Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Medicare / 14.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: ABT-AssociatesMatthew Trombley, Ph.D. Associate/Scientist Abt Associates  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: CMS developed the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Investment Model (AIM) as part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) to encourage the growth of ACOs in rural and underserved areas.  The goal of our study was to see if AIM ACOs could successfully decrease Medicare spending in these areas.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Medicare, UCLA / 08.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_50628" align="alignleft" width="154"]Auyon Siddiq PhD Assistant Professor/INFORMS Member Decisions, Operations & Technology Management  UCLA Anderson School of Management Dr. Siddiq[/caption] Auyon Siddiq PhD Assistant Professor/INFORMS Member Decisions, Operations & Technology Management UCLA Anderson School of Management MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) was created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to control escalating Medicare spending by incentivizing providers to deliver healthcare more efficiently. Medicare providers that enroll in the MSSP earn bonus payments for reducing spending to below a risk-adjusted financial benchmark that depends on the provider's historical spending. To generate savings, a provider must invest to improve efficiency, which is a cost that is absorbed entirely by the provider under the current contract. This has proven to be challenging for the MSSP, with a majority of participating providers unable to generate savings due to the associated costs. This study presents a predictive analytics approach to redesigning the MSSP contract, with the goal of better aligning incentives and improving financial outcomes from the MSSP. We build our model from data containing the financial performance of providers enrolled in the MSSP, which together accounted for 7 million beneficiaries and over $70 billion in Medicare spending.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Kidney Disease, Medicare, Transplantation / 07.03.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_47825" align="alignleft" width="100"]Allyson Hart MD MSDepartment of Medicine, Hennepin Healthcare,University of MinnesotaMinneapolis, Minnesota Dr. Hart[/caption] Allyson Hart MD MS Department of Medicine, Hennepin Healthcare, University of Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Kidney transplantation confers profound survival, quality of life, and cost benefits over dialysis for the treatment of end-stage kidney disease. Kidney transplant recipients under 65 years of age qualify for Medicare coverage following transplantation, but coverage ends after three years for patients who are not disabled. We studied 78,861 Medicare-covered kidney transplant recipients under the age of 65, and found that failure of the transplanted kidney was 990 percent to 1630 percent higher for recipients who lost Medicare coverage before this three-year time point compared with recipients who lost Medicare on time. Those who lost coverage after 3 years had a lesser, but still very marked, increased risk of kidney failure. Recipients who lost coverage before or after the three-year time point also filled immunosuppressive medications at a significantly lower rate than those who lost coverage on time.
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, Dermatology, Emory, JAMA, Medicare / 21.09.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: “Actinic Keratosis” by Ed Uthman is licensed under CC BY 2.0Howa Yeung, MD Assistant Professor of Dermatology Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta, GA 30322  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Would you briefly explain what is meant by actinic keratoses? Response: Actinic keratoses are common precancerous skin lesions caused by sun exposure. Because actinic keratoses may develop into skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, they are often treated by various destructive methods. We used Medicare Part B billing claims to estimate the number and cost of treated actinic keratoses from 2007 to 2015. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?  Response: While the number of Medicare Part B beneficiaries increased only moderately, the number of actinic keratoses treated by destruction rose from 29.7 million in 2007 to 35.6 million in 2015. Medicare paid an average annual amount of $413.1 million for actinic keratosis destruction from 2007 to 2015. Independently billing non-physician clinicians, including advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants, are treating an increasing proportion of actinic keratosis, peaking at 13.5% in 2015. MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report? Response: Readers should understand that the burden of actinic keratosis treatment is increasing in the Medicare population. There is also an increasing proportion of actinic keratoses being treated by advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants. 
