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What We’re Reading - October 3, 2014

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG)
October 3, 2014
A rundown of the articles and stories that caught our eye this week:

Fighting to Honor a Father’s Last Wish: To Die at Home
“…she was determined to fulfill her father’s dearest wish, the wish so common among frail, elderly people: to die at home. But it seemed as if all the forces of the health care system were against her — hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, insurance companies, and the shifting crosscurrents of public health care spending."
The New York Times, September 25, 2014

Medicare Fines Record Number Of Hospitals For Excessive Readmissions
“Over the next year, 2,610 hospitals will lose some of their payments for each Medicare patient they admit, Medicare records show. This is the third year the industry faces these penalties, which were created by the Affordable Care Act. This year potential fines are the highest: up to 3 percent of Medicare bills."
NPR, October 2, 2014

The Local Perspective: Illinois Hospitals Face Fines Over Readmissions from The Chicago Tribune

Costs Can Go Up Fast When E.R. Is in Network but the Doctors Are Not
“It never occurred to me that the first line of defense, the person you have to see in an in-network emergency room, could be out of the network,” said Ms. Hopper, who has spent months fighting the bill. “In-network means we just get the building? I thought the doctor came with the E.R.”
The New York Times, September 28, 2014

Further Reading: What should the law do about out-of-network ER docs? from The Incidental Economist

Why Do Babies in America Die More Often Than Babies in Other Rich Countries?
"The reasons for the differences aren’t clear. Researchers suggest social circumstances affect both the rate of premature births and infant deaths after the first month of life. Earlier CDC research shows wide disparities (PDF) in infant mortality by race in the U.S.: Black babies are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthdays as white babies. Whites in the U.S. still have higher infant mortality rates than European countries do. Other research points to gaps in wealth that may explain much of the difference."
Bloomberg Business Week, October 1, 2014

More on infant mortality: So why is our infant mortality so bad? from The Incidental Economist

What Your Education Says About Your Health
"Access to health care alone isn't the great equalizer you might think it is. Analyzing 2011 data among Kaiser Permanente of North California patients, researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health found that even when people have access to the same kind of care, educational achievement still played a huge role in whether people are in good health."
The Washington Post, September 23, 2014

In Protecting the Elderly, California at Last Takes Steps to Catch Up
"Many things about the industry, to which America has entrusted the lives of some 750,000 people, proved to be shocking, not least of all how bad things appeared to be in California. The state's regulatory apparatus, our reporting showed, had deteriorated so drastically that the assisted living industry was actually lobbying the state to police it more aggressively."
ProPublica, October 2, 2014