Expectant Parents Urged to Check Hospital Safety; Unrestrained Rx Pricing; End-of-life Care Planning; MNsure Seeks Advisory Committee Members…

October 6, 2015

“Improvement in maternity care is one of the biggest opportunities for achieving health
care savings for employers while also improving the quality of life for employees and their families.”

Harold Miller, president and CEO of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform

Weekly Buzz: Hospital Safety Considerations for Expectant Parents  

“Some births take barely 30 minutes, while others last for days. Some are calmly attended by a midwife; others require emergency surgeries. But before that day comes, a family must make an important decision: where to give birth.” In this new editorial, Leapfrog Group CEO Leah Binder advises expectant parents to check in advance the C-section rate and safety record of hospitals under consideration.

“Action Group members recently took a deep dive on understanding the variation in costs and lack of transparency in quality for maternity and infertility care in Minnesota,” says Carolyn Pare, Action Group president and CEO. “From that work, we developed the Maternity and Infertility Purchaser’s Guide to bring attention to cost and quality variability and to give employers the tools they need to make informed purchasing decisions.” The Guide is available through the Member Center at mnhealthactiongroup.org.

Blog of the Week: How the Midwifery Model Benefits Families and Payers  

In a new blog about the promise of the midwifery model of care, the Minnesota Birth Center’s Tricia Balazovic and Dr. Steve Calvin discuss how the BirthBundle includes options of doula services, prenatal and parenting education, group prenatal services, water tubs for labor and delivery, and unique pain control methods. “It’s important to offer an empowering birth environment that treats pregnancy and birth as normal events. We believe health care reform should start where we all did – with pregnancy and birth.” Read more here.



prescription-drug-costsHealth Care Purchasers Need to be Vigilant in Watching for Unrestrained and Predatory Pricing 

  • This New York Times article explores Valeant Pharmaceutical International’s practice of of buying up existing drugs and raising prices aggressively. This year alone, Valeant raised prices on its brand-name drugs an average of 66 percent, about five times as much as its closest industry peers.
  • A number of other drug companies are also benefiting from  increasing the price of older medicines. A Wall Street Journal analysis released Monday found that price increases for 30 drugs between 2010 and 2014 averaged 76 percent, more than eight times general inflation.
  • Chronically ill people enrolled in individual health plans sold on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges pay on average twice as much out-of-pocket for prescription drugs each year than people covered through their workplace, according to this article in Kaiser Health News. “I see this as evidence yet again of the double-edged sword of group purchasing and cost shifting,” says Carolyn Pare. “Somebody always pays.”

National Depression Screening Day

October 8 is National Depression Screening Day. Each year the first Thursday in October is designated to mobilize community-based organizations including employers, health care organizations, schools, and other organizations to offer programs that educate, raise awareness, and screen individuals for common behavioral and mental health disorders and suicide risk. This year marks the 25th anniversary of this initiative begun by Dr. Douglas Jacobs of the organization, Screening for Mental Health, Inc.

To learn more about how The Action Group is rewarding providers and clinics for providing optimal care for depression, diabetes and vascular disease through Minnesota Bridges to Excellence, click here. We also offer access to a no-cost toolkit for members and non-members titled, “Help and Healing: Depression Resources for Care and Recovery.”

 mnsure_header_logoMNsure Seeks Advisory Committee Members

MNsure has advisory committees that provide guidance, advice and recommendations to its board of directors. The organization has put out a call for applicants to fill open seats on the Consumer and Small Employer Advisory Committee and on the Health Industry Advisory Committee. Minnesotans interested in serving must submit a resume and a completed application by 5 p.m. on October 15, 2015. Click here for more information.

wellness-01Oct. 21 Meeting for Members and Prospective Members: Opening Conversations About End-of-life Care  

As a community, how do we start talking about end-of-life decisions to ensure that those facing difficult choices are getting what they need from the health care system? As employers, how can we enable conversations about palliative and hospice care for employees who are dealing with serious illness? As individuals, how can we become more knowledgeable about this sensitive topic so we are prepared to make tough choices in challenging times?

During our next meeting for members and prospective members, we will explore the limitations of health care delivery and what really matters in end-of-life care. Meeting details are posted to the homepage: mnhealthactiongroup.org.

Thought for the Week

“In the best hospitals, patient safety is a top priority. Everyone – from scrub nurse to anesthesiologist to janitor – works to ensure that patients are protected from errors, accidents, injuries and infections. That’s important, because 1 out of every 6 people admitted to a hospital suffers a significant harm from a mistake.”

Leah Binder, Leapfrog Group President and CEO