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

Overuse and abuse of opioid drugs, particularly prescription pain killers, is a serious, costly problem, with a host of challenges for purchasers, payors, patients, physicians, pharmacists, regulators, public health, and drug manufacturers.  For 20 years, overuse of opioid drugs has steadily increased, as have inpatient hospitalizations for opioid overdoses.  Together, Medicaid and...
States across the US are engaged in ambitious and critically important initiatives to reform health care payment and care delivery.  Partnering with other major health care purchasers and payors, including employers and commercial health plans, State Medicaid agencies seek to improve health outcomes and decrease per capita health spending.  This...
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...
Price transparency - or making price information publicly available - is an idea that has gained steam recently as one more way to reduce health costs and improve quality. So far, that has taken the form of online tools to help private health plan enrollees choose providers. But states...
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...
Multi-payor medical home initiatives have many benefits. They can bring Medicare, Medicaid, and private health plans together to promote care coordination, better health outcomes, and lower costs. But they have one potential flaw: Allowing payors to coordinate payment policies could trip federal (or state) anti-trust protections to prevent price-fixing and...
The Department of Defense contracts with more than 11,000 health care professionals, at an annual cost of about $1 billion. A recent Government Accountability Office report says the military could do more to coordinate its contracting duties to save money and avoid duplication. Military Health Spending: The Military Health System provides...
Though most commonly associated with Medicare, Accountable Care Organizations are now making their way into state Medicaid programs. Providers, of course, are an essential part of the ACO model. But many providers don’t yet have the resources to coordinate care, analyze cost and usage data, and adapt to value-based...
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...
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...

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