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

Improving care integration for Medicare-Medicaid dual eligible beneficiaries is one of the many initiatives embedded in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The health reform law created the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and provided funds for state demonstrations to integrate care for...
Various economists and health care policy experts have tried to explain the recent slowdown in health spending growth. Some say it’s because of the Affordable Care Act, whose major provisions have yet to take effect. Others say it’s because of the economic slowdown, suggesting that the decrease in spending...
Risk adjustment is a key mechanism to ensuring appropriate payments for Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part D drug plans, and Medicaid health plans.  Since health plans vary in their mix of healthy and sick enrollees, risk adjustment modifies premium payments to better reflect the projected costs of members served and...
Medicare will spend $598.4 billion on health care services for seniors and the disabled in 2013 and about $635 billion in 2014.  Medicare expenditures will top $1 trillion in 2021, according to CMS actuarial projections. Medicare spending patterns and payment policies are highly complex and change constantly. The Affordable Care...
Hospital costs are of keen interest to Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurers these days, who pay the vast majority of hospital costs. Which services are the most expensive? Which types of health coverage are responsible for most of the costs? A new statistical brief from the Health Costs...
In the ongoing struggle over wasteful health care spending, geographic cost variation is a veteran hot topic. The fact that public programs and private health plans spend more for providers in some regions, even after accounting for normal differences in costs by location, has irked policymakers and researchers who...
Special Needs Plans (SNP) are part of the Medicare Advantage program and were created by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). There are three types of SNPs, each intended to provide coordinated care for Medicare beneficiaries that meet specific criteria. Institutional SNPs (I-SNP) serve beneficiaries who, for 90 days...
Hospitals face another year of tight Medicare reimbursement, with rates for FY 2014 falling farther behind cost increases and margins declining as a result.  Most hospitals already lose money on caring for Medicare and Medicaid patients.  Hospitals are entering a far more challenging new business environment under the Affordable...
Growth in health care spending has slowed recently.  Why?  Supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - aka Obamacare - says its due to the controversial law, although most of the ACA's provisions are yet to take effect.  However, new evidence shows that the economy is the cause of...
Much of the story about rising health costs and spending has to do with relatively small groups of people with expensive health needs. For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates Medicare beneficiaries with two or more chronic conditions accounted for 93 percent of Medicare spending...

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