Five lingering threats to ObamaCare

The White House’s victory at the Supreme Court last week removed a major threat to ObamaCare that could have rolled back coverage for 6.4 million people.

President Obama declared after the ruling that the law has “been woven into the fabric of America,” while allies said the new insurance program and its related policy changes are here to stay.

But the law is hardly out of the woods. The battle of public opinion over the Affordable Care Act rages on, with Republicans expressing confidence they will ultimately prevail.

Here are five remaining threats to Obama’s signature domestic program.

1.) Repeal

Republicans are already turning their attention back to repealing the law, perhaps using a fast-track process called reconciliation that could move legislation through the Senate with just 51 votes.

But there are major obstacles ahead. Senate rules limit what parts of the law can be repealed using the process, and whatever legislation emerges would likely face a veto from Obama.

Facing long odds for success through reconciliation, many Republicans are pinning their hopes on the 2016 presidential election, when they hope their party will recapture the White House and control the legislative agenda.

But even if they won control of Congress and the White House, Republicans could […]

By |July 2nd, 2015|Health Reform|Comments Off

8 Epic EHR implementations with the biggest price tags in 2015

Investments in EHR systems are undoubtedly costly, but some implementations appear to carry more costs than others.

Implementation costs vary system to system and hospital to hospital. Prices fluctuate based on what types of additional features and modules a hospital selects. And, according to a Politico report, some EHR vendors charge for additional service fees while others don’t. The Politico report indicates for Epic’s 2014 edition software, the Verona, Wis.-based EHR vendor charges a software licensing fee, implementation costs and annual maintenance costs while OpenVistA, developed by Carlsbad, Calif.-based Medsphere, for example, does not.

Even within the subsector of Epic implementations, costs fall across the board. For example, Duke University Health System, based in Durham, N.C., paid approximately $700 million for its Epic EHR (systemwide go-live in 2014) while Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., paid $80 million (go-live in 2011), according to a Forbes report.

John Halamka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said in the Politico report that hospitals selecting Epic’s platform are not just buying a product — they are buying a process. BIDMC does not operate on Epic’s EHR; rather, the hospital earlier this year forged a partnership with athenahealth, which included using the Watertown, Mass.-based […]

By |July 2nd, 2015|Industry News|Comments Off

Report finds new ObamaCare enrollees healthier

New ObamaCare enrollees are healthier and spent less on drugs than enrollees last year, according to a new analysis.

The report from Express Scripts, the country’s largest pharmacy benefits manager, is a positive sign for the law, given the need to maintain a mix of healthy and sick enrollees to keep costs down.

Still, ObamaCare exchange enrollees tended to be sicker than those in other health plans. Costs were 16 percent higher per member per month compared to non-ObamaCare plans, the report finds, largely due to higher spending on costly drugs for complex conditions.

“While it is encouraging to see data that suggests healthier Americans are enrolling in exchange plans, the research reminds us that many of these patients use this benefit to manage serious, chronic illnesses,” said Julie Huppert, vice president of healthcare reform at Express Scripts.

The encouraging sign for the law is that the number of new enrollees who used at least one prescription medication declined 18 percent in the first quarter of 2015. Costs were 36 percent lower per member per month compared to the first quarter of 2014.

However, spending on high-cost medications for complex conditions, known as specialty drugs, grew faster on ObamaCare plans than on other plans.

Spending […]

By |July 1st, 2015|Health Reform|Comments Off

 

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