Healthcare News of Note: The healthcare sector’s lobbying expenditures exceeded $700 million in 2020
- Lobbying expenditures in the healthcare sector increased by more than 70% in all categories from 2000 to 2020, led by pharmaceutical and health product manufacturers and providers.
- Many employers say they are concerned about meeting the mental health needs of their employees and their employees’ dependents given resource shortages.
- Healthgrades announced its 2023 Specialty Excellence Awards, which recognize hospitals that deliver superior patient outcomes within 17 service lines.
Over the last few weeks, I have found these industry news stories that should be of interest to healthcare finance professionals.
1. Healthcare providers’ lobbying expenditures in 2020 were nearly $287 million
Lobbying expenditures within the healthcare sector increased “by more than 70% across all [four] categories from 2000 to 2020,” led by pharmaceutical and health product manufacturers and providers, according to results of a cross-sectional study published Oct. 28 in JAMA Health Forum.
The four categories reviewed were pharmaceutical and health product manufacturers, providers, payers and other firms.
“In 2020, US health care lobbying expenditures totaled $713.6 million vs $358.2 million in 2000,” wrote the authors. The breakdown of the 2020 expenditures was:
- $308.4 million by pharmaceutical and health product manufacturers
- $286.9 million by providers (health professionals, hospitals, nursing homes and associated trade organizations)
- $80.6 million by payers (insurers and health maintenance organizations)
- $37.7 million by other firms (healthcare consultants and policy organizations)
“Spending was highly concentrated, with the top 10% of firms responsible for 70.4% of spending among payers, 69.0% among manufacturers, and 59.0% among providers,” wrote the authors. “Spending among other firms was less concentrated, with the top 10% responsible for 37.7% of spending.”
2. 48% of large employers noticing more employees in need of mental health services
“Many employers continue to be concerned about meeting the mental health needs of their employees and their dependents,” with “48% of large employers seeing an increase in the share of employees seeking mental health services,” according to the 2022 Employer Health Benefits Survey, published Oct. 27 by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).
“Overall, employers expressed concern about the breadth of their provider networks for those with mental health conditions,” the report authors wrote. “Only 52% of large employers believe that there were [enough] behavioral health providers in their networks to allow timely access to services compared to 89% for primary care providers.”
Those concerns are not unwarranted, as indicated in an Oct. 29 article in The Washington Post. Author Rachel Zimmerman quoted Jeffery Huffman, clinical director of the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), as saying the demand for mental healthcare has been “so unprecedented” that the hospital can’t keep up due to staff shortages. Huffman expects the situation to improve “over the next two months” as new hires come aboard.
At one point in August, MGH “had a staggering 880 people on its wait list for psychiatric services,” wrote Zimmerman. “The list had grown so large that the hospital issued an unusual plea to its physicians: Stop referring psychiatry patients for non-urgent care.”
MGH was not the only healthcare organization struggling with the demand for mental health services, according to the Post, which contacted “more than 300 mental health providers, as well as patients and policy experts.”
“More than half of the therapists who responded described a fraught landscape in which long waits for care — sometimes three to six months or longer — are the norm,” Zimmerman added.
According to KFF, in response to the increased need for mental health services, “many employers, particularly large employers, offer self-care apps (44%) or an employee assistance program (81%). … Many employers indicated that they were trying to bolster their provider networks through alternative modes, such as adding new virtual providers.”
3. Nation’s top-performing hospitals for specialty care named by Healthgrades
The Healthgrades Specialty Excellence Awards for 2023, recognizing hospitals that deliver superior patient outcomes within 17 service lines, were announced in an Oct. 25 news release.
To identify the nation’s top-performing hospitals for specialty care, “Healthgrades analyzes the risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates for 33 common procedures and conditions at nearly 4,500 hospitals,” according to the Healthgrades Specialty Report.
The awards and ratings also “… help patients find a hospital that excels in their condition or procedure and empower hospitals with an actionable roadmap to solidifying and improving key service lines,” wrote the report authors.
According to an analysis of Healthgrades data from 2019 to 2021, as reported, patients had a:
- 58% lower risk of dying when seen at hospitals earning recognition on Healthgrades America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Pulmonary Care than at those that did not earn the award
- 52% lower risk of dying when treated at hospitals earning a five-star rating in stroke care than if they were treated at a facility with a one-star rating
- In addition, 201,586 lives could have been saved if all hospitals performed to the level of hospitals earning a five-star rating