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Medicare, NYU, Prostate Cancer / 22.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_44063" align="alignleft" width="200"]Danil V. Makarov, MD, MHS Department of Urology and Department of Population Health New York University Langone School of Medicine VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service Cancer Institute, New York University School of Medicine, New York Dr. Makarov[/caption] Danil V. Makarov, MD, MHS Department of Urology and Department of Population Health New York University Langone School of Medicine VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service Cancer Institute, New York University School of Medicine, New York MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Reducing prostate cancer staging imaging for men with low-risk disease is an important national priority to improve widespread guideline-concordant practice, as determined by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines. It appears that prostate cancer imaging rates vary by several factors, including health care setting. Within Veterans Health Administration (VHA), physicians receive no financial incentive to provide more services. Outside VHA, the fee-for-service model used in Medicare may encourage provision of more healthcare services due to direct physician reimbursement. In our study, we compared these health systems by investigating the association between prostate cancer imaging rates and a VA vs fee-for-service health care setting. We used novel methods to directly compare Veterans, Medicare Recipients, and Veterans that chose to receive care from both the VA at private facilities using Medicare insurance through the Choice Act with regard to rates of guideline-discordant imaging for prostate cancer. We found that Medicare beneficiaries were significantly more likely to receive guideline-discordant prostate cancer imaging than men treated only in VA. Moreover, we found that men with low-risk prostate cancer patients in the VA-only group had the lowest likelihood of guideline-discordant imaging, those in the VA and Medicare group had the next highest likelihood of guideline-discordant imaging (in the middle), and those in the Medicare-only group had the highest likelihood of guideline-discordant imaging. 
Author Interviews, Medicare, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 20.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43985" align="alignleft" width="133"]Kim Lind, PhD, MPH Research Fellow Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research Australian Institute of Health Innovation Macquarie University, NSW  Dr. Lind[/caption] Kim Lind, PhD, MPH Research Fellow Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research Australian Institute of Health Innovation Macquarie University, NSW MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Medicare Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) is a preventive care visit that was introduced in 2011 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Prior to this, the only preventive care exam covered by Medicare was the Welcome to Medicare Visit, which is only available for people in their first year of Medicare enrolment. The AWV is available each year to beneficiaries without co-payment to people who are past their first year of Medicare enrolment. The AWV focuses on prevention and early detection of disease. Racial disparities in healthcare utilization and health outcomes have been well documented in the US. Prior expansions of Medicare coverage have had varied effects on reducing disparities. For example, in 2001 Medicare began to cover colorectal cancer screening which reduced racial disparities for some minority groups with respect to screening rates and improved early detection. Expanding coverage of preventive care for people on Medicare may help reduce disparities in health outcomes, but we first needed to know if people were using the Medicare Annual Wellness Visit. Our goal was to assess AWV utilization rates and determine if utilization differed by race or ethnicity. We analyzed a nationally representative database of Medicare beneficiaries (the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey) that included self-reported race, ethnicity, income and education, linked to Medicare claims. We found that Medicare Annual Wellness Visit use was low but increased from 2011 to 2013. We also found that people on Medicare who self-identified as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority group had lower AWV utilization rates than non-Hispanic white people. People with lower income or education, and people living in rural areas had lower Medicare Annual Wellness Visit utilization. 
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Medicare, UCSF / 01.08.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_43578" align="alignleft" width="150"]Andrew B. Bindman, MD Professor of Medicine PRL- Institute for Health Policy Studies University of California San Francisco Dr. Bindman[/caption] Andrew B. Bindman, MD Professor of Medicine PRL- Institute for Health Policy Studies University of California San Francisco MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use and impact of a payment code for transitional care management services which was implemented by Medicare in. The transition of patients from hospitals or skilled nursing facilities back to the community often involves a change in a patient’s health care provider and introduces risks in communication which can contribute to lapses in health care quality and safety. Transitional care management services include contacting the patient within 2 business days after discharge and seeing the patient in the office within 7-14 days. Medicare implemented payment for transitional care management services with the hope that this would increase the delivery of these services believing that they could reduce readmissions, reduce costs and improve health outcomes.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, End of Life Care, Medicare, Science / 06.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_42957" align="alignleft" width="200"]Amy Finkelstein PhD John & Jennie S. MacDonald Professor of Economics MIT Department of Economics National Bureau of Economic Research Cambridge MA 02139  Dr. Finkelstein[/caption] Amy Finkelstein PhD John & Jennie S. MacDonald Professor of Economics MIT Department of Economics National Bureau of Economic Research Cambridge MA 02139  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although only 5% of Medicare beneficiaries die in a given year, they account for almost 25% of Medciare spending. This fact about high end of life spending has been constantly used to refer to inefficiency of the US healthcare system. A natural observation is that the fact is retrospective, and it motivated us to explore a prospective analog, which would take as an input the probability of someone dying in a given year rather than her realized outcome. We therefore used machine learning techniques to predict death, and somewhat to our surprise we found that at least using standardized and detailed claims-level data, predicting death is difficult, and there are only a tiny fraction of Medicare beneficiaries for whom we can predict death (within a year) with near certainty. Those who end up dying are obviously sicker, and our study finds that up to half of the higher spending on those who die could be attributed to the fact that those who die are sicker and sick individuals are associated with higher spending.  
