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OBJECTIVE - To evaluate the impact of health insurance expansion on racial disparities in severity of peripheral arterial disease.
BACKGROUND - Lack of insurance and non-white race are associated with increased severity, increased amputation rates, and decreased revascularization rates in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD). Little is known about how expanded insurance coverage affects disparities in presentation with and management of PAD. The 2006 Massachusetts health reform expanded coverage to 98% of residents and provided the framework for the Affordable Care Act.
METHODS - We conducted a retrospective cohort study of nonelderly, white and non-white patients admitted with PAD in Massachusetts (MA) and 4 control states. Risk-adjusted difference-in-differences models were used to evaluate changes in probability of presenting with severe disease. Multivariable linear regression models were used to evaluate disparities in disease severity before and after the 2006 health insurance expansion.
RESULTS - Before the 2006 MA insurance expansion, non-white patients in both MA and control states had a 12 to 13 percentage-point higher probability of presenting with severe disease (P < 0.001) than white patients. After the expansion, measured disparities in disease severity by patient race were no longer statistically significant in Massachusetts (+3.0 percentage-point difference, P = 0.385) whereas disparities persisted in control states (+10.0 percentage-point difference, P < 0.001). Overall, non-white patients in MA had an 11.2 percentage-point decreased probability of severe PAD (P = 0.042) relative to concurrent trends in control states.
CONCLUSIONS - The 2006 Massachusetts insurance expansion was associated with a decreased probability of patients presenting with severe PAD and resolution of measured racial disparities in severe PAD in MA.
The next open enrollment period for plans offered in the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) insurance Marketplaces is set to occur between November 15, 2014, and February 15, 2015--just when many lower-income people are financially stressed by demands of the holiday season. Recent research by experimental psychologists and behavioral economists strongly suggests that when people's decision-making capacity (bandwidth) is stretched thin, either they cannot make decisions or they make poor choices. Using data from nearly a decade of US-based Internet search queries to measure population behavior, we found considerable seasonality in measures of financial stress and in when people seek out information on health insurance plans. A more opportune time for scheduling open enrollment for the ACA Marketplaces may be between February 15 and April 15--weeks when low-income people typically receive income tax refunds and Earned Income Tax Credit payments. Such lump-sum payments could be applied to pay individuals' share of premiums.
Project HOPE—The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), changes in income and family circumstances are likely to produce frequent transitions in eligibility for Medicaid and health insurance Marketplace coverage for low- and middle-income adults. We provide state-by-state estimates of potential eligibility changes ("churning") if all states expanded Medicaid under health reform, and we identify predictors of rates of churning within states. Combining longitudinal survey data with state-specific weighting and small-area estimation techniques, we found that eligibility changes occurred frequently in all fifty states. Higher-income states and states that had more generous Medicaid eligibility criteria for nonelderly adults before the ACA experienced more churning, although the differences were small. Even in states with the least churning, we estimated that more than 40 percent of adults likely to enroll in Medicaid or subsidized Marketplace coverage would experience a change in eligibility within twelve months. Policy options for states to reduce the frequency and impact of coverage changes include adopting twelve-month continuous eligibility for adults in Medicaid, creating a Basic Health Program, using Medicaid funds to subsidize Marketplace coverage for low-income adults, and encouraging the same health insurers to offer plans in Medicaid and the Marketplaces.
Congress established the National Health Care Workforce Commission under section 5101 of the Affordable Care Act to provide data on the health care workforce and policy advice to both Congress and the administration. Although members of the Workforce Commission were appointed September 30, 2010, Congress has been unable to appropriate the $3 million requested by the administration to fund the commission. Consequently, the commission has never met and is not operational. As a new era of insurance coverage, care delivery, and payment reforms unfolds, the commission is needed to recommend policies that would help the nation achieve the goals of increased access to high-quality care and better preparation, configuration, and distribution of the nation's health workforce. In a climate where fiscal policy is dominated by spending on health care, the commission can also stimulate innovations aimed at reducing the cost of health care and achieving greater value and transparency.
The number and types of people who become eligible for and enroll in the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) health insurance expansions will depend in part on the factors that cause people to become uninsured for different lengths of time. We used a small-area estimation approach to estimate differences across states in percentages of adults losing health insurance and in lengths of their uninsured spells. We found that nearly 50 percent of the nonelderly adult population in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas--but only 18 percent in Massachusetts and 22 percent in Vermont--experienced an uninsured spell between 2009 and 2012. Compared to people who lost private coverage, those with public insurance were more likely to experience an uninsured spell, but their spells of uninsurance were shorter. We categorized states based on estimated incidence of uninsured spells and the spells' duration. States should tailor their enrollment outreach and retention efforts for the ACA's coverage expansions to address their own mix of types of coverage lost and durations of uninsured spells.
Although the anticipated rise of accountable care organizations brings certain potential threats to radiologists, including direct threats to revenue and indirect systemic changes jeopardizing the bargaining leverage of radiology groups, accountable care organizations, and other integrated health care delivery models may provide radiology with an important opportunity to reassert its leadership and assume a more central role within health care systems. Capitalizing on this potential opportunity, however, will require radiology groups to abandon the traditional "film reader" mentality and engage actively in the design and implementation of nontraditional systems service lines aimed at adding differentiated value to larger health care organizations. Important interlinked and mutually reinforcing components of systems service lines, derived from radiology's core competencies, may include utilization management and decision support, IT leadership, quality and safety assurance, and operational enhancements to meet organizational goals. Such systems-oriented service products, tailored to the needs of individual integrated care entities and supported by objective performance metrics, may provide market differentiation to shield radiology from commoditization and could become an important source of new nonclinical revenue.
Copyright © 2012 American College of Radiology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as well as its amendments were signed into law. This sweeping legislation was aimed at controlling spiraling healthcare costs and redressing significant disparities in healthcare access and quality. Cancer diagnoses and their treatments constitute a large component of rising healthcare expenditures and, not surprisingly, the legislation will have a significant influence on cancer care in the USA. Because genitourinary malignancies represent an impressive 25% of all cancer diagnoses per year, this legislation could have a profound impact on urologic oncology. To this end, we will present key components of this landmark legislation, including the proposed expansion to Medicaid coverage, the projected role of Accountable Care Organizations, the expected creation of quality reporting systems, the formation of an independent Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and enhanced regulation on physician-owned practices. We will specifically address the anticipated effect of these changes on urologic cancer care. Briefly, the legal ramifications and current barriers to the statutes will be examined.
Published by Elsevier Inc.
Under the Affordable Care Act, people who meet certain income eligibility criteria will be eligible for subsidies to offset costs of premiums and cost sharing for health insurance plans purchased through new health insurance exchanges. But determining the correct level of these subsidies will not be easy, because of several factors. These include the way in which eligibility will be calculated for participation in Medicaid or for subsidies through the exchanges; possibly inaccurate income projections; the use of different income time periods to determine eligibility; and fluctuations in income. I performed a simulation that shows that under the most likely methods to be used to determine eligibility for Medicaid or for receiving subsidies through exchanges, one-third of people with incomes initially judged to be below the Medicaid threshold would actually "churn" into an exchange at the end of the year. Other people would be wrongly deemed ineligible for advance subsidy payments because their projected income was too high, while still others judged eligible for subsidies would receive advance payments on those subsidies that were too high by $208 per year, on average. To reduce these errors, I recommend the adoption of a single eligibility standard based on income data derived from prior tax returns, along with generous accommodations during a given enrollment year for people who claim a change in circumstances, such as a change in income.