Ten-year-old Joey Smith shared a celebratory high-five with Heather Kunkel, a mental health professional who was visiting the boy’s Thomaston home. “Things are great, spectacular even,” he said, as the two chatted at the kitchen table. It’s a dramatic turnaround for Joey who met Kunkel when she was summoned to Thomaston Center School because he had threatened to harm himself. Now Joey, who has autism, is back at school with a modified curriculum to suit his individual needs and his parents have access to an educational advocate and community resources. The Smiths are among the thousands of Connecticut families turning to the Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services (EMPS) — a crisis intervention program that includes a network of 150 mental health professionals who assist children experiencing a behavioral or mental health crisis at home, school or in the community.
Connecticut fared second-worst in the country in the percentage of hospitals hit with federal penalties for selected quality-of-care measures and in the overall rate of loss of Medicare reimbursements associated with those penalties, new federal data shows. Eighty-six percent of the state’s 30 acute-care hospitals were penalized under Medicare’s Value-Based Purchasing Program, an incentive program created under the Affordable Care Act to reward hospitals on a number of quality measures related to treatment of patients with heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and certain surgical issues, as well as patient satisfaction. Overall, the state’s hospitals lost .15 percent of their Medicare reimbursement, compared to a .02 percent average loss nationally, the data shows. In addition to the penalties on quality measures, 23 Connecticut hospitals lost Medicare funding because of high rates of readmitting patients within 30 days of a hospital stay. Four faced the maximum loss, a 1 percent reduction in funding: Griffin Hospital in Derby, the Hospital of St.