Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

The market works!

In 2011, CMS created a demonstration to have competitive bidding for durable medical equipment (DME).   Prior to the implementation of this program, CMS used an administrative fee schedule, similar to how physicians are currently reimbursed.  How did this market-based solution fare?  A paper by Newman, Barrette, and McGraves-Lloyd (2017) answers this question. We compared […]

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Effect of Medicare Part D on Mortality

Huh and Reif (2017) have an interesting study of the effect of Medicare Part D on mortality.  The abstract is below. We investigate the implementation of Medicare Part D and estimate that this prescription drug benefit program reduced elderly mortality by 2.2% annually. This was driven primarily by a reduction in cardiovascular mortality, the leading cause of […]

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Innovative Cancer Care models

What does CMS consider to be innovative oncology care?  The following three programs won a CMS Health Care Innovation Award for their initiative. Community Oncology Medical Home (COME HOME).  This model relied on three key principles: (i) triage pathways to help first responders and nurses identify and manage patient symptoms; (ii) enhanced access to care through […]

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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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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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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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