Roades: What I learned from my discussion with state governors


Daily Briefing Blog

Live reports from the Supreme Court: The case over Obamacare

March 4, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

This story is in progress. Last updated at 1:00 p.m.

This is a "straightforward case," lawyer Michael Carvin began on Wednesday morning, arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wouldn't let Carvin finish a single sentence.

"Please back up," Ginsburg told Carvin, and explain whether the plaintiffs even had standing to make their case.

It was that kind of morning at the Supreme Court: Contentious arguments, high-stakes consequences … and definitely not straightforward.

And after 75 minutes of oft-thrilling debate—which frequently descended into discussions over very technical, statutory language, too—it was unclear whether the justices believed that the insurance exchange subsidies are legal, or if a key part of the Affordable Care Act is doomed.

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Is your hospital a 'top hospital'? Probably.

March 3, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

When every hospital is special … none of them are.

That's the takeaway from a new Health Affairs study on hospital rankings that found, once again, wildly divergent scores between each ratings system.

For the study, a team of patient safety researchers looked at hospitals ranked by U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals, HealthGrades’ America’s 100 Best Hospitals, Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score, and Consumer Reports’ Health Safety Score between July 2012 and July 2013.

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The hospitals most likely to close

February 27, 2015

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

More patients. More jobs.

More money flowing into health care.

On the surface, the Affordable Care Act's changes should have led to boom times for hospitals. And for some organizations, it has.

But the picture isn't so rosy across the board, especially as we move away from last year's coverage expansion boomlet.

"Many hospitals across the country are reaching a crossroads," Melanie Evans wrote this week in Modern Healthcare.  

"Hospitals face closures as 'a new day in healthcare' dawns."

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How the world's 26th Ebola outbreak can prepare us for the 27th

February 23, 2015

Clare Rizer, The Daily Briefing

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has receded from the headlines in the past couple months, largely thanks to a sharp decline in cases reported at the beginning of the year.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Jan. 28 announced that the focus of the official outbreak response has moved from curbing transmission to ending the epidemic. And President Obama has announced plans to withdraw all but 100 of the 3,000 service members responding to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. In his announcement, Obama said that despite the troop withdrawal, "Our mission is not complete," and the country is moving on to the "next phase": eradication of the disease. "Our mission now is getting to zero," as "every case is an ember that if not contained can light a new fire."

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Sears gave its workers more health care choices. Here's what happened.

February 20, 2015

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

In the first year after Sears moved its employees into a private health insurance exchange, workers signed up for health plans that looked like the ones they had before. The next year, they shopped based on the price of premiums. But in year three, something interested happened: They signed up for the plans that offered the best value.

Now, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) Dean Carter says Sears employees like the choices that a private exchange affords them—and it would be very hard to reverse that. And it's saving the giant retailer a lot of money; in the first year alone, the company saved $38 million, he says.

Speaking at a panel at Wednesday's Future of Health Care Summit in Washington, D.C., Carter said that "there isn't a CHRO I know who isn't thinking about private exchanges." It's one part of a major shift in how employers view health insurance benefits for employees in the retail health insurance marketplace.

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Experts agree: The retail revolution isn't coming—it has arrived

February 19, 2015

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

When Mary Langowski was hired to lead CVS Health's strategy, policy, and market development, her mother—a fan of Walgreens—said she was worried. Did this mean that Langowski's mom would now need to make the extra turn and drive the slightly longer distance to choose CVS over Walgreens?

It's just an anecdote, but one that captures the rapid transformation of a health care landscape, in which CVS, Walgreens, and other retailers are playing a bigger role than ever—and providers are increasingly competing on patient-driven metrics, like convenience, costs, and patient experiences. Suddenly, doctors have to worry about questions like: "How many blocks are you from my house, and can I pop by at 7 p.m. on Wednesday?"

Or, as Advisory Board CEO Robert Musslewhite put it in his opening statement at Wednesday's Future of Health Care Summit: "For years, we've talked about patient-centered care. Now we're entering a new era of patient-directed care."

On Wednesday, hundreds of thought leaders in health care—including Fortune 100 company leaders, private exchange operators, government officials, hospital innovators, and more—gathered in Washington, D.C., to ponder the industry's latest changes.

And one takeaway was immediately clear: The retail revolution isn't coming—it has arrived. And it has some important implications for providers.  

Over the next week, the Daily Briefing will share takeaways from the Future of Health Care Summit, including exclusive interviews with attendees, a roundup of panel discussions, and more.

GOP legislatures block governors' efforts to expand Medicaid

February 9, 2015

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

Just a couple months ago, I wondered: Are the dominos finally falling in favor of Medicaid expansion?

At the time, several Republican governors had proposed plans to opt into the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid provision. It seemed to signal a new openness to the law among its conservative critics.

But the last week's news should remind us: Medicaid expansion isn't up to the governors. As Dan Diamond predicted back in November, the GOP's historic—and overlooked—statehouse wins are complicating governors' plans for health care in their states.

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A global look at disease outbreaks: It's not just Ebola and measles

February 6, 2015

Clare Rizer, The Daily Briefing

A new survey—featured in today's Daily Briefing—suggests that infection control experts are worried that the focus on Ebola in the last months of 2014 actually hurt the U.S. health care system's ability to prevent and contain other infectious disease. The survey respondents noted that, by and large, hospitals did not increase their investment in infection control, despite the attention Ebola brought.

To get an idea of what's at stake, I surveyed the globe to identify some of the outbreaks worrying infection experts. 

Measles: 102 cases in the U.S. in January

To anyone reading the news, it's no surprise that the once-eradicated disease is making a comeback in the United States—thanks in large part to pockets of unvaccinated Americans that are compromising herd immunity in certain communities.

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