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

As part of the HHS appropriations bill for FY 2006, Congress is moving fast to drop federal funding for erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs in Medicaid, Medicare, and other federal health programs. This makes sense but there is a catch, albeit an unintentional one. Federal law will still require state...
It looks increasingly likely that several states will challenge the constitutionality of a key element of Congress' financing of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit (also known as Medicare Part D). To help fund the massive new Medicare drug benefit, Congress mandated that state governments send monthly checks to the...
Under the Medicare Modernization Act, employers will receive about $124 billion in tax-free subsidies to encourage them to continue prescription drug coverage for retirees. Because of a long history of taxpayer-funded health benefits "crowding out" employer-sponsored coverage, Congress wanted to reduce the incentive for employers to drop retirees into...
Medicare Advantage is the new name for voluntary managed care options in Medicare (also know as Medicare Part C and formerly "Medicare+Choice"). Medicare Advantage plans are now available in nearly every area of the country. Beneficiaries who select a MA plan elect to receive all Medicare benefits through the...
Sophisticated health care purchasers and health plans know the value of prescription drug data. When analyzed with paid claims data from physicians and hospitals, data from pharmacy claims can be used to identify, understand, and track a wide range of issues. Starting January 2006, when the 6.5 million dual eligibles...
As promised, here's my list of likely losers under the new Medicare prescription drug benefit: ● Dual Eligibles: These 6.5 million highly vulnerable beneficiaries will lose their Medicaid drug benefit and be enrolled in the less generous, slightly more expensive, far more complex Medicare drug benefit. They also face the...
When enacted in 1996, the federal Medical Health Parity Act (MHPA) was expected to increase health insurance premiums by 3.2% to 8.7%. For employers with 50 or more employees, the Act required parity between annual and lifetime dollar limits for mental health and physical health services. Specifically, the MHPA: 1. Requires...
  1. You get what you pay for. 2. Price is what you pay but value is what you get. 3. You can't fix what you can't see. 4. Incentives matter, whether you intend them to or not. 5. No matter what they say, it's always about money and autonomy. 6. There are no essential...
Rube Goldberg believed there were two ways to do things - the simple way and the hard way. And that, for some inexplicable reason, many people preferred doing things the hard way. His famous cartoons illustrated the tendency of human beings to exert maximum effort to achieve minimal results. Notwithstanding...
While the feds work to fix a series of technical problems plaguing the new Medicare Part D drug benefit, governors are stepping in to help ensure dual eligibles and other vulnerable beneficiaries have access to prescription drugs. As a result, states are incurring millions of dollars of costs. They...

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