In the News: Nov 7–14

Primary Care Scholars Program Addresses Physician Shortage

A recent FierceHealthcare article discusses Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine’s new effort to address the primary care physician shortage. Geisinger introduced the Primary Care Scholars Program, which offers students free medical school tuition and a monthly stipend for living expenses if they commit to practicing primary care at Geisinger Health following residency. The program is funded by Geisinger and will be offered to 40 students every year.

This trend follows similar practices recently announced by New York University and Kaiser Permanente, but what distinguishes Geisinger Health’s program is requiring students to commit to primary care and work within its health system.

Sg2 believes academic medical centers (AMCs) in particular will face new pressures with the restructuring of graduate medical education, calls for cost and price transparency, and changes to National Institutes of Health funding. Please register for the Experts Live Q&A: 2019 Policy Update for AMCs to join Sg2 experts as they discuss policies and actions with specific implications for AMCs in their roles as research and teaching institutions, safety-net organizations, and providers of tertiary care.

Aging Population Increases Heart Disease Mortality Rate

A recent American Journal of Managed Care article highlights a Kaiser Permanente study on the correlation between the aging population and the rise in heart failure (HF) deaths. According to CDC data, the 65+ population rose by 23% in 8 years, and the deaths from HF rose just as fast. Despite the decrease in heart disease–related deaths between 2000 and 2011, the recent increase in the older-than-65 population will lead to a dramatic increase in the heart disease mortality rate.

Patients with HF represent a significant cost burden on the US health care system. In 2012, the financial impact of the 65+ patient population with heart disease was estimated to be $11.5 billion annually and predicted to increase to $25.6 billion by 2030. Care redesign, new medications, monitoring devices and therapeutic interventions can manage heart disease symptoms; however, the success of these therapies will result in more patients reaching advanced stages of chronic heart failure that require more intensive interventions, furthering the cost burden down the line.

To address the expected burden of HF, health care providers must implement innovative and effective approaches for prevention and treatment. To learn more about the components of and key considerations for an advanced heart failure program, please read the Sg2 FAQ Advanced Heart Failure Programs.

CMS Approves Behavioral Health Medicaid Waivers in DC

A recent FierceHealthcare article discusses approval of Washington, DC, Medicaid waivers for behavioral health by CMS. This comes after CMS previously announced that states would be able to apply for waivers to bypass a payment exclusion for institutions for mental diseases, which blocks federal funding for various inpatient psychiatric services for beneficiaries.

The CMS announcement highlights focused efforts to address the opioid crisis in DC, as the number of opioid-related deaths there have risen by 236% from 2014 to 2017. Approximately one-third of people affected by opioid or other substance use disorders have also been treated for a serious mental illness. This waiver will lead to greater interventions for the epidemic and seeks to tackle the overlap between homelessness and behavioral health.

Serving the needs of behavioral health patients is a persistent health care challenge, and as systems strive to deliver greater value, awareness has grown surrounding the need to invest in these services. To learn more about how local and national policy and clinical trends impact the future of behavioral health, please read the Sg2 2019 Service Line Snapshot on Behavioral Health.

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