The Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has featured the staff and facilities of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at the Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center.
Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that examines how well the heart is working. A thin, hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into a large blood vessel leading to the heart. The results of the procedure tell doctors if patients have diseases of the heart muscle, valves or coronary arteries.
Wilkes-Barre’s team of cardiologists, nurses, and technologists is skilled in all aspects of catheterization care. They understand procedures involving the heart can be particularly stressful, and do all they can to address and alleviate Veterans’ concerns.
Read more here.
FORT WASHINGTON (PRNewswire-USNewswire) -- Access to high-quality, high-value cancer care is crucial for all patients with cancer. Ideally, following a cancer diagnosis, patients should have the option to choose care from an experienced, multi-disciplinary team of sub-specialists at a comprehensive cancer center that offers the latest cancer treatment and supportive care breakthroughs. Now, this freedom of choice is being threatened by narrow network insurance plans.
A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows that these lower-cost plans reduce access to certain providers at comprehensive cancer centers, including National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) Member Institutions and National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers. The study was published yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
"Because cancer care and monitoring is costly, there are strong incentives for insurers to be selective when it comes to oncologists, excluding those who are most likely to attract the most complex and expensive cases," the study's lead author, Laura Yasaitis, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at Penn said in a press release. Yasaitis and colleagues call for greater access for patients and more transparency from insurers.
"At NCCN our mission is to improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of cancer care so that patients can live better lives. To that end, we applaud Dr. Yasaitis and her colleagues for their call for improved patient access and improved transparency from U.S. payers," said Robert W. Carlson, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NCCN. "NCCN Member Institutions are home to expert physicians, superior treatment options, and quality and safety initiatives that continuously improve the cancer care in the United States and around the world."
Looking at 2014 individual health insurance exchanges, the Penn researchers observed that oncologists affiliated with NCCN Member Institutions and NCI-Designated Cancer Centers were less like to be included in the narrow plan. According to Yasaitis, no matter how the authors looked at the data, there was a clear trend towards exclusion.
"NCCN publishes clinical treatment guidelines that are accessible by any cancer stakeholder so that where a patient lives doesn't determine if a patient lives," said Carlson. "However, the experience, innovation, and expertise found at the NCCN Member Institutions and other comprehensive cancer centers throughout the country should not and cannot be discounted. Stripping patients of a right to choose a comprehensive care approach not only takes away their access to leading innovations and supportive care programs that promote better outcomes, but also stifles the innovation fostered at these leading centers that is changing the face of cancer care as we know it."
In a previously reported 2015 survey of NCI-Designated Cancer Centers conducted with Avalere, NCCN found that 25% of the respondents were excluded by exchange plans offered by the majority of the state's exchange carriers.
Moreover, as noted in a 2016 NCCN Policy Report, studies have shown that patients treated at comprehensive cancer centers indeed realize better outcomes. Wolfson, et al., found that patients diagnosed with common adult-onset cancers (breast, colorectal, lung, hepatic, pancreatic, and gastric) who were not treated at NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers had a 20-50% higher risk of mortality compared with patients treated at those centers.
When choosing a health plan, consumers may not be aware of in-network providers, nor the cost of seeing providers out-of-network. However, when diagnosed with cancer, patients want the highest-quality care to give them the best chance of survival. To this end, NCCN believes consumers need greater education when choosing plans as well as increased network adequacy on the part of insurers and policymakers.
World-renowned experts from NCCN Member Institutions diagnose and treat patients with a broad spectrum of cancers and are recognized for dealing with complex, aggressive, or rare cancers. NCCN Member Institutions pioneered the concept of the multidisciplinary team approach to patient care and conduct innovative research that contributes significantly to understanding, diagnosing, and treating cancer. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®), developed by volunteer experts from the NCCN Member Institutions are the recognized standard for clinical policy in cancer care and are often the most thorough and most frequently updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine.
For more information about NCCN, visit NCCN.org.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has developed a web based tool to compare the existing law of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) which was released last week. The tool also allows users to compare past proposals to repeal and replace the ACA if they choose to.
The tool creates side-by-side comparisons of the three bills by issue areas, including individual mandate, cost sharing, high risk pools, and Medicaid.
Click here to access the website.
Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Issues Statement on Sen. Toomey's Support for Repealing the Affordable Care Act without a Replacement
Action would endanger millions of Pennsylvanians' health
HARRISBURG (PRNewswire-USNewswire) -- Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today said Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Pat Toomey's comment supporting repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement health care plan in place puts the health care of millions of Pennsylvanians in jeopardy.
"Senator Toomey's comment to Fox Business News Friday that he supports repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without legislation to replace this vital lifeline is irresponsible and frightening. Sen. Toomey glibly assumes Congress will come up with a replacement health plan to provide coverage for his constituents by whatever arbitrary deadline is set, but in doing so, he ignores his own history and his constituents' well-being" Commissioner Miller said.
"Sen. Toomey's support for doing away with the ACA without a replacement is putting in jeopardy the health coverage 1.1 million Pennsylvanians now have through the individual market, and Gov. Wolf's expanded Medicaid program. If the ACA simply goes away, so does expanded Medicaid, and the vital health care access it provides to 700,000 Pennsylvanians.
"This includes Anna, from York County, who recently told me her story of having two children with severe, chronic health conditions, and for whom expanded Medicaid provides a vital lifeline Her family has insurance, but the costs of continuing care for their children, even with private coverage, was forcing Anna's family to choose between paying their monthly utility bills, and buying needed medicine for their children. Under expanded Medicaid, Anna's family can now pay their monthly bills on time."
