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Len Nichols quoted in Associated Press Article

7M enrolled doesn’t guarantee health law’s success
WASHINGTON (AP) — By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press | April 5, 2014 | Updated: April 7, 2014 5:44am
Seven million people signed up, so there is an appetite for President Barack Obama’s health care law, but that doesn’t guarantee success for the country’s newest social program Republican opponents of the law keep pushing for a repeal, but as millions of people obtain insurance, how long can the party’s strategy remain a politically viable option? The source of the pent-up demand that propelled health care sign-ups beyond expectations could stem from the nation’s new economic reality: a shrinking middle class and many working people treading water in low-paying jobs. With fewer jobs these days that provide health benefits, there was an opening for a government program to subsidize private insurance. When Medicare and Medicaid were created in the 1960s, policymakers took it for granted that people working steady jobs would have access to health care, said Len Nichols, director of the health policy center at George Mason University in Virginia. [...]

New Issue Brief on States’ Engagement in Cost Control; by Stuart Butler, Dave Kendall, and Len Nichols


In this first Issue Brief of the new CHPRE series, Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation, Dave Kendall of Third Way and Len Nichols of CHPRE explain why and how policy makers can create incentives for states to engage private and federal stakeholders in health care cost containment activities that need to be jumpstarted, but likely will not without state engagement.

Len Nichols – Panelist at National Children’s Health Policy Conference

Len Nichols, Director for the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics, served as a panelist at the AcademyHealth’s inaugural National Children’s Health Policy Conference in Washington, DC. on February 5th. Dr. Nichols joined other health policy leaders from across the country as a member of the panel entitled, “Child Health Coverage: What Will the Future Hold?” This panel examined an overview of the latest data on coverage trends, the status of CHIP and Medicaid, and early results from health insurance exchange enrollment.

Some of Dr. Nichols’ ideas were very well received during this session, even being tweeted by @AcademyHealth:

·         RT @smithcass: Can we lower cost trajectory? If we don’t, we can’t maintain consensus for universal coverage @LenMNichols #CHPC14

·         Be willing to be creative & think about diff ways we can maintain this commitment & make sure our families stay strong @LenMNichols #CHPC14

And, was even rated as one of the Top Influencers of #CHPC14 by Symplur Hashtags @healthhashtags! Other topics discussed and presented at the NCHPC included opportunities and threats to child health insurance, the CHIPRA national evaluation findings, systems of care for children at the state and local level, new research tools and data to inform child health policy, and child health equity. For more information on NCHPC sessions and presentations, check out AcademyHealth’s blog.

Len 3


Len Nichols on panel: Tackling Health Care Costs: Finding Common Ground

The event was sponsored by the nonpartisan Alliance for Health Reform and The Commonwealth Fund. Panelists talked about both long-term overall health care spending and spending on programs such as medicare. They also proposed solutions for slowing down spending on both.  Watch C -Span video

Friday, December 13, 2013 - Alliance for Health Reform 

Despite slower health care spending growth over the last few years, long-term forecasts for overall health spending – and for public programs like Medicare – signal continuing concern.

The idea behind numerous recent proposals is to find lasting solutions, and some areas of consensus are beginning to emerge.

Many proposals recommend paying for value instead of volume through such delivery models as patient-centered medical homes and accountable care organizations. Some encourage improvements in market competition, by instituting competitive bidding and increasing the availability of information. There is also some agreement on establishing spending targets.

Which proposals can garner support from various policymakers and stakeholders? How much money would these proposals save and what would be their effect on quality of care? What would it take to get the ball rolling on consensus proposals, and what are the challenges to widespread adoption?

The Affordable Care Act as Translational Research

Editorial  by Harry P. Selker, William H. Frist, and Stuart H. Altman

Primarily created to expand healthcare access, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has secondary features that all researchers should be excited for. The authors note that the ACA creates flexible provisions to innovate in many dimensions of healthcare delivery: payment, care coordination, information technology, and organizational structure. After an easy-to-digest overview of the main functions of the ACA, this article encourages informing the American public of the value of policy experimentation (much like biomedical experimentation) to improve healthcare for everyone.  Read article here.

In Iowa, Accountable Care Begins To Make A Difference

By Jenny Gold

Kaiser Health News Staff Writer

NOV 21, 2013


This Kaiser Health News story was produced in collaboration with NPR

For years, Phil Bretthauer was one of the most expensive patients at Unity Point Health in Fort Dodge, a small town in western Iowa. The 70-year-old was frequently in and out of the hospital with heart attacks, COPD and prostate cancer.

“I always keep thinking, there’s something else coming,” says Bretthauer. “If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen to me.”

Home health nurse Tammy Bennett visits Phil Bretthauer’s apartment and goes over all 17 of his medications (Photo by Jenny Gold/KHN).

His primary care physician, Dr. Lincoln Wallace, was worried about the same thing. “It’s a demoralizing position to be in to watch a guy like Phil go out the door and to anticipate that he’ll have some event that will likely either threaten his life or end up in the end of his life, and you have little or no way to stop it from coming,” says Wallace.

But this year, Unity Point – which includes multiple hospitals and doctor practices in Iowa — decided to do something to stop the expensive cycle of illness and readmission for patients like Bretthauer. The hospital signed on to become an accountable care organization, a Medicare program created by the Affordable Care Act that economists say could be a pathway to the holy grail of health care—providing better care at a lower cost.

Here’s how it works: a group of doctors and hospitals get together to form a network responsible for taking care of a group of Medicare patients—in this case, about 9,000 Iowans.  If the network can prove it’s keeping those patients healthier and spending less money to do so, it gets to keep some of the savings. The ACO can then use that money to do things Medicare doesn’t usually cover—like reaching out more to patients at home. But if the ACO does not succeed, it may face a financial penalty.

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