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

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...
Billy Millwee, former Texas Medicaid director, recently published an excellent piece with insight into that state’s experience with quality-based payment reform. Health care payors, both private and public, are looking more and more to tie payment with outcomes. Millwee’s article is a thoughtful and thorough assessment of Texas Medicaid's...
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...
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...
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...
State Medicaid programs will spend about $175 billion this year on health care for dual eligibles - low-income seniors and persons with disabilities who receive benefits from both Medicare and Medicaid.  State spending on dual eligibles falls primarily in three areas:  long term services and supports (nursing home, home...
Poor quality of care and preventable medical errors are a major cause of high costs and patient suffering.  The opportunities for improvement are considerable. In addition, as states and health plans gear up for Health Insurance Exchanges (HIX), they will count quality and patient safety among their key considerations.  For...
Much of the health information technology (HIT) today promotes patient communication to improve care and potentially lower costs. Some examples are interactive preventive health records (IPHR), e-prescribing, and electronic health records (EHR). Emerging telehealth technologies, however, take it a step further. Telehealth allows physicians and other providers not only to...
Medicaid accounts for the largest share of state budgets and is growing still. Since fiscal year 2010, state Medicaid spending nationwide grew from 22.2 percent to about 24 percent of the average state budget, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO). Since the recession began in...
Medicare premiums, deductibles, and co-payments are updated each calendar year based on formulas set by Congress in statute. For 2013, the new Medicare deductible, coinsurance, and monthly premium rates for Part A and Part B are described below. These apply to most but not all Medicare beneficiaries.  Full-benefit dual eligibles -...

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