthcare (4/25, Castellucci, Subscription Publication) reports that on Wednesday, Humana “unveiled its new program that will reimburse hospitals for improvement on quality measures related to patient safety, experience and outcomes.” This incentive program, which took “effect in January, is Humana’s first value-based model that focuses exclusively on hospitals’ inpatient admissions.” Under the program, the insurer “will give participating hospitals annual payment rate increases based on how they perform on quality measures over a 12-month period compared to other hospitals in their region or nationally.”
CMS Overhauling “Meaningful Use,” Changing Its Name To “Promoting Interoperability.”
Modern Healthcare (4/25, Arndt, Subscription Publication) reports CMS would like “to make it easier for patients to get their health data from providers and to possibly gather all that information in a single place.” On Tuesday, the agency unveiled “a plan to give the meaningful use program a makeover – or at least a new name, ‘promoting interoperability.’” The objective “is to boost interoperability between patients and providers, a move that mirrors the government’s MyHealthEData initiative to give patients more control over their health information.” The article says CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced that initiative during “this year’s Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Las Vegas.”
Fierce Healthcare (4/25, Stankiewicz) reports that CMS plans to overhaul Meaningful Use, giving it “reduced reporting measures and a brand new name.” The article says these changes reflect “the Trump administration’s focus on reducing burdens and unnecessary regulations while emphasizing data sharing across providers.”
Health IT Analytics (4/25, Bresnick) quotes Verma as saying, “We’re ready to go the last mile when it comes to interoperability. … There has been a lot of work done in terms of making sure providers are using electronic health records, and that’s great.”
MobiHealthNews (4/25) also covers the story.
Public Health and Private Healthcare Systems
Anthem Posts 30% Higher Profit For 1Q.
The AP (4/25, Murphy) reports that on Wednesday, Anthem posted a 30-percent increase in profit for the first quarter of this year, “and the Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer hiked its 2018 forecast, as a drop in medical expenses bolstered its performance.” The article says Anthem beat analysts’ expectations and raised its anticipated earnings for this year from $15 per share to $15.30 per share. Wall Street had predicted earnings of $15.13 per share. Data show Anthem added 135,000 Medicare Advantage customers during the quarter, however, “total enrollment slipped more than 2 percent to 39.6 million, as the insurer scaled back the individual coverage it sells on the Affordable Care Act’s public insurance exchanges.”
Reuters (4/25, Banerjee) reports that Anthem “said its benefit expense ratio improved to 81.5 percent from 83.7 percent in the same period a year ago.” This drop was mainly “driven by the return of a health insurance tax in 2018 and improved medical cost performance across its businesses, the company said.” Figures show Anthem’s profit rose to $1.31 billion, or $4.99 per share, during the first quarter. Revenue remained largely unchanged at $22.54 billion.
CMS’ Verma Expresses Support For Medicaid Reforms In Interview.
The Boston Globe (4/25, McCluskey) reports administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Seema Verma visited Boston Wednesday to speak at the World Medical Innovation Forum and was interviewed by the Globe. Verma said that Medicaid enrollment has increased over the past several years, adding, “If we’re going to continue down this path, the Medicaid program needs to be modified significantly so it can accommodate the expansion [of the] population.” Verma signaled support for putting spending limits such as block grants, and said, “There’s a lot of promise in those kinds of programs.”
New Hampshire House Committee Approves Continued Funding For Medicaid Expansion.
The Concord (NH) Monitor (4/25, DeWitt) reports a modified proposal “to continue New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion program cleared the House Finance committee nearly unanimously Wednesday in a 24-2 vote that sets the stage for a final vote on the House floor.” The piece says following “limited discussion, members recommended renewing expansion – which provides Medicaid coverage to about 50,000 low-income residents in the state – for another five years.”
The New Hampshire Union Leader (4/26, Solomon) also covers the story.
More People Have Insurance In Michigan Since ACA, Report Finds.
The Detroit News (4/25, Bouffard) reports the 2018 Michigan Health Market Review found that the number of Michiganders with health insurance grew from 8.56 million in 2010 to 9.3 million in 2016, coinciding with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The report also found that “enrollment in HMOs grew from 2.7 million residents in 2013 to 3.445 million in 2017, an increase of 28 percent,” according to the Detroit News.
Oregon Health Plan’s Spending Grows Faster Than Predicted.
The Bend (OR) Bulletin (4/26, Hawryluk) reports the Oregon Health Authority “received bad news on two financial fronts this week, with Oregon Health Plan spending growing faster than expected and a $41 million bill due to the federal government.” The Authority further increased its rates for 2018 by 5.3 percent over last year, “much higher than the 3.4 percent target established under an agreement between the state and the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.”
Health Plan Enrollment Decline Slows In Minnesota.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (4/25, Snowbeck) reports data from the Minnesota Council of Health Plans show that the “the number of people buying individual health plans at the end of March was up compared with the previous December – the first increase between the fourth and first quarters in three years.” The figures come after the “trade group for Minnesota’s nonprofit health insurers sounded the alarm over a 30 percent decline in the number of people buying health insurance policies for themselves” last year. Jim Schowalter, chief executive of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans, said, “There are some signs of improvement. … But the signals are mixed.”
Participation In Minnesota’s Individual Market Continued To Drop, But At A Slower Pace, Group Says.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune (4/25, Snowbeck) reports that last year, “the trade group for Minnesota’s nonprofit health insurers sounded the alarm over a 30 percent decline in the number of people buying health insurance policies for themselves.” That figure declined again this year, “but not by nearly such a large margin, according to new figures from the Minnesota Council of Health Plans.” In addition, “the number of people buying individual health plans at the end of March was up compared with the previous December – the first increase between the fourth quarter and first quarter in three years.” Despite this improvement, insurers warn that the individual market still faces many challenges.