Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Depression Among the Elderly & Medicare Part D

How did the enactment of Medicare Part D affect the mental health of the elderly? This is the question Ayyagari and Shane attempt to answer in their recent JHE paper. The authors use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) between 2010 and 2010 to measure changes in depressive symptoms among patients aged 60-70. […]

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Medicare Advantage vs. FFS

Austin Frakt summarizes some recent research presented at AcademyHealth. There are three principle MA plan types: HMOs, PPOs, and private fee for service (PFFS) plans. It’s HMOs that are lowest in cost, because they tend to offer the most restrictive networks. As Biles et al. report, based on 2012 data, HMOs have costs 7 percent […]

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Medicare starts using prior authorization

Included within the many changes to physician payment in HR2, is one provision that may surprise people; a subset of Medicare physicians will be required to receive prior authorization to conduct imaging services. Beginning with 2017, and in consultation with stakeholders, the Secretary will identify ordering professionals with low adherence to applicable [appropriate use criteria] […]

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‘Doc fix’ fixed?

This may be the case.  Fox News reports: The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation permanently overhauling how Medicare pays physicians late Tuesday in a rare show of near-unanimity from Congress. The legislation headed off a 21 percent cut in doctors’ Medicare fees that would have taken effect Wednesday, when the government planned to begin processing physicians’ […]

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Fixing the “doc fix”

The sustainable growth rate (SGR) was implemented by Congress in1998.  The SGR’s aim was to slowly bring down or at least decellerate Medicare compensation for physicians compensation.  However, each year, it gets reversed by Congress. Now, instead of a gradual decline, the implementation of SGR would  result in about at 25%pay cut for Medicare docs. […]

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The Next Generation ACO

Medicare currently has two Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)–the more popular Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and the Pioneer ACO program. However, these ACOs have generated only limited cost savings. Only 11 of 23 Pioneer ACOs and 58 of 220 MSSP participants generated cost savings. To address some provider concerns and due to the limited cost […]

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What’s new for Medicare Advantage in 2015

A KFF article provides some highlights of changes to Medicare Advantage for 2015: Near universal access to an MA plan.  99% of Medicare beneficiaries will have access to a Medicare Advantage plan as an alternative to traditional Medicare in 2015.  The only individuals without access to an MA plan are concentrated in a few rural areas. Lots of […]

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Regional Growth in Medicare Spending, 1992–2010

Below is an abstract from a paper I co-wrote with Camille Chicklis, Thomas MaCurdy, Jay Bhattacharya, and Dan Rodgers.  The title of the paper is Regional Growth in Medicare Spending, 1992–2010. Objective: To determine if regions with high Medicare expenditures in a given setting remain high cost over time. Data Sources/Study Setting: One hundred percent of national Medicare Parts […]

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What’s wrong with the SGR?

Why are doctor’s always complaining about the sustainable growth rate (SGR) issue? What is the SGR? The Brookings blog has a nice primer on the SGR. What is the SGR Put in place through the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the SGR is a system designed to control the costs of Medicare payments for physicians. […]

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Medicare to Pay for Value

I have spilled much ink on this blog discussing the pros and cons of pay-for-performance approaches to medicine.  Incentivizing high quality care is good in theory, but in practice changes in quality have been modest and providers may be able to readily game the system.  Despite these challenges, Medicare announced this week that it would being  tying 30 […]

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