Category Archives: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Security Updates, Consilidation, and Obesity Rates Feature in our 6/10 Healthcare News Roundup

Obesity rates rise among women, no change in men


According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the national obesity rate in 2013-2014 reached 35% among men and 40% among women. The 40% number for women represents a linear increase since 2005, while obesity rates for men have remained relatively stagnant. Study authors suggest that insufficient data exists to make an accurate assessment of the causes for these trends, and recommend further studies be conducted.

Western State Hospital, Washington’s largest psychiatric hospital, agrees to ramp up safety measures

Western State Hospital has a reputation for being a dangerous work environment, where employees and patients have been subjected to violence in the past. Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently replaced the hospital’s CEO, Ron Adler, with an experienced manager of state mental health systems, Cheryl Strange. Federal Regulators and Western State Hospital have hammered out a detailed plan to correct the safety concerns.

Gray’s Harbor doctor encourages male patients to have uncomfortable conversations about men’s health

Dr. Stephen Reznicek, of Grays Harbor Community Hospital, has been building a top-tier urology clinic on the fourth floor of the hospital. The clinic helps to meet the huge demand for urology services in the area. The clinic anticipates future growth the an expanding medical team, including a new urologist later this year.

Dr. Reznicek places an emphasis on non-invasive solutions for men with prostate and fertility concerns. One of the first hurdles to overcome with new patients is just starting the conversation. Urologists recommend regular check-ups, especially as men grow older.

Study finds that criminal activity is leading cause of healthcare data breaches

A recent study published by the Ponemon Institute has revealed that half of all privacy and security data breaches in healthcare are attributable to malicious criminal attacks. The remaining 50% of data breaches can be blamed on employee mistakes, third-party errors, and stolen computers & devices. Data breaches can result in medical identify theft, as hackers are able to acquire names, social security numbers, and other confidential information about patients.

In an interview with HealthcareITNews, Seattle Children’s Hospital IT security manager David Severski notes that security technologies need to be adapted to protect against these malicious attacks. “If you are not applying a data-driven, scientific approach to managing your resources, you are managing at best by instinct,” he added. “And in a competitive business world, instinct is not enough.”

Skagit Regional Health acquires Cascade Valley Hospital

Cascade Valley Hospital was the last independent hospital in Washington’s Snohomish County. Cascade Valley began looking for an opportunity to consolidate in 2013, when it became apparent that the independent hospital needed an influx of financial support to continue serving their rural community. A previous agreement to join PeaceHealth fell through in 2014. Patients in the region can look forward to expanded services and updated equipment.

MultiCare Making Big Changes in the Lives of Children with Special Needs

This year, the Children’s Therapy Unit (“CTU”) in Puyallup, WA, which is part of the MultiCare Health System, is celebrating 50 years of helping infants, children and teens with special needs. The program serves children from birth to age 18 and saw 2,500 patients last year.

Lisa Yates, who began as a therapy student at what was then Good Samaritan Hospital (later part of MultiCare) and started the program in 1966, says the CTU has always operated under a basic philosophy for each child it treats: “What are the strengths, what are the weaknesses? That takes you where you need to go. You either build up the areas of weakness or you find ways around them.”

Yates came to the hospital as a student intern in the adult rehabilitation unit. At the time, there were no facilities for children at Good Samaritan. Societal attitudes and treatment of people with special needs were still in a period that many regard as the dark ages. School districts across the nation didn’t allow children with disabilities to attend school. They were sent to institutions which provided room and board, but not education, to those housed there.

“It was assumed that a lot of the kids — if they had a physical disability — were also cognitively impaired, which, of course, is not true,” Yates said.

Two such children were referred to the hospital just after Yates began. The only facilities available to them was the middle of the adult gym, not an ideal place for kids, especially those who needed special attention. Yates found a private place where the two kids could work, and after some successes, referrals increased. The fledgling program began to grow.

Today the CTU is housed in a 16-year-old, nautical-themed building on the Good Samaritan campus. It is home to a playground, basketball court, computer lab, classrooms for professionals and parents, and a pool shaped like a shell which is used for therapy.

About 10 percent of the patients at the CTU are the children of servicemen and women, many of whom are posted at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Roughly 60 percent of the patients at the CTU receive Medicaid. Patients served have a variety of issues, including cerebal palsy, autism, and Down Syndrome. The majority of children at the CTU are in occupational therapy to learn the skills of daily life. Speech therapy, followed by physical therapy, are the next most popular programs. While they all have unique issues to address, they generally share one goal: to live an independent life.

“I don’t want to be dependent on everyone else for the rest of my life,” said Kristie Gronberg, an 18-year-old who recently aged out of the CTU. “I have things I’d like to do, and I’d like to do them by myself.”

MultiCare continues to grow and has openings for healthcare professionals who are passionate about their work. See their current openings here.

Proposed CMS guidelines to reign in Narrow networks in 2015

Narrow Networks, where the insurance companies severely limit the hospitals and providers that patients are allowed to use, are likely to be curtailed for 2015 on the Federal ACA Exchange. This will benefit non-profit hospitals as well as the patient population.

For example, in Seattle, WA 75% of the health plans exclude the nationally acclaimed Seattle Children’s Hospital, Harborview Medical Center (the northwest’s regional trauma center), and the University of Washington Medical Center (one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers). Their collective research and trauma expertise make them destination hospitals when critical medical capability is required. Taking the sickest children and most severe trauma patients make them too expensive for these insurance plans to include them in their network, harming these organizations as well as the patients. And this occurring across the U.S.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued new guidelines to reign in this trend for health insurers looking to sell health plans through the federally facilitated ACA marketplace in 2015. Hopefully the state run exchanges will follow suit.

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