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Hospital Acquired, Medicare / 02.07.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_42878" align="alignleft" width="200"]Michael S. Calderwood, MD, MPH, FIDSA Regional Hospital Epidemiologist Assistant Professor of Medicine Infectious Disease & International Health Dr. Calderwood[/caption] Michael S. Calderwood, MD, MPH, FIDSA Regional Hospital Epidemiologist Assistant Professor of Medicine Infectious Disease & International Health MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: Prior work by Lee et al. (N Engl J Med 2012;367:1428–1437) found that the 2008 CMS Hospital-Acquired Conditions (HAC) policy did not impact already declining national rates of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) or catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs). We studied why this policy did not have its intended impact by looking at coding practices and the impact of the policy on the diagnosis-related group (DRG) assignment for Medicare hospitalizations. The DRG assignment determines reimbursement for inpatient hospitalizations.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Medicare, Orthopedics / 12.06.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_42352" align="alignleft" width="200"]Amol Navathe, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Medicine Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania Dr. Navathe[/caption] Amol Navathe, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Medicine Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Bundled payment is a key Medicare Alternative Payment Model (APM) developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to increase health care value by holding health care organizations accountable for spending across an episode of care. The model provides financial incentives to maintain quality and contain spending below a predefined benchmark. In 2013, CMS launched the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative to expand bundled payment nationwide. BPCI’s bundled payment design formed the basis for CMS’s Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model beginning in 2016. While the programs are similar in design, BPCI is voluntary while CJR is mandatory for hospitals in selected markets. Moreover, CJR is narrower in scope, focusing only on lower extremity joint replacement (LEJR) and limiting participation to hospitals.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, End of Life Care, Geriatrics, JAMA, Medicare / 23.05.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_41835" align="alignleft" width="125"]William B Weeks, MD, PhD, MBA The Dartmouth Institute Dr. Weeks[/caption] William B Weeks, MD, PhD, MBA The Dartmouth Institute MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The background for the study is that a common narrative is that end-of-life healthcare costs are driving overall healthcare cost growth.  Growth in end-of-life care has been shown, in research studies through the mid 2000’s, to be attributable to increasing intensity of care at the end-of-life (i.e., more hospitalizations and more use of ICUs). The main findings of our study are that indeed there have been substantial increases in per-capita end-of-life care costs within the Medicare fee-for-service population between 2004-2009, but those per-capita costs dropped pretty substantially between 2009-2014.  Further, the drop in per-capita costs attributable to Medicare patients who died (and were, therefore, at the end-of-life) accounts for much of the mitigation in cost growth that has been found since 2009 in the overall Medicare fee-for-service population.
