Category Archives: health

Medical Homes: The Authors Reply [Letters]

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Medicare Advantage Associated With More Racial Disparity Than Traditional Medicare For Hospital Readmissions [Web First]

We compared racial disparities in thirty-day readmissions between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage beneficiaries who underwent one of six major surgeries in New York State in 2013. We found that Medicare Advantage was associated with greater racial disparity, compared to traditional Medicare. After controlling for patient, hospital, and geographic characteristics in a propensity score based approach, we found that in traditional Medicare, black patients were 33 percent more likely than white patients to be readmitted, whereas in Medicare Advantage, black patients were 64 percent more likely than white patients to be readmitted. Our findings suggest that the risk-reduction strategies adopted by Medicare Advantage plans have not been successful in lowering the markedly higher rate of readmission among black patients, compared to white patients.

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Health Spending By State 1991-2014: Measuring Per Capita Spending By Payers And Programs [Web First]

As the US health sector evolves and changes, it is informative to estimate and analyze health spending trends at the state level. These estimates, which provide information about consumption of health care by residents of a state, serve as a baseline for state and national-level policy discussions. This study examines per capita health spending by state of residence and per enrollee spending for the three largest payers (Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance) through 2014. Moreover, it discusses in detail the impacts of the Affordable Care Act implementation and the most recent economic recession and recovery on health spending at the state level. According to this analysis, these factors affected overall annual growth in state health spending and the payers and programs that paid for that care. They did not, however, substantially change state rankings based on per capita spending levels over the period.

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ACA Replacement Battle Moves To Senate [Web First]

As the Senate struggles to craft its version of legislation replacing Obamacare, the Trump administration puts its stamp on health care regulation.

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Racial And Ethnic Disparities Persist At Veterans Health Administration Patient-Centered Medical Homes [Addressing Inequities In Health Care]

Patient-centered medical homes are widely promoted as a primary care delivery model that achieves better patient outcomes. It is unknown if their benefits extend equally to all racial/ethnic groups. In 2010 the Veterans Health Administration, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), began implementing patient-centered medical homes nationwide. In 2009 significant disparities in hypertension or diabetes control were present for most racial/ethnic groups, compared with whites. In 2014 hypertension disparities were similar for blacks, had become smaller but remained significant for Hispanics, and were no longer significant for multiracial veterans, whereas disparities had become significant for American Indians/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders. By contrast, in 2014 diabetes disparities were similar for American Indians/Alaska Natives, blacks, and Hispanics, and were no longer significant for Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders. We found that the modest benefits of the VA’s implementation of patient-centered medical homes were offset by competing multifactorial external, health system, provider, and patient factors, such as increased patient volume. To promote health equity, health care innovations such as patient-centered medical homes should incorporate tailored strategies that account for determinants of racial/ethnic variations. Evaluations of patient-centered medical homes should monitor outcomes for racial/ethnic groups.

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Three-Year Impacts Of The Affordable Care Act: Improved Medical Care And Health Among Low-Income Adults [Web First]

Major policy uncertainty continues to surround the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at both the state and federal levels. We assessed changes in health care use and self-reported health after three years of the ACA’s coverage expansion, using survey data collected from low-income adults through the end of 2016 in three states: Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid; Arkansas, which expanded private insurance to low-income adults using the federal Marketplace; and Texas, which did not expand coverage. We used a difference-in-differences model with a control group and an instrumental variables model to provide individual-level estimates of the effects of gaining insurance. By the end of 2016 the uninsurance rate in the two expansion states had dropped by more than 20 percentage points relative to the nonexpansion state. For uninsured people gaining coverage, this change was associated with a 41-percentage-point increase in having a usual source of care, a $337 reduction in annual out-of-pocket spending, significant increases in preventive health visits and glucose testing, and a 23-percentage-point increase in “excellent” self-reported health. Among adults with chronic conditions, we found improvements in affordability of care, regular care for those conditions, medication adherence, and self-reported health.

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House Passes AHCA; HHS Acts On Regulations [Web First]

As the GOP worked to pass ACA repeal legislation, HHS finalized a market stabilization rule, and the debate over cost-sharing reduction payments continued.

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Insurer And Provider Market Share [Letters]

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The Medicare Access And CHIP Reauthorization Act: Effects On Medicare Payment Policy And Spending [Effects Of MACRA]

In 2015, Congress repealed the Sustainable Growth Rate formula for Medicare physician payment, eliminating mandatory payment cuts when spending exceeded what was budgeted. In its place, Congress enacted the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which established a two-track performance-based payment system that encourages physicians to participate in alternative payment models. MACRA could have huge effects on health care delivery, but the nature of those effects is highly uncertain. Using the RAND Corporation’s Health Care Payment and Delivery Simulation Model, we estimated the effects of MACRA on Medicare spending and utilization and examined how effects would differ under various scenarios. We estimate that MACRA will decrease Medicare spending on physician services by –$35 to –$106 billion (–2.3 percent to –7.1 percent) and change spending on hospital services by $32 to –$250 billion (0.7 percent to –5.1 percent) in 2015–30. The spending effects are critically dependent on the strength of incentives in the alternative payment models, particularly the incentives for physicians to reduce hospital spending and physician responses to MACRA payment rates.

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Risk Adjustment, Reinsurance Improved Financial Outcomes For Individual Market Insurers With The Highest Claims [Web First]

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) reformed the individual health insurance market. Because insurers can no longer vary their offers of coverage based on applicants’ health status, the ACA established a risk adjustment program to equalize health-related cost differences across plans. The ACA also established a temporary reinsurance program to subsidize high-cost claims. To assess the impact of these programs, we compared revenues to claims costs for insurers in the individual market during the first two years of ACA implementation (2014 and 2015), before and after the inclusion of risk adjustment and reinsurance payments. Before these payments were included, for the 30 percent of insurers with the highest claims costs, claims (not including administrative expenses) exceeded premium revenues by $90–$397 per enrollee per month. The effect was reversed after these payments were included, with revenues exceeding claims costs by $0–$49 per month. The risk adjustment and reinsurance programs were relatively well targeted in the first two years. While there is ongoing discussion regarding the future of the ACA, our findings can shed light on how risk-sharing programs can address risk selection among insurers—a pervasive issue in all health insurance markets.

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