Spending on Medicaid is expected to increase 7.3% from 2007 to 2008 and continue to climb over the next decade, topping $339 billion this year and nearly doubling to $674 billion by 2017, according to the first annual fiscal report on Medicaid delivered by the CMS Office of the Actuary. Additionally, Medicaid enrollment is expected to increase by 1.8% to 50 million people this year, eventually reaching 55.1 million, up 10%, 10 years out. The report also highlights a gap between the cost of care for nondisabled children and adults vs. seniors and the disabled. In 2007, the estimated average cost of a person in the Medicaid program was $6,120, but for seniors that amount reached $14,058 and was $14,858 for disabled beneficiaries. CMS Chief Actuary Richard Foster said that the data do not include the impact of the current economic turmoil.
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) sent inquiries to Columbia University and the Cardiovascular Research Foundation to determine whether research physicians affiliated with the institutions received money from the medical-device industry. Letters sent to both institutions are specifically seeking information about the foundations support for an annual conference promoting cardiac devices and techniques, plus the additional financial relationships between professors of medicine and cardiac-device companies featured at this conference. In a written statement, the Cardiovascular Research Foundation responded that it intends to comply fully with (the senators) request for information. Columbia did not respond with comment by deadline.
The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a hearing early next year on emergency medical services helicopter safety, an NTSB official confirmed in an e-mail message Oct. 17, two days after a helicopter crash in west suburban Chicago killed three crew members and a 13-month-old patient being transported to the citys Childrens Memorial Hospital. A report from the NTSB showed there have been 12 accidents involving medical helicopters so far in 2008, compared with nine in all of 2007, 11 in 2006 and eight in 2005. The NTSB is investigating the most recent crashes, according to the official. The helicopter in the Oct. 15 crash was operated by Air Angels, a subsidiary of Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Reach Medical Holdings. Police believe the craft clipped a wire supporting a radio-station tower. According to Federal Aviation Administration and NTSB records, Air Angels helicopters were involved in accidents in 2003 and 2007. To read more about helicopter crashes this year, see Flying in the face of danger (July 7, p. 6).
Medicare continues to battle implementation problems as it begins its new nonreimbursement policy for certain hospital-acquired conditions, according to a CMS official. Coding and the definition of what conditions are reasonably preventable by providers are a challenge for the federal agency, said Thomas Valuck, a physician who is medical officer and senior adviser in the CMS Center for Medicare Management, speaking during a panel discussion at the National Quality Forums annual policy conference in Washington. The no-pay policy, which took effect this month, is designed to stop providers from being paid for care related to problems they created after a patient was admitted to a hospital.
Hawaii is dropping its universal healthcare plan for children on Nov. 1, just seven months after launching the first-in-the-nation pilot program. The Keiki Care Plan aimed to provide coverage to children whose families made too much money to qualify for Medicaid but could not afford private insurance. The state says it failed to enroll these gap group children and instead is subsidizing coverage for kids who qualify for other programs or whose parents halted their private insurance to join. Some 2,000 children have enrolled in the Keiki Care Plan (keiki means child in Hawaiian) since it began in April. The state pays Hawaiis largest private insurerthe Hawaii Medical Service Association, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield company$25.50 per month for each child enrolled.
RehabCare Group incorrectly identified its primary business in the 2008 Post-Acute-Care Survey, which was used to rank the Largest skilled-nursing companies in the Sept. 29 issue (By the Numbers, p. 34). A revised list is available in the Databank/Surveys section at modernhealthcare.com.
An Oct. 13 article Short-handed, (p. 18), incorrectly identified Barry Blum as a part-time orthopedic surgeon working in Hilo, Hawaii, and serving in the Army Reserves, when that physician should have been identified as Peter Matsuura.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.