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New healthcare laws help physicians and patients, data show


The results are in: Healthcare-related laws have improved healthcare for millions of Americans and put cash in doctors' pockets. See the data that back it up.

The results are in, and recent data show that healthcare-related laws enacted by the federal government have put cash in doctors’ pockets and improved healthcare for millions of Americans, according to federal agencies.

Due to the Health Information for Clinical and Economic Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, more than 100,000 healthcare providers use electronic health record (EHR) systems that meet federal standards, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Physicians and other healthcare providers have taken advantage of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs that began in 2011 to reward those who adopt, implement, upgrade, or meaningfully use certified EHR technology in ways that improve care. More than $5.7 billion in EHR incentive program payments had been made as of May.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that patients are seeing the benefits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). You can bet more changes are on the way, now that the Supreme Court has upheld this law, but so far, according to the government:

More than 12 million Americans will receive from their insurance companies this summer rebates totaling $1.1 billion. Thanks to the PPACA’s 80/20 rule, insurance companies must spend 80% of their customers’ cash on medical care and quality improvements and the remaining 20% on administrative needs, and they must tell their customers whether they achieved this standard. Companies that didn’t achieve the standard have until August 1 to send their policyholders a rebate for the discrepancy.

Nearly three-fourths of Americans aged 19 through 25 years now have health insurance, 2 years after the PPACA required insurance companies to leave them on their parents’ plans until age 26, whether or not they still lived at home. Insurance coverage information taken from a National Health Interview Survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the number of adults with insurance coverage in that age group rose from 64.4% to 74.8% from September 2010 to December 2011.

Look for more community health centers to pop up in low-income neighborhoods across the country as the PPACA makes good on a promise to ensure all Americans have access to quality healthcare. A total of $128.6 million in new grants were awarded recently to 219 health centers in underserved locales. The funds will provide healthcare to 1.25 million additional patients and create more than 5,600 jobs for physicians and other caregivers.

The Health Care Innovation Awards, made possible by the PPACA, will provide funding for 107 projects that are designed to save the healthcare system an estimated $1.9 billion over the next 3 years.

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