United Health Foundation Releases 2017 Senior Report

In their 2017 America's Health Rankings, United Health Foundation finds Louisiana ranked 47th overall in the Senior Ranking category. Other rankings from the Senior Report:

  • Nursing Home Quality - 49th
  • Home Health Care - 8th
  • Obesity - 49th
  • Pain Management - 1st
  • Physical Inactivity - 46th
  • Smoking - 45th
  • Poverty - 50th
  • Community Support - 30th

Click here to see the full report.

Louisiana Healthcare Providers Boost Patient Outcomes, Save Costs with Quality Blue

BATON ROUGE, La. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s Quality Blue programs continue driving better health results while reining in costs.

Data from the second year of Blue Cross’ Quality Blue Value Partnerships program, in which healthcare providers can earn financial incentives if they successfully improve their patients’ health outcomes and cut spending, shows enrolled providers saved an average of 2.8% of their total healthcare costs during the past year, with the most successful savings reaching 6.25%.

The data also shows that Blue Cross customers who are seeing Quality Blue doctors had overall fewer hospital stays and ER visits, and they were more likely to have recommended preventive care like colorectal cancer screenings or mammograms, than customers seeing other doctors.

“Our Quality Blue programs have gotten great results in a fairly short period of time,” said Dr. Paul Murphree, Blue Cross interim chief medical officer. “Through the strong partnerships we are building with healthcare providers around the state, we have a real opportunity to improve Louisiana’s historically poor health outcomes and hold the line on costs.”

The Quality Blue providers are having regular talks with Blue Cross clinical staff about how to get their mutual customers – Blue Cross members who are their patients – to top-quality, cost-effective care, Murphree added. For example, doctors will ask how much the same test costs at different facilities before referring a patient. “We have a team that helps identify opportunities for both quality and cost, and I believe it is one of the best in the country,” Murphree said.

The seven Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) enrolled in the program from 2015-2016 were: Baton Rouge Clinic, Baton Rouge General Physicians Group, Gulf South Quality Network, Health Leaders Network, Ochsner Health Network, The Family Doctors and Willis Knighton Physician Network.

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Proponents of Healthy Louisiana tout insurance gains and cost savings from Medicaid expansion in hopes of holding off cuts

Since Medicaid was expanded in Louisiana under the Affordable Care Act last July, more than 408,000 Louisianans have gained access to medical care, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards. That’s just one of many big, positive numbers the Democratic governor is touting at a time when the future of the ACA is in doubt and funding—both at the federal and state levels—is in limbo.

Though champions of Medicaid expansion like the governor could cheer the failure of House Republicans to move an ACA repeal and replace plan forward in late March, there’s no question that significant changes to the act—and possible outright abolishment—are on the horizon. Meanwhile, supporters such as the Louisiana Association of Health Plans worry the program could take a funding hit in the legislative session that began on April 10.

“From a budget standpoint, that is going to be the most critical factor as we go into the next legislative session. … Because the governor and the Legislature said there will be no new taxes, the only way to balance the budget then is to offset with cuts or just find a way to do things differently,” says Jeff Drozda, CEO of LAHP, the state trade association for Louisiana’s health benefits industry.

With lawmakers facing an estimated $400 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, cuts are going to have to be made somewhere in the budget, and health care spending is always at risk. If Healthy Louisiana—as the state’s program for Medicaid and LaCHIP recipients is known (formerly called Bayou Health until it was rebranded by the Edwards administration about a year ago)—loses any funding, Drozda says a few areas will likely suffer.

“It would come in terms of services to the Healthy Louisiana recipients and as well as decreased incentive payments and quality payments to the physicians,” he says. “We’ve committed to the governor and to the health secretary that we want to be part of the solution, so we just hope that it does not have to come to cutting services or provider payments.”

In an effort to advocate for Healthy Louisiana and stave off cuts during the session, LAHP has launched an outreach effort highlighting the human and community impact it has in the state. The governor, meanwhile, is encouraging Louisianans to share personal stories about how their lives have been positively impacted by the Medicaid expansion via his website. The governor and state Department of Health also say $184 million has been saved by the Medicaid expansion—money that Edwards contends will help fund education, the TOPS college scholarship program and partner hospitals across the state.

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