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New Hospital Safety Scores Released for Memphis Hospitals

The latest Hospital Safety Scores for Memphis-area hospitals are out!  Results of interest include:   The Regional One Health Center continued on it's improvement path with its grade moving up to a C. The Methodist hospitals realized downgrades in their scores. Methodist University moved down to a B. Methodist Germantown, North and South moved down to a C.  Congratulations to Saint Francis-Memphis for achieving Straight A's in all of the releases of the Hospital Safety... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, October 29, 2015

C-Sections Too Common in Memphis

Methodist-Olive Branch and Saint Francis-Bartlett are the only Memphis-area hospitals to fully meet the Leapfrog Group's C-section standard of no more than 23.9% of births. Other reported rates for Memphis-area hospitals ranged from 27.0% at the Regional Medical Center to 37.5% at Methodist-Germantown.  Hospital C-Section Rate  Methodist-Olive Branch Saint Francis-Bartlett Regional Medical Center Saint Francis-Memphis Methodist-South Methodist-Germantown 21.8% 22.7% 27.0%... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, October 12, 2015

New York Times Editorial Calls for Reduced Cost of Hep C Drugs

This New York Times (NYT) editorial lays out the tension in the current debate over the very expensive (@$84,000/treatment un-discounted) Hepatitis C drugs: broad coverage that will significantly increase health plan costs or restricted coverage to keep costs under control but that will not benefit as many patients. In the end, the NYT points out that manufacturers generally pay what the market will bear so calls for public and private insurers to push for lower pricing, which can... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 3, 2015

First: Doctor Visits on Demand; Now: Medications Delivered to Your Doorstep

Health care innovators in New York City prove, once again, that where there is a need, entrepreneurs will step in to fill it. This time Pager, a doctor-on-demand company, is teaming up with Zipdrug to have prescriptions delivered to a patient's home or office, often within one hour. Customers can track the Zipdrug delivery status on their cell phones and pay the cost of the drug plus a $10 delivery fee. Pager sends Board-certified physicians to homes and offices within 2 hours of a... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 3, 2015

More Potential Twists on the Cadillac Tax

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar's September 1, 2015 AP post details the Treasury Department's current thinking about the Cadillac Tax:  "— The Treasury Department says it is considering an exemption for flexible spending account contributions for dental and vision care, which are two popular uses.The health care law already limited FSA contributions and without such accommodations, the Cadillac tax could lead to their demise. "A benefit that you are offering your employees so they can save... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 3, 2015

Uninsured Rate Decreases to 9.2% in First Quarter 2015

According to a Dan Mangan September 1, 2015 blog post for CNBC: "In the first three months of 2015, the CDC said, the rate of people without health insurance stood at 9.2 percent. That's down from 11.5 percent in the same period in 2014, and represents a 20 percent reduction in the uninsured rate over the past year.In absolute numbers, 29 million people lacked health insurance in early 2015, compared with 36 million people in 2014. That number reached a high 48.6 million in 2010, the year... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fewer People Skipping Medical Care for Cost Reasons

According to the September 1, 2015 Amy Goldstein article in the Washington Post: "During the first three months of the year, just 1 in 20 Americans said they did not get medical care they needed because they could not afford it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The findings, from the federal National Health Interview Survey, show that 4.4 percent of people interviewed from January through March said they had skipped medical care in the previous... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 3, 2015

Isn't It Time That The Impact on Patients Be the Major Concern?

