Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for the 'Medicare' Category

Reimbursement Rates and Quality

How do reimbursement rates affect quality?  One school of thought holds that decreased reimbursement decreases quality in the short-run and decreases innovation in the long-run.  Another school of thought believes that there is so  much inefficiency in the health care system, that reducing reimbursement rates will have no affect  on quality.  Which answer is correct? A study […]

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What can Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending Tell Us About Efficiency?

In a project with the Institute of Medicine (IOM), I examined the sources of regional variation in Medicare and Medicaid spending and spending growth. The IOM wisely concluded that policymakers should target decision-makerss rather than geography when attempting to improve the efficiency of the healthcare system. I recent paper by the Louise Sheniner of the […]

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Why don’t payers adopt my technology?

Why don’t payers adopt innovative approaches to treat mental illness? For instance, crisis intervention programs, recovery-focused consumer education programs, telehealth programs, and on-line treatment programs have sometimes have had problems receiving reimbursement from payers. Monica Oss of OpenMinds takes the payers’ perspective: Often, the organization proposing the new program comes to the table with an […]

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How did Medicare pay for chemotherapy pre-2006?

A working paper by Jacobson et al. (2014) not only provides the answer, but describes how reimbursement policy change over the past decade. Although Medicare did not offer a drug benefit for oral drugs (pills) until 2006, Medicare Part B, which covers physician services, has from inception covered physician-administered drugs such as IV chemotherapy, anti-nausea, […]

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Did Hospital VBP work?

How can Medicare improve quality and reduce cost? One idea is to introduce value-based purchasing (VBP). For instance, Medicare’s hospital value-based purchasing (HVBP) system increases payment rates for hospitals that demonstrate high quality. A paper by Ryan et al. (2014) explains the program in more detail. Under HVBP, acute care hospitals—those paid under Medicare’s Inpatient […]

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Was Newt Gingrich Right about Medicare?

In 1995, Newt Gingrich claimed that Medicare would end. He stated that “going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it — voluntarily.”  Was he right? In the one hand, Medicare total enrollment and spending is rising and the program still has widespread political support. On the other […]

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Do EHRs increase “upcoding”?

Upcoding occurs when physician or hospitals artificially increase the patient’s severity of illness. For instance, a hospital may record additional comorbidities. In Medicare’s inpatient prospective payment systems (IPPS), Medicare reimburses hospitals more for caring for patients who are sicker. Some health policy experts worry that electronic health records (EHRs) will decrease the cost of documenting […]

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Medicare Pricing Distortions and Patient Satisfaction

The cost of operating a physician practices differs across states.  For instance, rent is much higher in New York City than Nebraska.  Labor costs are much higher in Los Angeles than in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  To account for differences in the cost of operating a practice, Medicare adjusts reimbursement rates in their standard physician fee […]

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Is current hospice care inadequate?

In recent years, demand for palliative rather than interventionist end-of-life in hospices has grown dramatically. More than a million patients each year use hospice facilities. In fact, in some cases terminally patients live longer in hospice than in more intensive care settings. However, hospice are generally most attractive when they provide treatment if patients face […]

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Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities: Patient Population and Readmissions

The Affordable Care Act has required that CMS begin to address excess readmissions in short term acute care hospitals paid under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) through the Hospital Readmissions Reduction program.  This program requires CMS to reduce payments to IPPS hospitals with excessive readmissions for a set of three conditions—acute myocardial infarction (AMI), […]

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