Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for the 'Medicare' Category

Medicare Advantage and Upcoding

Medicare’s cost are growing due to an aging population, technological advances, and other factors.  One of those factors may be upcoding that is occurring among Medicare Advantage plans.  Rick Kronick writes in Health Affairs that: Over the past decade, the average risk score for Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees has risen steadily relative to that for fee-for-service […]

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Will federal government spending be captured by the elderly?

According to a January 2017 report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), spending on entitlement programs for the elderly is the primary factor driving increased budget deficets over the next 10 years.  The CBO states: Outlays rise faster than revenues—by about 5 percent a year, on average—increasing from 20.7 percent of GDP in 2017 to […]

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Are quality bonus payments based on hospital readmissions reliable?

Maybe not.  That is the answer from a study by Thompson et al. (2016).  Using data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) State Inpatient Databases (SID) for six states (AR, FL, IA, MA, NY,WA)  from 2011 to 2013, the authors measure hospital performance reliability for the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP).  The define reliability as follows: […]

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Did BPCI work?

BPCI is Medicare’s Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative.  For selected conditions, hospitals receive bundled payments that can include concurrent physician payments, post acute-care or other arrangements. The question is, does this payment approach improve quality and reduce cost? A study by Dummit et al. (2016) looked at lower extremity joint replacement at a BPCI-participating hospital.  They found the […]

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The coming U.S. debt crisis

The Congressional Budget Office provides some gloomy news on the fiscal health of the federal government in their recent 2016 Long Term Budget Outlook.  They state: If current laws governing taxes and spending did not change, the United States would face steadily increasing federal budget deficits and debt over the next 30 years, according to projections […]

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VBID comes to Medicare Advantage

CMS announced last week that they are extending their value-based insurance design (VBID) program to more states and more patients.  I describe VBID and the proposed changes below. What is VBID? Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) generally refers to health insurers’ efforts to structure enrollee cost sharing and other health plan design elements to encourage enrollees […]

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ACOs and VBP

Accountable Care Organizations aim to link providers through the supply chain (i.e., hospitals, physicians, post-acute care facilities) to incentivize providers to improve quality and reduce costs.  In addition to its ACO program (the Medicare Shared Savings Program), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have implemented a number of value-based payment programs, including the […]

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Is value-based purchasing working for hospitals?

The Incidental Economist is one of my favorite blogs to read.  This week’s post on a recent BMJ article on the failure of P4P did not disappoint.  The article (Figueroa et al. 2016) looks at 4267 acute care hospitals in the United States that participated in Medicare’s Hospital Value Based Purchasing (HVBP) system.  During my time […]

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Do ACOs reduce spending?

Medicare’s Shared Savings Program (MSSP) is a program that created accountable care organizations (ACOs).  Providers in get bonuses if they are able to reduce health care costs and also maintain quality.  In theory, the program makes sense, increase reimbursement for high-quality, low-cost providers.  The key question, however, is whether it works. A recent study in NEJM […]

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“Adjustments” drive variation in Medicare hospital reimbursement rates

In my previous work, I have examined regional variation in Medicare and Medicaid costs through reports to the Institute of Medicine and publications in peer-reviewed journals.  We found significant variation in health care costs across regions, that high-cost regions tended to remain high cost over time, but that a region that is high-cost for treating one medical condition […]

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