When exactly did we cross the threshold where we became more concerned about the financial impact on hospitals and doctors than on the health, and sometimes, actual lives of patients? Why do commentaries, such as this one , which call out the shame of not righting this wrong in New York state, still include an argument that expanding laws allowing malpractice claims are likely to only result in a minimal increase in actual claims? To give the author's credit, they make many of the right... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, August 31, 2015

Narrow Networks Can Result in "Surprise" Bills for Patients and Employers

We've all heard the stories, or even experienced it ourselves, about finding out after-the-fact that the anesthesiologist used during surgery was out-of-network and, therefore, the patient and employer owe a lot more for those services that expected. This happens even though the hospital is in-network. This situation is becoming even more frequent due to the expanded number of narrow-networks put in place with the advent of the Marketplace (aka public health insurance exchange) and in the... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, August 31, 2015

New, Very Expensive Treatments for Cholesterol Approved

NOTE: MBGH's new, specialty pharmacy management program for members is exactly what employers need to make the tough decisions around how to manage the costs of the new, very expensive treatments for high cholesterol, while still getting this treatment to those that need it. Contact Cristie at ctravis@memphisbusinessgroup.org to learn more. Two drugs in a new class of cholesterol-lowering treatments have now been approved by the FDA --  Praluent, made by Sanofi Regeneron... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, August 31, 2015

Flexible Spending Accounts May Disappear

Richard Stover, an actuary with Buck Consultants, predicts that Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) will be the first to go if the Cadillac Tax moves forward as planned. FSAs allow employees to save their own money, pre-tax, to pay for various health-related expenses including co-pays and deductible, eye glasses, and more. According to Stover, eliminating FSAs may be the most obvious way the Cadillac Tax impacts the middle class. The Cadillac Tax, which taxes the amount of benefits over... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, August 31, 2015

Memphis Restaurants Receive Eat REAL Tennessee Recognition

Through a partnership between the Tennessee Department of Health and the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC), Eat REAL™ Tennessee has announced the first REAL Certified establishments in Memphis. Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) is a growing national program that helps combat diet-related disease by recognizing foodservice operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship.  MBGH encourages all employers to share this list of... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, June 22, 2015

Telemedicine Expansion Gets Boost from Walgreens, United, Anthem

According to Modern Healthcare, Walgreens plans to reach about half the country with computer based telemedicine programs (also adapted for tablet, smart phones) by December 31, 2015. This announcement falls on the heals of plans announced by Anthem and United to expand their telemedicine services to more than 40 million by next year. The American Telemedicine Association estimates that 450,000 Americans had telemedicine visits last year for primary care and although that number is only a... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, June 19, 2015

Health Care Cost Increases Picking Up Speed

Drew Altman, in his June 11, 2015 WSJ blog post, believes the "lowest of the lows of the health cost slowdown are now in the rear view mirror" and as the economy has recovered, people are using more health care services. In addition, more people covered through health reform are likely impacting the increase as well. Read the blog post here . Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, June 19, 2015

Out-of-Network Charges Can Break the Bank

A recent report from America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) shows that across the US, some physicians are charging patients fees that are 10 times, and in some cases as much as 100 times, the amount Medicare pays when patients go outside their health plan's network. In Tennessee, for the selected procedures, out-of-network charges range from 7 times what Medicare pays to 33 times what Medicare pays. Hospitals have adopted a similar strategy. A study reported in the June edition of ... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, June 19, 2015

CVS Almost Doubles in Memphis Through Purchase of Target Pharmacies

CVS's purchase of Target pharmacies will almost double the number of CVS locations in the Memphis-metro area, making CVS a more attractive network model for Memphis-area employers and their employees.            Read more about the acquisition in the  NY Times Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, June 19, 2015

Potential Insurance Company Mergers Could Limit Employer Choices

Source: Morning Consult 6/21/15 Update: Cigna Rejects Anthem's $47 billion offer. Read why and more about other possible mergers in the latest NY Times article. Are these possible mergers good or bad? Well, the answer is "depends". They would certainly limit employer choices as well as people purchasing individual insurance or insurance through the exchanges. On the other hand, larger insurance companies may be able to negotiate more favorable financial arrangements with the health... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, June 19, 2015

MBGH & Methodist: Innovation Has Been the Key

Thinking back over the MBGH-Methodist Healthcare relationship, the first word that comes to mind is “innovation”. In many ways, Methodist has been a “Mikey” for MBGH. You remember “Mikey”, that little boy at the breakfast table in commercials that is willing to try anything for breakfast. Some highlights from the list of “Mikey-like” innovations with MBGH include:   The first worker’s compensation PPO network for self-insured... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, May 18, 2015

