News Briefs

Stakeholders happy with QIO assistance

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently released the results of its baseline survey to gauge stakeholder satisfaction with quality improvement organization (QIO) interactions. Results indicate that stakeholders are happy with the assistance offered — more than three quarters "strongly agreed" that "providers were providing better care because of the QIO."

The survey data were developed by an independent party, Westat, under contract to CMS. Westat interviewed a group of more than 1,200 small, medium, and large stakeholders, which were about evenly split between those identified by CMS and those recommended by QIOs. The baseline survey was conducted between January and February of 2006 with a response rate of 82.3%. A re-measurement survey will be conducted between June and July of 2007, and results will be part of the overall QIO evaluation, expected in November 2007.

Other significant findings in the report include:

  • 73% agreed that they were making greater progress because of the QIO, while only 8% disagreed.
  • 89% were satisfied with QIOs' topic-specific knowledge.
  • 92% agreed that their QIO seeks out opportunities to work cooperatively with their organization and others.
  • 92% were satisfied with the information and assistance they received from the QIO.
  • 90% were satisfied with the amount of contact they had with the QIO.
  • Stakeholders who have on-going partnerships with QIOs reported the highest levels of overall satisfaction with the QIOs.
  • Respondents reported their most common QIO interactions were for planning or implementing a joint project, QIO offers or provision of training and information, and meeting/teleconference attendance.

Fewer workers enroll in employer health plans

Three million fewer workers elected to enroll in their employer's health insurance plan between 1998 and 2003, a period when the cost of individual premiums increased 42%, according to a recent study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). More than half of all adults without health insurance cite the high cost of coverage as the reason, the study notes.

"This report should be as alarming to Congress as it is to the American people, because employer-sponsored health insurance is the backbone of America's health care system," said Risa Lavisso-Mourey, MD, RWFJ president and CEO. "If trends continue, this could dramatically increase the number of working but uninsured people in this nation."

Home care, assisted living upstage the nursing home

A trend seems to be growing. More seniors are leaving nursing homes in favor of other types of care, including home care and assisted living facilities.

New York, like many other states, has applied for a federal waiver to allow up to 5,000 elderly and disabled nursing home patients on Medicaid to get that care elsewhere. Mary Kahn, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services, says too often elderly patients sent to nursing homes for short-term treatment wind up staying there much longer.

"Also, hospitals tend to discharge patients to nursing homes rather than look for more appropriate alternative care options that might be in short supply," she says.

With the federal waiver system, social workers and nursing home administrators try to identify those seniors and disabled patients who can thrive in assisted living centers or at home with aides.