ACHP Media Monitoring Report: December 22, 2016

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Note: The Media Monitoring Report will not be published Monday, December 26 through Monday, January 2. We will resume publication Tuesday, January 3.

Presidential Transition Brief
Until inauguration on January 20, ACHP will provide updates on the presidential transition.

– President-elect Donald Trump has named investor Carl Icahn as a special adviser.

– President-elect Trump has selected Peter Navarro, an outspoken critic of China, as head of the new White House National Trade Council.

Enrollment in exchanges climbs
The Obama Administration announced Wednesday about 6.4 million individuals have signed up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The rush in sign-ups is an increase of 400,000 from the same time last year. Robert Pear at The New York Times reports Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania have experienced the highest enrollment numbers.

Governors Association writes party leadership on ACA
The Democratic Governors Association wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Wednesday warning a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would shift billions of dollars in medical costs to states. Without the ACA, the governors estimate they could incur about $69 billion in costs related to newly uninsured residents and uncompensated care throughout the next decade. The Associated Press reports.

GOP may keep some ACA taxes
Congressional Republicans may leave some Affordable Care Act (ACA) taxes intact to help fund a replacement plan, according to lobbyists. The ACA includes taxes on insurers, medical device companies and industry groups to financially support an increase in health coverage. Peter Sullivan at The Hill explains if the taxes are not removed with an initial repeal of the health law, they may still be eliminated down the line as a part of a comprehensive tax reform bill.

Medicare rule to help older patients
On January 1, new Medicare rules go into effect that aim to adequately compensate physicians for caring for seriously ill patients. According to physicians, caring for seniors with chronic illnesses is more time consuming as it involves coordinating with other health professionals, including care givers, pharmacists and specialists. Judith Graham at Kaiser Health News shares advocates of the rule change hope the reimbursement policies will make primary care and geriatrics more attractive fields for new doctors.

Officials include antibiotic-resistant bacteria in penalties
More than 750 hospitals reporting high rates of patient injuries have experienced payment cuts. For the first time, the federal government is considering the spread of bacteria resistant to antibiotics when determining hospital penalties, increasing the number of medical centers facing reduced payments. The facilities flagged by federal officials will receive about 1 percent less in Medicare payments, resulting in a loss of millions of dollars for some larger hospitals. Jordan Rau at California Healthline has the story.

Studies of Note

In this feature, the Media Monitoring Report shares a selection of notable research studies within the health care industry.

Access to Health Care

A Long Way in a Short Time: States’ Progress on Health Care Coverage and Access, 2013–2015
The Commonwealth Fund
December 2016
In an analysis of publicly available data, the Commonwealth Fund finds the uninsured rate has dropped by at least three percentage points for individuals between the ages of 19 and 64 in 48 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.). The number of adults skipping a visit to the doctor due to cost also declined in 38 states and D.C. The study examined data from 2013 to 2015.

Food Insecurity

Community Perspectives on Access to and Availability of Healthy Food in Rural, Low-Resource, Latino Communities
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
December 15, 2016
Through in-depth interviews, surveys and focus groups, researchers from the University of California and the Merced County Department of Public Health find nonretail outlets are a viable source of healthy foods in rural, agricultural areas. Residents living in food deserts cited community groups and trades of fruits and vegetables with neighbors as a way to improve access to nutritious foods.

 Gender and Quality of Care

Comparison of Hospital Mortality and Readmission Rates for Medicare Patients Treated by Male vs Female Physicians
JAMA Internal Medicine
December 2016
Researchers from Harvard University find patients with female physicians have lower rates of mortality compared to those receiving care from male doctors at the same hospital. The researchers conclude differences in how male and female doctors practice medicine may affect patient outcomes.

Surprise Bills

One in Five Inpatient Emergency Department Cases may Lead to Surprise Bills
Health Affairs
December 2016
Bureau of Economics Economist Christopher Garmon and Research Analyst Benjamin Chartock find surprise medical bills likely to occur in 20 percent of hospital emergency department inpatient admissions, 14 percent of emergency department outpatient visits and 9 percent of elective inpatient admissions, based on data from 2014. The chance a consumer will receive a surprise bill increases with age and complexity of the condition.