Capsules: Study: Competition, Not Need, Drives Hospital Cardiac Care Investment; Medicare Advantage Plans Cut Total Cardio Procedures, But Regional Variations Remain; Community Health Centers Get Obamacare Outreach Funds

Now on Kaiser Health News' blog, Phil Galewitz reports on a study examining which hospitals are adding services for a key heart procedure: "U.S. hospitals spent up to $4 billion adding angioplasty services over a four year period, but the new services did little to improve access to timely medical care, says a study published Tuesday in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Between 2004 to 2008, some 251 hospitals added the invasive and often life-saving cardiac care, but researchers found that the new programs were mainly built near existing ones in competitive health care markets, rather than where the need for the services was greatest" (Galewitz, 7/9).

Also, Jay Hancock writes about a different study that looks at heart procedures performed on patients in the private Medicare Advantage plans: "Patients in Medicare Advantage plans got expensive balloons and stenting to clear coronary arteries at a rate 31 percent lower than patients in traditional Medicare, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Dr. Daniel Matlock and colleagues. ... What they didn't expect were enormous differences in utilization rates among Medicare Advantage patients from one city to another. They figured cost-control incentives would smooth out the notorious regional swings in how often procedures are administered under traditional Medicare. They didn't. In some regions" (Hancock, 7/9).

Finally, Phil Galewitz reports on new federal grants for community health centers: "The nation’s community health centers -- which treat the poor and uninsured -- apparently know a good deal when they see one. Nearly all 1,200 federally funded community health centers applied for and will be getting a piece of $150 million in federal health law money to enroll patients in new online health insurance marketplaces starting Oct.1" (Galewitz, 7/10). Check out what else is on the blog.

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