75 posts categorized "Health Policy"


The Pennsylvania Insurance Marketplace

In our last blog, we discussed the state-run exchange operating in Maryland.  In contrast, Pennsylvania, home to some 1.3 million uninsured, is letting the federal government run the exchange.    Back in 2011, it seemed as though PA would be taking the same approach as Maryland by developing its own insurance exchange system.  In 2012, they even went as far as developing a  conceptual draft for a state-run exchange and went even further by putting forth a request for quotations to implement such an exchange.   However, just before the decision to run a state-based exchange was to be filed with the federal government, Gov. Tom Corbett announced that it would be irresponsible to “put Pennsylvanians on the hook for an unknown amount of money to operate a system under rules that have not been fully written.”   As such, PA residents in need of health insurance must use the federal marketplace.    

Uninsured Pennsylvania residents are able to purchase health insurance through Insurance Market place at www.healthcare.gov.   Navigating through the federal marketplace, a family of 4 making $50,000 a year and living in Philadelphia will be able to purchase a Silver level plan for $9,216 annually.   With the appropriate tax credits, the same Silver plan premium becomes $3,365, for a tax-credit savings of $5,851.  The same family could choose a lower-level Bronze plan for only $1,446 annually, still taking into account the $5K+ tax credit.  Taking this lower level plan might save money in premiums, but is likely to result in higher out-of-pocket costs.   For a calculator to help figure out the costs without registering through the Market Place, see here.

 No matter, by January 1st, 2014, all citizens will be required to maintain health coverage in some fashion – if not a penalty will be levied.  For 2014, the penalty will be 1% of income to a maximum of $95 and $47.50 per uninsured adult and child, respectively.   By 2016, these penalties will rise to 2.5% of income or a maximum of $675 per adult ($347.50 per child).  

During its first week of operation, the website users have experienced trouble registering.  The troubles were largely due to high traffic and site overload – a statement in-and-of-itself that Americans are looking for a better way to obtain health insurance.  Once these glitches are resolved, we will get a chance to really see how America is taking to the new age of healthcare


The Maryland Health Connection is Coming to an Insurance Plan Near You

While many states chose not to act after the passage of the Affordable Care Act to see if the  legislation would get the Supreme Court’s seal of approval, Maryland jumped into action.  Being one of the first 6 states to have their insurance exchanges approved by the federal government, Maryland should have been more than ready for the October 1st deadline that passed this Tuesday.  Spearheaded by Governor Martin O’Malley, Maryland opted to assume the responsibility of operating a state-run system versus a federally managed  exchange. While Maryland chose to operate their own exchange, states run by more politically conservative legislatures have generally opted to let the federal government operate their state exchanges.  State-run exchanges allow for more tailored programs to address the needs of individual states and those people that reside in them, but put the burden of running the program on the state rather than the federal government.   

Branded as the Maryland Health Connection, the Maryland exchange is expected to provide approximately 150,000 of Maryland’s 770,000 uninsured citizens and save the state $850 million over a 10 year period. Maryland’s exchange is governed by a nine member board composed of both experts and representatives for those who will be covered by the exchanges. Maryland Health Connection gives purchasers the ability to compare approximately 45 plans from six different carriers and determine their eligibility for financial assistance to lessen the monthly cost of having insurance. Maryland even opted to expand their Medicaid coverage. Marylanders living at, or slightly above, the poverty line  will be automatically enrolled in the program, and at no cost.  To enroll an individual, a family or a business, one can go to Maryland Health Connection and follow the prompts as instructed.

While the websites were intended to streamline the process and limit confusion, initial reports are coming in that there are glitches in the websites that have hindered peoples’ attempts to enroll; Maryland’s exchange website experienced ‘technical difficulties’ opening day as reported by the Baltimore Sun. Other obstacles include lack of education regarding the law. One such account was documented by the Huffington Post about a Hagerstown, Maryland man, Joseph Kriner, who didn’t know what he was required to bring to enroll himself and his two granddaughters. Armed with only pictures of his family and the wish to get his granddaughters medical attention, he was told to return with the proper documentation. The story of Mr. Kriner is a somber one, but it brings to light the kind of conditions many Americans find themselves in from day-to-day. These people need help and it is the goal of the Affordable Healthcare Act to make quality healthcare available to those who could otherwise not afford it. While the law has its flaws, and the websites are not currently working optimally, it is difficult to deny that this is indeed a step in the right direction.