Approximately 426,000 Pennsylvanians selected a plan for 2017 through the healthcare.gov exchange, with nearly 80 percent of these individuals getting subsidies to help pay their monthly premiums, and roughly 55 percent, those with lower incomes, receiving cost-sharing reductions to help pay deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance. All of these subsidies and cost-sharing reduction payments would cease if the ACA ends, leaving health insurance unaffordable for most of these people.
"Even people with employer-sponsored coverage would be dramatically affected if the ACA simply ends, as this would also mean the end to mandated coverage of preventive services by their federally regulated plans," Miller said. "These services include colonoscopies, annual screening mammograms, well-baby and well-child visits, among others. In addition, many employer-sponsored plans could revert to having annual and lifetime benefits limits, allowed before the ACA, which would mean huge out-of-pocket costs for people who hit those limits. These are often people with chronic conditions or expensive-to-treat diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
"The ACA helps many families with employer-sponsored and individual coverage by allowing adult children to remain on these plans through age 26. These young adults may be completing their education, working part time, or in entry level jobs that don't provide benefits, and this provision of the law gives them time to get their careers started and to begin paying down other expenses, such as student loans, without worrying about paying for health insurance.
"Another important provision of the ACA is the ban on excluding pre-existing conditions from coverage. Prior to the ACA, many plans would not cover pre-existing conditions, or would only cover them after a waiting period, or they forced those with pre-existing conditions into extremely expensive plans.
"Sen. Toomey needs to speak with Carl, from Cumberland County, who before the ACA, lost his insurance because a pre-existing condition spiked his premium from $400 to $3,400 a month in two years, forcing him to drop coverage and face potential financial ruin. Under the ACA, Carl, age 62, got affordable coverage because his pre-existing condition could not be excluded and could not affect his premium rate."
Miller noted that before the ACA many policies considered pregnancy to be a pre-existing condition, and maternity care was often not included in policies.
"Placing a deadline before Congress and expecting its members to act by that deadline is far from a guarantee they will do so," Miller said. "In 2013, Sen. Toomey was part of a group in Congress known as the "super committee" that was supposed to come up with a budget plan to avoid what is known as "sequestration," or deep budget cuts to both domestic and military spending. The conventional wisdom was this deadline would force Congress to act to avoid this option. However, Sen. Toomey and his colleagues failed to come up with a plan that was even voted on and these budget cuts went into effect.
"Pennsylvanians need to keep this history in mind, and not allow their health care to be put in jeopardy with a vague promise that Congress will come up with something before an arbitrary deadline returns health insurance to the very consumer un-friendly situation that existed prior to the Affordable Care Act."
She also noted Sen. Toomey was among 13 GOP senators who crafted the current Senate health care replacement proposal in secret. This plan, which has not come to a vote, would result in 22 million Americans losing coverage, keep the age tax to penalize older people needing coverage and would drastically cut subsidies and increase out-of-pocket costs.
SOURCE: Pennsylvania Department of Insurance
Karen Murphy, RN, PhD, Secretary of Health in Pennsylvania, has been named Executive Vice President, Chief Innovation Officer and Founding Director of the Steele Institute for Healthcare Innovation at Geisinger. She will begin her new duties in September.
“Secretary Murphy has worked throughout her career to develop innovative ways to improve health and transform health care delivery, which fits perfectly with Geisinger’s emphasis on caring and putting our patients at the center of everything we do” said David Feinberg, M.D., MBA, Geisinger President and Chief Executive Officer. “She is a proven health care executive with a history of leading complex organizations and initiatives in both the public and private sectors, and we welcome her to the Geisinger family.”
Prior to becoming Secretary of Health, Dr. Murphy served as Director of the State Innovation Models Initiative, a $900 million Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services investment designed to accelerate health care innovation across the United States. She previously served in various administrative roles including President and Chief Executive Officer of the Moses Taylor Health Care System in Scranton, as well as founder and Chief Executive Officer of Physicians Health Alliance, Inc., an integrated medical group practice within Moses Taylor.
Secretary Murphy earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Business Adminstration from the Temple University Fox School of Business, Master of Business Administration from Marywood University, Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from the University of Scranton, and a diploma in nursing from the Scranton State Hospital School of Nursing. An author and national speaker on health policy and health care innovation, Secretary Murphy also serves as a clinical faculty member in the medicine department at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.
“Geisinger is a nationally recognized and respected health care organization, and I am excited to become a member of its leadership team,” said Secretary Murphy. “It has been my honor to serve in the Wolf Administration as Secretary of Health, and I welcome this new opportunity to continue making a positive difference in my new role at Geisinger.”
“Secretary Murphy is a leader in public health and health administration and has been a valuable member of my administration,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “Among her many accomplishments are her significant contributions to our efforts to address the most important health issues facing Pennsylvania and her key role in my administration’s fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic. I know I speak for everyone in my administration when I say she will be missed, and we wish her well as she advances into her next career opportunity with Geisinger.”
Geisinger Health System is an integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record and the development of innovative care delivery models such as ProvenHealth Navigator®, ProvenCare® and ProvenExperience®. As one of the nation’s largest health service organizations, Geisinger serves more than 3 million residents throughout 45 counties in central, south-central and northeast Pennsylvania, and also in southern New Jersey at AtlantiCare, a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient. In 2017, the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine became the newest member of the Geisinger Family. The physician-led system is comprised of approximately 30,000 employees, including nearly 1,600 employed physicians, 12 hospital campuses, two research centers, and a 551,000-member health plan, all of which leverage an estimated $10.5 billion positive impact on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey economies. Geisinger has repeatedly garnered national accolades for integration, quality and service. In addition to fulfilling its patient care mission, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to medical education, research and community service.
For more information, visit www.geisinger.org.