Massachusetts officials face $500M Medicaid-funding shortfall

Boston Business Journal, September 19, 2014
Massachusetts officials confirmed this week that the state is anticipating a $500 million Medicaid-funding shortfall once the federal government’s fiscal calendar comes to a close Sept. 30, an IOU that will ultimately siphon funds from the 2015 budget and sets the table for an even-larger deficit a year from now. Read more »

HRSA awards $9.9 million in Affordable Care Act funds to enhance HIV services in community health centers

Health Services Resources Administration, September 18, 2014
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, PhD, RN, announced $9.9 million in funding through the Affordable Care Act and the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund, to 22 health centers in Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York. The awards will support the integration of high‐quality HIV services into primary care through innovative partnerships between the health centers and state health departments. Today’s funding supports workforce development, infrastructure development, HIV service delivery, partnership building, and quality improvement activities in health centers. The four states are participants in a new HRSA-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partnership. Read more »

Health care pilot shows progress in controlling costs

Boston Globe, September 18, 2014
Massachusetts health care providers experimenting with a new business model for Medicare patients said they saved millions of dollars last year while improving care. These providers have set up patient pools called pioneer accountable care organizations, where they earn incentives for coordinating care, cutting unnecessary tests and procedures, and keeping patients healthy. Read more »

U.S. median income flat in 2013 as poverty, uninsured dip slightly - Census

Reuters, September 16, 2014
The median income for people in the United States remained about flat at $51,900 in 2013 compared to the previous year, according to U.S. government data released on Tuesday. Read more »

Number of Americans without health insurance falls, survey says

New York Times, September 16, 2014
Federal researchers reported on Tuesday that the number of Americans without health insurance had declined substantially in the first quarter of this year, the first federal measure of the number of uninsured Americans since the Affordable Care Act extended coverage to millions of people in January. Read more »

How transparent should doctors be with their patients?

Boston Globe, September 16, 2014
Dr. Leana Wen wants her patients to know she was born in Shanghai, China, that she has no kids but would love them someday, and drinks the occasional glass of wine. She believes such transparency — along with a full disclosure about how she earns her paycheck — is a must for keeping doctors honest and helping patients get a sense as to how their doctor's personal views and financial interests factor into the care they receive. Read more »

Insurers see cost hikes in Partners HealthCare mergers

Boston Globe, September 16, 2014
Massachusetts health insurers said Monday that Partners HealthCare’s planned acquisition of three hospitals would raise costs for consumers across the state and called on a Superior Court judge to achieve stricter price controls and other limits on Partners before allowing the expansion to go through. Read more »

Renewing health coverage may not be as automatic as government says

New York Times, September 15, 2014
WASHINGTON — Millions of consumers will soon receive notices from health insurance companies stating that their coverage is being automatically renewed for 2015, along with the financial assistance they received this year from the federal government. Read more »

Taking a pill to prevent HIV

Boston Globe, September 15, 2014
A new preventive pill meant to stop the spread of HIV has created a conundrum for gay men and the doctors who treat them. Public health organizations have recommended that HIV-negative men who have sex with other men consider taking the pill, called Truvada, every day to keep from getting infected with the sexually transmitted virus. Read more »

Drug pricing: A new prescription

Boston Globe, September 14, 2014
What would happen if a company invented a drug that, taken once, cured a major disease like diabetes or Alzheimer’s, which affect millions of Americans? The answer: Our health care system could not afford it, even if the drug were priced extremely reasonably by today's standards (say, $20,000). Read more »

HHS awards more than $295 million in Affordable Care Act funds to increase access to primary care at health centers

HHS Newsroom, September 12, 2014
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced today $295 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 1,195 health centers in every U.S. State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin to expand primary care services. Read more »

Costs and clinical quality among Medicare beneficiaries: Associations with health center penetration of low-income residents

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, September 4, 2014
Objective: Determine the association between access to primary care by the underserved and Medicare spending and clinical quality across hospital referral regions (HRRs). Read more »

Mass. doctor with Ebola headed to the United States

Boston Globe, September 4, 2014
The Massachusetts doctor who became the third American medical worker to contract the deadly Ebola virus while working in Africa is expected to arrive Friday morning at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for treatment. Dr. Richard A. Sacra, who fell ill a week ago, was initially being cared for at the ELWA Hospital in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, where he had been working in the obstetrical ward for the past month. Read more »

Medical colleagues 'in awe' of Ebola victim Rick Sacra

WBZ-TV Channel 4, September 3, 2014
WORCESTER (CBS) - Dr. Rick Sacra's colleagues at Family Health Center in Worcester are praising the local doctor who was diagnosed with the Ebola virus while working with patients in Liberia. Read more »

Holden doctor who has Ebola aspired to be missionary (family physician at Family Health Center in Worcester)

Worcester Telegram & Gazette, September 3, 2014
From the time he was a young boy, Richard A. Sacra wanted to be a missionary doctor. The 51-year-old, who was developing a medical residency program in Liberia, was described by family and colleagues Wednesday as a devout Christian dedicated to serving others at home and abroad. Dr. Sacra, a Family Health Center of Worcester family physician, was working with a missionary group when he contracted the Ebola infection. He is the third American to be infected while working in Liberia. Read more »

Third Ebola-Infected American, Dr. Rick Sacra, Is Family Doctor

NBC News, September 3, 2014
A third American infected with the Ebola virus in Liberia is Dr. Rick Sacra, a 51-year-old family physician from Massachusetts, his employer SIM USA said Wednesday. Read more »

Mass. doctor working in Liberia diagnosed with Ebola

WBUR, September 4, 2014
BOSTON — A family physician from Massachusetts has become the third American aid worker infected with Ebola. Dr. Rick Sacra, of Holden, was volunteering at a hospital in Liberia run by a Christian missionary group when he became infected with the virus Read more »

Mass. doctor is third from US with Ebola virus

Boston Globe, September 4, 2014
A Massachusetts physician who has devoted his career to medical missionary work in Liberia — and who returned to that country after other medical workers fell ill with Ebola - is the third American stricken with the deadly virus, officials said Wednesday. Read more »

Boston health commissioner expected to resign

Boston Globe, September 4, 2014
Barbara Ferrer, the executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, is expected to announce her resignation next week, according to several people with direct knowledge of her decision. Ferrer is expected to take a position at a philanthropic foundation with a focus on early childhood development and racial equity, according to the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Reached Wednesday by phone, Ferrer declined to discuss the issue. Read more »

A first-year victory in fight to control Mass. health costs

WBUR's CommonHealth Blog, September 2, 2014
Two years ago, Massachusetts set what was considered an ambitious goal: The state would not let that persistent monster, rising health care costs, increase faster than the economy as a whole. Today, the results of the first full year are out and there's reason to celebrate. The number that will go down in the history books is 2.3 percent. It's well below a state-imposed benchmark for health care cost growth of 3.6 percent, and well below the increases seen for at least a decade. Read more »

Health care spending in Massachusetts on the rise

Boston Globe, September 2, 2014
BOSTON (AP) - A new report says health care spending in Massachusetts continues to grow faster than the rate of inflation. The report is scheduled to be released Tuesday by the Center for Health Information and Analysis, created under state law in 2012 to monitor health care spending. Read more »