Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Archive for the 'Medicare' Category

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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Impact of Medicare Advantage on Hospital Admissions

Do patients who enroll in Medicare Advantage go to the hospital less frequently? The answer is yes. However, this fact may not be causal. Patients who enroll in Medicare Advantage are generally younger and healthier than patients who enroll in Medicare’s fee-for-service (FFS) program. A paper by Duggan, Gruber and Vabson (2016) uses a novel […]

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Part B drug reimbursement

In the past Medicare has reimbursed physicians that administer Part B drugs–typically injectable medications administered in a physician’s office–at 6% of the drug’s cost.  The 6% aims to cover the cost of purchasing and storing the drug as well as administering it.  Because physician reimbursement is proportional to the cost of the drug, physicians have […]

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Managing post-acute care cost

Medicare’s move towards bundling payment for acute and post-acute care means that hospitals have an incentive to carefully monitor care received after discharge.  But what are the key drivers of post-acute care cost: hospital readmissions? use of any post-acute care? type of post-acute care used? A paper by Huckfeldt et al. (2016) examines Medicare claims data […]

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Health care spending a key driver of future budget deficets

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its 2016 10-year budget projections last month and the numbers do not look good.  CBO estimates that the 2016 federal budget deficit will be more than half a trillion dollars ($544 billion), which will cause the total level of federal government debt to increase to 76% of GDP. How […]

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