- The emergency care environment in the U.S. is worsening because of increased demand and shrinking resources, according to a report from the American College of Emergency Physicians. The nation received an overall grade of D+ when measured on how well states are faring in categories such as access to quality and patient safety, medical liability, disaster preparedness and public health and injury prevention. The national grade was a C- in 2009 when the last report card was issued. Twenty-one states received F's in the access to emergency care category, 10 received F's in quality and patient safety, 10 received an F for the state's medical liability environment and 10 states received F's in public health and injury prevention, according to the report card. The declines are attributed to emergency departments continuing to struggle with issues such as workforce shortages, limited hospital capacity, long ER wait times and increasing financial barriers.
- The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission unanimously voted to recommend that Congress narrow the differences in what the program pays providers depending on where a service is delivered. The change would mean a 0.6% drop in Medicare revenue for hospitals. MedPAC also voted to recommend that Medicare Advantage carriers cover hospice stays. Home health agencies with high rates could see their Medicare reimbursement cut under a policy MedPAC voted to send Congress. The policy could save the Medicare program between $50 million and $250 million in 2015 and just under $1 billion by 2020, the advisory panel said.
- UnitedHealth Group reported strong revenue and earnings for 2013, boosted by continued enrollment growth and a strong performance by Optum, its technology services arm. The Minnetonka, Minn.-based company saw net income of $5.6 billion for the year that ended Dec. 31. Revenue increased 11% to $122.5 billion. But the company’s 4.6% margin was slightly lower than last year.
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