In the News: May 24–31

US Fertility Rate Falls to a Record Low

According to a new CDC report, the general fertility rate in the US dropped to a record low of 60.2 births per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 2017. This marks a 3% decrease from 2016 and the fewest number of births in the US in 30 years. Although the US birth rate has generally been below replacement (the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself) since 1971, this historic low puts the rate even further below that standard.

While birth rates declined for nearly all age groups of women under 40, however, the rate among women in their early 40s increased by 2% from 2016. Notably, the preterm birth rate rose for the third year in a row, to 9.93%, with the low–birth-weight rate increasing to 8.27%, one of the highest levels since 2006.

The rising maternal age and the preterm birth rate will likely result in greater demand for high-risk pregnancy services. Sg2 believes organizational structure and individual market needs should be considered to optimize the delivery of upstream high-risk pregnancy care. For a deeper dive into the high-risk pregnancy landscape, watch the on-demand Sg2 webinar, Women’s Health Update 2017: Defining and Capturing High Risk Pregnancy.

Kaiser Permanente Invests $200 Million in Homelessness

Kaiser Permanente recently announced it will invest $200 million in community efforts to reduce homelessness across the country over the next 2 to 3 years. The commitment is one of the largest private-sector investments and the largest health system investment to address homelessness. Kaiser will target investment in areas where it operates, specifically in hyperlocal programs and initiatives that will provide Kaiser a financial return, allowing the investment fund to continue to support projects into the future. Kaiser stated this focus on homelessness was related to the importance of stable, affordable housing for improving health.

Kaiser’s entrance into a space traditionally reserved for government and nonprofit organizations is the latest example of how converging forces are realigning the traditional boundaries of the health care industry. Against this backdrop, Sg2 believes that now is the time for health care organizations to upend business models by thinking of the community as their hospital and of providers as their assets. For more on breaking traditional market, business model and health care industry boundaries, read the  June 2018 Sg2 Letter: Boundary Busting: It’s Catching On.

CMS Denies Ohio’s Individual Mandate Waiver

CMS recently rejected Ohio’s request for a 1332 waiver that would have allowed Ohio to be the first state to waive the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate. CMS stated the waiver request did not address ACA provisions requiring the number of people covered by insurance to remain the same and for benefits to remain comprehensive. While the individual mandate penalty was repealed by the recent federal tax bill, the individual mandate itself remains in place.

The health care policy and regulatory landscape continues to change at both the federal and state levels. Sg2 understands that keeping pace with these changes and the impact they can have on health systems may be challenging. For a deep dive into the most recent payment and policy changes, tune in to the upcoming live Sg2 webinar, Experts Live Q&A: Payment and Policy Update (Summer 2018).

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