The federal government has begun to provide states with assistance related to zika virus prevention and monitoring. On the heels of the first local transmission cases in Miami Florida, Connecticut announced it has accepted roughly $1million in funding to monitor birth defects and utilize preventive measures against the virus, known to cause microcephaly and birth defects in babies born to mothers who contract the virus while pregnant.
According to the CDC, the funding has been rerouted from other previously existing health accounts. As yet, Congress has not passed any legislation or authorized any emergency funding to combat the zika situation.
Governor’s “Merger Moratorium” Disregarded As Purchase Is Approved
Manchester and Rockville Hospitals are being sold to for-profit Prospect Medical Holdings, they’re the predominant assets of the non-profit Eastern Connecticut Health Network.
HARTFORD: Connecticut regulators have given the go ahead to the outright sale of Manchester, Rockville Hospitals, both non-profit community hospitals, to Prospect Medical Holdings of Los Angeles, CA for $105 million. Manchester and Rockville are the predominant assets of the not-for- profit Eastern Connecticut Hospital Network [ECHN].
Prospect currently owns thirteen hospitals in California, Texas and in Rhode Island.
Prospect and the not-for profit Waterbury Hospital have also agreed to a merger and that application is currently under review as well by the Office of Health Care Access.
As Obamacare Move Forward Double Digit Increases Proposed For Individual Plans
Some of Connecticut’s major health insurers are seeking rate increases far beyond medical inflation, including an average increase of 26.8 percent for the individual plans offered by the state’s biggest insurer, Anthem Health Plans, according to filings made public Monday.
Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade has scheduled public hearings in August on the rate increases sought by Anthem, Aetna and ConnectiCare, three of the 14 insurers seeking increases on 18 individual and small employer plans providing coverage to 332,126 people in the state.
Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade.
The filings come as the insurance industry, Wade and her department are under intense scrutiny as health insurers are undergoing a period of controversial consolidation, with Anthem seeking a merger with Bloomfield-based Cigna and Hartford-based Aetna seeking a merger with Humana.
Connecticut drew fire from consumer advocates when it recently joined 13 other states in signing off on the Aetna-Humana deal. Matthew Katz, chief executive of the Connecticut State Medical Society, recently predicted that if the two proposed mergers are approved by state regulators and the Justice Department, about 64 percent of the Connecticut health insurance market would be controlled by one company, Anthem-Cigna.
The requested increases ranged from a low of 2.1 percent sought by Oxford Health to 32 percent sought by Golden Rule, both for plans offered outside Access Health CT, the state-sponsored exchange created under the Affordable Care Act.
A public comment period on all the increases began Monday and will remain open for 30 days or until the filing is closed, which generally takes longer. The rate increases are for individual and small-group policies offered to employers with 50 or fewer workers. More residents get coverage through larger employer plans, which are not part of this review process.
The department has the authority to reject or modify rates, based on its review of the filings.
The proposed increases are far higher than the 9.6 percent impact of medical cost inflation and increased demand for those services, a factor known in the industry as “trend.”
One reason cited by the insurers is the discontinuation of a federal reinsurance program that provided money to insurers from 2014 to 2016 to offset costs from the early years of the Affordable Care Act. The assumption was an influx of the newly insured would yield high-costs claims from individuals who had long gone without care.
A Connecticut Insurance Department analysis says other key drivers are the rising costs of drugs, as well as what the department calls “experience adjustment.” As the ACA, also known as Obamacare, enters its fourth full year of coverage, the previously uninsured are more familiar with care systems and are seeking more services.
Once the rates are set, the actual increases paid by specific consumers will vary. Each customer’s actual rate is based on three factors: age, as older people pay more; geography, with consumers in Fairfield County typically paying the most; and the specific plan the person picks.
Many consumers also get discounts on their premiums, subsidized by the federal government as part of the health law. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 85 percent of consumers getting coverage through an ACA exchange receive tax credits that protect consumers from premium increases. Tax credits increase if the cost of the second lowest-cost plan, the silver level, goes up.
Jonathan Gold, a spokesman for HHS, said rate increases on individual plans also are mitigated by the ability of consumers to shop around through the marketplaces created by the ACA. Last year, about 40 percent of returning customers to HealthCare.gov, the federal exchange, switched plans and saved an average of $42 per month, he said.
“For consumers faced with these increases, it’s important they understand all their options and shop for the best plan for themselves and their families,” said Nora Duncan, the state director of AARP. “The cheapest plan may not always be the best, but a plan that has seen a sharp increase in cost with no discernible added benefit to you, may not be either.”
All the filings can be viewed online. Public hearings will be held at 9 a.m. on August 3 on Anthem’s filing and August 4 on ConnectiCare and Aetna at the Connecticut Insurance Department, 153 Market St., Hartford.
Plans offered through the state-run exchange, Access Health CT.
Article courtesy of ctmirror.com
MERIDEN — MidState Medical Center’s Advanced Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine team has earned the 2014 Excellence in the Workplace Award from the Connecticut Nurses’ Association (CNA). The award recognizes a workplace that empowers nurses to create an environment that promotes professional autonomy and control over nursing practice.
“In giving this award, the Connecticut Nurses’ Association recognizes the contributions this team has made to integrate evidenced-based best practices, lifelong learning, and patient-centered care,” said Kimberly Sandor, MSN, RN, FNP, CAN’s executive director.
To foster lifelong learning and deliver the highest quality of care to their patients, 100 percent of the team’s full- and part-time nursing staff is certified by a national board in wound care or hyperbaric medicine.
