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

Businesses have a big incentive to keep their employees healthy and to curb their health costs and spending. Premiums for employer-sponsored insurance for families almost doubled in the past decade, with the employer’s share of premiums increasing from $5,866 in 2002 to $11,429 in 2012. Data from the Health...
Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) contribute significantly to U.S. health costs and spending. They can be a major problem in hospitals, with one in every 20 hospitalized patients contracting a healthcare-associated infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Each year, HAIs kill more than 1.7 million people...
Medicare and Medicaid spending will exceed $1 trillion in FY 2013.  Together, the two programs now serve about 113 million Americans - over a third of the population.  Policymakers in Washington and the states face a daunting challenge to containing costs in Medicare and Medicaid – both health programs are...
State Medicaid programs must increase primary care physician payment rates in 2013 and 2014 to at least 100 percent of Medicare rates.  The Medicaid-Medicare payment parity mandate is part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For the difference between prior rates and the necessary rate increase, states will receive a 100...
Communication with patients is at the heart of new primary care tools and models that improve outcomes and lower costs, such as patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) and interactive preventive health records (IPHR). Often, communication means electronic communication, and is part of efforts by Medicare, Medicaid, and private health plans to...
Prevention and wellness care are widely recognized as means to reduce health costs and spending, while also improving outcomes for patients. Preventive services typically include screenings for diseases, such as cancer, or harmful conditions, such as obesity. They also include immunizations. For example: someone gets a flu shot costing...
A painful fact about the U.S. health system is that roughly one third of health costs and spending are wasted. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that wasted health spending could reach from about $500 billion to almost $1 trillion each year. And...
Much of the health information technology (HIT) today promotes patient communication to improve care and potentially lower costs. Some examples are interactive preventive health records (IPHR), e-prescribing, and electronic health records (EHR). Emerging telehealth technologies, however, take it a step further. Telehealth allows physicians and other providers not only to...
State insurance commissioners typically bear most of the responsibility for enforcing health insurance consumer protections. In theory, that will remain the case after broad new consumer protections included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) go into effect. States are expected to be the first-line of enforcement, and the federal...
The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in recent months have delivered grim statistics on military and veteran suicides. In a report earlier this year, the VA announced veterans committed suicide at a rate of 22 per day in 2010. Active-duty military suicides reached...

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