March 2017 Print

Welcome New Members

Thank you to all of our NEW MEMBERS that joined during our inaugural event on 2/15/17. This is going to be a great year to be a member of NCEBC. We are currently planning the continuation of our education events and many different networking opportunities during the year. 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. 

http://ncebc.net/join.php

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Calendar of Events

NCEBC Happy Hour March 15th

March 15, 2017
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM

Hyatt Regency San Francisco
5 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111

 

Next Education Event

The Weird World of Big Pharma

April 13, 2017  St. Francis Drake Hotel (stay tuned for more)

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Trending Now

Trending Now

Employer Focus 2017

If you or your organization has Wellness products and/or platforms, 2017 could be a very good year for sales. Employers this year will focus on employee health and emotional well-being and will use tuition-free college programs for employees to meet company and industry needs.

Many will use new technologies to advance these goals.

Healthy employees are more productive employees, and higher productivity leads to less turnover. 

Employers also realize that keeping employees healthier is a way to address rising health care costs, Kumar said.

Software can help motivate employees to reach health goals. SHRM Online reported last year that data from personal monitoring devices could be used to lower health care costs. In January, USA Today reported that "more businesses and corporations are investing in wellness programs to not only improve the productivity of their employees but also their overall wellness."

Companies are redesigning their offices, too, in order to increase wellness. Some are prominently displaying healthier foods in employee cafeterias and are stocking vending machines with healthier food choices. Others are building walking paths and making the stairs a more attractive option by displaying art in the stairwells and piping in background music.

If you sell Wellness Platforms prepare for a busy year. If not, make sure you have plenty of Wellness partners, to support all budgets, to meet the needs of your clients.

Employers Pay College Costs

In 2017, more employers will offer tuition-free college degree programs to improve the skills of employees and prepare them to be leaders within the organization, said Adrian Ridner, CEO and co-founder of Study.com, a Mountain View, Calif., company that offers online courses and study tools.

"Companies that have a large nondegreed workforce are recognizing the value of helping their employees get a college education," Ridner said. "It makes sense in terms of attracting and retaining employees but also helps them grow employees into future leaders."

According to the 2016 Employee Benefits survey report from the Society for Human Resource Management, 55 percent of organizations offered education assistance for undergraduate programs, 52 percent offered education assistance for post-graduate programs and 4 percent of companies offered employees help with student loan repayments.

Ridner said that partnerships between education providers and companies can make the cost of a college degree affordable, and in some cases free, for employees. Most companies that offer tuition reimbursement programs cover a small portion of college expenses.

For example, Thomas Edison State University partnered with Study.com to offer JetBlue airline employees the opportunity to earn a degree at a low cost.

Flexible degree programs can make it possible for employees to earn a college degree by taking online courses on a mobile device, Ridner said.

"Imagine progressing toward your degree by watching five-minute videos on your phone during a break at work, while on the train or waiting to pick up your kid from soccer practice," he said.

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Healthcare IT News

ACOs accountable care organizations

For all the talk about economies of scale in healthcare and other industries, accountable care organizations are not exactly enjoying those at this point in time, according to Indranil Bardhan, professor of information systems at The University Of Texas At Dallas.

Bardhan and his team conducted a three-year study of the performance of 400 accountable care organizations, with 2013-2015 data drawn from the databases of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“We uncovered very interesting insights; for example, the size of an ACO in terms of beneficiaries covered is inversely related to performance,” Bardhan explained. “The larger the size of an ACO, the more likely it is to be inefficient.” 

In the study’s model, Bardhan said, across the entire set of 400 ACOs, the researchers found that a 1 percent increase in health IT usage was associated with a 0.5 percent increase in the level of efficiency. 

 

“Health IT helps to improve the efficiency of an ACO,” Bardhan added. “What we found was that health IT serves as a coordinating mechanism that allows providers in an ACO to coordinate their care and provide better services, which improves the overall efficiency of the ACO. Health IT has a positive moderating effect on the relative performance of ACOs.”

That said, while it is easy to measure performance in the hard sciences, Bardhan said that when it comes to measuring the relative performance of an organization, things become tricky.

“Working in healthcare informatics and analytics for the last nine years, I can say that healthcare, especially with respect to ACOs, is fascinating because there is not just one single output measure that you are using to compare performance,” Bardhan explained. “It’s a classical problem of multiple outputs, multiple outcomes, where you are looking at cost savings as well as quality achievements. In this kind of setting, it is difficult to measure the performance of organizations against each other when you have multiple outputs that cannot easily be transformed into a single dollar number.”

For instance, it’s difficult to put a dollar number on achievement of quality outcomes, which is why healthcare needs a technique that accounts for that, Bardhan said.

“Unlike in the hard science of physics, there is no absolute measure of performance; when you are comparing organizations, it is all relative to each other – how is one ACO doing against another ACO that is best-in-class?” he said. “So we use a technique that is fairly well known in the literature of operations research, it’s called data envelopment analysis, a mathematical modeling technique that allows you to compute the relative performance and efficiency of ACOs and measure them against each other. That is how I got started looking at relative performance of ACOs, because there is this multiple input/multiple output setting that makes it hard for regular statistical models to work.”

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Wellness News

5 Ways to Instantly Improve your Mood!

1.     Stop what you’re doing and take three deep breaths. Really, take as many deep breaths as you need to until the anger, frustration or self-pity you’re feeling starts to give way to a deeper emotion. This is one way to get to the root of the issue or find out what’s causing your mood since whatever it is that sets us off is generally a symptom of a deeper issue. Once you identify how you really feel, you’ll have a better idea of what is causing those feelings. From there, you can move forward with a solution in a more balanced way. 

