More than one-third of all Americans age 12 and over remain unvaccinated for COVID-19. The latest Kaiser Family Foundation poll indicates that hesitancy and acceptance of these vaccines varies by geographic, sociodemographic, and cultural factors. While we often think about vaccine hesitancy on an individual level, these individuals belong to communities that respond to the COVID-19 vaccine in very different ways.
There is broad agreement that there is plenty of wasteful and low-value care in our health care system. But there’s less agreement about how to identify it and even less agreement about what to do about it. Health insurers have taken different approaches to this problem. Some insurers have adopted prior authorization, a managed care tool that requires physicians to obtain insurer approval before performing particular services.
"There are decades when nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen...that describes what's happening right now,” said Sen. Tom Daschle, at Penn LDI’s recent conference on health care reform. An unusual mix of optimism and pragmatism pervaded the conference sessions, as participants acknowledged the serious ideological divides that threaten any large-scale reforms.
To expand access to health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, many states relaxed or waived regulations that deﬁne the scope of health professional practice. This experience highlights the need to ensure that all health care professionals practice to the full extent of their capabilities—an issue that predates and will outlast the pandemic. In a virtual conference on November 20, 2020, Penn LDI and Penn Nursing brought together experts in law, economics, nursing, medicine, and dentistry to discuss current gaps in health professional scope of practice, what we have learned from COVID-19, and how to rethink scope of practice to better meet community and public health needs.
Pennsylvania is one of 28 states that has not expanded the scope of practice in its licensure laws for certified registered nurse practitioners (NPs), who must maintain formal collaborative agreements with physicians to practice. For many years, proposals to update licensure and adapt it to make it more compatible with current models of collaborative care could not overcome legislative logjams. Recognizing an opportunity to break the logjam, the University of Pennsylvania held a virtual workshop on November 20, 2020, bringing together researchers, health professionals, and consumers to chart a new path forward. This policy brief summarizes their recommendations to update scope of practice regulation to better meet the primary care needs of Pennsylvanians.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.