Healthcare News April 11, 2012

  • Report: Health cuts in Ryan budget would approach $3 trillion

    Healthcare cuts in House Republicans’ budget — not including their controversial Medicare overhaul — would add up to nearly $3 trillion, according to a new report from the advocacy group Families USA.

    Families USA, a prominent supporter of President Obama’s healthcare law, tallied the state-by-state cost of changes proposed in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget outline, which passed the House with only 10 Republican defections.

  • Report calls for doubling nation’s public health spending

    The United States spends more on healthcare but lags behind the rest of the industrialized world in life expectancy and childhood mortality because the government “chronically” underfunds public health systems, the Institute of Medicine argues in a new report out Tuesday.

    The report calls for doubling federal spending on public health from $11.6 billion to $24 billion a year “as a starting point to meet the needs of public health departments.” The report points out that Americans spent $8,086 per person in medical care in 2009 versus $251 in public health spending.

    The IOM’s Committee on Public Health Strategies to Improve Health goes on to recommend that government advisers develop a “minimum package of public health services” that every community should receive from its state and local health departments. It suggests creating a new transaction tax on medical care services to help pay for the increased spending, which over time could lower healthcare costs by reducing obesity and tobacco use.

  • More than 1 million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in health law savings programs

    More than one million Medicare beneficiaries are now enrolled in programs of the healthcare reform law that aim to reward doctors and hospitals for working together to improve the coordination and quality of care while saving money, the Obama administration announced Tuesday.

    Twenty-seven so-called “Accountable Care Organizations” have signed contracts with the Medicare agency to serve 375,000 beneficiaries in 18 states, the Medicare agency announced. The organizations are located in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin.

    That brings the total number of beneficiaries enrolled in the law’s shared savings programs to 1.1 million, the agency said.

    “We are encouraged by this strong start and confident that by the end of this year, we will have a robust program in place, benefiting millions of seniors and people with disabilities across the country,” Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement.

  • Pressure grows on insurers to cover lung cancer screenings

    Pressure is growing on healthcare plans to cover lung cancer screenings for at-risk individuals in the wake of recent reports that conclude the low-cost tests could save thousands of lives a year.

    The policy journal Health Affairs on Monday published a “first-of-its-kind actuarial study” that found thousands of deaths could be prevented every year at a cost of less than $1 per insured person per month. The results confirm research by the National Cancer Institute, which last year published results showing that screening with computed tomography — CT scans — can reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer. 

    "This study offers compelling evidence that through earlier disease detection, lung cancer screening of high-risk individuals has the potential not only to save thousands of lives, but to yield tremendous long-term health care cost savings," Gail Rodriguez, the executive director of the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA), said in a statement Tuesday. "This analysis reinforces the value of advanced medical imaging technologies to improve patient outcomes and drive down health care spending."

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