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- callcenter972 on Call Center Metrics Reporting Should Be Robust and Actionable
- Sione Ayers on Diagnosing the ObamaCare Glitches: Who Farted and Is Pointing at the Dog?
- Tim Leary on New ACO Reg has some zingers
- Lisa Jefferson on What Happens to Medicare/Medicaid If There’s a Government Shutdown?
- Fred Hamlin on Big News: A Health Care Cost Indicator Went *DOWN*. AGAIN!
Topic: Policy & Health Reform
Zombie: (a) a will-less and speechless human only capable of automatic movement who is held to have died and been reanimated. (b) The Sustainable Growth Rate.
Since the October 1 launch of the ObamaCare health insurance exchanges/marketplaces, there’s been a growing din over the field conduct of navigators and insurance agents, in the process of enrolling eligibles on behalf of the exchanges or the health plans participating in them. Meanwhile, the associations backing brokers are putting pressure on the Obama administration, insisting that brokers should be more involved in the enrollment process. Add a regulatory infrastructure that is lax – at best – when it comes to training and enforcement … does anyone else have a sense of déjà vu? It’s the market conduct growing pains of the Part D inception all over again. There is no doubt that some of the “navigators and agents gone wild” stories out there are simply anecdotal rumor mill reports coming from enterprising local reporters, or are “stings” by conservative bloggers and activists scoring cheap anti-reform points.
Of the many, many things I gave thanks for last week, there was Jeffrey Zients, the White House management guru brought in to sort out the mess that is the launch of ObamaCare, and for his geek squad working feverishly on the fixes. His long-awaited progress report was released on Sunday, and it’s amazingly sanguine for a government document. Knowing big IT projects as we do, it’s impressive how far the fix team has gotten in a matter of weeks, much of it in consumer-facing functionality on the “front end” of the website and the enrollment process. What remains to be seen is what can be done this month on the crucial “back end” functions that connect to insurance companies participating in the exchanges — the functions for which ObamaCare will ultimately be judged when coverage kicks off on January 1, and the true test for Mr. Zients and his geeks.
The National Coalition on Health Care (a nonprofit organization representing 80 organizations who support comprehensive health system change) and the Partnership for the Future of Medicare (a bipartisan organization supporting the long-term security of Medicare) have a new lobbying message – don’t kill the golden goose. Recognizing the upcoming budget battles this year and next, these organizations presented their lobbying strategy which will feature Medicare Advantage plans as the model for a sustainable Medicare program. John Rother from the National Coalition, Lanhee Chen from Stanford University, and Ken Thorpe from Emory University highlighted the innovations in Medicare Advantage plans that should serve as the model for reforming Medicare fee-for-service. These innovative programs focus on beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions that drive Medicare costs and include care coordination, disease management, team-based care, transitional care, medication management, prevention, health coaching, and evidence based lifestyle programs. They argued that Medicare Advantage plans are already facing a 6.7 percent payment reduction in 2014 and that any further cuts will lead to threats to these innovative initiatives that should be encouraged and not penalized. They discussed research studies showing that MA plans had higher quality scores in 9 of 11 HEDIS measures compared to FFS, 13 – 20 percent lower readmission rates, lower hospital costs including a spillover effect to the overall health system in areas with high MA enrollment, and lower mortality rates.
Here we are on November 15th one day after President Obama unexpectedly delayed a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, which allows insurance companies to continue, for one year, offering health care plans that fall short of the requirements as outlined in the ACA . The next day our “stewards of national well being” elected to pass a bill in the House of Representatives which is intended to allow insurance companies to sell individual health coverage to anyone who wants it, irrespective of any required standards in the ACA. As expected, the vote was justified on the grounds that the House is concerned that people will be left without health insurance under the current law, no consideration at all, wink wink , was given to 2014 reelection concerns.
So, just hours from national debt default last night, a deal was struck to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. Our long national nightmare is over…at least until January 15, when this entire calamity could be repeated by battered ObamaCare dead-enders. It’s a crisis averted for Medicare and Medicaid, but not so for ObamaCare.
It’s been a rough couple weeks for the launch of ObamaCare. The only thing that’s kept the Federal exchange’s woes off Page 1 this week has been the continuing dysfunction on the Hill. Healthcare.gov traffic will wane, bugs can be recoded and dysfunctional processes redesigned pretty quickly, so we haven’t seen anything fatal thus far, unless we’re still having these problems a week away from the now-all-important effective date of January 1. But the sheer volume of Weeks 1 and 2, with CMS working on a shoestring with a night-shift staff in the middle of a government shutdown, and the hardest part of ObamaCare enrollment to come, has major implications for health plan operations in just a matter of weeks.