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Daily Briefing Blog

Going green: The first step to becoming a more sustainable hospital

December 18, 2014

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

Last month, Wisconsin-based Gundersen Health System became the first U.S. health system to produce more energy than it consumed. It wasn't an easy process. In fact, it took six years of hard work and involved creating heat and electricity out of methane gas from a local landfill.

Learn more: Health system becomes first to create more energy than it uses

But hospitals—which traditionally are major consumers of water and energy—don't have to tap into methane gas sources to become more sustainable.

To better understand how hospitals can launch sustainability initiatives, I sat down with Zac Stillerman, general manager of the Advisory Board's supply chain services, and Joanna Schneider, director of the company's Health Care Sustainability Initiative, to discuss the important first steps and  how environmental sustainability ties to huge cost savings for hospitals.  

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Are the dominos finally falling in favor of Medicaid expansion?

December 17, 2014

Juliette Mullin, Senior Editor

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam made national headlines this week when he became the second Republican governor—after Wyoming's Matt Mead—to propose a plan to expand Medicaid in his state in the wake of the midterm elections.

The governors' proposals weren't wholly unexpected; the Washington Post had flagged both states as candidates to follow Pennsylvania, the 27th state to expand the program using funds from the Affordable Care Act. What's more surprising is this week's news out of Alabama, where Gov. Robert Bentley explained for the first time this week that he would consider an expansion plan. It's a notable reversal, considering Bentley once said, "Now they are telling us we’ll get ‘free money’ to expand Medicaid. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is free."

In light of these reversals, one can't help but wonder: Are we finally seeing the dominos falling on expansion?

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What we've learned from the Medicare Shared Savings Program

Dan Diamond December 2, 2014

When CMS began inviting organizations to participate in its Medicare Shared Savings Program, starting in December 2011, there was no guarantee that providers would say yes.

Some organizations worried that the program's quality metrics would be too demanding. Others wondered if creating an "accountable care organization" would end up being more trouble than it was worth.

But on balance, experts thought that providers would regret sitting out of the MSSP more than they'd regret jumping in.

"Our initial take," the Advisory Board's Chief Research Officer Chas Roades wrote at the time, "is that the program warrants serious consideration by hospitals and health systems."

Three years—and three hundred or so participants—later, the MSSP has generally been a success. The federal government this fall said that ACOs participating in the program saved Medicare almost $280 million in the MSSP's first full year, led by Memorial Hermann's nearly $60 million in savings.

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How hospitals are helping patients this 'Giving Tuesday'

December 2, 2014

Clare Rizer, The Daily Briefing

Fresh off the heels of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, today's "Giving Tuesday" is the philanthropic community's response to holiday consumerism, dedicated to charitable giving to hospitals and other not-for-profit organizations.

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The ACA has been live for a year. So why are millions still uninsured?

November 14, 2014

Clare Rizer, The Daily Briefing

Last year, more than seven million people purchased health insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) exchanges. At the same time, about six million Americans enrolled in states' Medicaid programs.

But despite this—and a mandate requiring people to obtain insurance or pay a penalty to the federal government—millions of Americans remain uninsured.

Filter the map by:

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Google's 'most important rule' for hiring people—and what health care can learn from it

Dan Diamond November 7, 2014

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

Every year, about 3,000,000 people apply to work at Google.

Only 7,000—just 0.2%—get the chance.

Google's hiring process has been much scrutinized, across all industries; we've written about it a few times in the Daily Briefing.

According to Google HR: The worst mistakes we seen on resumes

But for all of the focus on Google's brainteasers, Max Nisen writes at Quartz, "the most important rule it follows is remarkably simple: to never once compromise on a high hiring bar."

Nisen cites a speech by Laszlo Bock, Google's hiring chief. According to Bock,

    The number one thing [we learned] was to have an incredibly high bar for talent and never compromise. [Google's founders] Larry and Sergei figured out early on that there’s a reversion to the mean when you don’t.

    Let’s say you hire a great person, they’ll hire someone almost as good, who hires someone almost as good, and over time you’re just hiring average people.

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What the GOP's historic—and overlooked—statehouse wins mean for health care

November 6, 2014

Dan Diamond, Executive Editor

One big storyline coming out of Tuesday's election: That the results of the state governors' races could affect Medicaid expansion. (I know it's a big storyline, because I read it in the Daily Briefing.) 

In holdout states like Florida, Georgia, and Kansas, Republican governors either won election or were re-elected, making the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion less likely. 

But there's another, overlooked wrinkle in play: The GOP won a record number of seats in state legislatures, too.

As Libby Nelson writes for Vox: 

    Republicans now control state government outright in at least 24 states, one more than they did before the election. They control at least 66 of 99 state legislative chambers nationwide. And they cut the number of states with total Democratic control from 14 to seven — the lowest number since the Civil War.

What does that mean for health care? Quite a bit, actually.

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Obamacare year one: Where uninsured rates dropped the most

November 3, 2014

Emily Hatton, The Daily Briefing

It's been about a year since the Affordable Care Act's exchanges opened for business. And that year has brought a lot of change for the insurance markets.

As we prepare for the exchanges to reopen for their second year on Nov. 15, the Daily Briefing is taking a look back on 2014 and how it has affected each state. After culling through available data on uninsured rates, Medicaid enrollment, and commercial insurance exchanges, we've put together an interactive map to illustrate what has changed. (See more about how we made the map.)

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