Healthcare Finance NewsDay, April 12, 2011
While many employers expect an increase in the cost of providing benefits to employees, two-thirds of them responding to a new survey from Deloitte are making no immediate changes to their benefits programs, signaling a “wait and see” approach for final healthcare reform provisions that will likely reduce plan design flexibility.
Kaiser Health News, April 21, 2011
Huffington Post: Reform Medicare, Don’t Cut It
The law contains Medicare cuts, but the savings achieved are then used to pay for new federal spending, such as the Medicaid expansion and new subsidies to purchase health care in state-based exchanges. When a federal program is growing, the easiest path forward is to continue to cut it. But the problem with Meidcare is that it is so complex that if you cut growth in one area, costs are simply shifted to other areas. What ensues is a sophisticated and high stakes game of “whack-a-mole.” This is exactly what health reform did through the creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB (Tommy G. Thompson, 4/19).
National Review: The Road to IPAB
What Pres. Barack Obama’s budget speech last week lacked in details, it made up for in an obnoxious faith in the surpassing wisdom of unelected experts. Why does Obama need specifics when he has the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB? If spending on health care is the biggest driver of government spending, then IPAB is Obama’s most important deficit-reduction initiative. It is a panel of 15 presidentially appointed experts. They will have more power over Medicare than the average member of Congress. … IPAB won’t make the notoriously inefficient Medicare program any more efficient. Through arbitrary reductions on payments to providers, it will simply reduce the supply of care (Rich Lowry, 4/19).
Viewpoints: Medicare Cuts & Partisan Politics; … (excerpt)
Kaiser Health News, April 21, 2011
The Wall Street Journal: The Other Medicare Cutters
The debate over Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform ideas has largely been healthy, even amid the liberal distortions. But why has there been so little scrutiny of President Obama’s new Medicare proposal? Anyone worrying about more individual choice and responsibility in health care might be interested to learn that the alternative is turning every one of these decisions over to a 15-member central committee (4/20).
Holding BAs Accountable for Breaches
By Eve Collins, April 15, 2011
With more and more data breaches due to mistakes by or thefts from business associates, many HIPAA covered entities may be wondering when BAs will start being held accountable for their actions that lead to breaches. Health Net recently notified almost 2 million people that their personal information was saved on several hard drives that were stolen from one of its BAs. And the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation notified more than a million people their personal information was breached when computer backup tapes for two HHC hospitals were stolen out of a BA’s unlocked van. HHC says the firm was negligent, breached its contract with HHC and should repay the system for costs of notifying patients, according to a recent lawsuit.
Given that OCR officials have said that BAs won’t be investigated until after HHS issues the final regulations, what are you doing as a CE to protect PHI in the meantime?
How can BAs be held more accountable for their actions that lead to breaches?
7 Deadly Retirement Savings Sins
AOL excerpt, April 20, 2011
1. Turning your back on free money.
If your company offers a 401(k) “matching” program, it will contribute a certain percentage, up to a set amount, of the money you contribute to your account. We hope you’re taking full advantage of that match. If not, shame on you!
2. Underestimating how much money you’ll really need in retirement to maintain your standard of living.
… we recommend you plan to replace 100% of your pre-retirement income. This calculator can help you determine how much money you’ll really need.
3. Treating your retirement account like a piggy bank.
We don’t care if you need a new roof or that your child can’t get a scholarship and needs help with college tuition: Don’t tap your retirement plan for anything other than a dire emergency! Instead, consider taking out a fixed-rate home equity loan for the roof and have your child get a student loan for college.
4. Relying too heavily on Social Security.
… be sure to maximize your payments by knowing your correct Social Security retirement age. Start too soon, and you could lose up to 25% of your benefits!
5. Putting too many eggs in one basket.
Diversify your investments among available investment alternatives. It’s one sure way to protect your retirement funds from market risks.
6. Taking extra risk to make up for investment losses or lost time.
As you get closer to retirement, you should be adjusting your investing mix so that you’re taking less risk – not more – in order to protect your savings.
7. Ignoring the spending side of the equation.
Spending less on life’s necessities now – everything from life insurance to groceries to your mortgage – will give you more money to save for retirement. And you can make your nest egg, no matter how big or small it is, last much longer if you look at smart ways to save big bucks when you’re retired.