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11/21/2022

Just Published, "One Small Regulatory Update Can Lay Out a Path Toward Decarbonization" (November 21st)

This past Friday, the American Hospital Association's American Society for Healthcare Engineering published my brief essay that I titled, "One Small Regulatory Update Can Put the Healthcare Industry on the Path Towards Decarbonization."  The article is at: https://www.hfmmagazine.com/articles/4609-one-small-regulatory-update-can-put-the-health-care-sector-on-the-path-towards-decarbonization. 

The article opens with, "Within health care circles Hurricane Fiona’s damage to Puerto Rico’s power grid once again begged the question how best to distribute diesel fuel among health care providers for emergency power.  What has been left undiscussed is a far more significant question.  Why does the health care sector still use diesel fuel?" 

I'll just add two points: first, this writing was rejected by at least ten journals and media outlets including Health Affairs, JAMA, Modern Healthcare, NEJM and STAT; and second, the title was revised and the opening paragraph uses the word "sector" because the American Hospital Association does not allow the largest "sector" in the largest economy in the world to be termed an "industry."   

 

11/02/2022

Dr. Jeroen Struijs Discusses Designing Alternative Payment Insurance Models to Green the Healthcare Industry (November 1st)

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Having posted over 25 related climate and health-related interviews over the past several years, podcast listeners are aware that the healthcare industry effectively exists in a harm-treat-harm cycle where providers cause patients harm via their greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution - that requires treatment causing providers to emit more harmful GHG pollution added - that leads to more patent harm - that leads to . . . .    In September I posted an article that appeared in Health Affairs in which I argued CMS design a Medicare Part A hospital Value Based Payment program and a similar program under Medicare’s Part B physician Quality Payment Program that financially incent healthcare providers to reduce their GHG emissions.  Doing so, I argued, would measurably lower Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries burden of disease, improve their care outcomes and safety, advance health equity, improve the industry’s financial sustainability and help heal the planet.  Reforming insurance payments is also the interest of the Dutch healthcare policy researcher, Dr. Jeroen Struijs, who is presently in the US working with Harvard faculty to identify insurance value based purchasing methods that can incent the health care industry to reduce its GHG pollution.   

During this 33-minute interview, Dr. Struijs begins by providing an overview of his research work.  The discussion moves on to Dr. Struijs explaining what's driving aligning payments with industry greening and the lack of effort to to date by insurance carriers to align payments or reimbursement despite inherent efficiency motives.  He identifies possible reasons why insurance carriers have not to date aligned payments, discusses the role or importance of development and use of sustainability quality metrics and  patient incentives.  Regarding financial incentives, he identifies opportunities via the Part B Medicare Shared Savings (ACOs) Program and in the private/commercial markets where payers can more readily or immediately address greening providers.  The discussion concludes with Dr. Struijs commenting on provider accreditation, provider curriculum reform and lessons learned via related overseas efforts.                    

Dr. Jeroen Struijs, Ph.D., D., M.Sc., a 2013-14 Dutch Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice, is a Senior Researcher at the Centre of Prevention Jeroen_Struijs and Health Services Research, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, where he has been conducting research since 2000.  He is also Associate Professor at Leiden University's Medical Center.  Prior to his work in health policy, Dr. Struijs was a practicing physiotherapist.  Dr. Struijs’ research covers a broad range of topics surrounding payment reform and innovations in the organization of health care systems, particularly in primary care.  Dr. Struijs has published peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Health Affairs, Health Policy, and New England Journal of Medicine.  He is member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Integrated Care, and board member of the International Foundation for Integrated Care.  Dr. Struijs holds a Ph.D. degree in health services research from University of Amsterdam, and two master’s degrees: one in health sciences from Maastricht University; and, one in health services research from Erasmus University Rotterdam. 

10/06/2022

Patricia Goldsmith Discusses CancerCare (October 5th)

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After heart disease cancer is the leading cause of mortality in the US at over 600,000 deaths annually.  Not surprisingly cancer care costs are considerable at approximately $210 billion of which approximately 10% is paid out of pocket.  This explains why in part up to 30% of Medicare beneficiaries without subsidies do not fill their anticancer prescriptions.  To make matters worse, the COVID pandemic has significantly compromised cancer diagnosis and treatment that are expected to produce negative ripple effects.  While  President Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot,” aims to cut cancer death rates by 50% over the next 25 years, last year the CDC projected that because of the growth and aging of the population the annual number of cancer cases will increase nearly 50% between 2015 and 2050.  

During this 33 minute interview Ms. Goldsmith discusses the CancerCare's work, in sum, the organization provides free professional support services and information for cancer patients.  We move on to discuss the relationship between CancerCare's work and the Medicare hospice benefit, problems with employer based coverage for cancer diagnoses, complications associated with timely cancer screenings, work CancerCare does to help their patients/clients afford their medications.  Ms. Goldsmith comments on President Biden's Cancer Moonshot initiative, drug pricing policies recently passed under the IRA, challenges her organization faces in raising financial assistance funding and the increasing demands on the organization's workforce.            

