09/17/2019

News

Counties slow to spend millionaires’ money on mental health

California counties are sitting on money from a special tax on millionaires that should be spent on mental health programs, but the state isn’t moving fast enough to reclaim the funds, according to a state audit released on Tuesday. California State Auditor Elaine Howle found that county mental health programs had stashed $231 million from […]

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Obamacare insurance premiums to rise 18 percent next year, analysis finds

Health insurance premiums in California are expected to rise nearly 18 percent in 2019 as a result of federal policy changes enacted by Congress and the Trump administration, according to an analysis released Monday by the Urban Institute left-leaning think tank. In 2019, roughly 1 million fewer Californians will be enrolled in health plans in […]

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Only 7 Percent Of Californians Lack Health Insurance, National Study Says

A new study indicates that almost 29 million Americans lack health insurance — a big improvement compared to nearly 49 million in 2010. Californians are better covered than most of the nation. Texas comes in last, with 20 percent having no health insurance, according to the latest findings by the National Center for Health Statistics. […]

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San Francisco has some streets dirtier than the world’s filthiest slums, new report finds

The City of San Francisco has more than 153 blocks with conditions so unsanitary that they rate close to the worst slums in India, Brazil or Kenya, a new report has found. NBC Bay Area studied a 10-mile swath of downtown San Francisco, including tourist attractions like Union Square and several of the city’s biggest […]

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Healthcare Spending to Reach $5.7 Trillion by 2026

“National healthcare spending trends are unsustainable in the long term,” President Donald Trump’s budget acknowledges. An article published earlier this month in the medical policy journal Health Affairs buttresses this simple point. Medical inflation stands to outpace both economic growth and actual inflation. Our spending — government, individual, business, etc. — on healthcare, projected to […]

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ObamaCare’s Failed Cost Controls

When the authors of the Affordable Care Act promised to “bend the cost curve” in health care, it was typical Washington doublespeak. Voters likely heard those words as a promise that costs would go down, but the intended meaning was merely that they would rise more slowly than before. Yet even by that meager standard, ObamaCare is a failure. Costs are rising faster than before, and there’s no real prospect of a reversal. The key provisions of the law that were supposed to produce savings and efficiencies either haven’t worked or will never be implemented. ObamaCare’s Failed Cost Controls Photo: iStock/Getty Images America’s health-care spending rose 4.3% in 2016, according to federal data released earlier this month. That is the third straight year it outpaced economic growth. Total health spending last year was 17.9% of gross domestic product, up from 17.2% in 2013.

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Dan Walters: Universal health care doable for less cost

When the Legislature reconvenes and the campaigns for governor heat up next year, Californians will be hearing a lot – and a lot of hot air – about universal health care. Making California the first state to guarantee health care for every resident has become a touchstone issue – and a divisive one – for the state’s dominant Democrats. . . .It’s not necessary for the state to seize control of California’s entire medical care system if the real bottom line goal is covering those undocumented immigrants. It could be done for about $10 billion a year, which is a lot less than $100 billion. However, advocates would have to publicly acknowledge that covering them is what this conflict is all about and take whatever political heat it generates.

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Anthem’s exit leaves thousands without health insurance choice in California

For about 60,000 Covered California customers, choosing a health plan next year will be easier, and possibly more painful, than ever: There will be only one insurer left in their communities after Anthem Blue Cross of California pulls out of much of the state’s individual market.

That means they could lose doctors they trust, or pay higher premiums.

Anthem’s departure is also a blow for the Covered California exchange, which often has boasted that healthy competition among its plans helped lower costs and improve its members’ access to care.

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The unintended consequences of cool roofs

Widespread adoption of “cool roofs” – typically made of light-colored materials that reflect a large fraction of the sun’s rays – has the potential to increase certain types of air pollution, researchers from the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the University of Southern California reported yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. . . .The widespread adoption of cool roofs will decrease annual average daily high temperature in the basin, the researchers found – a generally positive effect. However, the lower temperature on land is likely to weaken sea breezes and alter the mixing of air from different levels of the atmosphere. In turn, these changes will slightly increase PM2.5 concentrations throughout the basin. . . . they found that widespread installation of cool roofs is likely to increase the concentration of ozone in the South Coast Air Basin. This is because UV rays contribute to the formation of ozone.

