July 10, 2013

Employer Mandate Delay Casts Doubt On ACA Implementation

The following articles are from NAHU Newswire:

Leading the News

Employer Mandate Delay Casts Doubt On ACA Implementation.

Fallout from last week’s announcement that the Obama Administration planned to delay the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate until 2015 continues. Many national outlets, some offering multiple reports, cover several aspects of the delay. Beyond the news that Republicans signaled Tuesday they would seek to capitalize on the delay in attempts to further undermine the law, many sources report that the delay is raising questions, albeit largely from Republicans, about the viability of the law.

First, the Wall Street Journal (7/10, A1, Meckler, Dooren, Nicholas, Subscription Publication), in a front-page article titled, “Delay in Big-Employer Requirement Raises Questions About Administration’s Ability to Implement Overall Policy,” reports that although the White House claimed it was delaying the employer mandate because business groups had concerns about the paperwork they are required to submit in order to fulfill their requirements, in actuality, the delay was forced on the Administration because it had not yet prepared key regulations, nor was the IRS computer system needed to coordinate the implementation of the mandate ready to be put to the test.

And the AP (7/10, Espo) reports that Republicans claim that President has engaged in a pattern of “exceeding his constitutional authority for the benefit of special interests, most recently by delaying” the employer mandate. On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky accused the President of repeatedly displaying an “indifference to the rule of law.” McConnell said, “He did it with immigration. He did it with welfare work requirements. And he did it with the NLRB [recess appointments]. .. And now he’s doing it again with his own signature health care law.”

The National Journal (7/10, Sanger-Katz, Subscription Publication) reports that the White House “has known for months” that there would be snags in the Affordable Care Act’s implementation, noting that “as far back as March, a top IT official at the Department of Health and Human Services said the department’s current ambition for the law’s new online insurance marketplaces was that they not be ‘a Third-World experience.’”

However, in a bit of positive news about the delay, on its front page, the New York Times (7/10, A1, Goodnough, Subscription Publication) profiles restaurant owners who are “thrilled” with the extra time to decide how to handle the mandate, whether by laying off workers, or choosing to either pay the penalty or employees insurance. The article notes that “people who were likely to gain coverage through their employers next year..must now either pay the tax penalty — 1 percent of their household’s taxable income or $95 per adult in the household, whichever is greater, in 2014 — or buy their own insurance through newly created markets in their states known as exchanges.”

Other reports on various aspects of the delay include those out of CQ (7/10, Reichard, Subscription Publication), another piece from CQ (7/10, Bunis, Subscription Publication), the Houston Chronicle (7/10) “Texas on the Potomac” blog, and Bloomberg BNA (7/10, Olsen).

GOP Probing Employer Mandate Delay. Though in the long-term the GOP would like to completely repeal the ACA, or at least strip its key parts, in the short-term the party is settling for a series of investigations into the delays the Obama Administration has recently announced. The Hill (7/10, Viebeck) “Healthwatch” blog reports that the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight “will convene next Thursday to ask why the administration” delayed the ACA employer mandate. This “will follow a similar hearing this Wednesday by the Ways and Means Health subcommittee.”

CQ (7/10, Ethridge, Subscription Publication) reports that the House Energy and Commerce Committee has “expanded their investigation” into the recently announced delays to the Affordable Care Act, adding inquiries about the verification postponement to the probe into the employer mandate delay. In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Republicans on the Committee wrote, “The decision not to verify an exchange applicant’s self-reported statements about household income and insurance status is exacerbated by scant oversight of the eligibility determination to ensure that the ‘attestations’ are accurate.”

The Hill (7/10, Baker) “Healthwatch” blog reports that in addition to the hearings, the GOP has “demanded more information” about the delay from the President.

Also reporting on the GOP probe into the delays are the Tulsa (OK) World (7/10, Canfield), the Houston Chronicle  (7/10) “Health Zone” blog and the Atlanta (GA) Business Chronicle (7/10, Hoover, Subscription Publication).


Legislation and Policy

White House Expanding ACA Enrollment Campaign.