Patricia J. Goldsmith joined CancerCare in 2014 as Chief Executive Officer.  Ms. Goldsmith previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Download
Operating Officer at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).  Previously still,  Ms. formerly served as Vice President for Institutional Development, Public Affairs and Marketing at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida – an NCCN Member Institution.  Before joining Moffitt, she developed and directed all managed care activities for the University of South Florida College of Medicine.  A frequent national meetings and symposia, Ms. Goldsmith has also served on Congressional panels.  Ms. Goldsmith has studied at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Missouri Bloch School of Business and the Harvard School of Public Health.  She was a winner of the 1999 Distinguished Women in Business Award sponsored by the Business Journal of Tampa Bay and also was named the 1999 Leukemia Society Woman of the Year.  Most recently, Ms. Goldsmith was named to Forbes 50 Over 50 Vision List which was established in partnership with Mika Brzezinski’s “Know Your Value,” and highlights women over the age of 50 who have achieved significant success.

Information on CancerCare is at: https://www.cancercare.org/.

10/05/2022

Dr. Jeni Miller Discusses a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (October 4th)

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This summer the planet once again experienced record temperatures, droughts, wildfires and extreme weather events.  Nevertheless, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency and OECD, global public subsidies of fossil fuel subsidies nearly doubled from 2020 to $700b in 2021.  The US economy still remains significantly dependent on coal use; it generates approx. 20% of the country’s power or almost twice as much as the electricity generated by wind and solar.  (To compare in the UK, 1.5% of power production is coal-fired.)  Though the planet is currently projected to warm to well over 2.5C this century, per a recent report by United in Science global warming has already reached the lower end of five end game negative climate tipping points.  (Think, for example, a collapsing Greenland ice sheet.)  This finding led the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to state, “the report shows climate impacts heading into uncharted territory of destruction,” what he termed climate carnage.    

During this 33-minute interview Dr. Miller begins by discussing the work of the Global Climate and Health Alliance.  She goes on to discuss the impetus for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, identifies organizations that have signed on including the World Health Organization, analogizes the treaty to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, discusses what role the UN may play in forwarding a non-proliferation treaty, and what we currently know about what if any interest the White House and HHS are receptive to a non-proliferation treat.  We conclude with Dr. Miller's interpretation of why only a trivial fraction, as low as 1%, of Americans believe the climate crisis is the most important problem facing the country.     

Dr. Jeni Miller is Executive Director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance, where she coordinates the joint efforts of national, regional and 1644372190448 international health organizations addressing climate change.  The Alliance works to minimize the health impacts of climate change and to maximize the health benefits of climate solutions, through leadership, advocacy, policy, research, and engagement.  On behalf of the Alliance, Dr. Miller co-chairs the WHO-Civil Society Working Group on Climate and Health.  In addition to her work at GCHA, Dr. Miller currently serves as Immediate-Past-Chair of the Environment Section of the American Public Health Association.  She has two decades’ experience working on policy- and systems-change strategies to improve community environments for health, in leading initiatives addressing childhood asthma, childhood obesity, climate change, health equity, and healthy community redevelopment.  Dr. Miller received her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

The Global Climate and Health Alliance's related article is at: https://climateandhealthalliance.org/press-releases/international-health-organizations-call-for-fossil-fuel-non-proliferation-treaty-to-protect-lives-of-current-and-future-generations/

The fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty website is at: https://fossilfueltreaty.org/.  

10/04/2022

Substack Post #7: "The Inflation Reduction Act Can Help Decarbonize the Health Care Industry" (October 3rd)

This week's post is my September 30 STAT published essay under this title. 

It opens with:

"The climate crisis — the greatest threat to human health in history — is often framed “in ways that pay little attention to its health dimensions,” as the authors of The Lancet’s annual “Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change” report were forced to remind us.

This tragic reality was on display in Health AffairsJAMAKaiser Health News, and The Lancet itself, among others, when they limited their reporting on the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act to its enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies and drug cost reforms. They failed to highlight for the health care industry that the IRA’s tax credit provisions for renewable energy, formally called energy security, are for the first time refundable for tax-exempt entities. This means that the largest greenhouse gas polluters in the health care industry — the vast majority of hospitals that are nonprofit or tax exempt — can take advantage of these economic subsidies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." 

