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Concept: Health insurance in the United States

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Opioid-related mortality increased by 15.6% from 2014 to 2015 and increased almost 320% between 2000 and 2015. Recent research finds that the use of all pain medications (opioid and nonopioid collectively) decreases in Medicare Part D and Medicaid populations when states approve medical cannabis laws (MCLs). The association between MCLs and opioid prescriptions is not well understood.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicare, U.S. state, Cannabis, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare Part D

41

Nonadherence to taking prescribed antihypertensive medication (antihypertensive) regimens has been identified as a leading cause of poor blood pressure control among persons with hypertension and an important risk factor for adverse cardiovascular disease outcomes. CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services analyzed geographic, racial-ethnic, and other disparities in nonadherence to antihypertensives among Medicare Part D beneficiaries in 2014.

Concepts: Medicare, Blood pressure, Vital signs, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare and Medicaid, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act

38

Background From 2011 through 2014, the Federally Qualified Health Center Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration provided care management fees and technical assistance to a nationwide sample of 503 federally qualified health centers to help them achieve the highest (level 3) medical-home recognition by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, a designation that requires the implementation of processes to improve access, continuity, and coordination. Methods We examined the achievement of medical-home recognition and used Medicare claims and beneficiary surveys to measure utilization of services, quality of care, patients' experiences, and Medicare expenditures in demonstration sites versus comparison sites. Using difference-in-differences analyses, we compared changes in outcomes in the two groups of sites during a 3-year period. Results Level 3 medical-home recognition was awarded to 70% of demonstration sites and to 11% of comparison sites. Although the number of visits to federally qualified health centers decreased in the two groups, smaller reductions among demonstration sites than among comparison sites led to a relative increase of 83 visits per 1000 beneficiaries per year at demonstration sites (P<0.001). Similar trends explained the higher performance of demonstration sites with respect to annual eye examinations and nephropathy tests (P<0.001 for both comparisons); there were no significant differences with respect to three other process measures. Demonstration sites had larger increases than comparison sites in emergency department visits (30.3 more per 1000 beneficiaries per year, P<0.001), inpatient admissions (5.7 more per 1000 beneficiaries per year, P=0.02), and Medicare Part B expenditures ($37 more per beneficiary per year, P=0.02). Demonstration-site participation was not associated with relative improvements in most measures of patients' experiences. Conclusions Demonstration sites had higher rates of medical-home recognition and smaller decreases in the number of patients' visits to federally qualified health centers than did comparison sites, findings that may reflect better access to primary care relative to comparison sites. Demonstration sites had larger increases in emergency department visits, inpatient admissions, and Medicare Part B expenditures. (Funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.).

Concepts: Better, Medicare, Health insurance, The Higher, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicaid, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare and Medicaid

36

A growing body of literature describes how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded health insurance coverage. What is less well known is how these coverage gains have affected populations that are at risk for high health spending. To investigate this issue, we used prescription transaction data for a panel of 6.7 million prescription drug users to compare changes in coverage, prescription fills, plan spending, and out-of-pocket spending before and after the implementation of the ACA’s coverage expansion. We found a 30 percent reduction in the proportion of this population that was uninsured in 2014 compared to 2013. Uninsured people who gained private coverage filled, on average, 28 percent more prescriptions and had 29 percent less out-of-pocket spending per prescription in 2014 compared to 2013. Those who gained Medicaid coverage had larger increases in fill rates (79 percent) and reductions in out-of-pocket spending per prescription (58 percent). People who gained coverage who had at least one of the chronic conditions detailed in our study saw larger decreases in out-of-pocket spending compared to those who did not have at least one condition. These results demonstrate that by reducing financial barriers to care, the ACA has increased treatment rates while reducing out-of-pocket spending, particularly for people with chronic conditions.

