BHN roundup: Kids, costs and the #Kochs on cancer

Lot of good  health reporting in town this week:

WBUR reports on a plan by the state’s Medicaid’s plan to deny payment for readmission.

It could be a man who leaves the hospital with new prescriptions and takes the wrong pill four times a day.  Or a woman with depression who skips a critical follow-up appointment after surgery. Perhaps it’s a child who goes back to the same activities and has another severe asthma attack. These are all reasons patients return to the hospital shortly after release. They might all be prevented with better instruction inside the hospital, a better hand-off to our doctor outside or more active patient follow-up.

“We are paying for the wrong things,” said Dr. Judy Ann Bigby, state secretary for Health and Human Services. Bigby said it’s not just that the state doesn’t want to pay. Repeat hospitalizations carry risk, “either a hospital-acquired infection or some other type of outcome that demonstrates that the quality of care is not as good as it could be, and it’s costly to the system,” Bigby said.

The Globe on how the Tufts Floating Hospital for Children got back on track by offering lower prices than its competitors. We usually don’t go for this type of pun, but we like the subhead: Cost structure, patient influx lift Boston pediatric center. The original hospital was on a boat.

So, now that patients are really starting to feel the pinch of health care costs – as in medical bankruptcy – could it be that the market is starting driving the price of care?  

Some doctors who work under a fixed “global budget’’ through a contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and are paying for hospital care out of that budget, said the Floating is still cheaper than Children’s while providing high quality care. The 1,500-physician network affiliated with Tufts estimates that last year it paid on average $6,000 more for an admission to Children’s than for a similar patient to receive treatment at the Floating. Children’s executives said they don’t believe the difference is that great.

Finally, Nature Network Boston reports on several stories on MIT donor David Koch’s effort to limit EPA regulations on carcinogens. NNB wonders how this is going over with scientists at the $100 million David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.


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