2. Take a long walk. Once you’ve found out what’s really going on with your mood, you’ll probably want to jump to do something about it. But, that’s not always the best idea. Generally speaking, times of increased stress aren’t the best for confronting an issue. If this is the case, I’d suggest talking a walk. If you have a dog, bring it along for it, and leave your phone at home. Cardiovascular activity relieves stress by lowering cortisol levels, increasing dopamine and improving circulation in the body and brain.

3. Talk to a trusted friend. We all have a friend who makes us feel better, the one you call when you just need someone to listen. They’re like a good therapist you probably should pay, but don’t because you’d do the same for them if they needed you. Generally, talking to a friend does the work of silencing your own inner judge by getting any toxic thoughts you’re having out into the open.

4. Watch something funny. I don’t know if you’ve heard of one of the lesser-known miracles of modern medicine called Netflix, but GET ON IT, people. There are like a million standup comedy specials, movies and shows on there, and you’re bound to find something to make you howl with laughter. This is an important step in cheering yourself up because comedy is the ultimate reminder that life, while meaningful, just isn’t that serious.

5. Eat something. I probably should’ve listed this one first because more often than not, a terrible mood that comes out of nowhere can be attributed to a drop in blood sugar. Obviously, it’s always best to reach for something healthy, like an apple or a handful of almonds when you can. So, in the spirit of just being human, grab something relatively healthy and make sure you feed yourself.

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Legislative Update



House Acts Fast

It took former President Barack Obama and his Democrats more than a year to pass the Affordable Care Act, a slow and painstaking process that allowed plenty of time for a fierce backlash to ignite, undermining the law from the very start.

Republicans are trying to avoid that pitfall as they attempt to fulfill years’ worth of promises to repeal and replace Obama’s law.

After going public with their long-sought bill on Monday, House Republicans swiftly pushed it through two key committees. They hope to pass the legislation in the full House during the week of March 20 before sending it to the Senate and then, they hope, to President Donald Trump — all before Congress can take a recess that could allow town hall fury to erupt.

Democrats are crying foul, accusing Republicans of rushing the bill through before the public can figure out what it does. Republicans dispute the criticism, arguing that their legislation enshrines elements of a plan House Republicans worked on for months last year and campaigned on under House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

“We offered it up in June. We ran on it all through the election. And now we’ve translated it into legislation,” Ryan said.

Yet after seven years of Republican promises to undo Obama’s signature health law and without ever uniting behind a plan to achieve that, the fact that they produced a bill at all came as something of a surprise.

And now, after months of confident predictions that Republicans would not be able to get their act together on health care, Democrats find themselves wondering anxiously whether the GOP could actually succeed in wiping away those arduous months of work from the dawn of the Obama administration.

“Nobody believed Republicans had a bill,” said the No. 2 House Democrat, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, “until Monday night.”

It’s a far cry from eight years ago, when Democrats held countless hearings and debated at length, in public and private, how to enact the most significant changes to the nation’s health care system in a generation.

While Republicans are not trying for bipartisan support on their repeal bill, Democrats spent arduous months in the Senate with a bipartisan working group of three Republican and three Democratic senators, known as the Gang of Six, trying to agree on a bipartisan bill. That effort ultimately failed.

The GOP legislation is 123 pages long. The Affordable Care Act rang in at more than 900 pages.

“We held hearings and we just spent seemingly endless hours working it over — very different from what the Republicans are doing,” said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich.

To be sure, creating an enormous federal program requires more time and effort than jettisoning some pieces of an existing one while replacing others with new, or in some cases retooled, conservative-friendly solutions.

The GOP legislation would eliminate the current mandate that nearly all people in the United States carry insurance or face fines. It would use tax credits to allow consumers to buy health coverage, expand health savings accounts, phase out an expansion of Medicaid and cap that program for the future, end some requirements for health plans under Obama’s law, and scrap a number of taxes.

Republicans have proceeded thus far without official estimates on how much the bill will cost or how many people will be covered, though it’s expected to be millions fewer than under Obama’s law. The Congressional Budget Office estimates are expected Monday, and that could affect Republicans’ chances.

Despite the momentum claimed by GOP leaders and the White House, deep divisions remain in their party. Conservatives argue that the legislation doesn’t do enough to uproot the law. Other Republicans express qualms about the impact on Medicaid recipients in their states. Some Republicans accuse Ryan and House GOP leaders of moving too quickly.

“We should have an open process, we should allow all of the members to amend legislation, within reason,” said GOP Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a perennial leadership foe.

But Democrats paid a price for their lengthy process, and there was second-guessing even then over the length of time Obama allowed the Senate’s Gang of Six group to spend in its ultimately fruitless quest. As the months dragged on, public opposition grew. Over Congress’ August recess in 2009, that rage overflowed at town halls that spawned the tea party movement, which would take back GOP control of the House the next year.

There’s little question that if the GOP process were to drag out for months, especially over a long congressional recess, a similar dynamic could emerge, especially given the consumer and senior groups that have lined up against the legislation and the energized Democratic base already on display at marches and town halls this year.

If Republicans succeed in shoving the bill through this month, such opposition will have less time to make itself known.

Instead, even some congressional Republicans are expressing some amazement at finding themselves, eight years later, undoing the law Democrats forged through those many months of turmoil and debate.

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From The Pantry


EASY ANGEL (ANGEL HAIR PASTA, that is)

1 package organic, whole wheat angel hair pasta - cooked to directions

10 thinly sliced garlic cloves sauteed to olive oil 

Add 6 cups of chopped tomatos to garlic mixture and heat

Mix pasta and tomatos, add chopped basil and shredded parmesean to taste

Serving Size: 1 cup pasta • Calories: 200 • Fat: 2.5 g • Saturated Fat: 0.8 g • Carbs: 39 g • Fiber: 6.0 g • Protein: 8.5 g • Sugars: 2.0 g • 

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