With President Obama at the helm for another term, you can be sure that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is here to stay! Action by the federal government, hospitals and providers is underway to fully implement each phase of healthcare reform. With that said, you may be wondering what changes are on the horizon for the 2013 calendar year. There are four main directives of the Affordable Care Act that are set to be launched this year. Take a look at the key features for 2013 according to the timeline published by www.HealthCare.gov. Learn how these healthcare changes will affect the U.S. patient population.
- January 1, 2013: Improving Preventative Health Coverage
To expand the number of Americans receiving preventive care, the law provides new funding to state Medicaid programs so they can provide preventive services to patients at little or no cost. States are being given the option of whether to extend Medicaid benefits to all non-Medicare individuals under 65 with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level. You can check to see whether your state is expanding the Medicaid program or not.
- January 1, 2013: Increasing Medicaid Payments for Primary Care Doctors
As Medicaid programs and providers prepare to cover more patients in 2014, the Act requires states to pay primary care physicians 100% of Medicare payment rates in 2013 and 2014 for primary care services. There is reportedly $250 million in new funding provided by the Affordable Care Act to expand the primary workforce. This funding is intended to help prepare the health system to meet the demand for health care workers as well as adding initiatives to train and support thousands of new doctors, nurses, and physician’s assistants. That’s good news…opponents of the Act are concerned about a physician shortage. Experts question if we have enough doctors to take care of a potential influx of 32 million American people.
- January 1, 2013: Expanded Authority to Bundle Payments
The Affordable Care Act has established a national pilot program that encourages hospitals and providers to work together regarding patient care. Under payment “bundling,” hospitals, doctors, and providers are paid a flat rate for an episode of care rather than the current system in which each service or test is billed separately to Medicare. For example, instead of a surgical procedure generating multiple claims from multiple providers, the entire team is compensated with a “bundled” payment. This payment incentive is intended to increase efficiently while maintaining or improving quality of care. Those delivering care need to work together; in turn, savings are shared between providers and the Medicare program.
- October 1, 2013: Additional Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Under the new legislation, states will receive two more years of funding to continue coverage for children not eligible for Medicaid. The Children’s Health Insurance Program provides low-cost health insurance coverage for children in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid coverage, but can’t afford to purchase private health insurance. Children up to age 19 in families with incomes up to $45,000 per year (for a family of four) are likely to be eligible for coverage. In many states, children in families with higher incomes also qualify. Learn more about CHIP.
Timeline of the Affordable Care Act http://www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline/index.html#event38-pane