Category Archives: Hospitals

Researchers asking tough questions about Medicare’s readmission reduction program

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Naoki Takano via Flickr

Researchers and health policy experts are questioning the value of Medicare’s efforts to reduce 30-day hospital readmissions.

The latest example came this week when Health Affairs published research on what happened after Medicare added hip and knee replacement surgeries to the list of conditions for which it would penalize hospitals for having high rates of readmissions.

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How are ACA’s quality measures affecting health care?

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

On a recent What the Health podcast, where I’m a frequent guest, we took some listeners’ questions. One was about what CMS does with all the data it collects on quality from health care facilities and providers – and whether there’s any evidence that the quality reporting actually improves outcomes for patients. Continue reading

BCBS of Massachusetts will pay to keep patients out of the hospital

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Andrew Dreyfus, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts announced this week that it is taking the radical step of paying to keep patients out of the hospital.

In a partnership with South Shore Health System in Weymouth, Mass., BCBSM will change the financial reward system so that it will tie payments to health system to its success in collaborating with physicians to improve quality, patient outcomes and costs for the patients they physicians and health system. Under BCBSM’s Alternative Quality Contract (AQC), the health insurer will reward the health system and physicians for their success in doing so, the two parties said in an Oct. 30 news release. Continue reading

How to discover and dissect surprise medical bills

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Kaiser Health News and NPR have been collaborating on a series called Bill of the Month. This piece by KHN’s Chad Terhune was one of the most memorable. Like many of these articles, it got results – the story got a ton of attention, outrage was generated and voila, the bill was lowered. It was cited by a bipartisan group of senators who introduced legislation curbing the practice of “surprise billing.”

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Tips for telling the stories of rural hospital closures

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Photo: Naoki Takano via Flickr

Bram Sable-Smith, who spent a year doing in-depth reporting on an endangered rural hospital in Pemiscot County, Mo., as part of an AHCJ Reporting Fellowship on Health Care Performance, did a tip sheet on how to report on the threat to rural hospitals, in the context of a wave of closures. Continue reading

Surprising conclusions in a study of racial, socioeconomic disparities in U.S. hospitals

Emily Willingham

About Emily Willingham

Emily Willingham (@ejwillingham) is AHCJ's core topic leader on the social determinants of health. She is a science journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and Forbes, among others, and co-author of "The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Guide to Your Child's First Four Years."

Racial and socioeconomic disparities in outcomes among hospitalized patients?

Don’t blame the hospitals, say the authors of this JAMA Network Open study. They looked at factors that might underlie known divergences in health outcomes based on socioeconomic status and race or ethnicity, with a focus on heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia. Their findings suggest that hospitals perform similarly across socioeconomic and ethnic groups but that something “systemic” must explain the differences among these populations. Continue reading