ACAView Report Shows Medicaid Gap Widening Under Affordable Care Act; No Growth in New Patient Volumes
athenahealth, Inc. (Nasdaq:ATHN), a leading provider of cloud-based services for electronic health record (EHR), practice management, and care coordination, today announced ACAView, a joint initiative between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and athenahealth to measure the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on providers, patients, and physicians from 2014 through 2016. ACAView will monitor the impact of coverage expansion on a monthly basis, mining insights from a subset of athenahealth’s growing cloud-based network of more than 52,000 health care providers and 56 million patients.
athenahealth and RWJF also announced today the release of ACAView’s first comprehensive report, analyzing the impact of the ACA through May of 2014. The report focuses on the provider perspective, showcasing how the ACA affects the practice patterns and economics of physicians and other care team members around the country. Key findings from the report include:
- Influx in New Patient Volume Not Detected: In the first five months of 2014, a national sample of 14,300 health care providers across the athenahealth network did not see an increase in new patient volume.* Instead, the percentage of total visits with new patients actually dropped slightly compared to the same period in 2013. These findings suggest that an increase in newly insured patients, resulting from the ACA, has yet to have an impact on new patient volume at medical practices.
- Health Care Reform Widening the Medicaid Gap: In states that are expanding Medicaid coverage under the ACA, the data shows an overall increase in adult (18-64) Medicaid beneficiary patient visits. In expansion states, on average, the percentage of Medicaid-covered patients who are being seen by primary care physicians is rising, with Medicaid patients accounting for 12.3% of care in December of 2013 compared with an increased rate of 15.6% in May 2014. Surgeons and other specialists also show increases. Conversely, states that are not expanding Medicaid coverage have seen Medicaid visits remaining flat. These findings indicate that the implementation of the ACA is widening the gap of the total share of Medicaid patients that doctors in expansion vs. non-expansion states are caring for.
- No Increase in Chronic Disease Diagnoses Among New Patients: Findings from the first five months of 2014 indicate that established patients have a higher rate of chronic diseases compared with new patients seeking care. When comparing diagnosis rates of chronic conditions from the first five months of 2013 to the first five months of 2014, across both new and established patients, no increase in diagnosis rates of chronic conditions is detected for either population.
“With ACAView, our goal is to inform, exchange ideas, and provide a timely, front-row view of how this landmark legislation affects a robust cross-section of providers across the nation,” said Josh Gray, vice president of athenaResearch, athenahealth. “Our work with RWJF is enabling us to provide an objective, non-ideological barometer about how health care coverage expansion is affecting the day-to-day realities of physician practice. We look forward to using our unique data set to provide both granular and broad insights on the health care landscape, the practice of medicine, and patient behavior.”
“Health care leaders are unclear about how health reform ultimately impacts them and their patients, and they need more information on how new policies affect practices,” said Katherine Hempstead of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The new ACAView helps connect the dots. Already, the data suggest some surprises. These data suggest there hasn’t been an immediate increase in primary care utilization, and there’s been no major influx of chronically ill people into the system. These and other measures will be important to watch over time.”
To view the full comprehensive ACAView report, please visit www.athenahealth.com/_doc/pdf/ACAView_Final_Comprehensive_Report.pdf. Monthly updates can be viewed at Reform by the Numbers or on the athenahealth CloudView Blog at www.athenahealth.com/blog.
* athenahealth defines new patients as one who has not visited a particular physician in two years or more.
About athenahealth, Inc.
athenahealth is a leading provider of cloud-based services for electronic health record (EHR), practice management, and care coordination. athenahealth’s mission is to be caregivers’ most trusted service, helping them do well doing the right thing. For more information, please visit www.athenahealth.com.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.