Health reform prescribes doctors’ disclosures

Have you ever wondered if your doctor has received money or gifts from drug or medical device manufacturers? By March, 31, 2014, you’ll have the chance to find out.

Starting in August, doctors will be required to disclose information about payments or gifts they receive in connection with drugs, devices and supplies covered by Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance. The information is being gathered as part of the federal health-care reform rules going into effect next year.

The idea is to create more transparency in health-care markets, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is collecting the information.

Doctors also will need to publicly disclose any ownership or investment interests they have in medical manufacturers and group purchasing organizations, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Federal health-care reform changes are happening so fast these days that about half of all doctors surveyed recently had not heard about new reporting procedures and did not realize such information would be made public. MMIS Inc. did the doctor survey. The Portsmouth, New Hampshire, firm makes software that can help with such reporting requirements.

More details of reform

While we’re at it, here are a few details of other federal health-care reform rules that will go into effect on Jan. 1:

Individuals must buy health insurance and companies with 50 or more full-time employees must provide health insurance or face tax penalties starting then.

If you don’t have health insurance coverage, you’ll be taxed $95 per adult and $47.50 per child in 2014. Penalties increase in 2015 and 2016.

If you’re a business with more than 25 employees, you must provide health insurance plans to 95 percent of full-time employees at an “affordable” price. Health insurance must cost no more than 9.5 percent of an employee’s stated W-2 tax earnings to be considered affordable.

Before your eyes glaze over from taking in so much new information, here’s the “carrot” part of the program.

Individuals and small businesses will receive tax credits to sign up for health insurance through an online program. An estimated 70,000 Colorado small businesses will be eligible for tax credits.

If employers contribute at least 50 percent of the money toward their employees’ health insurance premiums, they’ll be eligible to get money back. A Small Business Tax Credit Calculator to help you get a better idea of how it will work is online at http://www.getcoveredco.org/Resources/Small-Businesses.

Learn more at event

Area chambers of commerce have been offering educational forums to help small-business owners understand what’s required.

The Broomfield Chamber of Commerce is putting on such an event at 7:30 a.m. Friday, March 8. The half-day forum will be held at Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center, 200 Exempla Circle in Lafayette. Chamber president Jennifer Kerr encourages you to attend — and it’s free!

Broomfield Chamber members started talking about health-care reform last year, but had to wait until the presidential election in November to find out if it was going full speed ahead or not, Kerr said.

The Broomfield Business Resource Center and the North Metro Small Business Development Center in Westminster are partners in the event, Kerr said.

Kudos for patient experience

What do you really want when you go to the hospital?

If you’re a woman, the national firm WomenCertified says your top requests are good communication, responsiveness of nurses and support staff, cleanliness and trusted referrals from other women.

(You probably want the same thing if you’re a man, actually, but the Hollywood, Florida-based ranking firm focuses only on what women want.)

Based on those criteria and others, Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville and Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette were named among the Top 100 Hospitals for Patient Experience in the company’s most recent national survey.

Both John Sackett, chief executive at Avista, and Dave Hamm, chief executive at Exempla Good Sam, commented on the rankings.

“Our team insists on paying attention to the little things that make a big difference and make our patients feel safe and comfortable,” Sackett said.

For Exempla, patients and families are at the center of all the hospital does, Hamm said.

“To have the seal of approval of women lets us know they value the experience they receive while in our care,” Hamm said.

The rankings were made using national survey information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with a proprietary scoring process used by WomenCertified. A customer satisfaction survey done by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania also was used.

Beth Potter can be reached at 303-630-1944 or bpotter@bcbr.com.

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