The Washington Post  (7/10, Eilperin) reports that the Obama Administration is “dramatically expanding” its campaign to push the Affordable Care Act, “formulating a public-relations strategy and reaching out to key lawmakers.” This effort, the article explains, “comes as Republican leaders signal their intent to focus on the law’s implementation, and any problems it encounters, in their quest to retake the Senate and maintain their House advantage in 2014.” As part of their campaign to highlight the law’s benefits, the article notes that on Wednesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “is scheduled to outline how the government will reach out to uninsured Americans through community health centers.”

Given Employer Mandate Delay, GOP Seeks To Postpone Individual Mandate.

On Tuesday, House Republicans made it clear that they would not stop in their aim to repeal the Affordable Care Act, capitalizing on the recent delay of the law’s employer mandate to set up a series of votes that could postpone other key provisions, namely the critically-important individual mandate. The new strategy, as laid out by party leaders, is to show that in delaying penalties to employers, but not individuals, the White House values “big business” over uninsured Americans.

The New York Times  (7/10, Weisman, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports that House Republicans, reacting to the Obama Administration’s one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, are now calling for a similar postponement of the law’s individual mandate. Republicans are planning a series of votes to bring down the law, “the first to codify the one-year delay on the employer mandate, then another to demand a delay on the individual mandate.” As House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) put it, “Is it fair for the president of the United States to give American businesses an exemption from his health care law’s mandates, without giving the same exemption to the rest of America? Hell no, it’s not fair.”

The Wall Street Journal  (7/10, Dooren, Boles) reports that at a press conference Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) confirmed that the GOP would seek a repeal of the individual mandate in the House, saying, “I never thought I’d see the day when the president, the White House came down on the side of big business but left the American people out in the cold as far as this health-care mandate is concerned.”

Reuters  (7/10, Morgan) reports that in a letter to Obama, Speaker Boehner and ten other House leaders wrote, “Please … provide to Congress your justification for only delaying the employer mandate at this time and not the new mandate on individuals and families. We agree with you that the burden was overwhelming for employers, but we also believe American families need the same relief.”

Politico  (7/10, Everett) notes that Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) has vowed to propose the individual mandate delay in the upper chamber.

In response, The AP  (7/10, Alonso-Zaldivar) reports that on Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted that the Administration “has no intention of delaying the individual mandate” and noted that the ACA “provides financial aid to low-income Americans…so that people facing financial hardships aren’t punished for going without coverage.”

Poll Finds Nearly Half Of Americans Support Delaying Individual Mandate. The Washington Times  (7/10) “Inside Politics” blog reports that according to a new survey out of HealthPocket, “about four in 10 Americans think the individual mandate in President Obama’s health-care law should be delayed.” Further, “only 12 percent of respondents said the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that individuals acquire health insurance should start as planned in 2014.”

The Hill  (7/10, Viebeck) “Healthwatch” blog also reports on this poll, noting that “supporters of delaying the individual mandate outnumbered opponents more than three-to-one.”

Hospital Industry Group Addresses Discount-Drug Program Criticisms.

CQ  (7/10, Adams, Subscription Publication) reports hospitals that participate in the 340B discount drug program released a 27-page report  (pdf) Tuesday, defending their industry “against claims that the providers are profiting from the lower costs instead of helping poor people get the medication they need.” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and other lawmakers assert “that instead of giving the discounted drugs to poor patients, some hospitals are selling them at higher prices to patients who are covered by Medicare or private insurance.” But in their report entitled, “Setting the Record Straight on 340B: A Response to Critics,” the Safety Net Hospitals for Pharmaceutical Access group seeks to refute 18 particular complaints made over the past year by “Grassley, other lawmakers and the drug companies” that participated in the discount program.

Modern Healthcare  (7/10, Lee, Subscription Publication) adds that the SNHPA “said Tuesday that the program is operating as Congress” intended. In a statement announcing the report, SNHPA President and CEO Ted Slafsky said, “Without the 340B program, many safety net hospitals would have to limit services or even close their pharmacy doors.” In their report, the trade group, which “represents more than half” of the hospitals participating in the 340B program, also made recommendations that included “increased transparency of 340b prices and how hospitals use 340b savings, audits of drug manufacturers and more scrutiny of contract pharmacies that participate in the program.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  (7/10, Toland) also covers the story.

