Friday News Dump: Wonkbites

by Galen Benshoof

Happy Friday!

  1. Big demand for primary care staff. In an annual study, a health care consulting firm notes that providers are continuing to recruit primary care physicians, nurses, and other staff. At the same time, ER doctors are also in demand, despite Obamacare’s attempts to discourage costly ER usage. As the law rolls out over the next couple of years, a falling uninsured rate could further boost primary care demand and reduce reliance on emergency rooms—all the more reason to let navigators do their job.
  2. The sector hums, but hospitals sputter. BLS announced that health care, continuing to serve as a jobs engine, accounted for 22% of all new jobs in August. Health care added 32,700 positions, with hospitals contributing only 900, just 2.75% of the industry total. Hospital leaders place some of the blame for facility reorganization on the ACA’s reforms, but broader trends are also implicated. On a related topic, Katherine Baicker and Amitabh Chandra caution against relying on the industry to continually generate new jobs. Health improvement, rather than health employment, should be our primary goal.
  3. P4P, FTW? Can financial incentives improve doctors’ performance? Patients treated by physicians receiving cash payments were more likely to show improved blood pressure, according to a study published in JAMA. Doctors in the intervention group showed a keener interest in their respective performances, more frequently hewing to predetermined treatment plans. However, the encouraging effects vanished when the payments stopped, raising questions about the sustainability of such a strategy.
  4. The hub is ready. Administration officials announced that they have finalized the conduit that will link eligibility data to the new exchanges, concluding months of frenetic work by CMS staff and IT contractors. The news came much earlier than expected, as a recent report from HHS’ Inspector General warned that testing could stretch until September 30. Timely completion of the hub, the linchpin of the exchanges, is a pivotal accomplishment for the administration, ensuring that open enrollment will begin in the federally-facilitated marketplaces on October 1 as planned.
  5. Say cheese and smile. You may be brushing your teeth all wrong. A dental expert advises waiting until 30 minutes after eating to clean those pearly whites. And in great news for lactose tolerant people everywhere, chewy cheese can help you avoid tooth decay. Just another reason to love pizza.

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Galen is a Master in Public Affairs candidate at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, where he focuses on health policy. Find him on Twitter: @benshoof.

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One thought on “Friday News Dump: Wonkbites

  1. Chris W says:

    The HUB may be ready, but States have not been able to test with it yet… only with a “Test Harness” containing limited test data.

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