QSEHRA Revives Employer Payment Plans For 2017

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On December 13, 2016, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law. Called “the most important bill of the year,” the bipartisan Act makes changes to a wide range of healthcare issues. These include allocating billions for cancer research, easing the FDA drug approval process, and allowing doctors to test medical devices without a patient’s informed consent in certain situations. One item that will be of interest to finance and human resource professionals at small employers ...

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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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Madison area providers explore partnerships

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Two health systems and their affiliated insurance companies are exploring a strategic partnership in Wisconsin. This is yet another example of the trend of consolidation among health care providers and insurance companies.

UW Health and UnityPoint Health announced two non-binding letters of intent regarding a future joint operating agreement last month. One letter describes a plan to “create an integrated clinical enterprise with a shared strategic direction.” The second letter describes a possible combination of ...

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What do you know about healthcare spending?

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Healthcare spending has been a hot topic for years, but have you ever wondered what you really know?

MedPage Today recently sponsored a quick five question survey that provides a great fact-check for five important issues. The survey was designed by Paul Hughes-Cromwick, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Health Spending at the Altarum Institute, a nonprofit health systems research and consulting organization headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The survey asks five questions about total U.S. healthcare spending, ...

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New Provider-Carrier Partnerships Expand Across Wisconsin

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The first four months of 2016 have already seen three new partnerships announced between Wisconsin health systems and insurance companies. Looking down the road, it appears that provider-led health plans may soon become a major force in Wisconsin health insurance.

In January, Aspirus and WPS Health Solutions announced that they are forming a new health insurance company in north-central Wisconsin that will be called Aspirus Arise Health Plan of Wisconsin. In April, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue ...

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Is Retail Medicine Really a Smart Choice?

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Smart Choice MRI and ThedaCare announced this month that the Appleton-based health system is investing $3 million in the Mequon-based stand-alone MRI provider. In the announcement, ThedaCare’s senior vice president of Systems of Care Support, Keith Livingston, described the partnership as a collaboration with a competitor that is “consistent with our need to learn how to better meet consumers’ needs in the evolving retail health marketplace.” Livingston also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “[h]ealth care ...

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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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ThedaCare to Leave Network Health

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ThedaCare announced last week that it will leave Network Health on December 31, 2016. The Appleton-based health system first informed the Menasha-based health insurer last month that it would not continue the five year partnership that was due to expire at the end of July. The new extension will give Network Health employer groups and members extra time to adapt to the change, but will still result in significant disruption in the Northeast Wisconsin health insurance market.

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Spending deal would delay Cadillac Tax

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Earlier this month, the Senate approved a bill to repeal many core elements of Obamacare, including the “Cadillac tax” on high cost health plans. At the time the vote was seen as a symbolic act because the bill’s supporters lacked the votes necessary to overcome President Obama’s veto. Although Senate Democrats are opposed to repealing the President’s health reform law, there is bi-partisan support for modifying, delaying, or eliminating the Cadillac tax. Under a Continue Reading →

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PACE Act Passage Elicits Praise and Frustration

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Earlier this month, President Obama signed the bipartisan PACE Act to stop the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from changing rules that apply to employers with between 51 and 99 employees. This is important both as a rare example of bipartisan cooperation to reform Obamacare, as well as a preservation of the status quo for employers in this mid-market segment. The Act has been praised by insurance brokers and business groups, but has ...

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