New Year Brings Health Care Changes

SALISBURY – At the start of 2013, healthcare professionals are busy trying to manage changes brought by federal healthcare reform.

“This is a pivotal year for the healthcare industry,” said Nancy Bagwell, branch director for Peninsula Home Care. “The line of thinking has moved from treatment to prevention and education. Healthcare professionals across all platforms will be in direct communication with each other about the status and needs of every patient. We will work together to educate and empower our patients and engage them in their plan of care which will ultimately improve their health outcomes and control costs.”

The changes that will take place in 2013 are based on the “patient-centered medical home” model. Medical Home models provide accessible, continuous, coordinated and comprehensive patient-centered care. This model has many benefits to both patients and medical staff because it provides more one-on-one time with the physician, improves caregiver cooperation, and provides more preventative care.

“This model is much more efficient because it puts everyone on the same page in regards to a patients’ plan of care,” said Bagwell. “It helps providers, across all platforms; prevent redundancies, unnecessary care, tests, hospital stays, and additional visits to specialists.”

Additionally, the Affordable Care Act has introduced two new taxes to finance Medicare. Employers already take out 7.65 percent of workers’ wages to support the elderly and disabled. Of that, 1.45 percent goes toward paying Medicare’s hospital bills. Beginning in 2013, the Medicare hospital tax will be increased by 0.9 percent for anyone who earns more than $200,000. There will also be a new 3.8 percent tax on investment income, setting income thresholds again at $200,000.

In addition, a new health-care law includes a provision to boost primary care reimbursements in Medicaid to match those of Medicare for 2013 and 2014. On average, this will mean a 73-percent raise for Medicaid doctors.

In addition, Marylanders will be required to have a MOLST (Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment). The law, scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 1, 2013, requires a Maryland MOLST form be completed by or for all individuals admitted to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices, home health agencies and dialysis centers. The MOLST form is intended to help physicians and other health care providers discuss and convey a patient’s wishes regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life-sustaining treatments.

MOLST orders should be completed for any person who wants to avoid and/or receive life-sustaining treatments; resides in a long-term care facility or requires long-term care services; and/or is at risk of dying within the next year.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.