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, Heart Disease, Medicare / 15.03.2018

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Rishi K. Wadhera MD Clinical Fellow in Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: The Hospital Value Based Purchasing program, in which over 3,000 hospitals participate, is a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) pay-for-performance program that links hospital fee per service reimbursement to performance, through measures like 30-day mortality rates after an acute myocardial infarction (a heart attack), and other measures such as average spending for an episode of care for Medicare beneficiaries. Hospitals that perform poorly on these measures are financially penalized by CMS.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Dermatology, JAMA, Medicare / 22.11.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_38433" align="alignleft" width="150"]Adewole Adamson, MD, MPP Department of Dermatology UNC – Chapel Hill North Carolina Dr. Adamson[/caption] Adewole Adamson, MD, MPP Department of Dermatology UNC – Chapel Hill North Carolina  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Nurses practitioners and physician assistants, collectively known as non-physician clinicians (NPCs), provide many dermatology services, some which are billed for independently. Little is known about the types of these services provided. Even less is known about where these independently billed services are provided. Given that there is a purported shortage of dermatologists in the United States (US),  NPCs have been suggested as way to fill in the gap. In this study, we found that NPCs independently billed for many different types of dermatology associated procedures, including surgical treatment of skin cancer, flaps, grafts, and billing for pathology. Most of these NPCs worked with dermatologists. Much like dermatologists, NPCs were unevenly distributed across the US, concentrating mostly in non-rural areas.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Medicare / 19.10.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Susan G. Haber, Sc.D. Director, Health Coverage for Low-Income and Uninsured Populations RTI International Waltham, MA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In 2014, the state of Maryland and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began testing an alternative payment structure for inpatient and outpatient hospital services. Known as the All-Payer Model, the new system limits hospitals’ revenues from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers to a global budget for the year. This builds on Maryland’s hospital rate-setting system that had operated since the 1970s, where all payers pay the same rates. CMS wanted to test whether global budgets could help Maryland limit cost growth and reduce avoidable hospital use. The goal of the model is to limit per capita total hospital cost growth for both Medicare and all payers and to generate $330 million in Medicare savings over 5 years. RTI researchers studied the impact of hospital global budgets on Medicare beneficiary expenditures and utilization, using Medicare claims data to compare changes in Maryland before and after adoption of global budgets with changes in matched comparison areas outside of the state. Our report found Maryland has reduced total Medicare expenditures by approximately $293 million and total hospital expenditures by about $200 million in its first two years of operation. The reduction in overall expenditures indicates that “squeezing the balloon” on hospital expenditures did not simply produce a cost-shift to other health care sectors. Hospital expenditure savings for Medicare were achieved by reducing expenditures for outpatient emergency department and other hospital outpatient department services. Although inpatient admissions declined, there were no savings in Medicare expenditures for inpatient hospital services because the payment per admission increased. Maryland hospitals reduced avoidable utilization, including admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions, and readmissions and emergency department visits following hospital discharge. Despite the success in reducing expenditures, interviews with senior leaders at Maryland hospitals and focus group discussions with physicians and nurses suggest that many hospitals had not yet made fundamental changes in how they operate or developed partnerships with community physicians to divert care from the hospital, although there was variation in how hospitals responded.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Medicare / 12.09.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: RTISusan G. Haber, Sc.D.  Director, Health Coverage for Low-Income and Uninsured Populations RTI International Waltham, MA 02452-8413 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: In 2014, the state of Maryland and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began testing an alternative payment structure for inpatient and outpatient hospital services. Known as the All-Payer Model, the new system limits hospitals’ revenues from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers to a global budget for the year. This builds on Maryland’s hospital rate-setting system that had operated since the 1970s, where all payers pay the same rates. CMS wanted to test whether global budgets could help Maryland limit cost growth and reduce avoidable hospital use. The goal of the model is to limit per capita total hospital cost growth for both Medicare and all payers and to generate $330 million in Medicare savings over 5 years.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Medicare, Radiology / 25.04.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David C. Levin, MD Department of Radiology Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Philadelphia, PA 19107. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Radiology had been previously identified as the most rapidly growing of all physician services in the Medicare program during the early years of the 2000-2009 decade. But there have been deep cuts in imaging reimbursement since then. We wanted to determine how these cuts have affected total Medicare payments for imaging. Our main findings were that since 2006, payments to physicians for imaging under the Medicare Physician Fee schedule have dropped by $4 billion per year, or about 33%.
