Healthcare Roundup—Wilkie teases new VA access standards; Providers less likely to take new Medicaid patients

Hilton already achieved 10,000 military hires throughout the U.S. since 2013, exceeding its initial goal two years ahead of its first projections.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie released a statement Monday saying his department is preparing to introduce access standards on community care and urgent care for veterans to take effect in June. (Pixabay)

Wilkie teases new MISSION Act initiative

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie released a statement Monday promising a plan that would "revolutionize VA health care" as part of the VA's implementation of the MISSION Act. Just don't call it privatization, he said. 

Wilkie said the department is preparing to introduce access standards on community care and urgent care to take effect in June and guide when Veterans can seek care to meet their needs in VA and community facilities, calling the VA’s patchwork of seven separate community care programs "a bureaucratic maze."

"Although these new standards represent an important win for America’s Veterans, they will not be without controversy," Wilkie said. "Some will claim falsely and predictably that they represent a first step toward privatizing the department."

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Instead, access standards will form the basis of a federal regulation to consolidate the VA's community care efforts into a single, easier-to-use system that will eschew qualification criteria such as driving distances and proximity to VA facilities, he said. (Announcement)

MACPAC: Providers are less likely to take Medicaid compared to other insurance

Providers are less likely to take new patients who are insured by Medicaid compared to patients who have other forms of insurance, according to a new report commissioned by the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission. 

About 71% of providers were likely to accept patients insured by Medicaid compared to 85% of those on Medicare or 90% of those with private insurance. About 68% of physicians in family practice were likely to accept new patients on Medicaid compared to 90% who would accept patients on Medicare and 91% who would accept new patient with private insurance. Pediatricians accepted new Medicaid patients at a lower rate (78%) compared to about 91% who would take new privately insured patients.

The difference was more pronounced among psychiatrists who accepted new Medicaid patients at a rate of about 36% compared to 62% who would accept new Medicare patients or private insurance. (Report

CMS unveils app for Medicare beneficiaries to view coverage details

Medicare beneficiaries now have a new app at their disposal to help keep track of their coverage details.

"What's Covered," which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released on iOS and Android on Monday, aims to quickly bring such information to users' mobile devices. It is part of the agency's recent eMedicare initiative that launched in October.

“eMedicare is one of several initiatives focused on modernizing Medicare and empowering patients with information they need to get the best value from their Medicare coverage,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a statement. “This new app is the next in a suite of products designed to give consumers more access and control over their Medicare information.” (FierceHealthcare)

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Welcome to this week's Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry.