Not-for-profit hospitals are borrowing at near-record numbers before the end of the year ahead of a sweeping tax overhaul that threatens to end or curtail their ability to issue tax-exempt bonds.
“There’s an unbelievable flood,” said Martin Arrick, a managing director in S&P Global Ratings’ not-for-profit healthcare group. “This December is likely to the be the second busiest month ever. I mean like ever, ever, ever.” The first busiest was back in December 1985, he said, when another tax overhauls was in the works.
After Paula Woolley found out her 52-year-old husband, Mitch Evich, had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Obamacare was the reason they didn’t go bankrupt. The Trump administration’s pledge to unravel the program has forced Woolley to consider how she would care for him without it.
More than 1,000 miles away, in Atlanta, Todd Wiggins was preparing to enter chemotherapy treatment when he learned his primary care physician no longer accepted his marketplace plan, and his surgeon was also considering dropping it.
When one of Cindy Holtzman’s clients told the Woodstock, Ga., health insurance broker he was considering dropping his Affordable Care Act plan because next year’s cost approached $23,000 for his family of four, she suggested a new option: a back-to-back set of four, 90-day short-term plans, which would effectively give them a modicum of medical coverage for 2018.
An Obama administration rule limited short-term coverage to three months at a time because it was meant as a stopgap between more substantial policies. But several insurers, including big players Golden Rule and National General Accident and Health, now are sidestepping that rule by packaging three or four consecutive 90-day plans, with a one-time review of a patient’s medical history.
California Treasurer John Chiang’s effort to strike a balance in his run for governor between support for progressive policies and an image of fiscal prudence could prove tricky on the issue of single-payer health care.
“I support universal care – I believe all Californians should be covered,” Chiang told Capital Public Radio in an interview this week. “And I support the approach of single-payer, if they want to eliminate the inefficiencies that exist in the system.”
Insurers may be on the hook to pay back the government for funds they have already spent on low-income enrollees through 2017.It’s still not clear whether Congress will appropriate cost-sharing reduction payments, as lawmakers race toward a short-term spending agreement before Christmas. This means insurers may have to return any surplus they used to cover CSR costs since the Trump administration cut off the payments in October. An October bulletin from the CMS said insurers would be on the hook for any “overpayments” of CSRs for 2016, but that the agency wouldn’t pay any shortfalls.
Medicare and other federal programs could be cut if Congress approves a tax law that increases the federal deficit, say community leaders in the central San Joaquin Valley.
Estimates are that the tax bills passed by the House and Senate would increase the federal deficit by about $1.5 trillion over a decade. A conference committee has yet to work out the differences in the two bills, but the concern is that entitlement programs will be cut to reduce the nation’s debt.
On a melancholy Saturday this past February, Shalon Irving’s “village” — the friends and family she had assembled to support her as a single mother — gathered at a funeral home in a prosperous black neighborhood in southwest Atlanta to say goodbye.
The afternoon light was gray but bright, flooding through tall, arched windows and pouring past white columns, illuminating the flag that covered her casket. Sprays of callas and roses dotted the room like giant corsages, flanking photos from happier times: Shalon in a slinky maternity dress, sprawled across her couch with her puppy; Shalon, sleepy-eyed and cradling the tiny head of her newborn daughter, Soleil. In one portrait, Shalon wore a vibrant smile and the crisp uniform of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, where she had been a lieutenant commander. Many of the mourners were similarly attired. Shalon’s father, Samuel, surveyed the rows of somber faces from the lectern. “I’ve never been in a room with so many doctors,” he marveled. “… I’ve never seen so many Ph.D.s.”
David Lazarus had just moved to Los Angeles to start a new job as a business and consumer columnist for the Los Angeles Times when he suddenly developed some of the classic signs of diabetes: extreme thirst, fatigue and weight loss. He dropped close to 15 pounds in 2 weeks.
Lazarus was in his early 40s. “The weight loss was the first big red flag. It happened really fast,” he says. He consulted a physician who diagnosed him with Type 2 diabetes and recommended a “monastic” low-carb, macrobiotic diet.
San Francisco’s Dignity Health and Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives agreed to merge to create a new nonprofit Catholic health system headquartered in Chicago.
The two systems in October 2016 signed a letter of intent to discuss combining their hospitals and clinics. Their combined revenue will exceed $28 billion, forming one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the country.
“By combining our ministries and building upon our shared mission, we will expand our commitment to meeting the needs of all people with compassion, regardless of income, ethnicity, or language,” Lloyd Dean, president and chief executive officer of Dignity Health, said in a statement.
The California Health Care Foundation is giving a boost to a partnership announced earlier this year between Sutter Health and Quartet Health Corp. to help patients with mental health needs.
CHCF announced an investment of $700,000 in Quartet, which will help the company expand its effort with Sutter to address mental health needs for patients in the Sacramento area. The investment will support the rollout of Quartet’s digital care coordination platform and be used to reach underserved patients.
Health-care employers are stepping up their own wellness programs aimed at keeping workers healthy.
Workplace benefits have grown to be a part of the strategy to attracting and retaining talent — especially in the competitive Bay Area job market. Companies are seeing advantages to creating wellness benefits and programs in order to keep workers healthy and engaged, thereby reducing health care costs and boosting productivity.
Corporate programs in this year’s Healthiest Employers ranking included meditation classes, on-site biometric screenings, mental health and nutrition counseling and gym memberships.