The current legislative session in Hartford holds promise for improving the safety and quality of health care in Connecticut. There are a number of bipartisan bills introduced by Senator Looney and Senator Fasano, as well as other Senators that call for transparency of infection rates, health care costs, prices and quality information as well as a bill to allow for dispute resolution of surprise billing and emergency services. Letters to your legislators are always encouraged and you can get more information about the bills at the CGA Public Health Committee and the Insurance Committee websites. You can also read Lisa Freeman’s Op-Ed from the CT Mirror here.
My friend and fellow advocate, Ilene Corina, wrote: “Just imagine walking into a supermarket and the carts are all sitting in the aisles so scattered you can barely get through. Cans and boxes of food are mixed up and piled high so you would knock it down if you bumped into it ever so slightly. The lines at the cashier are 10-15-20 people long and you have to wait and wait. The cashier leaves to take care of another customer leaving you waiting even longer. Every item you bought was announced loud enough so anyone standing close by in tight, cramped quarters can hear. ROLAIDS, TAMPONS, 3 POUNDS OF APPLES and finally, no one smiles, no one looks at you and you are treated as if you are a bother. Would you shop there? What if you were forced to?” Her resulting blog post, written following her visit to a hospital emergency room gives us all something to think about – but what can we be doing? Read her entire blog post here
Patient-Centered Care involves healthcare systems embracing a culture and a philosophy that includes and considers patient’s perspectives in everything that they do. I recently wrote an article for Planetree’s Planetalk publication titled: A Call to Action: It’s Time to Break Another Glass Ceiling. In it, I talk about the missed opportunity when hospital, long-term care facilities and physician practice governing boards do not have patient members on them. After all, this represents the ultimate partnership with patients and their perspective should become part of business as usual. Please share this link and encourage everyone to consider the valuable insight and expertise that patients can bring to governing boards. Read my article here.
The Affordable Care Act has provided for expanded coverage for many residents. It has also created new considerations and a new component to tax filing. For residents who bought their insurance through a public exchange, Access Health CT in Connecticut, there are some things that you should be aware of. The CT Mirror has just published an article with information that will help you understand what is going on.
It is through your tax filing that the government will confirm whether you purchased health insurance— and you will pay a penalty if you didn’t. A new IRS form, the 1095, will be sent to you by your exchange and should be received in the beginning of February. In CT, 3600 recipients will not get their form due to a problem that the exchange ran into, and for them, the forms are expected to be received by the end of February. This form will provide you with the information that you need to complete Form 8962 – which you will now file with your return if you received premium assistance through advance credit payments (whether or not you otherwise are required to file a tax return) or if you want to claim the premium tax credit when you file your return.
There are things that some residents may not have clearly understood when they applied for insurance through the exchange. Did you know that the subsidies that many residents received are tax credits that were paid in advance? The amount is based on a person’s income, so when you file your taxes, you will be reconciling the credit with your income. It may balance out. However, you may get a refund or you may actually have to pay some back.
For more information and a more detailed explanation of what you should know, read more in the CT Mirror article, Six things to know about Obamacare and taxes.
Did you know that common objects like stethoscopes in a hospital can be contaminated with disease-causing germs? Or that the best time to schedule surgery is during banking hours? 10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Hospital Infections by Rosemary Black and 10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You Before Surgery by Jennifer J. Brown, PhD, are two articles on the everyday HEALTH Healthy Living website. They are both filled with useful suggestions and a wealth of additional information through the included links.
Connecticut Health I-Team By: Lisa Chedekel | 1/6/2015 | Connecticut hospitals reported record numbers of patients killed or seriously injured by hospital errors in 2013, with large increases in the numbers of falls, medication mistakes and perforations during surgical procedures, a new state report shows.
The report, covering 2013, marks the first time that the number of so-called “adverse events” in hospitals and other health care facilities has topped 500 – double the number in 2012, when 244 such incidents were reported. Much of the increase was due to an expansion of reporting on pressure ulcers, which added a new category with 233 “unstageable” ulcers that were not counted before. Even without that category, however, reports of adverse events climbed 20 percent over 2012. Read more
Earlier this month, Lisa Freeman wrote a guest blog on the Connecticut Health Foundation website sharing her view that the health care system is not giving our residents the necessary information or knowledge to make informed choices in their health care insurance plans. The difference, between choosing one plan over another can mean the difference in thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. You can read the complete post here.
Medicare is penalizing hospitals with high rates of potentially avoidable mistakes that can harm patients, known as “hospital-acquired conditions.” To determine penalties, Medicare ranked hospitals for three types of HACs: Central-line associated bloodstream infections or CLABSIs, Catheter-associated urinary tract infections or CAUTIs and Serious Complications which is based on eight types of injuries, including blood clots, bed sores and falls. Based on the hospital’s ranking from Medicare on these three specific hospital-acquired conditions, those whose score fell within the highest numbers are seeing their reimbursement impacted. The full story and list can be found in the Kaiser Health News Article.
When we hear about net neutrality, we often think of how it will affect and raise costs when we stream our favorite podcast, or download a movie. But this issue has the potential to significantly impact the “ease” of access to our medical files and other medical related information. According to a recent Modern Healthcare article, “Net neutrality means everyone sending data is treated the same by carriers like Verizon and others; no one can pay or be charged more for faster transmission speeds and none can be barred from sending data. The tool that net neutrality advocates want to use—Title II of the FCC’s authorization act—would essentially make internet traffic into a public utility.” If this does not continue, the cost for accessing and transferring medical files and other electronic data could increase substantially. For a current and clear explanation on net neutrality, read the attached article from Modern Healthcare by Darius Tahir | November 19, 2014.