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Some Insurers Seek ACA Premium Increases of 30% and Higher

Major health insurers in some states are seeking increases as high as 30% or more for premiums on 2018 Affordable Care Act plans, according to new federal data that provide the broadest view so far of the turmoil across exchanges as companies try to anticipate Trump administration policies. Big insurers in Idaho, West Virginia, South Carolina, Iowa and Wyoming are seeking to raise premiums by averages close to 30% or more, according to preliminary rate requests published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Insurers face a mid-August deadline for completing their rates. The companies have until late September to sign federal agreements to offer plans in 2018.

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Covered California announces 12.5 percent premium hikes in 2018, but what’s this new surcharge?

California consumers buying insurance for 2018 through the state’s insurance exchange will see average premiums increases of 12.5 percent, but by comparison pricing, many could limit their premium hikes to 3.3 percent, Covered California officials announced Tuesday.

The increase was a little lower than the average 13.2 Covered California premium hike implemented this year, despite uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act amid Republican attempts to repeal the law.

. . . That “ongoing uncertainty” could mean that roughly 650,000 consumers who buy Covered California’s most popular insurance plans, those in the silver tier, will face a double whammy on their premium prices. The exchange said it may have to add a 12.4 percent surcharge to premiums in that tier because insurers are worried about continued federal funding that lowers out-of-pocket costs for enrollees.

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Health premiums to rise 5.6% on Covered California’s small business exchange

nsurance premiums for health plans on Covered California’s small business exchange will rise 5.6 percent in 2018, Covered California announced Thursday. Nearly 36,000 Californians receive health insurance through the small business exchange, where companies with 100 or fewer employees can purchase health plans for their workers. The small business exchange is not as widely used as Covered California’s more well-known exchange for individuals, through which 1.2 million people buy health insurance. Premium rates for the individual exchange are slated to rise 12.5 percent in 2018.

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Medicare’s hospital trust fund will run out of money in 2029

he trust fund that pays Medicare’s hospital expenses will run out of money in 2029, a year later than was projected last year, according to a federal report. The Social Security program will remain solvent until 2034, a projection unchanged from last year. The report from the Social Security and Medicare board of trustees is an annual glimpse at the long-term solvency of the federal government’s two biggest entitlement programs. It comes as Republican lawmakers have introduced a new version of a health care bill that would make deep, long-term cuts to a different entitlement program, Medicaid.

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Is Real Medicaid Reform Possible? Two States–Indiana And Rhode Island–Show That It Is

TWO STATES, Rhode Island and Indiana, have been able to make major changes to the traditional Medicaid programs, which allowed them to curb costs and enhance their recipients’ quality of care. Patient satisfaction went up sharply. In 2009 Rhode Island sought and won an unprecedented waiver from Washington. . . As Alexander noted, “These reforms, in turn, gave patients greater independence and better outcomes, and their satisfaction soared. . . . The imaginative remedies we implemented were so responsive and customized to our patients’ needs that their experiences and health improved even as we spent less.” . . . Indiana instituted even better Medicaid reform. The Hoosier State has long pushed the idea of health savings accounts (HSAs) coupled with high-deductible health insurance that covers catastrophic medical expenses. As the state has observed: “About 96% of [the state’s] employees have voluntarily elected to enroll in a consumer-driven health plan option. In its first four years of offering [such options] to state employees, the state saved 10.7% annually, as employees used hospital emergency departments at lower rates, had fewer physician office visits, lower prescription costs and a higher generic-medication dispensing rate.” . . .Now the Hoosier State is expanding this state-employees concept and applying it to its Medicaid recipients.

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Working poor, doctors score gains under California budget deal

How to spend the more than $1 billion in tobacco taxes was among the final hold ups of the spending agreement. The tobacco money came under heavy lobbying as Brown and lawmakers worked toward a resolution. Under the deal, doctors, dentists and other health professionals who provide publicly funded care could receive $465 million in higher payments.

A summary of the agreement released by the governor also highlights expansion of the state’s earned-income tax credit as a way to fight poverty. It makes the credit available to more than 1 million more households after nearly 400,000 households claimed the credit in 2015. It puts $1.8 billion toward the state’s rainy day reserve and grows by $3.1 billion school funding over the revised 2016-17 budget, to $74.5 billion in 2017-18.

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