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Reading the Stars: Nursing Home Quality Star Ratings, Nationally and by State

This issue brief presents national and state-level analysis of nursing homes based on the Five-Star Quality Rating System, recently updated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to help consumers compare nursing homes when selecting one for themselves or their family members. The issue brief finds that more than one-third (36%) of the nation’s 15,500 nursing homes certified by Medicare or Medicaid received relatively low ratings of 1 or 2 stars (out of a possible 5 stars). In 11 states, at least 40 percent of nursing homes in the state have 1- or 2-star ratings. In 23 states, however, at least half of the nursing homes have 4- or 5- star ratings. This issue brief discusses relevant policy considerations regarding nursing home quality—a serious issue in light of the vulnerability of the nursing home population and recent reports of problems arising from inadequate staffing, fire safety hazards, and substandard care.

Medicare and Medicaid at 50 Years: Perspectives of Beneficiaries, Health Care Professionals and Institutions, and Policy Makers

In this article for the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Drew Altman and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader William Frist examine the roles the Medicaid and Medicare play in the health system today from the perspectives of the public and beneficiaries, providers, and policymakers, and discusses the challenges they face in the future. The article is accompanied by an audio interview with Altman and Frist, who is a member of the Foundation’s board of trustees.

Primary Care Providers’ Views Of Recent Trends In Health Care Delivery And Payment

A new survey from The Commonwealth Fund and The Kaiser Family Foundation asked primary care providers—physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants—about their experiences with and reactions to recent changes in health care delivery and payment. Providers’ views are generally positive regarding the impact of health information technology on quality of care, but they are more divided on the increased use of medical homes and accountable care organizations. Overall, providers are more negative about the increased reliance on quality metrics to assess their performance and about financial penalties.

Visualizing Health Policy: Medicare Spending: A Look at Present, Short-Term and Long-Term Trends

This Visualizing Health Policy infographic provides an overview of Medicare spending, including information on current federal spending relative to other government programs (e.g., Social Security) and percent-share of spending across Medicare services, as well as projected Medicare spending over the next decade and beyond. Recent federal spending on Medicare is…

New Study Provides Insight and Analysis to Help Explain the Medicare Spending Slowdown

Medicare, the federal health program that provides health care and coverage to 54 million seniors and younger adults with permanent disabilities, is in the midst of an unprecedented slowdown in spending growth.  A new issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation, How Much of the Medicare Spending Slowdown Can be…

Health Affairs Article: At Least Half of New Medicare Advantage Enrollees Had Switched From Traditional Medicare During 2006-11

In an article in Health Affairs, researchers from the Kaiser Family Foundation counter the popular misperception that the steady rise in Medicare Advantage enrollment has been driven by members of the Baby Boom generation overwhelmingly choosing the private plans as they become eligible for Medicare. Their study examines the 2006-2011 growth in Medicare Advantage enrollment and finds that a majority of new enrollees in Medicare Advantage in each year were, in fact, seniors switching from traditional Medicare.