Opioid Abuse Costing Employers Billions

According to a recent study released by Healthentic and an article in Employee Benefit News, lost work and productivity due to opioid abuse account for $10 billion. 13% of the opioid users accounted for 92% of the employer costs.  What should you do? Insist on conservative prescribing approaches from your health plans and participating physicians Use HIPAA-compliant tools to identify abusing employees  Increase and ensure confidential access to treatment Click here  to... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, May 15, 2015

Check Out Latest Memphis Hospital Safety Scores

The latest Hospital Safety Scores for Memphis-area hospitals are out! Results of interest include: The Regional Medical Center improved its score moving to a D. Methodist North and Methodist South moved back to the Bs they have had in previous results.  For the first time, Baptist Collierville had enough volume to receive it's own score, which was a C. The rest of the scores remained the same as in Fall 2014:  Methodist... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, May 14, 2015

Radical Approach to Hospital Bills: Set Your Own Price

According to Kaiser Health News, May 13, 2105:  "A small benefits consulting firm called ELAP Services is causing commotion by suggesting an alternative: Refuse to pay. When hospitals send invoices with charges that seem to bear no relationship to their costs, the Pennsylvania firm tells its clients (generally medium-sized employers) to just say no." "Instead, employers pay hospitals a much lower amount for their services — based on ELAP’s analysis of what is reasonable after analyzing... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hepatitis C Virus Surges in Appalachia, Including Tennessee

The CDC found that hepatitis C cases increased 364% from 2006 to 2012 for residents ages 12-29 in the Appalachian states of Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee. Rural rates were more than double urban rates. 73% of those that responded to a survey regarding risk factors reported they had used intravenous drugs, primarily heroin and prescription opioids.  Add this to the fact that Memphis ranks second in the country for hepatitis C cases per 100,000 population and it is... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Clarifications Issued On Key Health Reform Coverage Requirements

Click here to print out a copy of the clarifications issued by HHS and DOL regarding key health reform coverage requirements, including: Coverage of FDA-approved contraceptives BRCA genetic testing Sex-specific recommended preventive services Well-woman preventive care for dependents Colonoscopy anesthesia services You can also click here to go directly to the DOL site. Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, May 12, 2015

CDC Focuses on a Healthy Workforce

2015 MBGH Annual Conference Topic: Effective Worksite Wellness Programs MBGH CEO Culture of Health Initiative The latest issue of Business Pulse: Healthy Workforce  is now available and explores how the CDC can help employers maximize their worker health and safety while improving their profitability and productivity.  The piece links to many tools that employers may find of value including business-focused CDC resources, the Total Worker Health program and this... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How Does Your Health Plan Treat the New Biosimilars?

2015 MBGH Specialty Pharmacy Management Workshop Topic (held April 1) From the National Business Coalition on Health: "Earlier this month, Novartis’ Zarxio was the first biosimilar product approved in the United States, ushering in a new era for the drug industry, consumers and third parties who manage medical and drug benefits. The introduction of cheaper alternatives to relatively complex biologic drugs has created confusion over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval process... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cadillac Tax To Become 2016 Election Issue

MBGH Members Only Peer Roundtable Discussions: Strategies Being Implemented re: Cadillac Tax The next time your CFO asks you to explain the Cadillac Tax just tell them it is a way to "equalize the way wages and health insurance are taxed. " According to the April 13, 2015 article in Employee Benefit News, Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist, explains "Health insurance is compensation and wages are compensation. They should be taxed the same. And they're not". Gruber believes that since... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, April 13, 2015

Private Exchange Enrollment Doubles in 2015

2015 MBGH Annual Conference Topic: Private Healthcare Exchanges! According to an April 13,2 015 article in Employee Benefit News, Accenture data shows that enrollment in private exchanges doubled from 3 million in 2014 to 6 million in 2015. Accenture projects that by 2018, the first year of the Cadillac Tax, 40 million will be enrolled in private exchanges. Although most of the growth in 2015 was in the mid-market segment, Accenture believes that more large employers, who have been... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, April 13, 2015

