June 14, 2013
By Sarah Kitchell*
Edited by Amy Kaufman
Hospitals Implement Programs to Combat Burnout among Caregivers
The Washington Post (6/10) reported on several hospitals' initiatives to reduce stress among caregivers in order to reduce "compassion fatigue" and prevent burnout. The article cited experts that said "preventing professional burnout is an essential aspect of promoting quality patient care." The article referenced several programs, including creative writing, arts, dancing, and exercise programs, which are designed to help hospital staff members "manage stress and develop coping skills." Caregivers in hospice, cancer care, and children's units are at a higher risk for work-related burnout, the article noted.
Study: Switching to Generic Drugs Could Save Medicare More Than $1 Billion
Kaiser Health News (6/11) reported on a study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that showed Medicare "missed an opportunity to save more than $1 billion by not addressing the varying costs and use of prescription drugs." The researchers compared the cost of drugs used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) patients with Medicare patients and found that Medicare enrollees "were up to three times more likely . . . to choose higher-cost brand name drugs over generic brands." The article noted that the VA implemented a policy that requires their physicians to try generics with patients before prescribing the more expensive, brand-name version.
Accountable Care Organizations Show Early Success in Reducing Costs
Bloomberg (6/12) reported that the Affordable Care Act's accountable care program has shown success as early reports show reduced emergency room visits and fewer patient readmissions. More than 250 hospitals and physician groups are participating as accountable care organizations in Medicare, under which the providers "share the financial risk of keeping patients healthy." The article cited a government report that noted the savings "may be as much as $1.9 billion from 2012 to 2015" and indicated that these savings are starting to be realized. One example the article cited was Hackensack University Medical Center, which saved approximately $16 million on care for more than 10,000 Medicare patients in 2012.
Medicaid Expansion Possible in Republican-led States of PA, MI,
Modern Healthcare (6/11) reported that several Republican-leaning states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona are considering Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, whereby the coverage threshold for Medicaid would be "raised to at least 133% of the federal poverty level." The article also noted that Iowa's Republican governor, who previously "vehemently opposed a Medicaid expansion, [recently] changed his mind" by proposing a revised version of the program. Republican governors in South Carolina and Arkansas have "flatly declined to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act," but are planning other state-led efforts to revamp their Medicaid programs. (Note: registration is required to access this article.)
*We would like to thank Sarah Kitchell, Esquire (McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Boston, MA), for providing this week's update. We would also like to thank Amy E. Kaufman, Esquire (Patton Boggs LLP, Washington, DC), for coordinating and editing the weekly update.