The Daily Rise: Monday, March 14

Bad Idea Alert: Effort to Ditch Patient Care Skills Exam

StatNews’ Jennifer Anyaegbunam covers an effort led by Harvard Medical School students to ditch the licensing exam that tests patient care skills.

More than 6,000 medical students, residents, and faculty have signed a petition calling for the National Board of Medical Examiners to eliminate the Step 2 CS, a role-playing test that asks students to examine and diagnose patients or actors pretending to have specific conditions.

Students complain about the cost of the exam, which is primarily driven by its limited availability. The test is only offered in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. They also point to a 96 percent pass rate as evidence that the test isn’t needed.

From our perspective, a 96 percent pass rate is the problem. 81% of patients, according to a new study by Prophet and GE Healthcare Camden Group on “The State of Consumer Healthcare: A Study of Patient Experience,” are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience.

Eliminating the test only moves us in the wrong direction — away from providers having a focus on improved patient care. Dr. Peter Katsufrakis, the senior vice president of the National Board of Medical Examiners, told StatNews that “most medical school faculty don’t have time to observe third- and fourth-year students doing a complete physical exam.”

While we are sympathetic to the high travel cost, the solution isn’t to eliminate the test. It’s to expand it to more cities. We need to improve patient care — not move backwards.

CMS Medicare Part B Drug Payment Model: What Does It Mean for Seniors?

Our Co-Founder and Executive Director Terry Wilcox looks into what the new CMS Medicare Part B Drug Payment Model means for seniors in a post at our Patients Rising blog.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ proposal would change the way that Medicare covers treatments under Medicare Part B. What exactly does this proposal mean for your health or the health of the seniors you love?

We took it upon ourselves here at Patients Rising to ask that question because it is very clear no one was asking it at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

This week our friends at the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Burwell and CMS Acting Director Slavitt regarding the recently released CMS Medicare Part B Drug Payment Model. To say it sets a dangerous precedent for the care of our senior patients — especially cancer patients — is an understatement. From where we stand, anything that undermines the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship is simply wrong, and this new payment model takes perfect aim right between the patient and their doctor.

“It is an understatement to say that this latest CMS initiative is misguided and a perilous cancer care policy,” says Ted Okon, executive director of COA. “It will only serve to accelerate the consolidation of cancer care into the more expensive hospital setting and undermine the physician-patient collaboration on the treatment of cancer. I thought we were at war on cancer, not cancer care.”

Take the time to read Terry’s entire post. The public can make their voice heard by submitting comments on the proposed rule through May 9, 2016.

Brain injury linked to increased risk of losing health insurance

Reuters Health reports that patients that suffer traumatic brain injuries are more likely to lose or change their private health insurance coverage.

“Individuals who were the primary policy holder might have lost coverage because they were unable to continue in their job and became unemployed/uninsured,” co- author Eric Schneider of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston told Reuters Health.

Every year, Reuters Health notes, traumatic brain injuries account for 2.5 million emergency room visits and 280,000 hospitalizations.

“Costly Experiment Gone Wrong”

The Washington Post Susan Levine and Amy Goldstein investigate the $1.2 billion price tag for the Affordable Care Act’s failed experiment with alternative non-profit health insurance plans.

“The Consumer Oriented and Operated Plan program was a part of the health-care law intended to foster a new breed of coverage that would serve as an alternative to traditional insurers,” the Washington Post explains. “Nearly three-quarters of a million people in 14 states were forced to scramble for new insurance coverage as the plans shut down last year, voluntarily or under regulators’ orders.”

According to the newly released congressional investigation, the $1.2 billion cost to taxpayers could have been avoided if federal regulators had paid attention to the early problems.

“These failed CO-OPs were a costly experiment gone wrong, and real people got hurt — including the more than 700,000 Americans who lost their health plans,” Sen. Rob Portman said at a recent hearing on the report.

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