In future posts we will be examining Pennsylvania’s federally-run exchange program and gauge the impact the opening of the exchanges has had thus far.

Mackenzie F. Blair, PharmD  ’15


Dean of Mayes College Weighs In on Affordable Care Act

APeterson_250x350Andrew Peterson PharmD, PhD, John Wyeth Dean of Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy, recently published an article titled, "Healthcare Exchanges Open for Business" in the Star Life Sciences Medical Monitor.

As of Oct 1, 2013, many U.S. citizens will be able to purchase health insurance through an online marketplace called the Healthcare Exchange. Purchasing insurance through this mechanism is not available to employees who choose to receive insurance through their employer, or citizens who receive Medicare or Medicaid. 

Click here to read the entire article...

As of today, Oct 1st, 2013, many US citizens will be able to purchase health insurance through an online marketplace called the Healthcare Exchange. Purchasing insurance through this mechanism is not available to employees who choose to receive insurance through their employer, or citizens who receive Medicare or Medicaid. - See more at: http://www.starlifebrands.com/healthcare-exchanges-open-for-business/#sthash.6jehUNdO.dpuf

The MarketPlace is Open!

Despite all the ongoing debate in DC over the Affordable Care Act, (ObamaCare),
implementation of a key component rolled out yesterday.   Now, US citizens are be able to purchase health insurance through an online marketplace called the Health Care Exchange.  Purchasing insurance through this mechanism is not available to employees who choose to receive insurance through their employer, or those citizens who receive Medicare.

A key aspect of the law is that each state has the option to setup their exchange (marketplace) or have it partially or fully run by the Federal Government.  Twenty-four states will have a State run or Partnership run marketplace and the remaining states will have a Federal Marketplace.  To qualify for as a member of the marketplace, each plan must offer a minimum set of benefits.  These benefits include Ambulatory/outpatient care, Emergency services, Prescription drugs and Preventive and wellness services as well as other essential health services.

The benefit designs are organized into one of four tiers – also called metal levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum – each differ in costs and provider networks.. In terms of deductibles, co-payments and other charges, the Bronze plan covers 60% of a patient's health costs, the Silver 70%, the Gold 80% and the Platinum 90%.    The lower tier plans offer more restrictive plans, such as HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) and the higher tier plans use less restrictive networks such as  PPOs (Preferred Provider Organizations).  Patients can go to the HealthCare.gov to find out specifics for their own state. 

The purpose of the marketplace is to encourage competition, reducing the cost of health insurance all the while improving access to health care to all citizens.   However, we will not know until 2014 if the competition aspect worked and not likely for several years if the marketplace translated to more affordable insurance and cheaper health care.   See here for an entertaining and informative video of the Health Care Exchange.


Mayes College Professor Published in CEA Registry

A study published in 2012 by Amalia M. Issa, PhD, chair of The Department of Health Policy and Public Health,  titled, “Cost effectiveness of gene expression profiling for early stage breast cancer: a decision-analytic model,” has been recently included in the Tufts Medical Center Cost-Effectiveness Analysis (CEA) Registry.

Issa_PortraitThis registry is a comprehensive database of more than 3,604 English-language cost-utility analyses on a wide variety of diseases and treatments. It catalogs information on more than 9,800 cost-effectiveness ratios, and more than 13,500 utility weights published in the peer-reviewed literature. The registry also details studies published from 1976 through 2012, and is regularly updated.

Many of the articles included in the registry are used by policy makers, and are used or cited in analyses performed by the U.S. Environmental Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Institute of Medicine, Medicare Payment Assessment Commission, academia and industry. All articles undergo a rigorous screening and review process prior to their selection and inclusion in the registry.


Mayes College Student Discusses 'Time and Technology'

Andrew Lyle PhB'15, published an article in Star Life Sciences Medical Monitor on Sept. 20, 2013, titled, "Time and Technology."

Over time, new technology reaches different generations and target markets. As older doctors retire, newly minted medical professionals are taking over— and this new generation of healthcare professionals grew up with computers, video games, and cell phones.

Click here to this entire article.



Learning and Living the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in Real Time

This fall, masters and doctoral students in the Department of Health Policy and Public Health at University of the Sciences are examining the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) as it evolves in real time.

