Electronic Health Records

Potential Impact of the 2013 ACA changes in Medicaid Reimbursements to Pediatric Practices

September 18, 2012 in Uncategorized by support Team  |  Comments Off on Potential Impact of the 2013 ACA changes in Medicaid Reimbursements to Pediatric Practices

We hear that children are the most important aspect of our Healthcare system and that preventive care has the best return on our health care dollar. So, why are Pediatricians continuously receiving the lowest average pay when compared to other physician specialties? There are many reasons for the low reimbursements including the significant gap in payments between Medicaid and Medicare. Family Practice and Internists rely both on Medicare and Medicaid while Pediatricians, due to almost all their patients being

Patients without a primary Pediatrician seek some of their care at the Hospital ER. Besides breaking the Medical Home concept, treating at the hospital is far more expensive than in a Pediatric office. The formers of the Affordable Care Act made a choice to invest in primary care versus urgent care by changing the law so that Medicaid reimbursements = Medicare Reimbursements. This change should help providers increase their panel of Medicaid patients and should benefit the cost curve as well. Lastly, the patients should see increased access to a Pediatrician. States would see >$10B in new funds from Health and Human Services to pay for the expanded cost (this is an investment by the Federal Government). The goal of this investment is to reward the primary care physician for preventive care.
When will this take effect? Starting in 2013, the reimbursements for Medicaid are to increase to Medicare Levels.

What does this mean? There are a few states that Medicaid currently pays above Medicare (Alaska, Wyoming) according to some reach by Sandra Decker whom is an Economics at the CDC (see article in the Washington Post dated August 6, 2012 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/08/06/study-one-third-of-doctors-wouldnt-take-new-medicaid-patients-last-year/ )

Overall, statehealthfacts.org by the Kaiser Family Foundation (http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparetable.jsp?ind=196&cat=4 ) shows that Medicare to Medicaid Fee index is .66 for the United States. The lowest states are Road Island (.36), New York (.36), New Jersey (.41), District of Columbia (.47) and CA (.47).
Will the New Medicaid pay the same as commercial Insurance? Generally, the answer is no. The reason is that although Sick and Well visits should, in most states, see an increase in reimbursement being paid, there will continue to be a significant gap in payments for Vaccine Administration codes by Medicaid. Recommend read the press release below. If your practice currently does not accept Medicaid Patients due to the low reimbursements, now is the time to consider changing the policy for the practice.

http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/05/20120509b.html

Some Potential Effects on Pediatric Care due to September 11th, 2001

September 11, 2012 in Uncategorized by support Team  |  Comments Off on Some Potential Effects on Pediatric Care due to September 11th, 2001

My 9th grade daughter asked me, as an assignment for school, where I was and what was my first reaction when I learned of the news related to the tragic events of 9-11-01. Most of us whom were adults at the time could describe the exact location and what we were doing when we learned this shocking news. The tragic events of this day changed many things in our country. What are some of the potential additional treatments in Pediatrics due to 9-11-01? The answer to this question is that it depends.

If you were a Pediatrician in New York, NY, you might have children that had early development of asthma. The Pediatrician would need to do a detailed history to see if there is any link to the events of 9-11-01. Where was this patient on 9-11-01? Where their parents exposed to the debris and air associated with 9-11-01? Asthma is not the only disease that the Pediatrician needs to complete a detailed history. Other potential diseases such as acid reflux, depression, anxiety, or sinus congestion might also might have a link.

Today is a day to remember the tragic events of that day as well as to remember our brave fire fighters, police officers, and other public servants that risked their lives to help others in a difficult situation. Although 9-11-01 was 11 years ago, the negative impact is still felt today.

A Virtual Accountable Care Organization (ACO) and the link to Pediatric Practices

September 5, 2012 in Uncategorized by support Team  |  2 Comments

With Healthcare costs increasing at a rapid rate in the United States, there are a number of payment models being investigated that look to encourage preventative care while reducing costs. Although most practices generate the majority of their revenue from Fee for Service insurance products, there is much talk as well as movement related to Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). The concept of ACOs is that an organization manages a large group of providers and hospital systems to provide patient care. The ACO and the providers would be compensated for management of a population. The leaders in this field are exploring many different methods for payment – a set fee per patient for all care, bundled payment per episode of care as well as other risk sharing arrangements. ACOs are most thought about as hospital systems that purchased provider groups (e.g. Integrated Delivery Systems) and form an ACO entity. In this case, the Pediatric Group would need to be owned by the hospital system to participate in the ACO.

Although the Medicare Shared Savings Program ACO sponsored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has the most publicity, the commercial payers are beginning to experiment with ACO payment models as well. The Medicare Shared Savings Program ACO shares the savings of ACO effort between the ACO and CMS (the providers continue to receive Fee for Service payments at this time).

There is another type of ACO model known as the Virtual ACO or community ACO. This model would be an organization that is the contracting agent with payers and would like to privately owned practices. For example, ABC Pediatrics (privately own), could participate in a virtual ACO without selling their practice. The virtual ACO would develop the guidelines on how to participate as well as the payment stream. There is much question as to how this will impact Pediatrics. The good news is that private practices should not be required to sell their practices as the ACO model evolves.

