Milwaukee health rank drops, still compares favorably

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The Commonwealth Fund’s 2016 Scorecard on Local Health System Performance is out, and it gives interesting perspective on the state of healthcare in the U.S. Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest scored well overall, while most Southern states did not. Milwaukee’s ranking dropped 17 spots from the 2012, the year the first edition of the Scorecard was released, yet it still compares favorably to other major cities.

The latest Scorecard measured changes in the country’s 306 ...

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Drug Costs Continue To Rise

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Although the rate at which overall health costs are rising is historically low, employers, experts, and politicians are expressing alarm at the rising cost of prescription drugs. According to a recent Aon analysis, the average health care rate increase for mid-size and large companies in 2015 was 3.2%. Prescription drug costs, however, jumped by 10% last year according to a report by Truveris that was publicized by the Business Health Care Group.

In general, hospital expenses account ...

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Republicans Unveil ACA Alternatives

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As the Republican presidential primary race is heating up, the candidates’ plans to repeal and replace Obamacare are receiving increased attention.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced his plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, “The Day One Patient Freedom Plan,” at a factory in Minnesota on Tuesday. His plan includes a number of policy proposals that have long been popular among conservatives, including tort reform, selling health insurance across state lines, and Medicaid block grants for the states. One of ...

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National Uninsured Rate Falls Below 10%

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Two national surveys show that the percentage of people without health insurance has dropped steadily since the Affordable Care Act’s public insurance exchanges launched in 2013. A separate analysis focused on Wisconsin concluded that while the state now has fewer uninsured than it did in 2014 and a lower uninsured rate than the national average, progress has not been as great as hoped. These findings come at a time when all viable legal challenges to the law have been resolved ...

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Aetna Poised to Purchase Humana

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Aetna announced plans on Friday to make the largest acquisition ever in the history of the insurance industry. Aetna, the third largest health insurer by revenue, intends to acquire the nation’s fourth largest health insurance company, Humana, for more than $37 billion in stock, cash, and debt. A combined Aetna-Humana would bypass Anthem to become the second largest insurer by revenue and total membership. The deal would also establish Aetna as the largest provider ...

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Aurora Reports Higher Profits, New Projects

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Milwaukee’s Aurora Health Care saw its operating income and profits rise in 2014, beating expectations. This is largely due to the Affordable Care Act’s public exchanges and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s Medicaid expansion plan. In addition, the non-profit health system recently announced plans to make significant investments in a number of health facilities throughout Wisconsin.

As Aurora CFO Gail Hanson told the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Rich Kirchen, the gains in operating income were primarily driven by its strategic approach ...

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Healthcare Musings from Jim Mueller

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Baby boomers on Medicare, lower income consumers receiving subsidies for health insurance via the Affordable Care Act, and the expansion of Medicaid means the federal government is more involved in health care than ever.  These massive shifts in health care economics are not new topics for blogs or commentary; however, an article titled “Government Money Often Doesn’t Add Up” in the July 10, 2014 edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel compelled me to ask if this is the direction we ...

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New Insurance Options for Pregnant Women

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Low income pregnant women can now qualify for subsidized coverage on the public exchange and Medicaid.

Previously, Medicaid offered coverage to uninsured pregnant women until their children were born, but eligibility for Medicaid prevented a consumer from receiving a subsidy to purchase health insurance on the public exchange.

This changed when the United States Treasury Department ruled that Medicaid’s limited insurance during pregnancy for a low income woman did not qualify as Minimum Essential Coverage because it is temporary and states can ...

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Churning May Still Be A Problem Among the Newly Insured

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Losing or dropping health insurance coverage for unforeseen reasons is known as “churning.”  Churning affects the continuity of care between the doctor and patient, may lead to costly emergency room visits instead of less expensive primary care visits, and is an administrative nightmare for insurers.

The Affordable Care Act added another wrinkle.  Receipt of subsidies on the federal exchange is dependent on household income and family size.  Family circumstances such as a birth, divorce, or relocation could affect subsidy eligibility.  Coverage ...

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