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Florida keeps its 2015 insurance rates under wraps

3:45 pm, Aug. 1 |

Florida consumers will have to wait a little longer to find out definitively what their health insurance premiums may be in 2015, even though recent media reports suggest significant rate changes from some of the state's dominant insurers. Blame it on a Florida statute that allows insurers to withhold publishing all their proposed rates until the next open-enrollment period in the fall.

Recent attention has centered on Florida Blue, the state's largest insurer, as reports have surfaced that the company proposes increasing its premiums by an average of 17.6% when 2015 open enrollment begins in November. Proposed rate filings that are currently available to the public through the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation show an average rate increase of 17.16% for Humana's HMO, while Molina Healthcare of Florida reports it will decrease rates by an average of 11.6% for its plans.
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Frosty temps deadlier than heatwaves, CDC says

Exposure to cold temperatures kills twice as many people annually as excessive heat does, according to a new government report that found deaths that occurred as a result of extreme weather events such as heat waves, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes were still rare when compared with one that is more easily prevented.

More than 10,600 deaths in the U.S. between 2006 and 2010 were from weather-related causes, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Statistics Report released Wednesday.
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Setting up a state exchange not as simple as some think, analyst argues

Some state officials and health policy experts argue it should be relatively easy for states that have not yet established their own insurance exchanges to find a legal workaround to retain federal premium subsidies following last week's ruling disallowing subsidies through the federal exchange.

But one noted legal expert who supports the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act cautions that it will take a lot more than semantic maneuvers. In a Health Affairs blog post Monday, Washington & Lee University law professor and Obamacare analyst Tim Jost laid out five major steps states will have to take to “establish” their own exchange and enable their residents to keep their federal premium tax credits, if the Halbig ruling is ultimately upheld.
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Healthier school lunches popular with kids: study

New federal nutrition standards for school lunchrooms have become a lightning rod for Obama administration opponents, who criticize them for prompting lunchroom waste, higher food costs for school districts, and sending students home hungry.

But now proponents of the guidelines, designed in part to combat the childhood obesity issue, have some ammunition to counter such critics.
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Sovaldi likely to cost Medicare billions

The rising cost of hepatitis C drugs like Sovaldi and Olysio will increase Medicare Part D spending by $2.9 billion to $5.8 billion next year and could drive up premiums as much as 8.6%, according to a new report by the actuarial firm Milliman.

The findings are based on the assumption that 15% to 30% of the Medicare Part D population that's estimated to be infected with hepatitis C will receive an $84,000 course of Sovaldi in 2015.
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New England Quality Care Alliance pilots consumer data use for care management

Michael Cantor, chief medical officer for the New England Quality Care Alliance, has a dilemma. Resources are scarce for care management of patients who the alliance would like to help with their weight, diabetes, or other complex or chronic conditions; and yet it's difficult to predict which patients will be receptive to a care manager.

So he needs to better predict who will use those services, and who will benefit most. That's why the Alliance is piloting a program to marry clinical data with consumer data. The combination, it thinks, might allow for better targeting and prediction.
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Medication reconciliation improvements needed: report

Medication reconciliation, a standard operating procedure at hospitals, remains a process in need of work, according to a report based on a study of 19 hospitals released by the National Institute for Health Care Reform.

Medication reconciliation was first added to the hospital accreditation process by the Joint Commission in 2005. After a suspension in 2009, a “streamlined, more flexible requirement” was restored in 2011, the report authors note.
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NQF clarifies info on trial on socio-economic factors

The National Quality Forum says its upcoming trial examining the effects of socio-economic factors may potentially include 30-day readmission measures, but that is not the sole focus. The quality improvement organization offered clarity Monday, amid confusion the trial would look exclusively at readmissions.

Modern Healthcare reported Thursday that the NQF would study how socio-demographic factors, like income, education, primary language and race, would impact 30-day readmissions. The trial period will examine the effects of risk-adjustments on various measures, but the report does not make recommendations about any particular one, explained Ann Greiner, vice president of external affairs for the National Quality Forum.
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Lou Gehrig's disease an extremely rare malady, CDC says

Lou Gehrig, the iconic New York Yankee slugger, was forced to retire from baseball in 1939 because of a rare neuromuscular disorder. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives a first-of-its-kind glimpse into just how rare that incurable disease is.

The CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry found that a little more than 12,000 people between October 2010 and December 2011 were living in the U.S. with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
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Google's Baseline project could have big implications

3 pm, Jul. 28 |

Google's latest healthcare research project, announced Friday, is so ambitious that even failure might represent an advancement over the status quo.

The aim is to corral 175 healthy human beings and create a healthy baseline: a set of genetic and biomarkers that define a healthy human being, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
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