Author Interviews, End of Life Care, Geriatrics, Medicare, Yale / 04.04.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Shi-Yi Wang MD, PhD. Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology Yale School of Public Health New Haven, CT MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Care at the end of life is often fragmented and poorly coordinated across different health providers. Multiple transitions in care settings can be burdensome to patients and their families as well as costly to society. Despite these concerns about care transitions in the end of life, we lack contemporary data on the number, timing, and overall pattern of healthcare transitions in the last 6 months of life. This study adds to the extant literature by understanding transition trajectories, national variation of the transitions, and factors associated with transitions. We found that more than 80% of Medicare fee-for-service decedents had at least one health care transition and approximately one-third had ≥ 4 transitions in the last 6 months of life. We produced Sankey diagrams to visualize the sequences of healthcare transitions. The most frequent transition pattern involving at least four transitions: home-hospital-home (or skilled nursing facility)-hospital-healthcare setting other than hospital. There was substantial geographic variation in healthcare transitions in the United States. We found that several factors were associated with a significantly increased risk of having multiple transitions, including female gender, blacks, residence in lower income areas, presence of heart disease or kidney disease.
Author Interviews, Colon Cancer, Cost of Health Care, Medicare / 23.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_31434" align="alignleft" width="200"]Nengliang “Aaron” Yao PhD Assistant professor Department of Public Health Sciences University of Virginia Dr. Nengliang Yao[/caption] Nengliang “Aaron” Yao PhD Assistant professor Department of Public Health Sciences University of Virginia MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The ACA made several changes in Medicare that could increase the use of cancer screening and thus lead to more early cancer diagnoses. This includes waiving patient cost-sharing for screening, waiving patient cost-sharing for one wellness visit per year, and paying bonuses to physicians for doing more work in a primary care setting. We studied how effective those changes were in facilitating more early diagnoses of breast and colorectal cancers. We found that the changes had no effect on early breast cancer diagnoses (likely because costs and other access barriers for mammograms were already low), but increased the number of early colorectal cancer diagnoses by 8 percent.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Johns Hopkins, Medicare / 17.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_31255" align="alignleft" width="150"]Ge Bai, PhD, CPA Assistant Professor The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Washington, DC 20036 Dr. Ge Bai[/caption] Ge Bai, PhD, CPA Assistant Professor The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Washington, DC 20036  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The average anesthesiologist, emergency physician, pathologist and radiologist charge more than four times what Medicare pays for similar services, often leaving privately-insured out-of-network patients stuck with surprise medical bills that are much higher than they anticipated. The average physician charged roughly 2.5 times what Medicare pays for the same service. There are also regional differences in excess charges. Doctors in Wisconsin, for example, have almost twice the markups of doctors in Michigan (3.8 vs. two).
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Medicare, Orthopedics, University of Pennsylvania / 06.01.2017

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_30994" align="alignleft" width="180"]MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Amol Navathe, MD PhD University of Pennsylvania Staff Physician, CHERP, Philadelphia VA Medical Center Assistant Professor of Medicine and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, The Wharton School Co-Editor-in-Chief, HealthCare: the Journal of Delivery Science and Innovatio Dr. Amol Navathe[/caption] Amol Navathe, MD PhD University of Pennsylvania Staff Physician, CHERP, Philadelphia VA Medical Center Assistant Professor of Medicine and Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, The Wharton School Co-Editor-in-Chief, HealthCare: the Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Bundled payments pay a fixed price for an episode of services that starts at hospital admission (in this case for joint replacement surgery) and extends 30-90 days post discharge (30 days in this study). This includes physician fees, other provider services (e.g. physical therapy), and additional acute hospital care (hospital admissions) in that 30 day window.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Medicare, NYU, Orthopedics / 04.03.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: [caption id="attachment_22312" align="alignleft" width="200"]Richard Iorio, MD Dr. William and Susan Jaffe Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery Chief of the Division of Adult Reconstructive Surgery NYU Langone Medical Center Dr. Richard Iorio[/caption] Richard Iorio, MD Dr. William and Susan Jaffe Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery Chief of the Division of Adult Reconstructive Surgery NYU Langone Medical Center  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Iorio: NYU Langone Medical Center’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery realized early that alternate payment strategies based on value rather than volume were going to be increasing in prevalence and represent the future of compensation strategies  As leaders in orthopaedics, we knew that we must embrace this change and develop strategies and effective protocols to successfully navigate this alternative payment universe. In 2011, NYU Langone’s Hospital for Joint Diseases was chosen as a pilot site for CMS’s Bundled Payment Care Initiative, focusing on Medicare patients undergoing a total joint replacement. Beginning in 2013, we implemented protocols developed at our hospital focusing on preoperatiive patient selection criteria in an effort to ensure better outcomes for Medicare patients who underwent total joint replacements. Under a bundled payment program, hospitals assume financial responsibility for any complications over the entire episode of care 90 days after surgery, including postsurgical infections and hospital readmissions. We compared year over year outcomes from year 1 to year 3 of this program, and found:
  • Average hospital length of stay decreased from 3.58 days to 2.96 days;
  • Discharges to inpatient rehabilitation or care facilities decreased from 44 percent to 28 percent;
  • Average number of readmissions at 30 days decreased from 7 percent to 5 percent; from 11 percent to 6.1 percent at 60 days; and from 13 percent to 7.7 percent at 90 days;
  • The average cost to CMS of the episode of care decreased from $34,249 to $27,541 from year one to year three of the program.
