Janet Weiner, PhD, MPH

Setting Standards for Affordable Health Care

Issue Brief
Jun. 16, 2020

In the run-up to the presidential election, the affordability of health care remains a top concern of the American voting public. But how do we know when health care is affordable? On a policy level, how do we set a standard for affordability that can be implemented in a reformed system? Sometimes policy debates about affordability focus only on whether insurance premiums are affordable, although consumers tend to be concerned about both premiums and out-of-pocket costs. At Penn LDI’s Medicare for All and Beyond conference, a panel of researchers, policy experts, and consumer advocates discussed and debated affordability in theory and practice. This issue brief summarizes the panel’s insights.

Can Yelp Reviews Identify Better Skilled Nursing Facilities?

May. 28, 2020

A new study suggests that hospitals, payers, and patients might learn something useful about the quality of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) by checking online Yelp reviews. These reviews could provide important information beyond publicly reported ratings to inform decisions about postacute care.

Policy Options for Financing Long-Term Care in the U.S.

Issue Brief
Apr. 15, 2020

Unlike many other developed nations, the U.S. has no system that protects its residents against the high costs of long-term care, which many people will need as they age. Medicaid coverage kicks in only after families have exhausted their resources. Until then, families bear the financial and caregiving burden of LTC themselves. In the absence of a national system, several states have considered or passed programs that offer some support for LTC. Many peer nations have more comprehensive systems to spread the risk for LTC costs across their population, through social insurance or other mechanisms. This Issue Brief reviews international models of financing LTC, as well as recent state efforts, to help U.S. policymakers design a program that can meet the LTC challenges of an aging population.

Did the Affordable Care Act Contain Costs?

Issue Brief
Feb. 20, 2020

The Affordable Care Act was designed to curb the growth of health care costs as it broadly expanded coverage. Through provider payment reductions, alternative payment models, and a commission to enforce growth targets, the ACA sought to rein in Medicare spending. Through a tax on high-cost employer plans and competition in individual marketplaces, it sought to influence spending in the private market as well. But a number of provisions were never implemented, limiting the ACA’s impact on costs. While statutory reductions in Medicare provider rates have slowed cost growth in Medicare, they are not likely to be sustainable in the long term. Changing the trajectory of cost growth remains a challenge for future reform efforts.

Health Care Safety-Net Programs After The Affordable Care Act

Issue Brief
Oct. 1, 2019

Prior to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health care safety-net programs were the primary source of care for over 44 million uninsured people. While the ACA cut the number of uninsured substantially, about 30 million people remain uninsured, and many millions more are vulnerable to out-of-pocket costs beyond their resources. The need for the safety net remains, even as the distribution and types of need have shifted. This brief reviews the effects of the ACA on the funding and operation of safety-net institutions. It highlights the challenges and opportunities that health care reform presents to safety-net programs, and how they have adapted and evolved to continue to serve our most vulnerable residents.

Making Shoppable Care More Probable

Dec. 7, 2017

The late, great economist Uwe Reinhardt once likened the ability of U.S. consumers to shop for health care to sending blindfolded shoppers into a department store. In a new report to the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, the “Shoppable Care Work Group” provides advice on how to take the blindfold off.

New Study Details Savings from Bundled Payments

Jan. 13, 2017

This is the way it is supposed to work. You develop policy and processes to drive innovation. You design and test innovative ideas in a small, efficient way. You learn and adapt. Successful innovation drives new policy. Rinse and repeat.

And this is the way it appears to have worked, in the case of Medicare bundled payment. Start small with a pilot. Expand in reach and scope if promising. Scale up if successful.

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