Hospital and healthcare system CIOs are juggling short-term and long-term priorities, according to a new report from the Deloitte consulting firm. According to author Ken Terry, the biggest priorities for 12 CIOs recently interviewed by Deloitte were navigating the regulatory environment, laying the foundations for more capable and reliable IT systems, and preparing for accountable care and payment reform.
Michael Tomasky notes that Florida Gov. Scott and other big-state GOP governors (in Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, etc.) are now accepting Obamacare and agreeing to cover people with Medicaid funds. Tomasky posits various reasons for Scott’s acceptance and authority: He is the governor of a huge state with many seniors; he is a former health-care exec who can speak to all this with some presumed knowledge. Ironically, he called Obamacare an evil job-killer many times and he was also aligned with the Tea Party, although perhaps no longer.
As the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) begins, 30 governors are resisting key provisions of the law. This article’s authors suggest that the governors and President Obama should work together to change the law’s future to provide flexibility, create consumer information exchanges, allow health accounts for all and be free to experiment with the Medicaid issue and copy innovations developed in other states.
Republican fears that President Obama would eliminate health savings accounts, or HSAs, turned out to be unfounded. HSA accounts allow owners of high-deductible health insurance plans to save money tax-free for medical expenses. HSA-qualified plans offer low monthly premiums; for the past four years they have been the fastest-growing type of health plan in United States.
Seven Republican governors, under pressure from health care industry and consumer advocates, are unexpectedly (though cautiously) moving to expand Medicaid, in accordance with President Obama’s plan to insure some 30 million more Americans. Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently reversed his position and announced his support for expanding Medicaid. Proponents claim that doing so will save lives, create jobs and stimulate the economy, arguments that have swayed the Republican governors of Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota and Ohio.
This shift among Republican governors greatly pleases the law’s supporters.
An aspect of the Affordable Health Care Act (“Obamacare”) that becomes active in 2014 is an increased monetary incentive for employers to establish internal corporate wellness programs. Although it’s not mandatory, many more organizations are expected to set up these plans starting in 2014 to reduce health care costs. However, just as there are bigger financial rewards for healthier workers, there are also more costly punishments (increased insurance premiums) regarding those who are evaluated as being health risks.
New Obamacare rules ending discrimination in employee wellness programs may well lead to healthier employees and major health care cost savings for employers. More than two-thirds of U.S. employers now offer wellness programs because 86 percent of all full-time employees in the U.S. are now either overweight or suffer from a chronic usually preventable health conditions that raise health costs. All U.S. employers must meet the new nondiscrimination standards in wellness programs by January 1, 2014.
South Carolina Republicans unveiled a plan to pay hospitals $35 million in 2014 to divert uninsured people away from emergency rooms, which they often use for nonemergency care, and into free health clinics. An additional $10 million would be given in 2014 to the South Carolina’s 20 federally qualified health clinics to bolster their ability to to treat those patients. The plan would not spend any new money on health care. Instead, the state would pay for it by using $62 million that the state Department of Health and Human Services received in 2012 but did not spend.
Florida’s Governor Rick Scott is the latest of seven Republican governors to embrace Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, and will be accepting federal government money to expand Medicaid coverage to nearly all individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL). However, many of these same governors (Florida’s Rick Scott, Michigan’s Rick Snyder and Ohio’s John Kasich) have rejected the idea of setting up healthcare insurance exchanges, which requires more effort and offers less financial reward. Moreover, by doing nothing the federal government will step in and set one up for them. (Michigan, however, is ‘splitting the difference’ and will operate its healthcare insurance market in partnership with the federal government).
New York Daily News readers’ views on Obamacare. Many are negative. For example, as Herb Eichen comments: “The recent raises in health care premiums are a direct result of two of the main provisions of Obamacare: no denial for preexisting conditions and children allowed on parents’ plans until age 26.” But reader Ralph Palladino claims that public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid are not to blame for high health care costs, because “Both have overheads of only 5%. The problem is that this country’s health care is based on a for-profit system where overhead and profits top 20%. Cutting Medicaid and Medicare would only slash badly needed services from systems that already don’t cover all they should.”