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, Medicare, OBGYNE / 04.01.2016

[caption id="attachment_20403" align="alignleft" width="120"]Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Little, MD Obstetrics/Gynecology Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Brigham and Women's Hospital Dr. Little[/caption] MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Sarah Elizabeth Little, MD Obstetrics/Gynecology Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Brigham and Women's Hospital Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Little: This study investigates the variation in cesarean delivery rates across hospital services areas (a geographic unit designed by the Dartmouth Atlas to represent local markets for primarily hospital-based medical services). We looked at whether variation in cesarean delivery rates was related to broader variation in overall medical spending and utilization in that area, which we measured with Medicare spending and hospital use at the end-of-life. We found that an area’s cesarean delivery rate was correlated with these other measures; in other words, the hospital services areas that are doing the most cesarean deliveries are the same ones that are spending more and doing more to non-obstetric patients as well.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Medicare / 18.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Thomas Selden, Ph.D. Director of the Division of Research and Modeling Center for Financing, Access, and Cost Trends Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), in Rockville, Maryland.  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Selden: Spending on hospital care is expected to exceed $1 trillion for the first time in 2015, and it is important to understand the differences between public and private payment rates if we want to achieve the goals of better care, smarter spending, and healthier people – the triple aims found in HHS’ National Quality Strategy.  Our study examined data on inpatient hospital stays between 1996 and 2012, finding that payments to hospitals from private insurers in 2012 were 75 percent greater than Medicare’s – a sharp increase from the approximate 10 percent difference between 1996 and 2001. 
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, Medicare / 14.12.2015

[caption id="attachment_19958" align="alignleft" width="200"]Dr. Stacie B. Dusetzina, PhD Assistant professor in the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy Eshelman School of Pharmacy University of North Carolina Dr. Dusetzina[/caption] MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Stacie B. Dusetzina, PhD Assistant professor in the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy Eshelman School of Pharmacy University of North Carolina  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Dusetzina: As part of the Affordable Care Act the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” is closing – reducing Medicare beneficiaries out-of-pocket expenses during this phase of coverage from 100% of drug costs to 25% between 2010 and 2020.  In this study we analyzed 3,344 Medicare formularies that spell out how insurers cover prescription drugs. We found that in 2010, a typical course of oral chemotherapy drugs costs patients on average up to $8,100 per year. When the doughnut hole closes in 2020, patients will still have to pay on average $5,600 out of pocket per year, more than what the average Medicare beneficiary’s household spends on food each year. Even after the doughnut hold is closed oral chemotherapy drugs will still be out of reach for millions of Americans.
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Medicare, Outcomes & Safety / 05.08.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Philip G. Cotterill PhD Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Baltimore, MD Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Cotterill: Chest pain is one of those elusive complaints where patients can seem initially low-risk based on symptoms or risk factors, and subsequently have an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) or die in a short period of time. Using combinations of history and physical examination findings to discriminate patients with serious causes of chest pain is often not possible. In our study, we demonstrated wide variation in the decision to hospitalize Medicare beneficiaries with chest pain – nearly two fold between the lowest (38%) and highest (81%) quintile of hospitals – and that patients treated in hospitals with higher admission rates for chest pain are less likely to have an acute myocardial infarction within 30-days of the index event and less likely to die. While the findings were statistically significant – differences in outcomes were small: 4 fewer AMIs and 3 fewer deaths per 1,000 patients comparing the highest and lowest admission quintiles. Stated differently, these numbers suggest that if low admitting hospitals were to behave more like high admitting hospitals, 250 patients would need to be admitted to prevent one AMI and 333 cases to prevent one death.