USA Today Slams Republicans For Keeping Public In The Dark About ACA.

USA Today  (7/9, Board), in an editorial titled, “GOP Poisons ObamaCare, Then Claims It’s Sick,” accuses Congressional Republicans, after “having lost in Congress and in court,” of “using the most cynical of tactics: trying to make the [ACA] fail,” despite the “human misery that will result.” In particular, USA Today objects to efforts by Republicans to “keep the public ignorant about how to use the health care exchanges” by pressuring professional sports leagues not cooperate with Administration marketing efforts.

Senate Committee Approves Bill Increasing Health Spending.

The Hill  (7/10, Wasson) “On the Money” blog reports that “a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a 2014 spending bill for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education on Tuesday that spent 25 percent more than the House is planning to spend.” On top of that, the bill “also fully funds the implementation of ObamaCare, including $5.2 billion for program management at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an increase from the $3.9 billion enacted in 2013 before sequestration.” The full committee will vote on the bill Thursday.

CQ  (7/10, Ethridge, Smith, Subscription Publication) calls the bill “controversial” and “risky.” The article also notes that the draft includes “significant increases for the National Institutes of Health.” Under the bill, the NIH “would get nearly $31 billion for fiscal 2014, an increase of $307 million from the fiscal 2013 enacted level.”

ACA Final Rule Includes Medicaid Eligibility Guidelines For Hospitals.

Modern Healthcare  (7/10, Daly, Subscription Publication) reports that hospitals expecting an increase in Medicaid patients once the Affordable Care Act’s expansion kicks in next year “recently were given some new regulatory tools to deal with the financial fallout.” An HHS rule released last Friday “implemented provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that allow hospitals to presume some uninsured patients are eligible for Medicaid and then bill their state program for the cost of their care.” These rules specify that “states cannot hold hospitals liable for the cost of care for patients they incorrectly assumed were Medicaid-eligible.”

Healy: ACA Software Glitch Means Young Smokers May Pay Higher Premiums.

In the Los Angeles Times  (7/10), columnist Jon Healy writes that the Obama Administration said Tuesday that a “glitch in its software for evaluating insurance plans will prevent insurers from imposing as big a gap as they may have wanted between the premiums for younger and older smokers.” This means some older smokers may be charged less than insurers have planned, or younger smokers will be charged more. Healy notes the glitch is likely only temporary, and it “applies only to the market for individual insurance policies. And it may not affect some of the states running their own insurance exchanges, although it apparently will affect California.”

On its website, MSNBC  (7/9, Vazquez) explains the error came to light “when implementing two provisions: one which prohibits insurance companies from charging older customers more than three times what they charge their youngest adults in the same insurance pool and another that would allow insurance providers to charge up to 50% more in their premiums for smokers.” Smokers who attempt to get health insurance after the glitch is fixed may see up to a 50% increase in premiums, which could keep high-risk and aging applicants away.

Modern Healthcare  (7/9, Selvam, Subscription Publication) also reports on this story, noting that it may take up to a year to fix the glitch.

Study: Some Medicaid Patients May Be Shut Out Of Key ACA Services.

In continuing coverage, Politico  (7/9, Millman) reports, “As millions of low-income adults gain access in just a few months to Medicaid coverage under Obamacare, those already in the program could be shut out of some of the key preventive services included in the law… and the new enrollees could have a hard time actually getting a doctor.” In two Health Affairs studies published Monday, researchers revealed that the ACA “requires most insurance plans to cover a set of preventive services, like cholesterol tests and mammograms, without cost-sharing.” The study noted that the “requirement extends to coverage for newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries in states that choose to expand their programs.”

Kaiser Health News  (7/9, Vestal) also reports on the story.

ACA Offers Two Types Of Financial Assistance For Exchanges.

The Washington Post  (7/10, Andrews) reports on the two types of financial assistance the Affordable Care Act offers for people who buy insurance through exchanges. First, most often discussed, are the tax credits for a plan’s monthly premium, available to “people with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level.” The second type is known as a cost-sharing subsidy, which “can substantially reduce the deductibles, copayments, coinsurance and total out-of-pocket spending limits for people with incomes up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level.”

Study: Employees Often Choose Lower-Cost Health Plans.

