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Past Briefings

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The following is a list of all previous briefings for the year 2014. For briefings from other years, select from the list below.

What’s Preventing Prevention?
Thursday, April 17, 2014

Preventive services were a priority in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which required that a set of services be available to consumers with no cost sharing. This has improved access for some people to some services. But persistent barriers for consumers are limiting the utilization of preventive services. These barriers include the variability of insurance coverage, the affordability of out-of-pocket costs, the challenges of education and outreach, and the funding of public health initiatives.

Beyond the SGR: Alternative Models
Friday, January 24, 2014

Congress is as close as it has ever been to scrapping the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) for an alternative system of paying doctors based on the quality - rather than the quantity - of services.

Healthier and Wealthier, or Sicker and Poorer? Prospects for Medicare Beneficiaries Now and in the Future
Monday, January 13, 2014

Although Medicare reform is not currently a front-burner issue, proposals to reduce Medicare spending appear regularly on the policy agenda. Various Medicare savings proposals have recently emerged in the context of efforts to control the national deficit and debt, and could arise in the next few months when Congress considers how to modify Medicare’s physician payment policy to avoid a precipitous reduction in physician fees. The recently passed bipartisan budget deal delayed a reduction in Medicare payments to physicians until April, and any effort to permanently replace the existing system by which Medicare pays physicians will be costly.

 


Uwe Reinhardt Questions Bundled Payment Savings Prospects


Video (2:58)

A new Alliance for Health Reform video features Princeton’s Uwe Reinhardt questioning whether bundling payments for medical services might actually lead to higher – not lower – costs.

"The ACO's, the accountable care organizations, could create local monopolies that could dictate to you what that bundled price would be, and some of us fear that bundled prices might be even more than what the fee-for-service for that bundle would be today. … You really should align all the payers and say, 'Let us jointly negotiate with the ACOs what those bundles should be so that they cannot divide and rule and sort of make us on the buy side weak.'"

FULL TRANSCRIPT

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Sister Carol Keehan on Health Law Enrollment Challenges this Year


Video 3:00

A new Alliance for Health Reform video features Sister Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association of the United States addressing the challenges of quickly enrolling millions of Americans for health insurance this fall. Open season begins October 1 of this year, yet she says that up to 85 percent of those who will be newly eligible for Medicaid or for subsidies to buy private insurance in state-based exchanges don't know it.  FULL TRANSCRIPT

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Jonathan Blum on CMS Efforts to Keep Medicare Spending Growth Down


Video (2:54)

Jonathan Blum, acting principal deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), addresses the slower growth of Medicare spending over the last few years, and what his agency is doing to try and continue the trend. “There are promising signs that this strategy to change the payment system, to change the payment models, to focus on waste and abuse, is paying off," he said. "We are taking a whole new approach to addressing fraud in the program. Much more data resources, much more on the ground reaction. We have seen dramatic spending declines in areas of spending, such as home health and durable medical supplies that historically fueled lots of the fraud.”  FULL TRANSCRIPT

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Two Former Medicare Administrators Discuss How to Save the Program


A new Alliance for Health Reform video features two former Medicare administrators -- Gail Wilensky and Bruce Vladeck -- on their ideas about how to save the program.

Ms. Wilensky, who ran Medicare in a Republican administration, argued for increasing the eligibility age of Medicare for future retirees, while still making the program available at age 65 for those who are disabled.

Watch at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQjsfam9-w0

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Douglas Holtz-Eakin: Health Care Spending Lull Only Temporary


Video (3:11)

A new Alliance for Health Reform video features Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum, and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, arguing that recent slower spending growth in health care won’t continue.

"We also saw a slowdown in the mid-90s, and we all declared victory and it came right back. I think next year we’ll see a noticeable uptick. There will be lots of new people entering the insurance markets because of the exchanges and the subsidies that come along with them, and those subsidies are very generous. … These are an invitation for people to get coverage and to buy more health care. I think that’ll place a lot of pressure on spending."

FULL TRANSCRIPT

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Marketplace Enrollment Helpers Toolkit


Beginning October 1, insurance marketplaces open for enrollment, and millions of people will be eligible to purchase plans. To guide them in the application process, the federal government has invested in programs to train community organizations and hired staff.

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The Employer Mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act


The Toolkit, available here, details the ACA’s employer requirements and penalty. It also includes information about the delay in the mandate to 2015, and analysis about its impact on employer-based coverage.

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Toolkit: Replacing the SGR


A new Alliance for Health Reform Toolkit summarizes the recent policy debate surrounding the decade-long problem In the last six months, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, House Ways and Means, and Senate Finance committees all put forth similar bills to repeal and reform the flawed Medicare physician payment formula. Further, with the CBO estimating the cost of repeal at $116.5, the lowest since 2006, many health policy experts are speculating that 2014 is the year that policymakers enact a permanent change to the SGR.

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