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

Under Medicare's new prescription drug benefit, employers will have several options for maintaining drug coverage for their retirees. Staff at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) created a detailed briefing for employers, unions, health benefit consultants, and others interested in understanding the options, including the new retiree...
A new report examines the impact of state budget cuts on Medicaid managed care programs in four states: Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Oregon. Developed by Bailit Health Purchasing LLC for the National Academy for State Health Policy, the study offers valuable insights. It's recommended reading for state Medicaid executives,...
In a thoughtful article in The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell debunks common assumptions about prescription drug prices. Gladwell, bestselling author of The Tipping Point, cuts through the faulty thinking of the pharma bashers. His 4,000-word piece makes for interesting reading. Known for getting to the heart of matters, Gladwell...
Over nine million American children - 12.8 percent of kids - have special health care needs. They face a wide range of conditions, including congenital anomalies, severe physical disabilities, severe asthma, complex organ system diseases (e.g. cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia), major depression, and the devastating effects of physical...
Community hospitals outperform teaching hospitals, according to a new study that compares cost and quality of hospitals in six states. The researchers conclude that patients served by lower-cost community hospital for secondary care receive care of similar quality to that provided in academic health centers. Findings include: - Inpatient costs per...
Under the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, drug plans will have a fair amount of discretion in setting formularies. The idea is to encourage competition among drug plans and offer Medicare beneficiaries choice. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will review the benefit designs of drug plan...
Prescription drug utilization varies dramatically among individuals. To make sure Medicare payments to Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) reflect the health status of enrollees, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is developing a risk adjustment methodology. Risk adjustment is a statistical process used to identify and adjust for...
The pay-for-performance (P4P) movement continues to grow: 1. The Medicare Payment Assessment Commission (MedPAC) is calling on Congress to incorporate quality incentives in Medicare payments to hospitals, physicians, and home health agencies. In 2003, MedPAC released similar P4P recommendations for Medicare managed care plans and dialysis facilities. MedPAC says the...
As a tool to control costs and improve care for vulnerable patients, disease management is now used in some form by over half of all state Medicaid programs. To help states craft their disease management programs, a variety of technical resources are now available. The National Pharmaceutical Council offers a...
Adjusted for cost-of-living differences, rural physicians have 13 percent more purchasing power than urban physicians. And while there are fewer physicians per capita in rural areas, the overall urban-rural disparity is likely due to an over supply of physicians (particularly specialists) in urban areas. So says a new study by...

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