News from Tallahassee for 1/29/15

Report's Forecast Grim for Hospitals posted on 1/14/15

by Carol Gentry | Health News Florida

Florida’s “safety-net” hospitals – the ones that provide the most charity care -- received another in a series of depressing projections Wednesday in a report from Florida Legal Services.

Taken together, the three reports issued to date by the patient-advocacy organization describe a pending loss of $2 billion a year to the state’s health-care providers for the poor. Federal funding that has propped them up is scheduled to end June 30, Florida Legal Services said.

“These losses threaten both the safety-net’s viability and the health of low-income uninsured state residents that rely on those facilities,” they say. “These threats, however, could be averted if the Florida Legislature accepts funding allocated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) for covering an expanded Medicaid population."

Hospitals are the most visible losers, but some of the money also goes to community health centers and other health-care providers. Others affected include the counties that help support the hospitals, employers and insured patients who pay extra to cover unpaid bills, and ultimately uninsured patients who may find fewer services, the reports say.

“It’s an issue that affects everybody,” said Joan Alker of Georgetown University, who conducts grant-funded research on Florida’s health-care system.

The reports were produced by two attorneys in the Miami Advocacy Office of Florida Legal Services. All can be downloaded from this website.

» Read more

Troubled Plans Top Health News in 2014 posted on 12/22/14

by mary shedden | health news florida

Take a look at the top health care stories in Florida in 2014, and it’s clear that the business of Medicare and Medicaid continued to dominate the news.

Good news -- and plenty of bad, too -- topped the most read stories on Health News Florida in the past year. And yes, the glitches and changes tied to new Affordable Care Act rules created plenty of buzz as well.

The competition over coveted Medicaid managed care contracts was a reader favorite early in the year. Meanwhile, Medicare Advantage plans at the top of their game – and those mired in controversy and financial calamities – were attention getters throughout the year.

Some of these important health stories kept going, long after the first headline caught your attention. And we’ll continue to do our best to keep your updated in 2015. But now, here’s a look back at the top 10 stories of the past year:

» Read more

31 FL Hospitals to See Medicare Pay Cut posted on 12/22/14

by JORDAN RAU | KAISER HEALTH NEWS

In its toughest crackdown yet on medical errors, the federal government is cutting payments to 721 hospitals – including 31 in Florida -- for having high rates of infections and other patient injuries, records released Thursday show.

Medicare assessed these new penalties against some of the most renowned hospitals in the nation, including the Cleveland Clinic, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.

One out of every seven hospitals in the nation will have their Medicare payments lowered by 1 percent over the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 and continues through September 2015. The health law mandates the reductions for the quarter of hospitals that Medicare assessed as having the highest rates of “hospital-acquired conditions,” or HACs. These conditions include infections from catheters, blood clots, bed sores and other complications that are considered avoidable...

See a complete listing of Florida hospital scores here.

» Read more

Health care secretary Liz Dudek says she’d like to “ride out” Rick Scott’s second term posted on 12/18/14

by Christine Jordan Sexton | SaintPetersblog

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth “Liz” Dudek just finished implementing a statewide mandatory managed care program for the fifth largest Medicaid program in the nation.

What does she plan to do now?

Dudek rattles off an ambitious “to do” list s that she said she’d like to accomplish in the next four years as she hopes to “ride out” Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s second term in office as agency secretary.

“After that,” Dudek says, “There are probably some other people who should be at the helm.”

In a year-end interview with Saintpetersblog in her Tallahassee office on Monday Dudek said that she’d like to make health care budgeting a little more “cut and dry” by implementing a DRG–or diagnostic related group–reimbursement system for health care services paid for by Medicaid.

Dudek said DRGs could be implemented for hospital outpatient services, nursing home care as well as reimbursement for intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled.

Currently Medicaid reimburses for these services using a cost-based per diem system, meaning facilities receive payments based on how much it cost them to treat the patient while in the hospital. Under DRGs, providers are paid a fixed amount based on a patient’s diagnosis. If care can be provided for less than the DRG, then it makes money. If treatment exceeds the DRG, the facilitiy loses money.

DRGs are currently used for hospital inpatient services.

Other things on Dudek’s to-do list include simplifying online licensing in the Division of Health Quality Assurance which regulates 45,000 health care facilities throughout the state and retooling the agency so staff to reflect the changes in the Medicaid program which has been set up to pay and monitor a fee for service delivery system, not a managed care system.

» Read more

PolitiFact's Lie of the Year is exaggerations about ebola posted on 12/16/14

by Angie Drobnic Holan, Aaron Sharockman | PolitiFact

Thomas Eric Duncan left Monrovia, Liberia, on Sept. 19, for Dallas. Eleven days later, doctors diagnosed Duncan with Ebola.

Eight days after that, he was dead.

Duncan’s case remains one of two Ebola-related fatalities in the United States, and since Duncan traveled to Dallas, more Americans -- at least nine, and likely many more -- have died from the flu.

Yet fear of the disease stretched to every corner of America this fall, stoked by exaggerated claims from politicians and pundits. They said Ebola was easy to catch, that illegal immigrants may be carrying the virus across the southern border, that it was all part of a government or corporate conspiracy.

The claims -- all wrong -- distorted the debate about a serious public health issue. Together, they earn our Lie of the Year for 2014.

PolitiFact editors choose the Lie of the Year, in part, based on how broadly a myth or falsehood infiltrates conventional thinking. In 2013, it was the promise made by President Barack Obama and other Democrats that "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it." While no singular line about Ebola matched last year’s empty rhetoric about health care, the statements together produced a dangerous and incorrect narrative.

PolitiFact and PunditFact rated 16 separate claims about Ebola as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire on our Truth-O-Meter in 2014. Ten of those claims came in October, as Duncan’s case came to the fore and as voters went to the polls to select a new Congress.

» Read more

Follow us on Twitter

Don't have an account?

No Problem! Create one today. It's easy and once you log in you'll be able to:

  1. Personalize your bill tracking experience. Create your own list of individual bills to follow.
  2. Stay up-to-date. Receive email updates everytime your bill is updated.
  3. Get updates on amendments as soon as they're filed.
  4. IT'S FREE!
Register Now » No Thanks, I don't want to register.