Consumer Reports: Mississippi medical license board website ranks last

April 8, 2016, Mississippi Business Journal, Jack Weatherly- Mississippi is ranked last among 65 medical licensing boards in terms of websites, according to Consumer Reports.The state had a composite score of 6, compared with top-ranked California, which scored 84. Of eight categories, the Magnolia State’s Board of Medical Licensure was given a poor rating in seven, and one assessment of fair. Dr. Virginia Crawford, interim executive director of the state board, did not contest the finding of two reports - one from Consumer Reports and another from the University of Michigan. “We’re in the process of doing a review of our technology and updating the website as well as the licensing software,” Crawford said in an interview with the Mississippi Business Journal. “So we are hoping we can make some changes to that and get it off the bottom,” she said.

Sales of Short-Term Health Policies Surge

April 10, 2016, The Wall Street Journal, Anna Wilde Mathews- A type of limited health coverage with features largely banned by the Affordable Care Act is flourishing, as some consumers grab onto an alternative they say is cheaper than conventional plans sold under the law. Sales of short-term health insurance are up sharply since the health law’s major provisions took effect in 2014, according to insurance agencies. New sales figures show the temporary policies, traditionally sold to consumers who are trying to fill coverage gaps for a few months, have continued their surge recently-even though people who buy them face mounting financial penalties because the coverage doesn’t meet the ACA’s standards.

FOCUS ON HEALTHCARE - Reductions in federal programs could force some rural hospitals to close

April 8, 2016, Mississippi Business Journal, Becky Gillette- Hospitals in Mississippi are facing daunting financial challenges today and in the years ahead. In addition to having high costs for uncompensated care linked to the state’s decision not to participate in the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion, there are numerous federal budget cuts to Medicaid and Medicare that are causing concern.One example is that hospitals saw significant reductions this year in Medicaid outpatient payments as a result of the implementation of the Ambulatory Payment Classification system, said Timothy H. Moore, president and CEO, Mississippi Hospital Association.

Prices And Health Care Quality: Many Consumers Don’t See A Link

April 8, 2016, Kaiser Health News, Michelle Andrews- Most consumers don’t believe the adage that “you get what you pay for” in health care, according to a new study. The report in this month’s issue of the journal Health Affairs analyzed the responses of 2,010 adults to four questions about the relationship between health care prices and quality, such as “Would you say higher prices are typically a sign of better quality medical care or not?” and “If one doctor charged less than another doctor for the same service, would you think that the less expensive doctor is providing lower quality care or would you not think that?”

UnitedHealth Quitting Obamacare Markets in Georgia, Arkansas

April 8, 2016, Bloomberg, Zachery Tracer- UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest U.S. health insurer, has decided to call it quits in two state Obamacare markets, in the latest challenge to President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul. The insurer won’t sell plans for next year in Georgia and Arkansas, according to state insurance regulators. Tyler Mason, a UnitedHealth spokesman, confirmed the exits and declined to say whether the company would drop out of additional states. Many insurers have found it difficult to turn a profit in the new markets created by the Affordable Care Act, where individuals turned out to be more costly to care for than the companies expected.

Study: More Collaboration Aids Health Care For At-Risk Populations

April 7, 2016, Kaiser Health News, Lisa Gillespie- By teaming with community organizations, doctors and hospitals can deliver high-quality care at good value to disadvantaged people at risk for poor health, according to a new report from a panel of experts. The report released Thursday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine was produced to aid Medicare officials studying how to fairly pay hospitals that disproportionately serve patients with social risk factors for health problems. Those factors include low income, social isolation, disadvantaged neighborhoods and limited health literacy. The report is the second of five commissioned for the Department of Health and Human Services.