This year is going to be a whirlwind in the health and benefits industry. There has never been a better time to be a member of NCEBC. If you are a former member or guest, please go to the link below for membership information. Most companies will let you expense your dues. If you are a current member, thank you. Please talk to your friends and colleagues about the benefits of joining.
NCEBC is committed to hosting networking events so our members can get to know one another better, share ideas and have a good time. Stay tuned for an announcement on our networking event in March. Further, please stay tuned for a recap of the 2/15/17 panel event coming next month.
FIVE WAYS THAT TOM PRICE CAN QUICKLY CHANGE THE HEALTHCARE LANDSCAPE
On 2/9/17 Tom Price became our new Secretary of Health and Human Services by a 52 to 47 vote. The following items are five changes that would disrupt health policies currently in force:
1. Medicare payment changes - The health law created an agency within Medicare, called the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, that was tasked with exploring new ways to pay doctors and hospitals that would reduce costs while maintaining quality. The HHS secretary has the authority to require doctors and hospitals to participate in the experiments and new payment models.
2. Birth Control Coverage - As secretary, Price would have two main options. He could expand the “accommodation” that already exempts some houses of worship from the requirement to any employer with a religious objection. Or, because the specific inclusion of birth control came via a regulation rather than the law itself, he could simply eliminate no-copay birth control coverage from the benefits insurance plans must offer. (This assumes continuing existence of the health law, at least for the short term).
3. Planned Parenthood funding - Republicans have been agitating to separate Planned Parenthood from its federal funding literally for decades. Congress would have to change Medicaid Law to permanently defund the women’s health group, which also performs abortions (with non-federal funds) at many of its sites. But an HHS secretary has many tools at his disposal to make life miserable for the organization. For example, during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, rules were put in place, and eventually upheld by the Supreme Court, that would have banned staff in federally funded family planning clinics from counseling or referring for abortion women with unintended pregnancies. The subsequent Clinton administration repealed the rules, but they could make a comeback under the new secretary’s leadership.
4. Tobacco regulation - After years of discord, Congress finally agreed to give the Food and Drug Administration (limited) authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009. “The core authority is statutory,” said Matt Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who advocated for the law. That means Congress would have to act to eliminate many of its changes. But a secretary who opposes the law (Price voted against it at the time) could weaken enforcement, says Myers. Or he could rewrite and water down some rules, including recent ones affecting cigars and e-cigerettes.
5. Conscience Protection Act, Weldon Amendment - At the very end of the George W. Bush administration, HHS issued rules intended to clarify that health care professionals did not have to participate in performing abortions, sterilizations or other procedures that violated a “religious belief or moral conviction.” The Obama administration revised the rules dramatically, much to the continuing consternation of conservatives. They were among the few health-related items included in the health section of Trump’s website before he was inaugurated and the page was taken down. “The Administration will act to protect individual conscience in health care,” it said. Many expect the rules to be reinstated in their original form.
Medical Imaging Evolves
In order to reduce these inefficiencies, medical imaging workflows must follow the footsteps of the EHR, transforming into a comprehensive multi-departmental enterprise imaging platform. This singular platform provides common enterprise services (interfacing, authentication, archiving, image exchange, visualization, etc.) as well as departmental imaging acquisition and management services from cardiology to radiology, GI to ophthalmology, dermatology to pathology, wound care to point-of-care US, among others.
Significant value could be realized in a wide variety of medical imaging specialties, including radiology, if patient images were automatically attributed to the clinical context in which they are captured.
With recent transformations in the healthcare environment, many facilities are finding this situation increasingly intolerable, putting them at risk of withheld reimbursements further impacting already tight margins. In order to achieve the outcomes expected not only today, but to anticipate the changing demands of the future, there arises need for a single, converged platform approach.
This interoperable platform would provide multi-specialty informatics and imaging services, archival, enterprise content management, image exchange, mobile display and acquisition with tools for physician collaboration, patient engagement, foreign study management and regional health services, without the detriments of multi-vendor environments.
WELLNESS NEWS - Meditation Can Alleviate Stress
Stress is one of the biggest challenges facing U.S. adults, with many reporting that stress has a negative impact on their mental and physical health. The American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2015 Stress in America survey further revealed that a sizable portion of adults do not feel they are doing enough to manage their stress.
Nearly half of Americans said they engage in stress-management activities just a few times a month or less (and 18 percent said they never do). Others (nearly 40 percent) report overeating or eating unhealthy foods as a result of stress, while 46 percent said they lie awake at night because their stress levels are so high.
Needless to say, a simple, inexpensive tool to help manage stress would be invaluable for stress-out adults in need of a reprieve — especially one that can be practiced virtually anytime, anywhere. Such tools do exist — they’re called meditation and mindfulness — and now we have new research affirming their significant benefits for stress relief.
Professionally organized mindfulness training programs may be best for some people, but you can also take steps to become more mindful in your everyday life, then pull up these skills whenever you feel stress starting to take hold.
Ideally, start out your day with a mindfulness "exercise," such as focusing on your breathing for five minutes before you get out of bed. Focus on the flow of your breath and the rise and fall of your belly. This can help you to stay better focused for the rest of the day.
As the day goes on, try to minimize multi-tasking, as this is the opposite of mindfulness. If you find yourself trying to complete five tasks at once, stop yourself and focus your attention back to the task at hand. If emotionally distracting thoughts enter your head, remind yourself that these are only "projections," not reality, and allow them to pass by without stressing you out.
Two Republican senators introduced a detailed bill on 1/23/17 that would allow some states to keep former President Barack Obama's health care law, the Affordable Care Act, in place, while allowing others to craft their own plan.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., presented the bill, called the Patient Freedom Act of 2017, in a press conference Monday, 1/23/17. The bill would give states the option to keep subsidies from the federal government that help people pay for health insurance and to receive Medicaid dollars expanded to low-income residents.
"Republicans think that if you like your insurance you should keep it, and we mean it," Cassidy said.
His statement invoked the one Obama made about his signature health care law years ago, when he said his health care law would allow patients to keep their doctors if they liked them.
Republicans have been under pressure to come up with a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act as they are moving swiftly to dismantle it amid concerns that their choices could threaten people's finances and health. It's unclear to what extend other Republicans will back the bill, also sponsored by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. Several other lawmakers are likely to introduce their own plans in coming months, but the latest bill shows one of the options that will be debated, or hints at portions that could be included in a final plan.
1 lb. lean ground turkey, cooked and drained
1 can each organic black beans and sliced black olives, drained and rinsed
½ C shredded cheddar cheese
Butter lettuce leaves
Sliced jalapenos, Sliced avocado, chopped Cilantro, Salsa, Greek yogurt, chopped tomatoes
Cook the first 4 ingredients together, fill lettuce and add toppings of choice.
Serving Size: 2 lettuce cups + ¼ cup turkey mixture each • Calories: 162 • Fat: 4.3 g • Saturated Fat: 0.8 g • Carbs: 7.8 g • Fiber: 0.9 g • Protein: 23.5 g • Sugars: 3.4 g • WW Points+: 4 • Smart Points: 3