More Than 217,000 Blue Cross Customers Are Enrolled In Quality Blue Program

Three years into its Quality Blue Primary Care program, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana continues seeing patient-focused care lead to better health results for customers. The program began in 2013 and today has expanded to include 728 primary care doctors who are treating 217,562 Blue Cross customers, including more than 85,000 who have chronic illnesses.

At the annual Quality Blue Primary Care Statewide collaborative, which took place today at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, Blue Cross leadership unveiled 2016 program statistics that show the program is driving continued improvement for customers who have chronic diseases that are common in Louisiana.

"Louisiana is a state with many good qualities, but unfortunately, our health status has not ranked high on any national lists,” said I. Steven Udvarhelyi, M.D., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana president and CEO. “Blue Cross has a real opportunity, as the largest commercial insurer in the state, to drive lasting improvements in the health of Louisianians with our Quality Blue program. And, the results show we are headed in that direction.”

Blue Cross is the only health insurer in Louisiana to offer a patient-centered program like Quality Blue.

Because the Quality Blue program helps Blue Cross customers get coordinated care, health coaching and more preventive treatment, it is also holding down costs. Doct­ors are paid based on how effectively they work with their patients toward better outcomes.

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Data shows drug prices spiked seven percent last year

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released new inflation numbers today.

Turns out consumer goods are about 1.5 percent more expensive today than they were last fall.

It’s the usual culprits — gas, housing. But deep among the data was a figure which grabbed our attention.

Prescription drugs have gone up 7 percent since last year — the highest annual increase since 1992.

It's an historic price spike, but health policy people aren’t exactly sure what’s behind it.

Yale economist Fiona Scott Morton said a new class of powerful drugs — sometimes called biologics — could be helping fuel costs.

These are treatments for conditions like MS and rheumatoid arthritis and “autoimmune disease, cancer drugs, and they are often quite expensive $100k, $200k a year,” she said.

Scott Morton said manufacturers have been aggressively raising their prices on these potent drugs, sometimes by double digits.

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Report: States Increase Cost Controls To Manage Medicaid Growth

With a record 73 million people enrolled in Medicaid, most states next year will tighten controls on spending to battle swelling budgets in the public health insurance program for low-income and disabled Americans, according to a report released Thursday.

The leading strategies to contain costs are already used in some states, but they will soon take root in more places, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported in its annual 50-state survey. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)

They include hiring private managed care companies to deliver services to enrollees, shifting more long-term care services from nursing homes to community settings and restricting the use of ever-more expensive prescription drugs. The push to stretch dollars further is a reaction to next year’s reduction in federal aid for states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia did so and starting Jan. 1, they will begin paying 5 percent of their expansion costs. The federal government paid all the expansion costs in 2014 through 2016.

State Medicaid spending is projected to jump to 4.4 percent in 2017 compared to 2.9 percent in 2016 and 3.8 percent the previous year, the report said.

In contrast, total Medicaid spending will grow 4.5 percent in 2017 — which is lower than the 5.9 percent in 2016 and 10.5 percent in 2015, according to the report said.

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