Public Policy Weekly Clips: March 14, 2016

March 15, 2016 · Paul Cotton

Every Tuesday, NCQA gives a rundown of the best national, state and private sector health care articles from the week. Here are our picks for today’s Public Policy Weekly Clips.



Physicians spend over $15.4B & 785 hours each annually to report quality measures, says MGMA.

Marketplaces nationwide signed up 4.9M new customers for 2016 – total enrollment  now 12.7M.

CMS will rate Marketplace networks & require 90 day continuous coverage with terminated providers.

CMS suspended its policy of reducing Star Ratings & bonuses for sanctioned plans, saving Cigna $350M.

CMS’s proposal to curb incentives to use higher cost drugs is drawing sharp opposition.

CMS letters to doctors with high rates of addictive drug prescriptions did not change prescribing habits.

Among 13K eligible groups, just 128  representing 4300 doctors earned Medicare value bonuses.

ONC hired Accenture to build a framework to gather patient-generated data for clinical use & research.

The rise of easy-to-use retail clinics accounted for an additional $14 per person per year in health costs.

Primary care practices use fewer care management processes for depression vs. other chronic conditions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is adding poverty screening to its well-visit checklist.

Less than 1 in 4 Americans with pre-diabetic blood sugar levels get treatment.

A draft USPSTF recommendation urges primary care screening for latent TB in high-risk adults.

Overall cancer mortality rates fell 1.5% from 2003-12, largely due to prevention & early detection.

Elderly late-stage colorectal cancer patients increasingly get costly treatments with little benefit.

High proportions of “ultra-processed” foods in US diets greatly increase intake of added sugars.

Low aerobic capacity & muscle strength at 18 may raise long-term diabetes risk, even with normal BMI.

Low BMI & high body fat are independently associated with increased mortality.

Daily extreme exercising can increase atrial fibrillation risk & contribute to heart failure or stroke.

Activated/engaged patients are significantly less likely to visit EDs or be admitted to hospitals.

IOM issued a framework for educating health professionals to address social determinants of health.


California is adding cost data to the quality & patient experience info on its medical group report card.

Colorado’s Medicaid expansion created 31K new jobs & added $3.8B in economic activity to the state.

Nebraska announced it will award Medicaid contracts to UnitedHealthcare, Centene & WellCare.

New Jersey may establish a task force to make recommendations on tiered network policies.

New York will start penalizing physicians for not writing prescriptions electronically.

New York home health firms say plans to hike minimum wages would harm patients & their bottom line.

Washington Medicaid & private plans are being sued for limiting the costly hepatitis C drug Harvoni.


Consumer health app & wearables use grew from 16-33% from 2014-15; 40% share data with clinicians.

Out of millions of employers, only a few thousand will shift the way health insurance works due to ACA.

To reduce spending overall, employers should provide reference-based pricing data to employees.

Employers still providing health insurance, pushing fewer into public marketplace exchanges.

49 million U.S. workers without paid sick leave, causing undesirable health care outcomes.

Survey of 200 American CEOs believe wellness programs really benefit employees, as well as employers.

Over half (56%) of employers increased spousal coverage contributions, another 25% plan to by 2018.

Potential gains from the consumer price shopping aspect of price transparency efforts are modest.

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