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  • $1.1 trillion spending bill and what it means for healthcare in 2014

    By Katie Ni
    Education & Outreach Coordinator, AMSA Health Policy Team

    Last Thursday, the Senate voted to pass the $1.1 trillion spending bill that will fund the government through this September. The bill passed easily in both the Senate and the House-- perhaps with the memory of government shutdown still fresh in representatives’ minds. Here is the short and sweet version of what this year’s budget has in store for health policy:

    1. Funding for the Affordable Care Act will be cut. The ACA will see cut funding in two places: $1 billion will be cut from Prevention and Public Health Fund, and $10 million will be cut from the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the panel given the task of making changes to Medicare payment and program rules. IPAB was made to achieve savings for Medicare, but has been denounced by its critics as a “death panel” that will reduce access to care. A cut of $10 million from the IPAB’s former budget of $15 million may limit the board’s capabilities significantly.

    2. The NIH will recover funding lost from sequestration, BUT overall will see a decrease in funding. The NIH will receive $29.9 billion for 2014, which is ...

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  • How we pay for medical care in 2014: Paying for quality and efficiency



    Whitney McFadden
    AMSA Health Policy Chair


    Bodenheimer and Grumbach outlined in their book, Understanding Health Policy: A Clinical Approach, a view of health policy and the faults of our current healthcare system. It seems we are very familiar with the pitfalls of our current system. In order to be clear and not dwell too much on the obvious, our system struggles with overuse and underinsurance/lack of insurance that is being addressed with the Affordable Care Act. Today we pay for healthcare out-of-pocket, with individual private insurance, employment based private insurance, or government financing. Insurance plans for healthcare began in the depression due to unstable payments. Medicare was established to cover the elderly and lower income individuals. Currently physicians are paid in a multi-tier system including fee-for-service, episode illness grouping, capitation (per head fee to general practitioner and specialist), and salary.
     
    2014 will be a year of new payment methods for healthcare. The sustainable growth rate (SGR) has historically be underfunded requiring congressional intervention to avoid the reduction in payment to medical reimbursement that would make it unsustainable. This year, a bipartisan fix will change payments to value based on measure of better quality and efficiency instead of the ...

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  • My HealthCare.Gov Experience

    Brandon Sandine
    AMSA Local Health Policy Coordinator

    Amidst the media turmoil surrounding the website healthcare.gov, developed to help citizens obtain health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, I decided to try my luck navigating the website and see if the media recounted the experience accurately.

    After opening up the healthcare.gov webpage, I was immediately prompted to click the big orange link to begin the application. The new page that appears after clicking the apply link allowed me to choose whether or not I want to finish the application online or by phone. As my experiment was to determine if the website was functional I chose to finish online. The next steps were to create a profile and provide information to determine my financial eligibility.

    Impressively, when it was all said and done, the entire process did not take more than 15-20 minutes and was incredibly simple. Furthermore, before logging off I knew exactly what type of coverage I was eligible for. My hope with all of this is to inform people who have not applied for health insurance due to website issues to know that they can rest assured that progress has been made. My experience with healthcare.gov was simple, ...

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  • ACA Coverage and the New Year



    Whitney McFadden
    AMSA Health Policy Chair

    As medical students, what should we expect for our healthcare system this year?

    The Department of Health and Human Services is closely tracking the number of people signing up for health insurance. This year’s resolution will be to follow how Obamacare is improving the health of our nation. First, 2.1 million Americans have signed up for private insurance in the exchanges and a new 3.9 million were found to be able to access coverage through medicaid. We do not know how many people had to change their current insurance, and how this coverage will affect doctor patient visits. In the end, we want to understand how these changes improve the health of our nation.

    How we prioritize and evaluate the measure of our national health will be a significant issue this year. Obamacare is covering more individuals and in order to measure its success, many are searching for ways to see the impact on healthcare. The National Bureau of Economic Research studied the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment published in 2011 to investigate how health insurance improves health care and outcomes. The study measured health care utilization, out-of-pocket medical expenditures, medical debt, and self-reported physical ...

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  • The Physicians’ Proposal

    By Brandon Sandine
    AMSA Health Policy State and Local Policy Coordinator

    It’s a simple proposal! And amidst the growing financial and human burden that our current healthcare system induces, it’s the most equitable and economically sensible proposal of all. Everybody in, nobody out. This was the idea that two emphatic physicians concluded some 25 years ago would help alleviate the growing health insurance disparity, and the problems that are associated with lack of insurance, in our country.

    Today the ranks of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) are significantly larger than it was 25 years ago. Yet their realization is still the same. Our country desperately needs to improve access to medical care, for all of its residents, by implementing a universal health insurance program. While national healthcare reform has recently occurred, primarily through The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), approximately 30 million Americans will still remain uninsured. As such, it is imperative that the single-payer agenda passes into legislation.

    At the recent PNHP annual convention this was exactly the focu of discussion. Content at the convention introduced new and old members to changes that the ACA will have on their clinical practice, to how would the ...

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