Posted: 04/02/15 10:41
by Dave Mindeman
When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, we tend to focus on the broader goal of the law - to get affordable insurance for those who do not have it.
But there are other aspects of the law that have improved health care and have not been brought to public attention.
This is one -
The Affordable Care Act is "a major reason why we've seen 50,000 fewer preventable patient deaths in hospitals." - President Obama (March 25, 2015)
That statement got some attention and a fact checker looked into it....
The 50,000-number is derived from a study, released on Dec. 2, 2014, by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services. The study looked at the impact of the Partnership for Patients, a $460-million program funded by the health law which ties together 3,800 hospitals in 27 "health engagement" networks, with the goal of reducing ten categories of "patient harms," such as adverse drug events, pressure ulcers and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. The networks work together to identify possible solutions to common problems and then circulate those ideas among the various hospitals, with the goal of reducing preventable hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) by 40 percent and 30-day hospital readmissions by 20 percent.
Preventable deaths in the hospital has been a problem for many years. And a lot of it is due to a lack of coordination among hospitals and the lack of information transfer. The ACA addressed that - and it looks like it did so successfully.
Largely relying on more than 30,000 medical records, the study looked at how many fewer patient-related problems had taken place in hospitals--the study calculated 1.3 million fewer incidents over three years-and then used that to determine how many lives might have been saved. In general, the researchers used mortality estimates from other research...."There is some uncertainty about these estimates," one official said. "In some cases, the literature [on excess mortality] is better than others. But it is quite conceivable that 1.3 million fewer people are being harmed."
That number (over 3 years) is an impressive improvement in health care. Hospitals have fewer adverse incidents and fewer uninsured patients. Not only is that improving health care in general but it has a positive effect on the hospital bottom line.
The ACA has been a controversial bill and the changes to health care in the United States have been extensive. But the improvements are real and tangible.
If the Republicans really want to return to pre-ACA health care, they will have to take away all of its benefits in the process.