Author Interviews, BMJ, Cost of Health Care, Medicare / 06.07.2015

Joshua P. Cohen Ph.D Research Associate Professor Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development Boston, MassachusettsMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joshua P. Cohen Ph.D Research Associate Professor Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development Boston, Massachusetts Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Cohen: Florbetapir 18F was the first radioactive diagnostic agent approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for positron emission tomography imaging of the brain to evaluate amyloid â neuritic plaque density. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Cohen: Medicare has restricted coverage of florbetapir in the US, whereas conspicuously the UK NHS decided to reimburse the radiopharmaceutical. Note, the British NHS is generally more restrictive with regard to coverage of new technologies than the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Historically Medicare has rejected coverage of 25% of diagnostics approved by the FDA, but covers all FDA approved drugs administered in the physician’s office. Furthermore, Medicare has subjected labeled use of diagnostics, including a half-dozen Alzheimer's diagnostics, to its coverage with evidence development program while not subjecting any labeled uses of drugs to coverage with evidence development. In sum, diagnostics are subject to a level of scrutiny by Medicare that is rarely given Medicare Part B drugs (physician-administered).
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Kaiser Permanente, Long Term Care, Medicare / 11.06.2015

Yan S. Kim, MD PhD Delivery Science Fellow Division of Research Kaiser Permanente Northern California Oakland, CA 94612MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Yan S. Kim, MD PhD Delivery Science Fellow Division of Research Kaiser Permanente Northern California Oakland, CA 94612 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kim: Long-term care hospitals first emerged in the 1980s as an alternative to lengthy acute-care hospital stays for patients with complex medical problems who need prolonged hospital-level care.  In 2002, Medicare changed its payment method for these facilities from cost-based to a lump sum per admission based on the diagnosis.  Under this system, which is still in place, Medicare pays these hospitals a higher rate for patients who stay a minimum number of days based on the patient's condition.  Shorter stays are paid much less and longer stays do not necessary generate higher reimbursements. Using Medicare data, we analyzed a national sample of patients who required prolonged mechanical ventilation – the most common, and among the most costly, conditions for patients in long-term care hospitals – to examine whether this payment policy has created incentives to base discharge decisions on payments.  We found that in the years after the policy’s implementation there was a substantial spike in the percentage of discharges on and immediately after the minimum-stay threshold was met, while very few patients were discharged before the threshold. By contrast, prior to 2002, discharges were evenly distributed around the day that later became the short-stay threshold.  These findings confirm that the current payment policy has created unintended incentives for long-term care hospitals to base the timing of patient discharges on payments and highlight how responsive these hospitals are to payment incentives.
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Medicare, Ophthalmology / 21.04.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dan Gong BA Yale University School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dan Gong BA Yale University School of Medicine ------------ James C. Tsai, M.D., M.B.A. President - New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai Delafield-Rodgers Professor and Chair Department of Ophthalmology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
  • Congress first introduced the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule built on the resource-based relative value scale (RBRVS) in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989. Until recently, Medicare payments to physicians were adjusted annually based on the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.
  • When adjusting physician payments, one controversial belief by policymakers was the assumption that in response to fee reductions, physicians would recuperate one-half of lost revenue by increasing the volume and complexity of services.
  • This study questioned this assumption that this inverse relationship between Medicare payment and procedural volume is uniform across all procedures. In particular, glaucoma procedures have not been studied in the past.
  • Using a fixed effects regression model, we found that for six commonly performed glaucoma procedures, four did not have any significant Medicare payment and procedural volume relationship (laser trabeculoplasty, trabeculectomy with and without previous surgery, aqueous shunt to reservoir). Two procedures, laser iridotomy and scleral reinforcement with graft, did have significant and inverse associations between Medicare payment and procedural volume.