Pieces of new health-care law falling into place

A Broomfield woman recently got a visit from a health-care provider at home the day after she got out of the hospital.

She had rushed to the hospital a few days earlier with chest pains that she thought could be a heart attack. I’m not telling you her name to protect her privacy.

The health-care provider who visited her changed two of the woman’s angina-related medications, which she said made her more comfortable.

The woman is one of 6,000 Medicaid patients at Clinica Family Medical Services who now are enrolled in a new accountable-care organization program, according to Susan Wortman, development director at the Lafayette-based clinic. The program is a result of numerous changes being made in recent months to respond to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed by Congress in spring 2011. Among other things, the Affordable Care Act has new rules about how hospitals get paid for Medicaid patients.

I mentioned the new Medicaid program in my last column, but I wanted to talk to an actual patient in the program to see how it’s going.

Program goals: Reduce patient re-entry into hospitals, reduce the number of images that need to be taken of each patient, and reduce unnecessary patient use of emergency rooms.

Since patients most commonly are readmitted to a hospital within 72 hours after going home, it just makes sense to visit them soon after they leave.

“When you get out of the hospital, you don’t feel like you want to communicate with anyone,” the woman said. “I thought it was a brilliant idea to do the follow-up, especially for somebody who lives alone.”

Whatever you might think of “Obamacare” — the name opponents have given to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — it has meant many changes in the health-care industry already, including this one.

Health-care groups, doctors, insurance companies and hospitals locally and nationally continue to make changes to the way they do business to try to get more efficient and save money.

“It’s just nice to have someone check on you,” the Broomfield woman said.

On track for October 2013

On another Affordable Care Act front, a new, online health-insurance marketplace starting in Colorado is still on track to open for business in October 2013, according to Patty Fontneau, executive director of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange.

The idea is to get the estimated 500,000 Coloradans in the state who don’t have insurance to buy it on the nonprofit exchange, which was set in motion by a vote of the state Legislature.

People who don’t have insurance will pay penalties in the future under rules laid out by the Affordable Care Act. The exchange is designed to give them an alternative — a way to shop for plans, and a place where they can file for federal tax rebates to reduce their premiums.

Insurance plans that residents buy on the exchange will start in January 2014.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in late June that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional, Fontneau put out the word that the exchange is moving forward as scheduled. Some health-care industry decisions were put on hold during the Supreme Court challenge.

“We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us,” Fontneau said. “And we are grateful to be able to stay focused on opening an exchange that meets the needs of Colorado.”

‘Don’t eat it’

Finally, we’d like to give a shout-out to Joshua Scott Onysko, founder and chief executive of Pangea Organics in Boulder.

Onysko is passionate about skin care, speaking with almost evangelistic fervor at a recent entrepreneur pitch event in Denver. Pangea Organics was a winner in the event, which promises $50,000 in equity investment from the Denver venture capital group Galvanize.LLC.

Women put an estimated 500 or more chemicals on their skin every day in the form of cosmetics, lotions, soaps and shampoos, Onysko told a crowd of about 1,000 at the event.

“If we wouldn’t eat it, and we can’t pronounce it, why are we putting it on our skin?” Onysko asked rhetorically about the ingredients found in common skin-care products.

Pangea Organics body, skin and lip care products are sold in 2,000 retail locations around the nation. Most of them are certified organic with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Onysko now has plans to create a direct-marketing division in which he’ll create a selling organization that holds home parties to sell products to consumers.

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

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