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New Survey: Health Care Leaders Say Need for Reform Is Urgent; Broadly Support Public Health Care Option, Provider Payment Reform

July 27, 2009 - By a wide margin, health care leaders believe that individuals should have a choice of public and private health plans, and strongly support other central components of health reform such as innovative provider payment reform and a national insurance health exchange with strong standard-setting authority.

New Report: Individual Health Insurance Market Failing Consumers

July 21, 2009 - The individual health insurance market is not a viable option for the majority of uninsured adults, a new Commonwealth Fund report finds. Seventy-three percent of people who tried to buy insurance on their own in the last three years did not purchase a policy, primarily because premiums were too high.

New Report: Private and Public Insurance Choices Would Help Reduce Administrative Health Care Costs by $265 Billion Over 10 Years

July 16, 2009 - As lawmakers debate how to pay for an overhaul of the nation's health care system, a new report from The Commonwealth Fund projects that including both private and public insurance choices in a new insurance exchange would save the United States as much as $265 billion in administrative costs from 2010 to 2020. Congressional leaders are attempting to keep 10-year federal budget costs of health care reform legislation under $1 trillion.

New Report Analyzes Cost Implications of Three Health Reform Scenarios, with Alternative Public Plan Options

June 24, 2009 - A comprehensive approach to health insurance, provider payment, and care delivery system reforms has the potential to slow health care cost increases while achieving near-universal coverage. The potential savings for families, businesses, and the federal government vary markedly, however, depending on whether or not a public insurance plan option is included and how such a plan is structured, according to a new analysis from The Commonwealth Fund.

The Commonwealth Fund and Consumers Union: Put People Front and Center in Health Reform

June 11, 2009 - The Commonwealth Fund and Consumers Union will come together today for an event in Washington, D.C. to highlight the need for health reform that will provide security and stability for millions of people struggling to get the health care they need and describe how a patient-centered health care system would make a difference for them.

Out-Of-Pocket Health Care Costs Rise For Workers With Employer Coverage

June 2, 2009 - The 161 million Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance are facing substantial increases in out-of-pocket (OOP) costs, according to a study published today on the Health Affairs Web site. URL here

The study, authored by researchers from the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) and Watson Wyatt Worldwide and funded by The Commonwealth Fund, examines trends in the comprehensiveness of employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) from 2004 to 2007. It finds rising rates of underinsurance and unaffordability, particularly for poorer and sicker people.

Massachusetts Has Sustained Coverage and Access Gains from Landmark 2006 Reforms

May 28, 2009 - Even in the face of economic hard times, Massachusetts has sustained gains in insurance coverage and access to care stemming from its landmark 2006 health reform and coverage expansion. However, some of the early gains in reducing barriers to care and improving the affordability of care had eroded by the fall of 2008, roughly two years after the Bay State began implementing the legislation signed into law by Gov. Mitt Romney in April 2006.

States to Pursue New Integrated Care Approaches for Dual Eligibles

May 21, 2009 - As the nation debates health reform options, the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) is launching Transforming Care for Dual Eligibles, a state initiative to test innovative care models for people who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid ("dual eligibles").

Physicians Can Lead Health Care Reform Through Payment and Delivery System Reforms Linked to Guaranteed 1.5 Percent Annual Savings in Health Care Costs and Health Coverage for All

May 20, 2009 - Physicians can and should play a leading role in achieving health care reform by working towards comprehensive reform of the way health care is paid for and delivered, helping achieve a guaranteed 1.5 percent annual savings in health care costs that would pay for covering all Americans, according to a New England Journal of Medicine Perspective piece published online today.

Physician Practice Interactions with Health Plans Cost $31 Billion a Year, Equaling 6.9% of All Spending for Physician and Clinical Services, New Study Finds

May 14, 2009 - As policymakers consider ways to cut health costs as a part of health reform, a new national survey of physician practices finds that physicians on average are spending the equivalent of three work weeks annually on administrative tasks required by health plans. According to the study by Lawrence P. Casalino, M.D., Ph.D., of Weill Cornell Medical College and colleagues, physician practices report that overall the costs of interacting with insurance plans is $31 billion annually and 6.9 percent of all U.S. expenditures for physician and clinical services. The study, published in today’s online issue of Health Affairs, was co-funded by The Commonwealth Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization (HCFO) Initiative.

Elderly Medicare Beneficiaries Give Their Coverage Higher Ratings Than Do Those With Employer Sponsored Insurance

May 12, 2009 - Elderly Medicare beneficiaries are more satisfied with their health care, and experience fewer problems accessing and paying for care, than Americans with employer-sponsored insurance (ESI), according to a study by Commonwealth Fund researchers published today on the Health Affairs Web site.

Seven of 10 Women Are Uninsured or Underinsured, Have Medical Bill or Debt Problems, or Problems Accessing Care Because of Cost, New Study Finds

May 11, 2009 - Women are more likely than men to feel the pinch of rising health costs and eroding health benefits, with about half (52%) of working-age women reporting problems accessing needed care because of costs, compared to 39 percent of men, a new Commonwealth Fund study finds.

New National Initiative To Transform Safety-Net Clinics Into Medical Homes In Five States

May 6, 2009 - The Commonwealth Fund, in collaboration with eight co-funders, is launching a national Safety Net Medical Home Initiative, which will provide $6 million dollars over four years to help 68 community health centers in five states transform into patient-centered medical homes. Health centers in Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Pennsylvania will be given technical assistance, training, and ongoing support in order to improve how they deliver care to patients, including better coordinated care, enhancing access to care, improving doctor-patient interactions, and implementing quality improvements.

Extra Payments to Medicare Advantage Plans to Total $11.4 Billion in 2009, or More Than $1,100 Per Enrollee

May 4, 2009 - Private Medicare Advantage (MA) plans will be paid $11.4 billion more in 2009 than what the same beneficiaries would have cost in the traditional Medicare fee-for-service program, according to a new report released today by The Commonwealth Fund. This new analysis, The Continuing Costs of Privatization: Extra Payments to Medicare Advantage Plans Jump to $11.4 Billion in 2009, estimates that since MA was enacted in 2004, $43 billion in extra payments have been made.

New Survey: Health Care Cost Growth Can Be Slowed; Payment Reform, Negotiating Prescription Drug Prices Seen as Potential Solutions

April 27, 2009 - Health care leaders believe the U.S. must rein in the growth of health spending, and most believe it is possible to keep the share of gross domestic product (GDP) now spent on health care steady over the next 10 years.