According to a study released Tuesday, “sixty percent of employees allowed to choose between a traditional employer-sponsored health insurance plan and a cheaper, high-deductible or limited network plan opted for the lower prices,” USA Today  (7/10, Kennedy) reports. Alan Cohen, chief strategy officer of Liazon, “which provides health exchanges to private employees,” indicated that “the data from 2,503 employees in New York and New Jersey showed that 80% of people chose a plan other than their employer’s traditional offering, even if the costs remained the same to the employee.” Cohen stated: “Most companies were offering high-cost plans and were paying for those plans assuming that’s what employees wanted, but when people see the real costs of these plans, they try to save money.” He concluded: “With ACOs, they’re barking up the right tree.”

HHS Limits Penalties Insurers Can Levy On Smokers Under ACA.

In continuing coverage, CQ  (7/10, Bunis, Subscription Publication) reports that the latest delay to the Affordable Care Act is on insurers’ ability to “levy huge surcharges for some smokers,” put off at least a year. This smokers’ penalty has been delayed because of a “system limitation” as HHS put it in a question-and-answer document issued June 28. As the article explains, “insurers can still charge higher rates to smokers,” but “the penalties have to be in the 3-to-1 proportion as the age rating bands.”


Public Health and Private Health Care Systems

Proposed Medicare Payment Schedule Includes Reporting Harmonization.

Modern Healthcare  (7/10, Conn, Subscription Publication) reports that the 652-page proposed Medicare Physician Payment Schedule CMS released Monday includes attempts to harmonize reporting rules for providers. According to the article, “the most prominent health information technology program affected by the proposed new rule is the federal EHR incentive payment program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”

Medicaid Expansion Battles Continue Across US.

Medicaid expansion coverage is relatively light today, with Governors in Michigan and Ohio receiving the most significant mentions. Both Republicans are pushing against members of their own party to expand the program. Missouri, Arkansas, and both Dakotas each see a handful of reports.

Snyder Continues To Lobby For Medicaid Expansion In Michigan. The AP  (7/10) reports, “Gov. Rick Snyder took his campaign for expanded Medicaid coverage in Michigan to the Upper Peninsula on Tuesday, saying it’s essential to extend care to hundreds of thousands of uninsured residents and take the pressure off overworked emergency rooms.” Snyder “met with officials at Marquette General Hospital” as part of a tour of “the state to make his case and to pressure members of his party in the Senate to act.”

Similarly, the Detroit News  (7/10, Daniels) reports, “Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley helped Gov. Rick Snyder continue his statewide tour to push for” Medicaid expansion by discussing “the Snyder administration’s commitment to improving the state’s finances and to small business owners to about 200 members of the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber at Crystal Gardens.” During the event, Calley also went “into details about why they should support legislation that would expand eligibility for government-provided health insurance to 320,000 low-income adults next year.”

MLive (7/10, Klug) and Michigan Public Radio  (7/10, Brush) also report on the story.

Kasich Rallies In Support Of Medicaid Expansion In Ohio. On Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers in Ohio “urged ‘meaningful’ action from Republican Gov. Kasich on Medicaid expansion, as the governor rallied a group of supportive residents to increase pressure on their representatives to support extended health coverage,” the AP  (7/10) reports. Although “both Kasich and Democrats favor Medicaid expansion, they appeared split Tuesday over how to accomplish it.”

On its “Inside Politics” blog, the Washington Times  (7/10, Howell) reports that, “despite Mr. Kasich’s support for the expansion, the GOP-led legislature declined to play along in its state budget plans. Protesters are hoping lawmakers will change their minds.”

Noting Kasich’s rally, the Columbus (OH) Dispatch  (7/10, Candisky) reports that Ohio House Speaker William G. Batchelder (R-Medina) “has said lawmakers this fall could vote on Medicaid ‘reforms’ which presumably would include expansion.”

The Dayton (OH) Daily News  (7/10, Tobias) and Toledo (OH) Blade  (7/10, Provance) also report on the story.

