Archive for Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sebelius touts health IT initiative

February 18, 2012


— After some convincing, the U.S. health care industry has been moving more toward online record keeping, thanks in part to about $3 billion in federal stimulus funds, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday.

Sebelius said nearly 2,000 hospitals and more than 41,000 doctors have received a share of the $3.1 billion in incentive payments for health information technology. The funds, administered through Medicare and Medicaid, were made available under the 2009 federal Recovery Act.

“We have in our health care system an industry that is 17 percent of our GDP in this country, and yet up until recently has relied on paper files,” Sebelius said during a roundtable discussion with health information technology professionals and health care providers at the Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley Health Science Institute in Kansas City.

“But the health system has been particularly resistant to technology changes,” she said. “So what we’re talking about is really a transformational change that’s under way.”

The percentage of U.S. hospitals that have adopted electronic health records systems has gone from 16 percent in 2009 to 35 percent in 2011, Sebelius said. The administration has also created a nationwide network of 62 regional centers to provide technical guidance and resources to help health care providers participate in the programs, particularly small medical practices and smaller hospitals that “don’t have big IT departments,” she said

Health care informational technology jobs are a growing employment sector, and are expected to increase by 20 percent from 2008 to 2018, she said.

“What we know, health information technology can really improve health care. It can help doctors and nurses and the health team coordinate care,” she said. “Electronic records can help reduce costs, cut out paperwork, (and) provide for more continuity along the way.”


Michael LoBurgio 6 years, 1 month ago

Kansas ranks 50th in progress on insuring children A new report on availability of health insurance for children in Kansas could serve as inspiration for Gov. Sam Brownback.

He very publicly expressed reluctance to assist uninsured Kansans by returning a $31 million federal grant rather than advance planning for a computer network intended to help families purchase or be provided coverage required by U.S. law.

The Republican governor said the mandate was an unconstitutional intrusion into state affairs.

A report released by Kansas Action for Children and produced by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute's Center for Children and Families demonstrates the rising challenge in Kansas of providing children have health insurance.

“Kids face many health issues that we can’t do anything about, but making sure they have health insurance is one problem we can help solve,” said Shannon Cotsoradis, president of Kansas Action for Children.

While the nation as a whole made progress in reducing the number of uninsured children from 2008 to 2010, the number in Kansas without this benefit increased by 7,850 over those three years.

The rate of uninsured Kansas children was 8.2 percent in 2010, up from 7.4 percent in 2008.

At that same time, Nebraska reduced its rate 1.2 percentage points. Oklahoma's rate dropped 2.4 percentage points.

Nationally, the rate was reduced from 9 percent in 2008 to 8 percent in 2010. Thirty-three states cut their rates.

The bottom line: Kansas tied with Minnesota for 50th in terms of futility on this pressing issue.

Michael LoBurgio 6 years, 1 month ago

Kansas poverty report reveals bleak data

The poverty rate for Kansas children rose from 18 percent to nearly 24 percent between 2009 and 2010, and 20,000 more Kansans fell into poverty during the same time frame.

“It’s at least honest,” said Jesyca Rodenberg, spokeswoman for KACAP, about the 2012 Kansas Poverty Report. “We have problems with our infrastructure.”

Michael LoBurgio 6 years, 1 month ago

Why is Brownback moving a much-needed safety net?

Perhaps this is why he thinks it’s necessary to privatize Kansas Medicaid and shift (at break-neck speed) from long-established public programs to managed care by three out-of-state companies. Perhaps Brownback was overcome by cynicism and selfishness when he endorsed that plan and unwittingly allowed despair to go forth and multiply. Or, maybe, he just doesn’t trust Kansans to solve their own problems and take care of each other.

KanCare, Brownback’s proposed expansion of managed services, includes persons with developmental disabilities — a method without a successful model — and doesn’t address the nearly 5,000 of them in Kansas waiting for services. It’s quite a gamble for that population and their families, which means it’s also a gamble for the state.

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