Health Policy$ense

Top 10 LDI Health Policy Reads of 2016

What caught our readers' eyes

Yes, we're aware that it's 2017.  But in looking back, we're really looking forward. Each of these important, popular pieces brings evidence to bear on policy issues that will continue to draw attention in 2017.

1. Medical Debtor Nation

This short blog post packed a mighty punch, as it featured a chart showing the alarming rise in medical student debt in the past 10 years. The chart appeared in supplementary material for an excellent article by Ari Friedman and colleagues in the Journal of General Internal Medicine on the public service loan forgiveness program, whose future is in doubt in 2017.

2. Evidence Supports Giving Nurse Practitioners Full Practice Authority

In a blog post, Hilary Barnes made the case for removing Pennsylvania's requirement that nurse practitioners maintain collaborative agreements with physicians to practice or prescribe. The Pennsylvania Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill to that effect in July 2016, but a companion bill in the House did not come up for a vote.

3. ACA Impact Series: Turmoil in the Health Insurance Marketplaces
The first in a series of Issue Briefs on the impact of the ACA, this one analyzed the dynamics of the ACA marketplaces in terms of premiums and participation. It could not have been timelier as premiums jumped in some areas and some insurers withdrew in the fourth enrollment period. Its options for fixing the marketplaces remain central to the debate about the ACA itself. 

4. Improving the Lives of Fragile Newborns: What Does Nursing Have to Offer?
In this Issue Brief, Eileen Lake and colleagues summarized a body of evidence that adequate nurse staffing and a supportive work environment are associated with better outcomes for very low birth weight infants. They recommended policies to bolster and support nursing practice in NICUs. 

5. What's the Story with Drug Prices?
Drug prices made headlines last year. But as Ari Friedman and Janet Weiner blogged, the story of drug prices is actually five separate storylines, each with its own causes, concerns, and solutions. This framework wil be useful as drug prices are likely to remain center stage in 2017.

6. ► Show Me the Money: Economic Evaluations of Opioid Use Disorder Treatments
     ► Primary Care: On the Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic

Two timely briefs by LDI and CHERISH (that's The Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorders, HCV, and HIV) summarized the cost-effectiveness of pharmacologic and psychological treatments for opioid use disorders, as well as the important role primary care physicians can play in connecting patients to treatment. 

7. Health Policy and the New President
The day after the election caught many people off-guard, and threatened (promised?) seismic shifts in the health policy landscape. In a matter of hours, LDI put together a panel of experts to talk about the implications, and it drew quite a crowd. 

8. ► Marketplace Plans with Narrow Physician Networks Feature Lower Monthly Premiums than Plans with Larger Networks
     ► Trends in Physician Networks in the Marketplace in 2016
Dan Polsky and colleagues continued their groundbreaking work on narrow networks. In a research brief, they estimate how consumers saved by choosing a narrow network plan in 2014; in a Data Brief, they describe the breadth of physician networks in 2016, and how they've changed from 2014.

9. Neighborhood Matters, Block by Block
Terry Richmond and colleagues published a small study on educational outcomes amid a small group of homeless residents in a subsidized housing program. The blog post on it attracted a great deal of attention because of the study's key insight that neighborhoods, down to the level of city blocks, can shape outcomes. 

10. Highlights from ASHEcon
LDI hosted the annual meeting of the American Society of Health Economists (ASHEcon).  More than 1,000 economists came to town, bring their latest work and works-in-progress with them. Ten guest blog posts highlighted some of the cutting edge research on the horizon.