Kip Piper's Health Care Blog
Medicare, Medicaid, Health Reform

Medicare Advantage plans provide many benefits to Medicare beneficiaries, including lower costs, added services, higher quality than traditional fee-for-service (FFS), and less paperwork.  However, the way Medicare paid Medicare Advantage health plans led to a situation where Medicare was paying health plans more than the average cost of Medicare FFS...
Prescription drug spending rose by $135 billion between 2001 and 2010 to comprise approximately 12 percent of the nation’s overall healthcare outlay. While drug expenditure was one of the fastest growing components of U.S. healthcare spending prior to the early 2000s, generic drugs helped reduce the rate of annual...
As a natural outcome of program incentives, physicians and other health care providers are motivated to deliver more services as a means to increase Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) payments. Chronic overtreatment, and the resulting overpayment, has led Medicare into its current financial crisis. Medicare’s private insurance plans, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans,...
Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs, especially new brand-named drugs, remains controversial.  Some in Congress remain eager to prohibit advertising of brand-name prescription drugs to consumers in the first two years following a drug’s approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Is this a good idea or is it...
As part of health reform implementation, states will create a large and complex new marketplace for the buying and selling of health insurance coverage. Through State Exchanges, individuals and small businesses may buy federally defined benefit packages from state licensed and certified Qualified Health Plans. For health plans, this is...
Health Insurance Exchanges - either state-based exchanges favored by moderate Democrats and Republicans (reflected in Senate bill) or a national, federally-run exchange favored by liberal Democrats (version in the House bill) - are an essential component of national health reform. Bottom line, health insurance exchanges would provide a far more...
To aid the incoming 111th Congress and Obama Administration, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a 235-page report outlining 115 budget options for health care reform. The report catalogs most of the hottest legislative ideas on Capitol Hill, with useful background information and scores of costs and savings. Here's...
Serious and costly performance problems riddle U.S. health care. Because of overuse, under use, and misuse of health care, researchers at the Juran Institute and elsewhere estimate that about 30 percent of health care costs are generated by poor quality. Therefore, poor quality medical care will cost about $720...
In the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), Congress made a series of significant changes to pharmaceutical pricing, Medicaid best price rebates, and Medicaid payments to pharmacies for prescription drugs. The new policies, which are expected to save the feds and states $8.4 billion over the next five years, create major...
There's a lot of truth in the old joke about the problem with Republicans and Democrats: Republicans need a heart and Democrats need a brain. As Democrats prepare to take control of Congress, they appear eager to prove the joke by pursuing legislation to require government "negotiations" on prescription...

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