MetrauxIn the seminar course led by Steve Metraux, PhD, associate professor of health policy and public health, graduate students meet weekly to discuss topics such as the politics that led to the passage of the ACA, how the ACA fits into the history of healthcare reform in the United States, the legal and constitutional aspects of the ACA, and the nuts and bolts of the ACA.

A range of experts, both from the USciences faculty and from the greater Philadelphia region will join the seminar to lead discussions and explain how the ACA impacts particular facets of health and health care.

But beyond that, the seminar will seek to capture history-in-the-making by following the day-to-day events related to the ACA as its key component, the insurance exchanges, start their open enrollment.

Issa_Portrait“Watching the biggest health policy story in years unfold week by week adds a new dimension of excitement to studying policy,” said Dr. Metraux. “This seminar seeks to provide students with the tools not only to understand how we got here, but also to assess how such policy might likely unfold.”

Amalia M. Issa, PhD, professor and chair of health policy and public health, added, “Our students are going to be on the front lines of healthcare delivery and shaping policy. They need to have an understanding of the Act, apply their critical thinking skills to the issues, and evaluate the impact of the ACA on addressing current and future problems in health systems.”


PCP Student: High Tech Tools for Medication Adherence

Anita Pothen is currently a 6th year pharmacy student at the University of the Sciences-Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. In addition to her interests in medication adherence and writing, Anita's pharmacy-related experiences include working in retail, hospital and government agency settings. - See more at: http://www.starlifebrands.com/author/apothen/#sthash.qLh4jlSX.d

Anita Pothen PharmD'14, published an article in Star Life Sciences Medical Monitor on Sept. 18, 2013, titled, "High Tech Tools for Medication Adherence."

Medication adherence is a topic of interest for healthcare providers, caregivers, and payers — and, of course, patients. Practitioners work hard to select optimal drug therapy for their patients, but they don’t always see the expected clinical improvements.

Click here to read the full article...

Medication adherence is a topic of interest for healthcare providers, caregivers, and payers—and, of course, patients. Practitioners work hard to select optimal drug therapy for their patients, but they don’t always see the expected clinical improvements. This inefficacy in treatment often stems from patients’ inability - See more at: http://www.starlifebrands.com/author/apothen/#sthash.qLh4jlSX.dpuf


Health Tip: Skinny, Fat, Old, Young: All at Risk for High Cholesterol

image from www.gradschool.usciences.eduTo attract customers, restaurant chains have been rolling out budget deals, offering $5 pizzas, $3 meals — even $1 sandwiches. But while these new offerings are light on its customers’ wallets, they hit them where it hurts in terms of calories, fat, and sodium content.

Unfortunately, some of most common patrons of these restaurants are college students looking to get the best bang for their buck. In observance of National Cholesterol Education Month, Karin Richards, interim chair of the Department of Kinesiology and program director of health sciences at University of Sciences, addresses important heart-healthy tips to help college students avoid serious health conditions down the road.

 “Nobody can eat anything they want and stay heart-healthy because all body types are at risk for high cholesterol,” said Richards. “While overweight people are more likely to have high cholesterol, thin people should also have their cholesterol checked regularly because people who don’t gain weight easily are less aware of how much fat they actually consume.”

  1. Check your family tree. Familial hypercholesterolemia is a disorder of high LDL, or bad, cholesterol that is passed down through families, which means it is inherited. Because the condition begins at birth and can cause heart attacks at an early age, it is vital for young adults to be in tune with their families’ health backgrounds.
  2. Moderation is key. While fried and fast foods do not have to be completely eliminated from diets; they should be consumed sporadically rather than every day.
  3. Substitute foods. Because egg yolk boasts high cholesterol, opt for egg whites instead. The same concept can be applied when choosing snacks, go for air popped popcorn over potato chips. There’s a healthy alternative to every meal.
  4. Get moving. Too many people focus on their diets, and neglect exercise. Aim to “move” for 30 minutes each day by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away in a parking lot, or jogging, walking, biking, and rollerblading as means of transportation. 
  5. Get screened. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the level of bad cholesterol among young adults ranges from 7 percent to 26 percent; however, the screening rate among this age group is less than 50 percent.

Richards said University of the Sciences students are offered free cholesterol and body composition screenings through its Department of Kinesiology. If abnormal results are recorded, students are encouraged to visit their primary care providers for further examination.