Practices and practice managers should continue to keep an eye on the payment methods in the field. Improper coding as well as low collection rate continues to be a very common issue with Practices that if managed appropriately, optimize the revenue to the practice. In Pediatrics, this requires a team that receives routing training in Pediatric coding, systems that gain intelligence as payers change reimbursement policies and consistently reporting and follow-up. So although there is much talk and experimentation with new payment models, most practices need to look how to appropriately manage the revenue cycle in today’s payment system.

Delay of ICD-10 until October 2014 is good news for Pediatric Practices

August 27, 2012 in Uncategorized by support Team  |  1 Comments

A few days ago, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a press release related to delaying ICD-10 implementation from October of 2013 to October 2014. There is much controversy related to ICD-10 codes. The proponents state that ICD-10 is a more precise method of coding since there are over 65,000 codes compared to over 14,000 for ICD-9. The protesters state that 14,000 codes are more than enough codes and there will be much confusion and cost to the healthcare system by moving from 14,000 to 65,000 codes. Since the Healthcare system would like to move toward ‘bundled payments’ for services, moving to a more complex coding system does not seem in alignment with the movement to bundled payment. Delaying ICD-10 by at least a year is a good idea for Pediatric Practices as well as other areas of Medicine. I believe the leaders of Policy, like Kathleen Sebelius, see the benefit of delaying this decision as well. With the changes of additional Medicaid lives and Health Exchange lives in the next few years, there is uncertainty as to how this will impact primary care pediatrics.

Adding the burden of Pediatric offices needing to identify how they should be coding with a new ICD-10 system as well as introducing millions more lives into the Health system might have a negative impact such as a major shortage of Pediatricians to patients. How many Pediatricians want to go home after seeing 20-30 patients in a day and read about 50,000 additional codes? Do we want our primary care Pediatricians focused on these details versus how to optimally diagnose and treat patients? The good news is that currently ICD-10 is over 2 years away. Much can happen in two years that should help the decision makers evaluate if we should migrate to ICD-10 at all or decide to delay again. Most Pediatricians are losing thousands of dollars per year due to improper coding, lack of systems that track each claim as well as the wide range in abilities of Pediatric offices to manage the revenue cycle. Pediatricians do not deserve to be under paid due to these controllable issues.

Is there a Potential Impact on Pediatric Practice Revenue due to Aetna Acquisition of Coventry?

August 20, 2012 in Uncategorized by support Team  |  Comments Off on Is there a Potential Impact on Pediatric Practice Revenue due to Aetna Acquisition of Coventry?

The Healthcare environment in the United States is evolving rapidly due to the pressures to reduce costs. The Affordable Card Act (ACA) has provisions that expand coverage via Health Exchanges as well as expansions of the Medicaid program. Due to budget pressures, states are migrating from State run Medicaid to Medicaid being managed by Managed Health Care Plans. Coventry has a significant presence in the Managed Medicaid market. Aetna significantly increases their presence in Managed Medicaid and lower priced insurance plan options with the recently announced acquisition of Coventry. Given the migration of new patients to lower priced insurance plans (via the future Health Exchanges) as well as expanded Medicaid coverage, this is a potential growth opportunity for Aetna. Appears that Aetna believes in this potential opportunity due to the premium they paid for Coventry (over $5.0B).
For your Pediatric practice, it is critical to monitor the reimbursement trends by plan as these changes in the Healthcare system continue to occur. Pediatric offices usually provide one of the lowest costs of Healthcare delivery from the perspective of plans and employers. Leveraging the facilities of a Pediatric Office is in alignment with the interest of the Healthcare system by promoting wellness versus ‘sick care’. Also, services in pediatric offices are more cost effective than in hospital settings. Small Pediatric Practices can effectively manage this complex environment by adding new patients, providing quality care, and by implementing strong management of the practice revenue cycle. If a practice is unable to grow patients as well as manage their Pediatric Practice Revenue cycle effectively, they will eventually dissolve or merge with a Hospital System or large Medical Group.
Health insurers identify how to save money by lowering reimbursements – unfortunately, many use the ‘squeaky wheel’ type of rewards/evaluation. For example, a Health Insurer will not increase rates on all providers on their ‘independent products’ while negotiating high single digit rates with the Hospital System that uses their size as leverage. If the small Pediatric office does not have solid IT systems that allows them to evaluate their reimbursements, they might be underpaid compared to the Hospital System located in the same area. If your Pediatric practice provides high-quality and consistent medical care, the practice show be rewarded on the care provided. The Health Insurance companies prefer that practices are managed like the average Pediatric practice country versus Pediatric practices that consistently achieve collection rates above 99% of the contract amount. This is a good time to benchmark the collection rate and check the controls and systems in place that optimize not only the collection rate but also the Accounts Receivable (AR) days. Through good benchmarking and management of the revenue cycle, your practice can be confident on how to manage the changes in the Healthcare market like the Aetna acquisition of Coventry.