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.

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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?

Len Nichols Testifies Before US Senate Budget Committee


Dr. Len Nichols, Director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics, testified on July 30, 2013, before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget on “Containing Health Care Costs: Recent Progress and Remaining Challenges.”    View video of meeting (forward to the 40-minute mark)  Testimony

Democratic coverage  Republican coverage


Mason Selected to Evaluate CareFirst Medical Home Program

image of nurse writing on clipboard with patient in bed

Courtesy of Common Images

Mason Selected to Evaluate CareFirst Medical Home Program

Posted: March 10, 2013 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: March 12, 2013 at 12:03 pm

George Mason University is part of an elite group to evaluate CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield’s Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) program, one of the largest in the nation, CareFirst announced on March 11.

George Mason, along with a joint team from Harvard University, Brandeis University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as a team from Westat Research Corp., will study the PCMH program. Mason has a five-year, $5.4 million contract, says Len Nichols, principal investigator for the Mason team and director of Mason’s Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics in the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS).

How well a patient’s health improves while under a physician’s care, not how many services are given, is a benchmark for patient-centered programs, Nichols says. “The patient’s health is at the center of the focus as opposed to just services and tests for the patient,” he says.

Patient-centered care also means the patients themselves play an active part in their own health care, Nichols says. That’s critical because many patients with chronic conditions typically have two or more. For example, someone with heart disease may also be diabetic.

“You have to manage care for chronic patients very carefully,” Nichols says.

In addition, the patient-centered programs are a response to cost pressures and an effort to re-examine how care is delivered to patients, Nichols says. “I think it is a game-changer for our national conversation about how to contain costs,” he says.

CareFirst has more than 3,600 participating primary care physicians and nurse practitioners covering about one million CareFirst members in Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. CareFirst showed total health care costs for PCMH members in 2011 were 1.5 percent lower than expected. Nearly 60 percent of physician groups participating in 2011 earned incentives based on the attainment of savings and quality performance, according to CareFirst information. 

“The approach has great promise since it links physician incentives to higher quality care, better outcomes and lower costs,” Nichols says.

Mason’s evaluation is expected to show how well that promise is fulfilled. 

“Our PCMH program is a critical component of our efforts to reduce health care costs while improving health care quality,” said CareFirst President and CEO Chet Burrell in a statement announcing Mason’s selection as a PCMH evaluator. “The program has grown tremendously, and we are pleased with the early results that we have seen. In selecting these leading institutions and organizations to evaluate the program, we will get a thorough, independent look at every aspect of the program. We want to know what works well, what could work better, whether the program is truly changing the behavior of physicians and patients and much more.” 

Mason’s team includes three health economists, a professor of nursing, a physician and a consumer engagement expert who can detail what can help bring patients into the program.

A multidisciplinary team is essential to give the program a thorough examination, Nichols says. “You need multiple perspectives,” he says. “You need all hands on deck.”

In addition to Nichols, the Mason team members are:


quick question

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