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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.

Demonstrations to Improve the Coordination of Medicare and Medicaid for Dually Eligible Beneficiaries: What Prior Experience Did Health Plans and States Have with Capitated Arrangements?

This report examines the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) financial alignment demonstration for beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, with a focus on the extent to which participating states and health plans have prior experience with capitated managed care arrangements under Medicare or Medicaid, and specifically for this population. Under these capitated financial alignment demonstrations, health plans contract with the state and CMS (a three-way contract) to provide both Medicare and Medicaid benefits to dually eligible beneficiaries. These demonstrations aim to improve the quality of care and the coordination of benefits for people dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. The report finds considerable variation in the experience of states and health plans participating in these demonstrations, and discusses the potential implications for beneficiaries and plan oversight.

Public vs. Private Health Insurance on Controlling Spending

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman analyzes whether public or private health insurance does a better job of controlling costs. All previous columns by Drew Altman are available online. 

Medicare and Medicaid at 50

With Medicare and Medicaid turning 50 this year, this updated video provides a brief history of both programs, including: an examination of the health care, social and political landscape that gave rise to them, the significant ways each program has evolved over five decades, and the important roles they play in the U.S. health care system. The video includes archival footage, as well as commentary and perspective from policymakers, government officials and experts.

Medigap and the Medicare “Doc Fix”

The House-passed legislation to repeal the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) includes a provision that would prohibit Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap) policies from covering the Part B deductible for people who become eligible for Medicare beginning in 2020. A new Kaiser Family Foundation Data Note explores the implications of this…