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Study details economic benefits of state Medicaid expansion

Michigan is one of several states that has yet to decide which path it will take on expanding Medicaid eligibility to an effective rate of 138% of the federal poverty level starting in 2014. A new report concludes that if the state decides to proceed with expansion, it could save hundreds of millions over a decade even while increasing enrollment in the program by more than 600,000 people under this Affordable Care Act provision. The report, prepared by the nonprofit Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation and several economists at the University of Michigan, analyzed three possible scenarios given a Michigan decision to go ahead with the full Medicaid expansion — low, moderate or high enrollment of mostly new eligibles in 2014. The center represents a partnership between the university and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Under the most likely scenario of moderate enrollment gains, the state could save about $983 million over 10 years, taking into account the federa ...

More than half of hospitals don’t screen all ICU patients for MRSA

The majority of hospitals are eschewing aggressive, time-consuming and costly interventions that might help prevent the spread of multidrug-resistant organisms such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Forty percent of infection-control directors said their intensive care units screen all newly admitted patients for multidrug-resistant organisms, according to a study in the October American Journal of Infection Control. About 30% of ICUs do such screening periodically, said the study, based on a nationwide survey of infection-control directors at 250 hospitals operating 413 ICUs. An estimated 70% of bacteria that cause health care-associated infections are resistant to at least one antibiotic, the study said. Patients with staph infections, vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus or Clostridium difficile are 40% likelier to be readmitted within a year than other patients, said a study in June’s Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. Whether so-called universal scr ...

Pharmacies take more active role in alerts on patients’ drugs

Physicians soon could be hearing more often from their patients’ pharmacies. Walgreens, which operates 7,944 stores in all 50 states, announced Oct. 16 the launch of its WellTransitions program for patients at high risk of readmission within 30 days of hospital stays. The program includes providing medication lists to patients’ primary care physicians and taking steps to make follow-up appointments. Walgreens also will provide medication review, bedside medication delivery and patient counseling. About a dozen health systems had signed on as of mid-October, and another dozen were negotiating to enlist the program’s help. WellTransitions is available at no cost to patients or physicians. Hospitals pay for the program either on a per-case basis or by giving WellTransitions a portion of the money saved on care. Details about how that would be split were not released. “What we’re working to do is be a resource for physicians and make it more likely that the patient is ac ...