Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, Talk Business & Politics provides “Health Beat,” a round-up health-related topics. –––––––––––––––
STATE MEDICAID EXPANSIONS PUSH NATION’S PUBLIC WELFARE SPENDING UP NEARLY 5%
The recent expansion of state Medicaid programs pushed the nation’s public welfare expenditures up 4.9%, from $519.2 billion in 2013 to $544.6 billion in 2014, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of State Government Finances.
Hawaii (23.2%), Oregon (22.1%), Kentucky (17.9%) and Washington 16.7%) led all states. Each of these states, along with several others, expanded their Medicaid programs in 2014, contributing greatly to the overall national increase. Overall, general state government revenues rose 1.8%, from $1.71 trillion in 2013 to $1.74 trillion in 2014, while general expenditures rose 2.6%, from $1.68 trillion to $1.73 trillion.
The Census Bureau findings show revenues, expenditures, debt, and cash and security holdings for each state, as well as a national summary of state government finances. The major source of these public finance statistics are the states’ own accounting systems or through intermediate reporting systems.
CDC SAYS LEGIONNAIRES DISEASE AGAIN ON THE RISE
More effective water management might have prevented most of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks CDC investigated from 2000 through 2014, according to CDC’s Vital Signs report on Tuesday (May 7). Problems identified in these building-associated outbreaks included inadequate disinfectant levels, human error, and equipment breakdowns that led to growth of Legionella bacteria in water systems. The CDC recently released a new toolkit to help building owner and managers prevent these problems.
According to the CDC, over the last year about 5,000 people were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease and more than 20 outbreaks were reported. Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of lung infection (pneumonia) that people can get by breathing in small droplets of water contaminated with Legionella. Most people who get sick need hospital care and make a full recovery — but about 1 in 10 people will die from the infection.
To learn more about the recent outbreaks of the severe form of pneumonia, click here.
CMS SAYS TRANSPLANT CENTERS REMOVING ‘TOO SICK’ PATIENTS FROM ORGAN WAITLIST
In an effort to get or keep a good performance rating from the federal government, transplant centers have been labeling some patients “too sick to transplant” and dropping from the waitlist some who may been viable candidates, new research from the Journal of the American College of Surgeons has found. The study, published online in April, examined trends in “delisting” at 102 liver transplant centers, including 90,765 waitlisted adults who died between 2002 and 2012. In addition, despite removing more sick patients from the waiting list, one-year survival rates for patients who received transplants didn’t improve.
Midway through the time period under study, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services implemented a new “Conditions of Participation” policy that established performance standards for heart, heart-lung, intestine, kidney, liver, lung and pancreas transplant centers that participate in the Medicare program. Those that don’t meet the performance standards, which CMS recently eased somewhat, may be flagged for poor performance and have to implement program improvements or risk their participation in the Medicare program.
To learn more about the study, click here.