Morning CheckUp: August 25, 2011

Medicare spending slows for hospitals: “Various hospital executives have told me they have already begun to prepare for less generous reimbursement from Medicare as the new federal health-care-reform law takes effect and there is a greater focus on value. They are therefore trying to become more efficient now. “ [Peter Orszag]

They’re preparing for changes: This slow-down is not a result of Congress cutting Medicare spending. Rather, providers are anticipating the Affordable Care Act kicking in 2014 and are asking, ‘How can we cut our costs by 10 to 15 percent?’ They know that they must trim their own costs if they are going to lower the bills that they send to Medicare.’ [Maggie Mahar]

Another employers-will-drop-coverage survey: “Nine percent of employers surveyed recently reported plans to drop their insurance coverage when health insurance exchanges launch in 2014.” [Modern Healthcare]

Uninsured skipping needed care: “Nearly three-quarters (72%) of people who lost their health insurance when they lost their jobs over the last two years said that they skipped needed health care or did not fill prescriptions because of cost, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. The same proportion is also struggling with medical bills or medical debt, compared to about half (49%) who lost jobs but not their health insurance.” [Commonwealth Fund]


‘Moving in’ increases unintended pregnancies: “The report found that overall, “the United States did not make progress toward its goal of reducing unintended pregnancy between 2001 and 2006. In fact, the rate was 49 percent in 2006, virtually unchanged from 48 percent in 2001. But the highest rate of unintended pregnancy of all the subgroups studied occured among “cohabitors,” or, to use the vernacular, women who were shacking up.” [Julie Rovner]

HHS responds to Joe ‘You Lie!’ Wilson on undocumented immigrants will receive insurance claim: “White House aides said Wilson is mixing apples and oranges because the community health clinics don’t provide health insurance. The seasonal farm workers’ health clinics that Wilson refers to were authorized by the 1962 Migrant Health Act, and were updated during the next decade in the Public Health Service Act, they said.” [McClatchy]

Multi-state plans should comply with state regulations: “The National Association of Insurance Commissioners recently told the federal government that multistate plans should still have to comply with state regulations and meet all the requirements of the healthcare law. NAIC’s consumer advocates echoed that position Wednesday.” [Sam Baker]

Providers are pessimistic about bundling: “Hospital and physician advocates are not publicly criticizing the CMS Bundled Payments initiative unveiled Tuesday (Aug. 23), in part because they hope to favorably influence payment rates that have yet to be determined, but they harbor concerns about the concept, industry sources say. Hospital advocates say they’ll have to more closely evaluate the financial and overall upshot before determining whether the program will benefit them. Physicians appreciate the program’s flexibility but worry about the impact on their autonomy.” [Inside Health Policy]