- A first look at health spending in the third quarter suggests demand for medical care hasn't sharply increased this year despite the greater number of Americans who now have health insurance because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Health spending rose 3.5% during the third quarter compared with the same period last year, according to U.S. Commerce Department estimates released last week. Spending is not adjusted for inflation. “This is a striking result,” said Paul Hughes-Cromwick, a senior health economist with the Altarum Institute. “We're just not seeing
the acceleration that was so widely predicted.”
- Insurer Highmark has won the latest round in its battle with Pittsburgh health system giant UPMC. A Pennsylvania judge last week ruled that a Highmark health plan for seniors does not violate the terms of a previous agreement between the two entities, despite such allegations by state officials. The senior Medicare Advantage plan does not include UPMC physicians or facilities in its network. State officials argued that the exclusion was contrary to the terms of the consent agreement. But Highmark disagreed, saying its plan had already been approved by the CMS. Paul Wood, a UPMC spokesman, said the judge's decision to uphold the plan “raises a number of questions” about the consent-decree protections. Highmark leaders, as might be expected in the long-running feud, disagreed.
- Members of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission said last week that there are not enough data on the impact of increasing Medicaid payment rates for primary-care services to recommend that Congress extend the provision. The higher rates, equaling Medicare payment, were introduced in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to entice providers to care for Medicaid beneficiaries. Even if Congress doesn't extend the provision, 15 states indicated they will continue with the higher rates.
Latest data shows reform isn't increasing healthcare spending, and other briefs
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