The Rundown | Week of 8.14.2017

Est. Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Are you a busy provider looking for healthcare news? Check out The Rundown.

Healthcare is a rapidly evolving industry and it’s difficult to keep up with the news, but the success of your practice can depend on how knowledgeable you are about changes in the healthcare landscape. Privia has compiled a list of stories to keep you up to date on all things healthcare.

  • What does healthcare look like without CSR payments?

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a new report on the impact of the Trump administration following through with threats to cut of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. A new report from Business Insider details the consequences of removing these payments that help to “offset the cost to insurers that offer plans with low out-of-pocket costs to poorer Americans.” The CBO report found that pulling these payments would lead to increases in premiums and federal deficit and additional insurers pulling out of Obamacare markets.

Read more about this new report at: CBO: Trump could cause healthcare costs to soar for millions of Americans if he ends critical Obamacare payments

  • Health insurers get more time to calculate price increases

The New York Times reports that the Trump Administration is extending the deadline for payers to calculate price increases to September 5 because of uncertainty caused by the administration’s plan to cut cost-sharing payments to insurers on behalf of millions of low-income people. In anticipation of losing cost-sharing subsidies, insurers estimate that prices may be 15% to 20% higher in 2018. Some lawmakers want to offset the cost of the subsidies, approximately $7 to $10 billion next year, by cutting other health programs.

Learn more: Health Insurers Get More Time to Calculate Increases for 2018

  • Turns out U.S. spending isn’t growing so fast after all?

U.S. healthcare spending isn’t growing as fast as previously projected. According to a new report released by the Altarum Institute, healthcare spending only increased by 4.6%, compared to a projection of 5.2% growth by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The fastest growing category was prescription drug spending.

Read the full report: Health Sector Economic Indicators Insights from Monthly National Health Spending Data Through June 2017

  • Blockchain technology might be the next big thing in rev cycle

A longtime problem in health service delivery has been the fragmentation of personal health records, but blockchain technology may prove to be the fix. What is blockchain? It allows consumers and suppliers to connect directly and removes the need for a third party. Insurance companies are already playing around with the idea of using blockchain as the financial backbone to track policies, plans, and payments; however, an article by Healthcare Finance suggests that the healthcare space could use blockchain to service providers and payers with personal health records. “The technology could be used to help corral ‘clinical fragments from multiple providers and multiple EHRs and connect them together using the blockchain to govern the provenance of the data,’ Said Dave Watson, executive vice president at SSI Group. ‘So providers sharing records among themselves, for better treatment and/or them sharing those same fragments with the patient, so the patient can have their own personal health record.’”

Learn more: Blockchain eyed for potential use cases in revenue cycle

  • Cashing in on codes

Ever since CMS introduced new billing codes into the 2016 physician fee schedule that allows providers to bill Medicare for end of life discussions with patients, there’s been a steep increase in the number of clinicians using the codes.  According to Modern Healthcare, “over 22,000 providers billed Medicare for end-of-life planning appointments on behalf of more than 570,000 beneficiaries in 2016, the first year these services were billable, according to the CMS. The agency has noticed that provider use of the codes is increasing, as only 220,000 people used the services in the first six months of 2016.”

Read more: Providers take advantage of new end-of-life CMS billing codes

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