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Health Plans' Quality Of Care Improved In 2007

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Health plans' quality of care improved in 2007 -- the ninth consecutive year of continued improvements -- according to a study released Thursday by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The study is based on the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set, which has data on 54 measures of health care quality from more than 800 government-run and private health plans (Rosetta, Salt Lake Tribune, 10/2).

NCQA found that commercial health plans showed improvement in 44 of 54 measures, including better treatment for high blood pressure and postpartum depression. Private Medicare plans showed improvement in 24 of 45 measures, including an increase of heart attack patients being treated with beta-blockers. However, there was a decrease in the number of Medicare beneficiaries receiving breast and colon cancer screenings, CQ HealthBeat reports.

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The quality of care through Medicaid plans has remained relatively unchanged over the past two years, according to the report. There was an increase in the number of children enrolled in Medicaid who received childhood immunizations, the report said (Lubbes Simpson, CQ HealthBeat, 10/2). In some cases, Medicaid plans showed declines, such as in the number of cardiac patients who received beta blockers. Medicare plans also had "relatively flat performances," the Tribune reports.

Health plans' quality of care varied by region, with plans in New England performing the best (Salt Lake Tribune, 10/2). NCQA President Margaret O'Kane said, "We pay a high price for variation in quality. When it comes to quality, the current system is all over the map."

The report suggested that all health plans should be required to measure and publicly report on quality of care measures. The report also called for the health care system to be overhauled and said that the next president should set regional targets for health improvement and grant federal money accordingly (CQ HealthBeat, 10/2).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.