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...
Compounded drugs are a new hot issue in the pharmaceuticals industry and in Congress. There are little data about compounding pharmacies, but a new Congressional Research Service brief gives a comprehensive overview. Compounded Drugs Personalize Drug Treatments: Compounded drugs are created when a physician or pharmacist mixes or changes pharmaceuticals to...
The prices of generic drugs vs. brand-name drugs has gathered a lot of attention lately. But buying in bulk and purchasing practices can have as much of an effect on prices as drug patents do.  That’s what the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found when it compared Rx prices paid in prescription...
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is related to several major chronic diseases. Obesity and diabetes raise your chance of developing high blood pressure, which in turn makes you more likely to suffer from heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure also becomes more prevalent with age. Those factors make high...
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...
What's the impact on patient care, particularly prescription drug utilization, as Medicaid beneficiaries move from fee-for-service to Medicaid health plans?  This year, state Medicaid programs will spend over $22.1 billion on pharmacy benefits. This will grow to about $50 billion by 2020, according the CMS actuaries. Nearly half of Medicaid prescriptions...
Medicare Part D, the Medicare drug benefit, served roughly 31 million seniors last year. Medicare Part D is more similar to Medicare Advantage than to traditional Medicare in that enrollees can choose among several private health plans for drug coverage. The lists of which drugs Part D plans cover -...
Independent pharmacies play a central role in the U.S. prescription drug market, distributing almost one in five drugs sold in the country. But small pharmacies often do not have the resources to handle the administrative burden of filing claims with health plans or purchasing stock from prescription drug wholesalers....
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...
The Federal Reserve Beige Book is the central bank’s version of a routine check-up from a physician. Published eight times each year, the Beige Book compiles reports about how the economy is doing from Fed staff across the country and interviews with business leaders, economists, and other market experts...

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