Three take-aways from Nancy Guinto’s transparency testimony to the US Senate HELP Committee – State of Reform

Nancy Guinto, Executive Director of the Washington Health Alliance (WHA), testified before the US Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee last week about how price transparency initiatives can increase value in health care. Three key takeaways:

  • Congress should create incentives to align stakeholder interests in leveraging data to improve care value. Congress should look across public and private sectors to coordinate efforts to increase transparency.
  • Congress should support federal agency efforts to increase transparency by promoting initiatives that tie cost, quality, and value together and by making access to data less burdensome.
  • Congress should leverage existing networks that promote transparency, like regional health improvement collaborative, that already have the trust and support of local stakeholders and who are already working to make care improvements.

Those of us involved in the Jefferson County Healthcare Access Group (CHA) have struggled for a few years now to increase pricing transparency at Jefferson Healthcare. We have met with resistance every step of the way. Breakthroughs in the last year have led to citizens having a somewhat better understanding of the prices they face before they get into the hospital. We fully support the efforts of the Washington Healthcare Alliance.

It is clear to those of us involved in understanding the healthcare industry on a local level, that increasing centralization, decreasing independent medical providers, penalization of individual providers by Congressional funding mandates,  and a lack of transparency are creating a system the more resembles a monopoly, costs more and does not  necessarily provide better indices of health.

Read more on this at

https://stateofreform.com/featured/2018/09/three-take-aways-from-nancy-guintos-transparency-testimony-to-the-us-senate-help-committee/

 

Abuse of 340B Program Impacts Patient Care -Oncology Nursing News

Jefferson Healthcare and many other rural hospitals, take advantage of a Federal program called 340B.

As the article states:

This little-known federal program was created to help uninsured or vulnerable patients get access valuable medications regardless of their abilities to pay. This was done by providing certain participating hospitals or safety net clinics with discounted medicines. The 340B program has become an extremely important program for patients in need in this era of unaffordable and unsustainable drug prices.

The article lays out the problems with the 340B program and how some hospitals are abusing it to help themselves remain profitable.

While the point of sharing this article is not to infer that Jefferson Healthcare is in any way one of the ‘bad actors’ in the 340B debate, this article gives the average person a very good quick overview of the controversy.  The battle over 340B is playing out in Congress, and it’s outcome will affect JHC. JHC does a great deal charity care, including use of 340B funds, and the program to offer charity care has been recently reformatted to allow people who do not have the means to afford to get needed care. (More on that can be found at the JHC website, JHC Charity Care overview )

I will be looking into the local ramifications of this issue in upcoming months, and should have a more comprehensive overview on them  later.

But for now. Here’s a good quote:

For too many hospitals, the 340B program has become a road to profits, not a safety net and not a way to expand charity care for uninsured, indigent patients. For too many patients, particularly those with cancer, the 340B program has not reduced their cost of care 1 cent.

Read the whole opinion piece here:

https://www.oncnursingnews.com/web-exclusives/abuse-of-340b-program-impacts-patient-care

 

 

 

Shopping for healthcare simply doesn’t work, so what might? NY Times

Good overview on the problem with healthcare “shopping.” Our local CEO, Mike Glenn, has been saying for years that the community and the hospital needs to have a ‘conversation’ on the issue of healthcare costs. Perhaps he’s ready to hold that conversation?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/healthcare/shopping-for-health-care-simply-doesnt-work-so-what-might/ar-BBLfoN8?li=BBnbfcN&pfr=1

 

Washington launches online tool that lets patients compare prices for medical procedures

Interested in knowing a bit about how to much you might pay for a procedure?  Check out the emergency room prices both from Jefferson Healthcare and surrounding areas. Finally we are seeing the curtain being pulled back on our hospital pricing, which many of us have known is overpriced for many standard procedures.  Our elected hospital commissioners, have claimed  that this kind of comparison was not possible to do. The Governor has had it done.

https://www.wahealthcarecompare.com/procedure/emergency-room-visit?zipcode=98368

If you or a loved one needed knee replacement surgery, would you want to know which surgeon in your community has the highest rating for quality of care? Would you like to know how much a knee replacement costs, on average, at all of the medical offices close to your home?

Those are the types of information easily accessed through Washington state’s new HealthCareCompare website, an online tool that launched today. The user-friendly website is part of the state’s larger effort to make health care costs more transparent, and gives the public access to health care price and quality information from the Washington All-Payer Claims Database. The database is the result of legislation proposed by the governor.

https://www.governor.wa.gov/news-media/washington-launches-online-tool-lets-patients-compare-prices-medical-procedures

 

Cancer Care Twice as Costly in U.S. Versus Canada – US World And News

Why does this not surprise me….we are fighting against the medical/industrial complex. If you want a change, read the text of I-1600. It gets to the core of the issue. Will it make it to the ballot? Very uncertain. But something has to change in this country if we want to lower costs and bring about a positive change to patients and providers.

What a difference a border makes, when it comes to the cost of cancer care. Common chemotherapy for advanced colorectal cancer costs twice as much in Washington state as it does a short walk across the Canadian border into British Columbia, researchers report.