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March 14, 2010 Posted by | Benefits, Cost, Electronic health records, health information technology, healthcare, hospitals, insurance, Pension, Plan design, Prevention and Wellness, retirement, Technology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Equity Analyst’s Views of Health Reform

Editor’s note: This, an excerpt from Carl McDonald, equity analyst for Oppenheimer on the impact of Health Reform:


The current health reform legislation has a lot of objectives, but two key goals are to provide coverage to all Americans and to control the growth in health care cost trends. The legislation currently pending in Congress would achieve partial success in covering more people, but we think it will fail miserably in slowing health care costs. Because there’s so little in the bill that actually deals with cost, we wouldn’t be surprised if reform actually caused health care trends to accelerate more than if we’d done nothing. And so while health reform is laudable for its efforts to cover more people, it just isn’t a very good outcome for the country. 
Seniors in the Medicare Advantage program will face higher premiums and lose valued benefits, while younger people (a key Obama demographic in the last election) will have to pay significantly more for their health care, since they will now be subsidizing the older sicker members of the population.
The relatively modest subsidies to help people buy insurance and the very minor penalties for not having insurance, coupled with a significant illegal immigrant population, mean that the uninsured population will still number 10-20 million even after this legislation, raising the question of whether we should be spending almost $1 trillion on reform.
The taxes levied on health insurers will ultimately be passed onto employers and consumers, raising premium rates by over 1% each year, meaning that the middle class will be funding at least a portion of the coverage expansion.
In addition, states will be covering a large chunk of the Medicaid expansion. Because states have to balance their budgets each year, this will likely result in higher state income, sales, and property taxes, which will have a disproportionate impact on the middle class.

October 6, 2009 Posted by | Federal Government, healthcare | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coalition presents glowing picture of health care


Rochester Business Journal
October 1, 2009

    A communitywide coalition to improve care delivery and improve residents’ general level of health has made strides in returning the Rochester-area to a preeminent position in health care nationally, local executives told Business Council of New York State Inc. members.
    Wegmans Food Markets Inc. vice chairman Paul Speranza Jr. and Xerox Corp.’s director of alliances, partnerships and analytics, Lawrence Becker, painted a glowing picture of communitywide health care improvement efforts among area businesses, government officials, community groups, religious organizations and others to focus on improving health and health care in the region.
    The Eat Well Live Well program and other health care-focused collaborations among area health systems; major employers, including Wegmans, Eastman Kodak Co., Xerox and Bausch & Lomb Inc.; and organizations, including Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, have earned plaudits from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Partnership for Prevention, Speranza said.
    Other firms and organizations Speranza names as “partners we can count on” in a several years long collaboration were the Rochester Institute of Technology, Paychex Corp. and Jasco Tools Inc.
    Becker outlined cooperative steps coalition partners have taken to develop the area’s budding electronic health information exchange, the Rochester Regional Health Information Organization, into one state Health Commissioner Richard Daines M.D. named as New York’s most advanced. Other successful collaborative efforts he named were:

  • Participation by 300 companies and 44,000 workers in Eat Well Live Well;
  • Efforts to develop lean operating practices in area hospitals;
  • Area hospitals’ efforts to increase usage of less expensive generic drugs; and
  • Cooperative efforts to boost physician pay.

    The generic drug program, for example, shaved $60 million off the region’s prescription drug expenses last year, Becker said.
    In concentrating on health care improvement, Speranza said, coalition partners aim to improve local health care outcomes and contain costs, as well as be a beacon for the rest of the state.
    Speranza along with FLHSA executive director Fran Weisberg previously urged President Barack Obama to visit Rochester in hopes Obama would see elements in local efforts that could be applied to national health care reform.
    Rochester-area health care costs and outcomes compare favorably with relatively low-cost areas such as Rochester, Minn., that Obama has cited as positive examples.
    Still, like their counterparts elsewhere in the state and the nation, local employers cite rising health care costs as their No. 1 worry.

(c) 2009 Rochester Business Journal. Obtain permission to reprint this article.

October 1, 2009 Posted by | healthcare | , , , | 1 Comment

Health Care: Lean Six Sigma and the Joint Commission

Joint Commission calls for zero-defect approach in health care
The Joint Commission says health care facilities should implement a zero-defect approach, used in other high-risk industries, to reduce and prevent medical errors. The commission’s latest sentinel-event alert said there are 14 steps health care leaders should take, including establishing a safety culture and communication policies for disciplinary action and patient involvement. Modern Healthcare (free registration) (8/27)

August 30, 2009 Posted by | healthcare, quality | , , | Leave a comment

Health Care Delivery: Process

Editor’s note: Running a practice like a business is an important step forward. Learning all aspects of the business is critical. Adding Lean Six Sigma process techniques including DMAIC and DMEDI are as critical as learning about technologies and insurance reimbursement. It might be argued that learning Lean Six Sigma techniques would be more important that learning about office technology. Technology is only an enabler to improvement, implementing improvements efficiently is critical.


Residents get business basics of physician practices
Tufts Health Care Institute is training medical residents on the business end of running a physician practice, including insurance reimbursement and new technologies. Residents at a recent program sponsored by the institute said they gained a better understanding of insurer and employer roles and the overall economic and political context of the medical business. The Boston Globe

August 30, 2009 Posted by | healthcare | , , , | Leave a comment