Healthcare Cost Checkup

The Value Proposition of the PA Health Care Cost Containment Council

08/01/2019 | Joe Martin

Many years ago, I was talking with the PA Health Care Cost Containment Council’s Interim Director at the time, Cliff Jones, about how best to communicate PHC4’s value. Cliff told me that he believed people wanted to know three things: first, is the work of high quality; second, if it is useful; and third, who cares about it? I often reflect back on that conversation.

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Understanding Health Care Costs and Provider Engagement

05/01/2019 | Joe Martin

Recently, I addressed the Central PA Business Group on Health at the invitation of their Executive Director, Diane Hess. The CPBGH was founded in 1984 by a group of employers concerned about the cost and quality of healthcare benefits. The organization operates as an independent, non-profit affiliate of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, with a focus on serving employers based in Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York Counties.

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Health Care Costs and Quality in Pennsylvania — Highs and Lows

02/01/2019 | Joe Martin

As the new year gets underway, it is often a time for reflection, and it occurs to me that among many others, there are two particularly valuable assets to the PA Health Care Cost Containment Council: the agency’s Hospital Performance Report; and David B. Nash, MD, MBA, FACP, the long time (20 years) chairman of PHC4’s esteemed Technical Advisory Group and founding dean of the Thomas Jefferson University School for Population Health. It is important to note that a third has been the unwavering of support of the PA Chamber of Business and Industry for the work of PHC4. 

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Lowering Employer Costs by Encouraging Healthy Behaviors

11/01/2018 | Joe Martin

The value of having healthy employees is indisputable. Healthy people use less medical care, disability benefits and worker’s compensation. They have increased productivity and decreased absenteeism. For many health plans, it is estimated that a staggering 60 to 70 percent of costs are due to conditions related to modifiable personal health behaviors, such as physical inactivity, poor diets, smoking and problem drinking.

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The Opioid Crisis and the Workplace

08/01/2018 | Joe Martin

The opioid crisis in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States is tragic, and has often been described as the greatest health epidemic in modern history. And it is very costly; to families, communities and the economy. The opioid crisis also has a significant impact in two areas not frequently focused on in the media: the workplace and the workforce. Not only is it devastating American families and communities, it's degrading America’s workforce, with the labor force participation rate down 4 percentage points since 2000 despite an increasing population.

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The Financial and Personal Impact of Healthcare Associated Infections

05/01/2018 | Joe Martin

On March 1, 2018, PHC4 released a new research brief on Clostridium difficile infections (known as C.diff or CDI) and their link to hospital admissions in Pennsylvania. Why should the business community care about this? Because such infections are preventable and cost a great deal of money to treat.

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Diabetes: Why Should Employers Care?

02/01/2018 | Joe Martin

According to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being IndexTM, the national prevalence of diabetes increased from 10.6 percent in 2008 to 11.5 percent for the first nine months of 2017. If the diabetes rate had remained at its 2008 level, approximately 2.3 million fewer U.S. adults would have the disease today, and healthcare costs due to diabetes would be an estimated $19.2 billion less than current levels. Costs to employers are significant, with more than $20 billion annually in lost productivity, stemming from 57 million additional unplanned missed workdays by workers 
with diabetes.

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Sepsis Hospitalizations Rise 89 Percent in PA

11/01/2017 | Joe Martin

Sepsis (also known as blood poisoning) is an often deadly disease that sometimes occurs when the body is overwhelmed by infection. Sepsis can be difficult to diagnose, because it often happens quickly, and can be confused with other conditions. Each year, sepsis strikes more than one million Americans and more than a quarter of them will die. During 2016, nearly 8,500 Pennsylvanians died from sepsis. Although anyone can develop sepsis, it is more common and dangerous among older adults and those with weakened immune systems. Early detection, treatment and patient compliance are keys to decreasing sepsis deaths.

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PHC4 Putting Final Touches on Multiple Updated, New Reports This Summer

07/01/2017 | Joe Martin

As the sunshine of summer slowly spreads across the state, the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council is gearing up to tackle new projects in public reporting. A recent strategic planning initiative unearthed a desire for the Council to focus on a variety of new topics, as well as provide updates on emerging topics of high interest that were previously reported. Two newly updated research briefs are close to publication: one on super-utilizers in Pennsylvania, and another on hospitalizations for overdoses of heroin or pain medications. Additionally, the next edition of the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery Report will soon be released, and efforts are underway to analyze and report on episodes of care for heart failure.

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Planning for the Future

04/01/2017 | Joe Martin

When the PA Health Care Cost Containment Council was created as an independent state agency in 1986, there were few organizations, public or private, that were making the results of hospital and physician care available to the general public. It was a seminal moment in health care history. And for many years thereafter, PHC4 was the acknowledged leader, statewide, nationally and even internationally, in the field of public accountability through health care transparency. Today, there are many entities that are making substantive data available:  Leapfrog, Consumer Reports, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Federal Government through Medicare, to name just a few. In many ways, PHC4 has made a major contribution to this positive and seismic shift in the health care landscape, thanks in no small part to the support of one of its founding members — the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. 

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Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council Marks Thirty Years of Health Care Achievements

01/01/2017 | Joe Martin

On Nov. 21, 2016, nearly 80 invited guests assembled for a meeting that marked the 30th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in the state. The PA Chamber of Business and Industry is a founding member and helped lead the lobbying efforts to create PHC4 in 1986.

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