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Medicare Spending Cuts and Hospital Productivity Gains

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman and guest co-author Dana Goldman examine hospital productivity gains, and what they may mean for hospitals’ ability to absorb spending reductions. All previous columns by Drew Altman are available online.

Medicare Spending Cuts and Hospital Productivity Gains

In this column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman and guest co-author Dana Goldman examine hospital productivity gains, and what they may mean for hospitals’ ability to absorb spending reductions.

Safety-Net Emergency Departments: A Look at Current Experiences and Challenges

Safety-net hospital emergency departments (EDs) are an important part of our health care system, especially, but not only, for the uninsured and others with low income. With multiple major changes unfolding in our system today, including the development of new models of health care delivery, payment reforms, expanded insurance coverage, and increasing demand for primary care access, safety-net EDs are a sort of crucible in which these shifts and transitions can be seen playing out. To understand more about their current experiences and challenges as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) begins to takes hold, we conducted interviews with ED directors in a convenience sample of 15 safety-net hospitals around the country in June and July 2014.

Federal and State Standards for “Essential Community Providers” under the ACA and Implications for Women’s Health

Safety net providers such as community health centers and family planning clinics have served a significant role in the provision of primary care and reproductive health care services to low-income and uninsured people, particularly women. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has a provision aimed at assuring that newly-insured individuals, as well as those without coverage, can continue seeing their trusted safety net providers, also called Essential Community Providers (ECPs). This brief reviews the definition of ECPs, examines the federal and state rules that govern the extent to which plans must include these providers in their networks, identifies the variation from state to state, and discusses the particular importance of these rules and providers for women’s access to care.

Abortion Coverage in Marketplace Plans, 2015

This brief analyzes state policies and insurer coverage decisions affecting the availability of abortion coverage in 2015 insurance plans offered through the Marketplaces. It finds that abortion coverage is unavailable in a total of 31 states, 24 of which have enacted laws that ban or restrict abortion coverage in plans sold through their Marketplaces and 7 of which have no abortion coverage restrictions but also have no Marketplace plans offering it.

Tapping Nurse Practitioners to Meet Rising Demand for Primary Care

More than 58 million Americans, or nearly 1 in 5, live in primary care shortage areas, where the supply of primary care physicians is not sufficient to meet the needs of the population. Particularly as the demand for primary care increases due to population growth, aging, and expanded insurance coverage, strategies to mitigate already sharp strains on primary care capacity are needed. This brief focuses on the opportunity to more fully tap the potential of nurse practitioners to increase access to primary care.

Explaining Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center: The Supreme Court Considers Private Enforcement of the Medicaid Act

On January 20, 2015, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center, a case that raises the issue of whether Medicaid providers can challenge a state law in federal court on the basis that it violates the federal Medicaid Act and therefore is preempted by the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. This issue brief examines the major questions raised by the Armstrong case, explains the parties’ legal arguments, and considers potential effects of a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The Role of Medicare and the Indian Health Service for American Indians and Alaska Natives: Health, Access and Coverage

This report examines the role of both Medicare and the Indian Health Service (IHS) in providing access to health care for about 650,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives who are age 65 and older or who have permanent disabilities. While Medicare provides important health care coverage for most in this group, its relatively high cost-sharing and gaps in benefits can be problematic for American Indians and Alaska Native Medicare beneficiaries who do not have additional supplemental coverage or who cannot access IHS providers.

Web Briefing: Early Impacts of the Medicaid Expansion for the Homeless Population

The Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion provides a significant opportunity to increase health coverage and improve access to care for individuals experiencing homelessness, who historically have had high uninsured rates and often have multiple, complex physical and mental health needs. On Monday, December 15, 2014, the Kaiser Family Foundation hosted a…