MBGH & Baptist Redefined Providing Health Benefits in Memphis

Thirty years ago, a small, but mighty, group of employers came together to commiserate about the high cost of health care in Memphis. They commissioned a special study that showed not only were their costs high, but there didn’t seem to be a rationale for how rates were set and there were vast differences, some as high as 80%, between what hospitals charged for the same service.  Deciding that unless they became more active purchasers nothing would change, these employers, joined now by... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Sunday, April 12, 2015

How To Develop a Culture of Health For Successful Worksite Wellness Programs

"There is considerable debate about whether worksite wellness programs are effective in improving health and in reducing health benefit costs. Supporters argue that if employees are healthier they are less likely to develop chronic diseases that are linked to lifestyle choices. Skeptics counter that many worksite wellness approaches actually increase costs and don’t deliver on the promise of reducing health benefit cost trends. Both of these viewpoints can be correct, especially if the issue... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, April 6, 2015

The Y Leads by Example in the CEO Culture of Health Initiative

The YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South is one of our newest CEO Culture of Health participants, having just joined in 2015. Believe it or not, they have already met the requirements for the Small Starts @ Work program and are officially a Healthier Tennessee Workplace! Now you may be saying to yourself, “Well, it was easy for them, they are in the business of helping people get and stay healthy.” Cleo Griffin, Corporate Relationship Director for The Y, will quickly tell you that it is not... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, April 3, 2015

CVS Urges Cost Controls For New Cholesterol Medications

Citing the concern that eventually 15 million patients at an annual cost of $150 billion of a new class of cholesterol medications, CVS Health warned that the cost of these new medications could overwhelm the U.S. health care system "if rigid cost control mechanisms are not put in place". According to Reuters, CVS negotiates drug pricing for 65 million through contracts with employers and health plans. The concerns around cholesterol medications are closely following criticism regarding the... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Scope of Wellness Programs Growing

MBGH's CEO Culture of Health is growing rapidly with 6 new participants so far in 2015. We are now at 60 participating organizations with over 66,000 employees. Contact Cristie at ctravis@memphisbusinessgroup.org for more information on the complimentary benefits available to you from MBGH. And, here are the survey results from the International Foundation for Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) 2015 Worksite Wellness Trends survey. As you will see, having a culture of health at the worksite pays... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Get Intensive Training on Techniques and Skills to Manage Cost and Quality of Your Health Benefits

All Greater Memphis-area and West Tennessee HR and Benefit professionals are invited to attend the College for Value-Based Purchasing at Nissan North America in Franklin, TN on March 31-April 1, 2015. Tuition costs are waived for MBGH dues-paying members and conference sponsors at the Supporter level and above (committed before March 13). For others the tuition for the College is $500. Attendees are responsible for all travel and overnight accommodations and meals not provided by the College.... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What the Anthem Breach Means to Employer Health Plan Sponsors

Thank you to the National Business Coalition on Health for sharing this Advisory with MBGH Advisory Information from the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP 02.09.15 By Adam H. Greene, Sarah L. Bhagwandin, Sean B. Hoar, Christin S. McMeley, Dipa N. Sudra, Rebecca L. Williams, and Anna C. Watterson  NOTE: Even if you do not contract with Anthem, this is a great case study on your obligations and considerations if a breach ever occurs for you! On Feb. 4, 2015, Anthem announced a data... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Most Employers Are Unprepared for ACA's 2015 Requirements

A 2014 study by the ADP Research Institute finds that most employers, both mid-sized (50-999 employees) and large (1,000+ employees) are still unprepared for ACA's 2015 requirements. For example, only the following are "prepared" for 2015 requirements:  ACA Requirement  Mid-Sized   Large    Exchange Notification      33%  ... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, January 19, 2015


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