“Sometimes it takes eye-opening results for young adults to see that they are not invincible to potentially fatal health conditions, like heart disease. It’s never too late to start the transformation to a healthy lifestyle,” said Richards.

Richards obtained a Master of Science in sport management from Slippery Rock University, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in health policy at USciences. She is nationally certified as a wellness practitioner and wellness program coordinator by the National Wellness Institute, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and American College of Sports Medicine.


PCP Student Gains Worldview of Pharmaceutical Industry

SEP group picture

Grace Chun PharmD’16 recently traveled overseas to participate in the International Pharmaceutical Student Federation’s annual World Congress event. Here’s what she had to say:

International Pharmaceutical Student Federation (IPSF) is the only international advocacy group for the student pharmacists. IPSF aims to promote public health through wide range of global networking and initiating global health campaigns, such as World AIDS Day and World Tobacco Day. Along with close collaboration with the International Pharmaceutical Federation, IPSF holds official relations with the World Health Organization, as well. The largest meeting for the IPSF members is the annual World Congress, a conference for the pharmacy students and pharmacists from all around the globe.

This year’s 59th annual World Congress was held in Utrecht, Netherlands, from July 30 to Aug. 9. The experience as a U.S. participant at the conference was truly an asset because I broadened my scope in the pharmacy practice. At the conference, I have participated in the international patient counseling event, attended career exhibitions, and engaged in memorable networking experiences.

The highlight of the World Congress was the international night where the students gathered to express their cultures and customs through dance and delicious pastries. I was able to taste Sake from Japan and amazing chocolates from Belgium. I also learned lovely traditional Sweden dance to exciting “Gangnam Style” dance from Korea.

World Congress does not only comprise of symposiums and general assemblies but consist of true international gathering to embrace each other’s cultures. Only those who attended IPSF World Congress can understand the meaning of international pharmacy experience. It was fortunate for me and Dana Lee to participate in a great experience to represent the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. I wish I could engage more PCP students to engage in international pharmacy, as I was able to broaden my horizon. I was able to see how the government in Denmark works closely with pharmacists to improve healthcare systems, and also experience how Switzerland pharmacists work together with physicians to improve patient-care.

I have come to understand the meaning of “viva la pharmacie” thanks to this conference, and only those who attend the conference will be able to experience this motto to the fullest. As the newly elected Pan-American Regional Office (PARO) Secretary, I will continue to serve IPSF and carry out the motto, “viva la pharmacie!”

Student Exchange Program at PCP: One of the assets of IPSF is the Student Exchange Program, which allows students to explore pharmacy practice in different countries. After careful and objective analysis of each applicant, the member association of IPSF organizes the exchanges by finding the practice sites. The practice sites include community pharmacies, wholesale companies, pharmaceutical industry, government or private health agencies.

PCP is one of the few colleges of pharmacy that can host SEP students in the United States. As of last year, PCP was approved as one of few host sites in the U.S. This year was the second annual student exchange program held at PCP to allow an international student to have a chance to experience what pharmacy means outside his or her country’s practice.

On July 7, Thibault Ali, a student from Strasbourg, France, came to our institution for a month to experience community, compounding, and industry pharmacy experience through our APhA-ASP/IPSF chapter. He began his stay with a tour around USciences and a luncheon with the faculty members.

He was able to experience community pharmacy at Sunray Pharmacy, and compounding pharmacy at The Art of Medicine. Thibault also had an industry experience at Johnson and Johnson and learned about medical information and drug products. He experienced industry rotation with other sixth-year pharmacy students at PCP.

Not only he experienced pharmacy practice, he was exposed to American culture as he visited the Philadelphia Phillies game with Dr. Melody, Shakespeare play with Dr. Earl, and many other Philadelphia’s attractions with fellow IPSF members. This program not only allowed Thibault to gain an insight to pharmacy practice in the U.S., but allowed our chapter to acknowledge new ideas from understanding Thibault’s country’s practice.

Special Acknowledgement: I would like to acknowledge Dr. Hussar for advising and supporting World Congress to allow PCP students to broaden their horizon in the field of pharmacy practice. Also, I sincerely thank Drs. Schwartz, Earl, Melody, Decker, Blustein, as well as all the preceptors, professors, and dedicated IPSF members who gave tremendous support to successfully achieve Student Exchange Program at PCP. 

Someone said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” The teachers may come in many forms but the professors whom I worked together for IPSF projects were all in a single form: the inspired.

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