Missouri Senate Panel Hears Testimony On Medicaid Expansion. As a Missouri “Senate panel began taking public testimony Tuesday on ways to improve” Medicaid, “advocates for the mentally and physically ill urged lawmakers” to expand the program, the Kansas City (MO) Star  (7/10) reports. The calls for expansion is “a familiar one” that has been “embraced by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon but repeatedly rejected by the Republican-led General Assembly during its annual session that ended in May.” Although Republicans on the Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation and Reform “stressed… that they were looking for ways to make the Medicaid program better, not necessarily larger,” some of those who testified “ranked a Medicaid expansion among the most necessary improvements because it would decrease the number of uninsured and thus could reduce the tendency of medical providers to shift costs to insured patients.”

Similarly, the St. Louis Beacon  (7/10) reports, “Gov. Jay Nixon told reporters he was ‘hopeful’ that House and Senate committees studying changes to the state’s Medicaid program would result in legislative action next year.”

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Business Journal  (7/10, Subscription Publication) reports, “The 36 Missouri residents serving on a House Medicaid panel won’t receive any compensation for their work on the committee, but the lawmakers on the panel will get paid.” According to Missouri Rep. Noel Torpey (R-Independence), “chairman of the committee, only the 14 elected officials on the panel will be reimbursed for their costs for traveling to meetings, including mileage and hotel bills.”

North Dakota Official Updates Lawmakers On Medicaid Expansion Efforts. According to North Dakota Department of Human Services director Maggie Anderson, DHS “will put out a request early next month for proposals from private insurers to expand Medicaid services,” the Bismarck (ND) Tribune  (7/10, Smith) reports. Before the North Dakota Legislature’s interim Health Care Reform Review Committee on Tuesday, Anderson updated officials “about the progress of Medicaid expansion,” claiming: “We expect to release that request for proposals no later than early August.” She told lawmakers that “the expansion will be implemented either by having it bid through private insurance providers or by allowing people to enroll in the federal health insurance exchange set up under the Affordable Health Care Act.”

The Dickinson (ND) Press (7/10, Jerke) also reports on the story.

Arkansas Senator Calls For Special Session To Repeal Medicaid Expansion Plan. The Arkansas Democrat Gazette  (7/9) reports that Arkansas Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest) asked Gov. Mike Beebe to call a special session to repeal the Medicaid expansion plan passed by the legislature earlier this year. King’s push for a special session came after the White House announcement last week that it was delaying the ACA employer mandate. In a statement, King claimed that the delay “underscores the need for a special session to fix Arkansas’s out-of-control health-care budget.” The Northwest Arkansas Online  (7/10, Lesnick) also reports.

Healthcare Policy Advocate Gives Presentation On Medicaid Expansion In South Dakota. According to Joy Smolnisky, director of the South Dakota Budget and Policy Project, “gave a presentation to inform people about the impact of approving or not approving Medicaid expansion Tuesday afternoon at the Aberdeen Development Corporation Smart Center in Aberdeen,” the Aberdeen (SD) News  (7/9, Feldman) reports. During her presentation, Smolnisky noted that, “if South Dakota does not approve Medicaid expansion, thousands of residents below the federal poverty line won’t receive financial aid to receive health care.” However, “if the Medicaid expansion is approved, it will cost South Dakota millions of dollars in the years to come.”

UnitedHealthcare To Invest $50 Billion In Accountable Care Over Next Five Years.

Forbes  (7/10, Japsen) reports that UnitedHealth Group (UNH), “the nation’s largest health insurance company, says it will more than double to $50 billion annually the value of contracts it has with doctors and hospitals based on quality and cost efficiency measures within five years.” The article calls the move “a significant step by those paying for health care in the U.S. to move further away from fee-for-service medicine that rewards treating illness to a system that pays doctors and hospitals to keep patients healthy.” The piece adds that the effort “is gaining momentum thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, which encourages paying providers to care for patients via value-based models like accountable care as a way to improve quality and save money.”

Iowa Health Care Association Meets With Lawmakers Over Medicaid Rules.

“Advocates for Iowa seniors will ask state legislators today to restrict nursing homes’ use of taxpayer money to pay for legal fees and lobbying,” the Des Moines (IA) Register  (7/9, Kauffman) reports. The Iowa Health Care Association met with the Iowa Legislature’s administrative rules review committee yesterday “to consider that issue and a new rule that could make it easier for homes to seek Medicaid reimbursement for trade-association dues that help fund the industry’s main lobbying organization.” The Register notes that the Iowa Health Care Association “has not submitted any comments on the proposed changes,” and executive director Steve Ackerson “did not return calls to his office Monday.”