The team’s healing rates, the most significant quality measure in their specialty, are greater than 92 percent. Patient satisfaction scores always average higher than 94 percent. Both are consistently above national averages.
The Excellence in the Workplace Award will be presented at the CNA’s annual awards reception October 21 at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell.
NEW HAVEN — Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH) is advancing the treatment of patients with peripheral vascular disease (PVD). Earlier this month Carlos Mena, MD, director of vascular medicine for the YNHH Heart and Vascular Center, deployed the first drug-coated angioplasty balloon catheter into a patient with PVD. The FDA-approved drug-coated balloon (DCB) is used to re-open arteries in the thigh (superficial femoral arteries) and knee (popliteal arteries) when narrowed or blocked as a result of PVD.
Drug coated balloon for treatment of peripheral vascular disease is a new technology that until now was used for coronary artery stenosis. The main use of this technology is in patients with diabetic foot who otherwise would have amputation of the limb. During this procedure the doctor inserts the paclitaxel eluting balloon to dilate the artery, no matter if it is a new or recurrent stenosis. This technology significantly reduces the rate of recurrent stenosis and is more effective over time, compared to the results of standard angioplasty with or without a stent.
A narrowing of arteries in the arm or leg, PVD affects about eight million Americans. The risk increases with age, and for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. The threat is even greater for smokers. People with PAD are four to five times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. It can also lead to gangrene and amputation.
TRUMBULL — ZetrOZ Inc. has received a $5 million venture loan facility from Farmington-based Horizon Technology Finance Corp. (NASDAQ: HRZN), a specialty finance company that provides capital in the form of secured loans to venture capital-backed companies in the technology, life science, health-care information and services and clean tech industries.
The funding will provide the medical device designer and manufacturer with capital to expand its wearable ultrasound product marketing and sales beyond the professional market and into the consumer arena. Horizon funded an initial $1.5 million of its $5 million commitment under the venture loan security agreement.
“This financial commitment from Horizon marks a significant step forward in our company growth and vision of providing a drug-free, non-invasive alternative for pain sufferers,” according to ZetrOZ co-founder and CEO Bryant Guffey. “We look to them as important partners as we continue to expand access to our mobile, wearable SAM (sustained acoustic medicine) therapy system in the rehab and chronic pain markets.”
Current clinical outcomes demonstrate that sustained acoustic medicine is an effective non-pharmaceutical approach for treating pain symptoms such as knee arthritis and upper back pain. The technology has been adopted by professional and collegiate athletes such as the Bridgeport Bluefish for prehab and rehab programs. ZetrOZ is also engaging in new multi-site clinical research with NSBRI to test the effectiveness of the device for astronauts in Earth and space-flight conditions and the U.S. Army Military Health Command to test SAM technology for more rapid wound closure.
NEW HAVEN — An unexpected rise in revenue from the Yale School of Medicine (YSM) may help ease Yale University’s budget crunch.
For the 2014 fiscal year, the School of Medicine eliminated its $12 million projected deficit and finished the 12-month period with a $42 million surplus. According to YSM Dean Robert Alpern, the surplus is due largely to the rise in YSM clinical revenues, in addition to Yale-New Haven Hospital support, malpractice credit and other royalties. The positive results are a primary reason the university may see a balanced budget in 2014 compared to the $39.2 million deficit in fiscal 2013.
University Provost Benjamin Polak told the Yale Daily News that under Alpern’s leadership, YSM has continued to expand the school’s total revenue — nearly $1.4 billion — by expanding its number of practicing clinicians.
Alpern said the School of Medicine is unlike the rest of the university inasmuch as its revenue flows from entirely different sources than other schools. Tuition is only about one percent of revenue, the endowment is approximately eight to ten percent, and the vast majority of revenue therefore comes from two main sources: grants and contracts, or medical services.
The medical school’s revenue is calculated separately from Yale-New Haven Hospital. However, YNHH provides financial support to many med school departments and co-invests in recruiting new faculty or launching new programs to provide destination medical care.
“Because there are so many uncertainties, it’s very hard for us to predict the revenue and predict the expenses, which is why we sometimes close the year with a different revenue than we expected,” Alpern said. “It’s good that this time it’s positive.”
Of the medical school’s budget, according to the YDN, medical services had been budgeted to bring in $635,465,000. In reality, those services — which include more than 1,000 practicing physicians as part of Yale Medical Group — brought in nearly $30 million more at $664,981,000, which shattered the actual revenue of $580,053,000 brought in during fiscal 2013.
FAIRFIELD — Corporate bartering for health care is becoming more popular in southern Connecticut. Businesses are striking trade and barter deals with hundreds of medical professionals such as dentists, optometrists and even chiropractors, massage therapists, medical pros in exchange for services for their employees.
One company that specializes in such barter arrangements is the Fairfield ITEX group. Company goods and services can be exchanged for trade dollars that can then be used to engage health-care providers already in the ITEX network.
Each employer determines how to involve participating employees and team members — e.g., depositing trade dollars in a worker's personal health care fund for having a perfect sick record, highest sales in the month, or exceptional customer service. Participants can then exchange those trade dollars for visits with participating medical professionals in the ITEX program. The medical participants can use the trade dollars they receive for airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals, restaurants, etc.
Over two decades the Fairfield ITEX office has grown into the largest among all franchisees, with more than 1,600 members and annual volume in excess of $17 million. To learn more visit fairfield.itex.com.