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Concept: Budget


Background Spending and quality under global budgets remain unknown beyond 2 years. We evaluated spending and quality measures during the first 4 years of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Alternative Quality Contract (AQC). Methods We compared spending and quality among enrollees whose physician organizations entered the AQC from 2009 through 2012 with those among persons in control states. We studied spending changes according to year, category of service, site of care, experience managing risk contracts, and price versus utilization. We evaluated process and outcome quality. Results In the 2009 AQC cohort, medical spending on claims grew an average of $62.21 per enrollee per quarter less than it did in the control cohort over the 4-year period (P<0.001). This amount is equivalent to a 6.8% savings when calculated as a proportion of the average post-AQC spending level in the 2009 AQC cohort. Analogously, the 2010, 2011, and 2012 cohorts had average savings of 8.8% (P<0.001), 9.1% (P<0.001), and 5.8% (P=0.04), respectively, by the end of 2012. Claims savings were concentrated in the outpatient-facility setting and in procedures, imaging, and tests, explained by both reduced prices and reduced utilization. Claims savings were exceeded by incentive payments to providers during the period from 2009 through 2011 but exceeded incentive payments in 2012, generating net savings. Improvements in quality among AQC cohorts generally exceeded those seen elsewhere in New England and nationally. Conclusions As compared with similar populations in other states, Massachusetts AQC enrollees had lower spending growth and generally greater quality improvements after 4 years. Although other factors in Massachusetts may have contributed, particularly in the later part of the study period, global budget contracts with quality incentives may encourage changes in practice patterns that help reduce spending and improve quality. (Funded by the Commonwealth Fund and others.).

Concepts: Health care, Massachusetts, Health care in the United States, Incentive, Budget, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Edward Harkness, Commonwealth Fund


Amid local government budget cuts, there is concern that the ring-fenced public health grant is being appropriated, and Directors of Public Health (DsPH) find it difficult to make the case for investment in public health activity. This paper describes what DsPH are making the case for, the components of their case and how they present the case for public health.

Concepts: Local government, Budget


Launched in 2003, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the largest disease-focused assistance program in the world. We analyzed PEPFAR budgets for governance and systems for the period 2004-14 to ascertain whether PEPFAR’s stated emphasis on strengthening health systems has been manifested financially. The main outcome variable in our analysis, the first of its kind using these data, was the share of PEPFAR’s total annual budget for a country that was designated for governance and systems. The share of planned PEPFAR funding for governance and systems increased from 14.9 percent, on average, in 2004 to 27.5 percent in 2013, but it declined in 2014 to 20.8 percent. This study shows that the size of a country’s PEPFAR budget was negatively associated with the share allocated for governance and systems (compared with other budget program areas); it also shows that there was no significant relationship between budgets for governance and systems and HIV prevalence. It is crucial for the global health policy community to better understand how such investments are allocated and used for health systems strengthening.

Concepts: President of the United States, Finance, Budget, Budgets


Despite the success of recent efforts to increase access to improved water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) globally, approximately one-third of schools around the world still lack adequate WASH services. A lack of WASH in schools can lead to the spread of preventable disease and increase school absences, especially among women. Inadequate financing and budgeting has been named as a key barrier for integrating successful and sustainable WASH programs into school settings. For this reason, the purpose of this review is to describe the current knowledge around the costs of WASH components as well as financing models that could be applied to WASH in schools. Results show a lack of information around WASH costing, particularly around software elements as well as a lack of data overall for WASH in school settings as compared to community WASH. This review also identifies several key considerations when designing WASH budgets or selecting financing mechanisms. Findings may be used to advise future WASH in school programs.

Concepts: Costs, Cost, School, Hygiene, Success, Sanitation, Water supply, Budget


The U.S. is the main country in the world that delivers its food assistance primarily via transoceanic shipments of commodity-based in-kind food. This approach is costlier and less timely than cash-based assistance, which includes cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement, where food is bought in or nearby the recipient country. The U.S.’s approach is exacerbated by a requirement that half of its transoceanic food shipments need to be sent on U.S.-flag vessels. We estimate the effect of these U.S. food assistance distribution policies on child mortality in northern Kenya by formulating and optimizing a supply chain model. In our model, monthly orders of transoceanic shipments and cash-based interventions are chosen to minimize child mortality subject to an annual budget constraint and to policy constraints on the allowable proportions of cash-based interventions and non-US-flag shipments. By varying the restrictiveness of these policy constraints, we assess the impact of possible changes in U.S. food aid policies on child mortality. The model includes an existing regression model that uses household survey data and geospatial data to forecast the mean mid-upper-arm circumference Z scores among children in a community, and allows food assistance to increase Z scores, and Z scores to influence mortality rates. We find that cash-based interventions are a much more powerful policy lever than the U.S.-flag vessel requirement: switching to cash-based interventions reduces child mortality from 4.4% to 3.7% (a 16.2% relative reduction) in our model, whereas eliminating the U.S.-flag vessel restriction without increasing the use of cash-based interventions generates a relative reduction in child mortality of only 1.1%. The great majority of the gains achieved by cash-based interventions are due to their reduced cost, not their reduced delivery lead times; i.e., the reduction of shipping expenses allows for more food to be delivered, which reduces child mortality.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Statistics, Evaluation, United States, Infant mortality, Das Model, Constraint satisfaction, Budget


