POLICY BRIEFINGS


Commonwealth Funds Finds Physicians Unprepared to Treat the Mentally,
Chronically Ill


More than eight out of 10 family physicians in the U.S. feel that they are not adequately prepared to care for severely mentally ill patients, according to a recent survey released by the Commonwealth Fund. Only 16 percent of physicians say that their office has the capacity to care for those with serious mental illness. This is the lowest percentage of any other developed country besides Sweden. The survey also found that providers are pessimistic about their ability to care for the sickest patients with chronic illnesses. The U.S. ranked the lowest of the nine countries considered in the survey, with only 16 percent of U.S. doctors saying that their country’s health care system works well.


Rate of Physician Burnout Increasing


Burnout among physicians in the United States is increasing, according to new research from the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association (AMA). Comparing data just three years apart, researchers found higher measures of professional burnout in 2014 than in 2011. More than half of physicians surveyed felt emotionally exhausted and ineffective, while also feeling that their work was less meaningful. In the 2011 survey, 45 percent of doctors met the burnout criteria. In 2014, 54 percent of physicians had at least one symptom of burnout. Researchers note that the findings were present across almost every specialty, with the highest rates occurring within internal medicine, family medicine, and emergency medicine. The survey is based on responses from 6,880 physicians across the United States.


Lawmakers Express Concerns About CMS Medicaid Oversight


House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have written to Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Andy Slavitt to express concerns about state implementation of electronic asset verification systems. The lawmakers seek more information about the agency’s oversight in ensuring the accuracy of Medicaid eligibility determinations. “There is good reason to be concerned about the need to further protect taxpayer dollars in Medicaid. According to the Agency Financial Report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on November 16th, in fiscal year 2015, the Medicaid improper payment rate was 9.78 percent overall, and 10.59 percent in fee-for-service Medicaid,” Upton and Hatch write. According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, only two of the 12 states interviewed had implemented an electronic verification system by the end of fiscal year (FY) 2013, despite all states being statutorily required to do so.


Upcoming Congressional Meetings and Hearings


Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee field hearing titled: “Keeping the Promise for Arizona Veterans: The VA Choice Card, Management Accountability and Phoenix VA Medical Center;” 11:00 a.m., Gilbert Town Hall, 50 East Civic Center Drive, Gilbert Arizona; December 14


Health Legislation Recently Introduced


H.R. 4185 (introduced by Rep. Price): A bill to make adjustments, including by amending title XVIII of the Social Security Act, relating to competitive bidding program and durable medical equipment under the Medicare program, to amend such title to establish a DMEPOS market pricing program demonstration project, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned; December 8

H. Res. 558 (introduced by Rep. DeGette): A resolution condemning violence that targets healthcare for women; to the Committee on the Judiciary; December 8

H.R.4201 (introduced by Rep. Alcee L. Hastings): A bill to amend titles XVI, XVIII, XIX, and XXI of the Social Security Act to remove limitations on Medicaid, Medicare, SSI, and CHIP benefits for persons in custody pending disposition of charges; to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned; December 9



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