At: https://www.statnews.com/2022/09/30/inflation-reduction-act-reduce-health-care-industry-greenhouse-gas-emissions/

 

 

 

09/26/2022

Substack Post #6, "CMS and the Masquerade of Equality" (September 26th)

Is at: https://substack.com/inbox/post/75107864

It opens with: In summarizing Professor Jedediah Purdy’s recent book, Two Cheers for Politics, The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik recently wrote, “He [Purdy] is angry at the elites who supervise the bureaucratic capitalist state on behalf of their overlords while keeping up an elaborate masquerade of equality of opportunity.”   “Keeping up the masquerade of equality” accurately defines CMS’s continuing pretense to value or prioritize health equity.

 

 

09/23/2022

Upcoming Podcasts

I'm working on a week of October 3rd conversation about cancer care with Ms. Trish Goldsmith, CEO of Cancer Care (cancercare.org). 

Among other discussions, am working on:

  • state regulatory reform efforts to reduce carbon emissions;
  • policies to address the health effects of forever chemicals (PFAS);
  • recent reforms to address insulin prices - that have increased over the past few decades by approximately 1,500%; and, 
  • the mental and physical health effects of, and policies, if any, to address, social media.   

09/19/2022

Substack Post: What to Make of the House Ways and Means Climate and Health Hearing (September 19th)

This morning I posted this: https://davidintrocasophd.substack.com/p/what-to-make-of-the-house-ways-and

It opens with:

This past Thursday the House Ways and Means Committee, with jurisdiction over the Medicare program, held a hearing titled, “Preparing America’s Health Care Infrastructure for the Climate Crisis.”  The hearing, the first and only climate crisis-related hearing Ways and Means will hold this Congressional session, was motivated in part by Democratic majority staff’s release of findings resulting from three requests for information (RFIs) majority staff forwarded to industry providers, trade associations and group purchasing organizations earlier this year to help majority staff “better understand how climate events have impacted the health sector, as well as steps the health care industry is taking to address its role in mitigating the climate crisis.”   

The hearing and accompanying RFI findings are notable for at least five reasons.

09/14/2022

Matthew Albright Discusses Hospital and Insurer or Payer Price Transparency (September 13th)

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Over the past few years federal policymakers have instituted healthcare price transparency.  Until last year, healthcare prices were largely, if not altogether, unknown to patients.   As of this past July 1 most group health plans and issuers of group or individual health insurance are required to publicly disclose pricing information.  As of this past January 1, providers were no longer able to surprise or balance bill patients for care they unknowingly received from providers outside their insurer’s network.  As of January 1, 2021 hospitals have been required to provide clear & accessible pricing information about the items and services they provide.  Though price transparency is sound in theory, what effect, if any, it will have on patient or consumer decision making, reducing price growth and influencing care delivery and innovation are largely unknown.    

During this 36 minute conversation , Mr. Albright begins by briefly describing work done by Zelis.  He moves on to discuss/explain why healthcare price transparency took so long, what specific price data are hospitals and payers required to publicly disclose, how will employer-based insurers use the transparent data, he comments on hospital compliance or lack thereof, related state price transparency efforts and concludes with a comment regarding how and why price transparency will finally be realized.       

Mr. Matthew Albright is currently Chief Legislative Affairs Officer at Zelis.  Prior to joining Zelis, Matthew oversaw the certification Matthew_Albright_Headshot program at the Center for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH) and Committee on Operating Rules for Information Exchange (CORE) to ensure conformance with the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  He also served as Director of the Administrative Simplification Group for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  In this role, Matthew was responsible for drafting the regulations that implemented Section 1104 of PPACA which specifies the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) administrative transactions.   Matthew is a published author on bioethics, has written numerous state and federal regulations, and taught as adjunct faculty at St. Martin's University and Pierce College in Washington State.   Mr. Albright earned a Master of Divinity from Harvard University with an emphasis in Bioethics, a BA in Religion Studies from the College of Santa Fe and a BA in Print Journalism from the University of Southern California.

 

09/12/2022

Substack Post: "How To Solve HHS’s Failure To Address The Climate Crisis" (September 12th)

For this week's post I noted my essay posted this past Friday by Health Affairs and titled, "How To Solve HHS's Failure to Address the Climate Crisis."  It is at: https://www.healthaffairs.org/content/forefront/solve-hhs-s-failure-address-climate-crisis.   It also appears via Substack at: https://davidintrocasophd.substack.com/p/how-to-solve-hhss-failure-to-address

It opens with: 

"From an anthropocentric perspective the climate crisis is fundamentally a threat to human health if not survival. The World Health Organization defines it as “the single biggest health threat facing humanity.” Logic dictates that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) take the lead in mitigating climate-related health harms. President Joe Biden immediately recognized this reality in a January 2021 executive order that stated because the US has a “narrow moment” to take action he directed HHS to, in sum, decrease climate-related risks among the elderly, children, and people with disabilities.

However, after two rule-making cycles, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has failed to take any regulatory action requiring Medicare and Medicaid providers to reduce their considerable carbon footprint. CMS’s last 2023 opportunity was via the hospital inpatient prospective payment rule finalized August 1."