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

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...
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...
Even as Accountable Care Organizations and other payment reform models become more common, there is still not much comprehensive information about which models providers participate in most often, and what exactly to do to make those arrangements work well. It is also important for providers to understand the best practices...
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...
For over a decade, the sustainable growth rate (SGR) has been a source of financial worry for physicians who serve Medicare patients. Medicare’s physician payment rate is based on a composite measure of the cost of care, multiplied by a factor derived from the SGR formula. Every year since...
The term “post-acute care” (PAC) covers a range of services patients receive after a hospital stay. Skilled nursing facilities, home health care agencies, long-term care hospitals, and inpatient rehabilitation hospitals all provide post-acute care. PAC providers are an important part of efforts to reduce hospital readmissions, which are a...

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