Recap of MA Election and Health Reform Debate October 1st

On October 1st BYHP and SQHC co-hosted an event surrounding changing healthcare policy and thebu and byhp logo MA elections.

The expert panelists included, Marther Bebinger, a WBUR health reporter, Dr. William Hsiao, Professor of Economics at Harvard School of Public Health, Brain Rosman, Research Director at Health Care for All, and Dr. Alan Sager, Professor of Policy and Management at Boston University.

The conversation ranged from ACA Waivers, integration of behavioral health into primary care, single payer and implications, the recent proposed Partners deal and what the anticipated hot button health care political issues will be next year. To hear the debate click on the movie below.

SQHC / BYHP MA ELECTIONS AND POLICY OCT 1 EVENT

MA Election and Health Care Policy

Join Students for Quality Health Care and Boston Young Health Professionals for a moderated panel focused on the potential impact of this fall’s MA election on the future of healthcare in the commonwealth.

bu and byhp logo
When: Wednesday, October 1st from 5:30 – 8:30 pm

Where: Boston University’s school of medicine, Baskt Auditorium
Tickets: Free for BU and BYHP members. The promotional code to register is BYHP@BUSPH

To register visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-election-and-healthcare-in-massachusetts-tickets-12789474663

For questions please Questions? Email sqhc@bu.edu

IHI Tour!

The long awaited IHI tour is here!

We’re very excited to be touring at the Institute for Healtcare Improvement Headquarter on Sept 27th!  It will be a great opportunity for the Boston University communities to meet the staff, learn about the quality improvement initatives at the facility, and network with the BU chapter members over some delicious grub in the Cambridge area afterward.  Come and prepare to be innovated!

BUSPH, BUSM, and SMG students are all welcome to join!  Please take a moment to RVSP to the event if you’re interested, thanks! https://ihitour.eventbrite.com/

Institute for Healthcare Improvement Website http://www.ihi.org/Pages/default.aspx

Note: We’ll meet at Harvard Square at 9:50 am and then walk together to IHI or you may choose to meet at IHI if it’s more convenient.

Where insurance is lacking…

You Think You Know

At the end of August, the US Census released a series of maps of the United States that are incredibly important for the future of health reform. Two are particularly noteworthy

The first map details by county level the % of uninsured adults living at or below 138% of the federal poverty level (FPL). The second map details by county the % of uninsured adults living at or below 400% FPL.

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Why are these maps so important? The first map is significant because it highlights the areas that could most benefit from Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which loosened eligibility criteria for Medicaid to those living at or under 138% of the FPL. The second map illustrates the areas that could most benefit from insurance premium subsidies on the state-based insurance exchanges.

You’ll notice a pattern with both of these maps, in that areas in the Northeast and…

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Physicians: ready to lead on curbing health care costs?

physicians are driving the health care cost train… and they need to be actively involved to slow it down

You Think You Know

The biggest domestic policy challenge facing the United States is not education, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, or the defense budget.  No folks, the greatest challenge is controlling health care costs – a fight that our country has overall been losing, and one that is having devastating effects.  The increasing cost of health care leads to reduced funding for education – thereby raising the costs of tuition, particularly at public colleges and universities, and increasing the debt load carried by graduating students.  The wages of our middle class citizens – the people this country was supposedly built by – are continually strained by the rising costs of insurance premiums and health care, reducing take home pay and economic activity.  Health care consumed nearly 18% of GDP and accounts for the largest part of the federal budget, making it one of the drivers of our nation’s long term debt.

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the high price… of normal saline!?

how simple salt water can become so expensive…

You Think You Know

This is a great piece from the New York Times about the high price that hospitals charge patients for normal saline.  Yes, normal saline – the highly complicated combination of sodium chloride and dihydrogen monoxide.  Better known as salt and water.

One-liter IV bags normally contain nine grams of salt, less than two teaspoons. Much of it comes from a major Morton Salt operation in Rittman, Ohio, which uses a subterranean salt deposit formed millions of years ago. The water is local to places like Round Lake, Ill., or Rocky Mount, N.C., where Baxter and Hospira, respectively, run their biggest automated production plants under sterility standards set by the Food and Drug Administration.

Yup… Morton salt, which most of us have in the kitchen at home, and water – you know, that stuff that comes out of the faucet.  The cost to produce a “bag” (one liter or just over…

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two Americas and health care

The New York Times recently published a story about how the location in which a person lives dramatically affects their ability to move up in life.  Health and health care experts have known for years that location is vitally important to determining a person’s health as well as the quality of health care they received.

Dr David Blumenthal reports that we are not one uniform United States when it comes to the quality of our health care but rather two distinct countries, with persistent geographic differences in people’s access to affordable, high-quality health care.  Certain portions of the country do well while other perform poorly.

Need some examples?  Well try this on for size.  The proportion of adults with health insurance in the leading regions is more than 50% higher than in lagging areas.  And the rate of potentially preventable mortality (death) in the best regions is 1/3 that in the worst.

two americas health care systems

The individual mandate penalties

Being uninsured might cost your more than just better access to health care…

You Think You Know

If you’re one of the people out there planning to give President Obama’s health reform law the middle finger by not purchasing health insurance, that decision could cost you.

To encourage people to sign up for health insurance, the Affordable Care Act carries a penalty (which the Supreme Court officially dubbed a tax) for those who remain uninsured.  Those penalties start out small but could rack up to hundred if not thousands of dollars.  Up to 6 million people could be slapped with the fine by 2016, generating nearly $7 billion of revenue for the federal government according to the Congressional Budget Office.

So how does it work exactly?  Adults who are uninsured (single or in families) will pay the greater of two fees, either a flat fee or a percentage of their income.  The penalties are pro-rated, so if you gain or lose coverage for part of the year…

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nurse-patient ratios

The largest union representing nurses in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Nursing Association (MNA), is currently attempting to add a ballot initiative that would set limits on the number of patients that can be assigned to a nurse at any one time.  Hospitals would also have to adjust nurses’ patient assignments based on how sick those patients are.  MNA representatives believe that mandatory nurse-patient ratios are critical to improving the quality of healthcare by reducing errors, serious complications, and preventable readmissions.

Several states have laws that require hospitals to abide by specific nurse-patient ratios in different care areas, with California probably the most well known (see below).  Currently, Massachusetts does not have a law establishing the max number of patients a nurse can care for at any one time, nor are hospitals required to adjust staffing levels based on patient acuity.

map_StaffingPlansRatios

The measure pits the MNA against the powerful Massachusetts Hospital Association, which contends that mandates on nurse-staffing ratios are ineffective and a poor fit for quality care.  Mandatory nurse-patient ratios, according to MHA, do not allow for flexibility.  They’re also expensive, running counter to the recently passed healthcare cost-containment bill in Massachusetts

If passed, the ballot initiative would require one nurse for every four patients in medical/surgical units, one nurse for up to three patients in emergency departments, and a maximum of two patients per nurse in intensive care units.  Interestingly, the language in the ballot measure is similar to bills that have previously failed to obtain approval in the state Legislature.

What are your thoughts about mandatory nurse-patient ratios?