Concepts: Health care, Pharmacology, Health insurance, Gain, Medicaid, Medical prescription, Insurance, Health insurance in the United States

35

Decisions by states about whether to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have implications for hospitals' financial health. We hypothesized that Medicaid expansion of eligibility for childless adults prevents hospital closures because increased Medicaid coverage for previously uninsured people reduces uncompensated care expenditures and strengthens hospitals' financial position. We tested this hypothesis using data for the period 2008-16 on hospital closures and financial performance. We found that the ACA’s Medicaid expansion was associated with improved hospital financial performance and substantially lower likelihoods of closure, especially in rural markets and counties with large numbers of uninsured adults before Medicaid expansion. Future congressional efforts to reform Medicaid policy should consider the strong relationship between Medicaid coverage levels and the financial viability of hospitals. Our results imply that reverting to pre-ACA eligibility levels would lead to particularly large increases in rural hospital closures. Such closures could lead to reduced access to care and a loss of highly skilled jobs, which could have detrimental impacts on local economies.

Concepts: Health insurance, Hospital, Economics, Hypothesis, Medicaid, Health insurance in the United States, Closure, Expansion team

31

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than 30 states have expanded Medicaid, with some states choosing to expand private insurance instead (the “private option”). In addition, while coverage gains from the ACA’s Medicaid expansion are well documented, impacts on utilization and health are unclear.

Concepts: Health care, Economics, Health insurance in the United States, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

22

Only 2% of acute care hospitals nationwide are safety-net facilities, but they provide 20% of uncompensated care to the uninsured. Because most are in low-income communities, they typically generate scant revenue from privately insured patients. The Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program was established to help defray their costs for uncompensated care.(1) Currently, Medicaid DSH disburses $11.5 billion annually to the states, which have considerable latitude in allocating these funds. Some states carefully target their DSH payments to hospitals providing large volumes of uncompensated care, but others, such as Ohio and Georgia, spread their payments broadly, transforming the program into . . .

Concepts: Patient, Hospital, U.S. state, State, Health insurance in the United States, Social security

21

The U.S. Physician Payments Sunshine Act mandates the reporting of payments or items of value received by physicians from drug, medical device, and biological agent manufacturers. The impact of these payments on physician prescribing has not been examined at large scale.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicare, Medicine, Physician, Anatomy, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare Part D, Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act

21

To identify the characteristics of the most profitable US hospitals, we examined the profitability of acute care hospitals in fiscal year 2013, measured as net income from patient care services per adjusted discharge. Based on Medicare Cost Reports and Final Rule Data, the median hospital lost $82 for each such discharge. Forty-five percent of hospitals were profitable, with 2.5 percent earning more than $2,475 per adjusted discharge. The ten most profitable hospitals, seven of which were nonprofit, each earned more than $163 million in total profits from patient care services. Hospitals with for-profit status, higher markups, system affiliation, or regional power, as well as those located in states with price regulation, tended to be more profitable than other hospitals. Hospitals that treated a higher proportion of Medicare patients, had higher expenditures per adjusted discharge, were located in counties with a high proportion of uninsured patients, or were located in states with a dominant insurer or greater health maintenance organization (HMO) penetration had lower profitability than hospitals that did not have these characteristics. These findings can inform policy reforms, while providing a baseline against which to measure the impact of any subsequent reforms.

Concepts: Health insurance, Patient, Hospital, Physician, Health maintenance organization, Health insurance in the United States, Profit

21

Although health policy experts disagree on many issues, they largely agree on the shortcomings of fee-for-service payment. The inefficiency of a payment method that rewards increases in service volume, regardless of health benefit, has become practically indefensible. But replacing discrete payments for each service with bundled payment for a set of services does not simply promote efficiency; it also potentially promotes skimping on care or avoidance of costly patients. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced a large-scale demonstration of bundled payments for hospital and post-acute care services, and President . . .

Concepts: Medicare, Health economics, Health insurance, Economics, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicaid, Health insurance in the United States, Medicare and Medicaid