Weekly Dose of Health News

In this week’s summary, you’ll find info on all aspects of ACA implementation, state grants to research facilities at SUNY campuses and more!

Affordable Care Act Implementation

A little known fact of Obamacare implementation is that premium reductions in the new health marketplaces come at the cost of significantly reduced choice of doctors and hospitals for consumers.  To hold down costs, networks have largely been restricted and providers will likely be paid less than under commercial health plans.  In some states, for example, major medical centers are not part of health marketplace networks.  This is raising concern that persons with serious and complicated illnesses will not receive adequate care.

Kaiser Health News published this list of frequently asked questions on Medicare and the new health law.

The Washington Post writes how Medicare will penalize hospitals for readmissions that should not have occurred, according to Medicare.  Beginning October 1, over 2,200 hospitals will receive lower reimbursement due to readmissions that occur too frequently.  Hospitals that serve higher proportions of low-income patients are more likely to experience penalties than hospitals serving predominantly higher-income patients.

Kaiser Health News in cooperation with the Chicago Tribune produced this story on how swapping COBRA coverage for Obamacare will be a boon to big businesses.  A COBRA benefit is insurance coverage extended to an employee after they leave a company.  The new insurance marketplaces are expected to replace COBRA coverage over time.

This week, the Obama Administration unveiled premium levels for health coverage in 36 states where the federal government will run the new insurance marketplaces, starting next week.  The good news for consumers is that costs will be lower than previous estimates.

The Wall Street Journal describes how New York is gearing up for its health marketplace debut next Tuesday, October 1.  The state’s effort includes $27 million in spending on navigators to help people enroll for coverage, as well as $40 million on a marketing campaign.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute has release this new report that gauges insurers’ views of Affordable Care Act implementation.  69% of insurers will offer coverage in the exchanges within the next two years.  Adding new members to their networks is a key driver for their participation.  Two of the biggest concerns for insurers are technology integration and subsidy coordination.

Crain’s Health Pulse highlighted this report from NerdWallet that provides a health exchange analysis of premium prices in New York.  The analysis finds that monthly premiums in New York’s exchange can be expensive for young adults, but premium assistance can provide solid savings.  There are plan options that are less expensive and plan prices vary.  The report advises that it’s worth shopping around for affordable coverage.

The Obama Administration announced a delay in the small business marketplace of the Affordable Care Act, stating that enrollment would be available one month later than planned.  Instead of an October 1 enrollment date, enrollment will begin in November and coverage will be available on January 1, 2014.

State Specific News

Governor Cuomo announced $700,000 in research collaboration awards to ten State University of New York (SUNY) campuses.  Among the projects receiving funds are cancer detection and treatment, medical imaging and diagnostics, a study of the effects of climate change, stress treatment, stroke prevention and developmental biology.

The Times Union writes that state Budget Director Robert Megna has announced that the 2014-15 state budget will adhere to no more than a 2% increase and that state agencies have been advised to submit zero-growth spending requests.  The only two areas where it is anticipated that the state will exceed the 2% growth cap is in K-12 education and Medicaid.  The state must close a $2 billion budget gap for the coming fiscal year, which includes consideration of $1 billion that will be received from the State Insurance Fund.

-Jaime Venditti, 9/28/13