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

Health insurers, whether commercial health plans or public programs like Medicaid and Medicare, only wish to pay for care that is necessary. Every day they make decisions on what is and is not "medically necessary." Gov. Phil Bredesen has proposed a new definition of medical necessity for TennCare, Tennessee's long-troubled...
In the typical hospital, nurses spend only about 30 percent of their time on patient care. The remaining 70 percent of their long days are spent largely on paperwork. This lopsided situation is seen as a major cause of poor quality, patient dissatisfaction, nurse turnover, and operating inefficiency. Thanks to...
Escape Fire is collection of compelling speeches by one of America's leading crusaders for health care quality and patient safety - Don Berwick, MD, founder and president of the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Each year, IHI hosts the National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care. The influential annual...
There is ample evidence America has a serious problem with poor quality health care and high rates of preventable medical mistakes. Thankfully, there is no shortage of caring professionals motivated to improve care and the problems are solvable. As with any effort to improve performance, measurement is the first step...
In an excellent new piece for HealthLeaders, E. Preston Gee asks an fascinating question with wide ranging implications for health care: "What if the mass merchandising giants like Wal-Mart or Target got into the healthcare delivery business in a big way?" Highly efficient, consumer friendly, and tech-savvy companies like Wal-Mart...
Medicaid health plans are the Ginger Rogers of managed care. They have to do everything commercial and Medicare health plans do but have to do it backwards and in high heels. Despite dealing with more complex requirements and the toughest, most vulnerable patient populations, Medicaid health plans often provide...
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...
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...

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