Health Policy Official Testifies About Medicaid Choice At House Hearing.

Before a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on Medicaid Monday, Tarren Bragdon, chief executive of Foundation for Government Accountability, revealed that states such as Kansas, Louisiana, and Florida “are increasingly moving to privatized managed care programs for their Medicaid recipients as state lawmakers look to change the safety-net system despite objections from naysayers,” MedPage Today  (7/10, Pittman) reports. According to Bragdon, “privatized plans include traditional Medicaid managed care programs and provider-driven plans.” Highlighting Florida, which “offered 13 plans and 31 benefit packages in its five-county pilot program,” Bragdon stated: “Patients like this choice, with 70% to 80% of Medicaid patients proactively choosing the plan rather than being automatically assigned to one.” Currently, North Carolina, Texas, and Utah are considering similar moves.

Survey Finds Most Michigan Medicaid Patients Are Satisfied With Their Coverage.

According to a new survey by the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation, “Medicaid patients are the most satisfied with their health coverage and those with individual health insurance are the least satisfied,” the Crain’s Detroit Business  (7/9) reports. The study, which was conducted with the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University, “polled 1,018 insured adults” about “their satisfaction and experience with their health insurance, based on whether they had Medicaid, Medicare, employer-sponsored or individually purchased coverage.”

Medscape (7/10) also reports on the story.

McCrory Visits Medicaid Claims Call Center In North Carolina.

The AP (7/9) reports that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory “has taken a first-hand look at” NCTracks, the state’s “new Medicaid claims billing system.” On Tuesday, McCrory and North Carolina Health and Human Service Secretary Aldona Wos “visited the operations and call centers for the vendor hired to build and run the computer network,” which went live on July 1.

Nixon Signs Bill That May Ease Dentists’ Access To Medicaid Patients.

In continuing coverage, the Kansas City (MO) Business Journal  (7/9, Pfannenstiel, Subscription Publication) reports, “Gov. Jay Nixon signed a bill Monday that could make it easier for Missouri dentists to treat Medicaid patients.” Noting that, “currently, 54 of the state’s 114 counties use the Missouri HealthNet Managed Care program to administer to Medicaid patients,” Patrick Baker, legislative and regulatory director for the Missouri Dental Association, claimed that the “inconsistency creates lots of red tape for Missouri dentists who see Medicaid patients.” The bill “would allow the state — if it so chooses — to carve the dental provision out of the state’s Medicaid program and use one delivery system statewide.”

Minnesota Set To Become Only State To Embrace “Big Three” ACA Components.

Minnesota Public Radio  (7/9, Richert) reports that Minnesota is the only state that is “set to embrace” the “big three” components of the Affordable Care Act. The “means Minnesota will expand the Medicaid program, develop an online insurance marketplace and offer a basic health program.” Although “advocates of Minnesota’s approach say moving forward on three of the health law’s biggest initiatives means far more Minnesotans will have access to affordable coverage,” the move “also means Minnesota will be a unique testing ground for the various moving parts of the ambitious and complex new system.”


Also in the News

Hospital Purchases Of Physician Practices May Be Driving Up Healthcare Costs.

The Cincinnati Business Courier  (7/10, Ritchie) “Cincy Biz Blog” reports, “Rather than saving money, hospital purchases of physician practices might be driving up health care costs, a survey has found.” Nearly one-third “of respondents to an American College of Physician Executives poll said costs increased after a hospital or health system bought a doctors’ group, according to a press release.” Meanwhile, just five percent indicated that the move led to lower costs. According to ACPE CEO Dr. Peter Angood, “Understanding the long-term consequences of these trends is important not only to physician leaders but also to the future of health care as a whole.”

Fierce Health Finance  (7/10, MacDonald) reports, “The ACPE findings were echoed in a recent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission report that shows the same clinical services cost more when performed as an outpatient procedure at a hospital instead of a doctor’s office, according to the announcement.”