OBJECTIVES:: State health departments across the country are responsible for assuring and improving the health of the public, and yet financial constraints grow only more acute, and resource allocation decisions become even more challenging. Little empirical evidence exists regarding how officials working in state health departments make these tough allocation decisions. DESIGN:: Through a mixed-methods process, we attempt to address this gap in knowledge and characterize issues of resource allocation at state health agencies (SHAs). First, we conducted 45 semistructured interviews across 6 states. Next, a Web-based survey was sent to 355 public health leaders within all states and District of Columbia. In total, 207 leaders responded to the survey (66% response rate). PARTICIPANTS:: Leaders of SHAs. RESULTS:: The data suggest that state public health leaders are highly consultative internally while making resource allocation decisions, but they also frequently engage with the governor’s office and the legislator-much more so at the executive level than at the division head level. Respondents reported that increasing and decreasing funding for certain activities occur frequently and have a moderate impact on the agency or division budget. Agencies continue to “thin the soup,” or prefer cutting broadly to cutting deeply. CONCLUSIONS:: Public health leaders report facing significant tradeoffs in the course of priority-setting. The authorizing environment continues to force public health leaders to make challenging tradeoffs between unmet need and political considerations, and among vulnerable groups.

Concepts: Monotonic function, Economics, Empirical, State, Order theory, Resource allocation, Budget


To address how natural disturbance, forest harvest, and deforestation from reservoir creation affect landscape-level carbon © budgets, a retrospective C budget for the 8500 ha Sooke Lake Watershed (SLW) from 1911 to 2012 was developed using historical spatial inventory and disturbance data. To simulate forest C dynamics, data was input into a spatially-explicit version of the Carbon Budget Model-Canadian Forest Sector (CBM-CFS3). Transfers of terrestrial C to inland aquatic environments need to be considered to better capture the watershed scale C balance. Using dissolved organic C (DOC) and stream flow measurements from three SLW catchments, DOC load into the reservoir was derived for a 17-year period. C stocks and stock changes between a baseline and two alternative management scenarios were compared to understand the relative impact of successive reservoir expansions and sustained harvest activity over the 100-year period.

Concepts: Agriculture, Germany, Water quality indicators, British Columbia, Budget, Colored dissolved organic matter, Logging, Dissolved organic carbon


Many articles have examined the psychological drivers of charitable giving, but little is known about how people mentally budget for charitable gifts. The present research aims to address this gap by investigating how perceptions of donations as exceptional (uncommon and infrequent) rather than ordinary (common and frequent) expenses might affect budgeting for and giving to charity. We provide the first demonstration that exceptional framing of an identical item can directly influence mental budgeting processes, and yield societal benefits. In 5 lab and field experiments, exceptional framing increased charitable behavior, and diminished the extent to which people considered the effect of the donation on their budgets. The current work extends our understanding of mental accounting and budgeting for charitable gifts, and demonstrates practical techniques that enable fundraisers to enhance the perceived exceptionality of donations. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Psychology, Cognition, Perception, Mind, Giving, Budget, Budgets, Charity


Federal programs for children are under increasing budgetary pressure. According to current federal law or any budget alternative being offered by the president or congressional leaders, spending on children would decline as a share of the budget and of the national economy. This article summarizes past, current, and projected budgets for children’s programs. It traces significant historical expansions of means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; depicts fairly significant declines in more universal supports, such as the income tax exemption for dependents; and shows the future squeeze on children’s programs brought about by automatic growth in health, retirement, and tax subsidy programs, along with the failure of revenues to keep pace with the overall growth in spending. Federal programs for health care have been a mixed blessing for children: Medicaid has grown to be the largest federal support for children, but overall federal health care costs eat away at the share of the budgetary pie left for anything else.

Concepts: Health care, President of the United States, United States Congress, Income, Tax, Budget, Taxation in the United States, Tax exemption


Background Ninety-one per cent of primary care trusts were using some form of referral management in 2009, although evidence for its effectiveness is limited. Aim To assess the impact of three referral-management centres (RMCs) and two internal peer-review approaches to referral management on hospital outpatient attendance rates. Design and setting A retrospective time-series analysis of 376 000 outpatient attendances over 3 years from 85 practices divided into five groups, with 714 000 registered patients in one English primary care trust. Method The age-standardised GP-referred first outpatient monthly attendance rate was calculated for each group from April 2009 to March 2012. This was divided by the equivalent monthly England rate, to derive a rate ratio. Linear regression tested for association between the introduction of referral management and change in the outpatient attendance rate and rate ratio. Annual group budgets for referral management were obtained. Results Referral management was not associated with a reduction in the outpatient attendance rate in any group. There was a statistically significant increase in attendance rate in one group (a RMC), which had an increase of 1.05 attendances per 1000 persons per month (95% confidence interval = 0.46 to 1.64; attendance rate ratio increase of 0.07) after adjustment for autocorrelation. Mean annual budgets ranged from £0.55 to £6.23 per registered patient in 2011/2012. RMCs were more expensive (mean annual budget £5.18 per registered patient) than internal peer-review approaches (mean annual budget £0.97 per registered patient). Conclusion Referral-management schemes did not reduce outpatient attendance rates. RMCs were more expensive than internal peer review.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Statistics, National Health Service, Primary care, Budget, Budgets, NHS trust, United Kingdom budget