Blog Entries: January 2012 and Earlier

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Achieving Equity in the Health System: The Commonwealth Fund's Vulnerable Populations Program

January 31, 2012 - Vulnerable populations have more difficulty obtaining health care, receive worse care, and experience poorer health outcomes than other groups. This blog post looks at the new Vulnerable Populations program, which aims to help achieve equity in the U.S. health system.

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Bending the Health Care Cost Curve: New Era in American Health Care?

January 18, 2012 - Health care spending in 2009 and 2010 grew at the slowest rates in 50 years. This startling news was largely attributed to the shrinking economy. In a new blog post, Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis suggests that lower longer-term projections point to a shift in the health system.

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How the Affordable Care Act Supports a High-Performance Safety Net

January 16, 2012 - This post describes the Affordable Care Act provisions that will help safety-net providers promote coordination and integration of care, capitalize on investments in the capacity of the safety net, and understand and adapt to upcoming changes to safety net financing and payment.

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Are Safety Net ACOs a Good Idea? Views from Key Stakeholders

January 16, 2012 - To examine how safety-net health systems might participate in ACOs and other innovative payment and delivery system reforms, the National Academy for State Health Policy interviewed several key stakeholders about what is needed to promote ACOs in the safety net.

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The Bundled Payment for Care Improvement Initiative: Achieving High-Value Care with a Single Payment

January 07, 2012 - The Commonwealth Fund's Mark Zezza, Stuart Guterman, and Jennie Smith review the Bundled Payment for Care Improvement Initiative,a three-year project beginning in 2012, that will allow physicians, hospitals, and post–acute care providers to receive bundled payments as a way of supporting the delivery of efficient and high-value care.

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Essential Health Benefits: Balancing State Flexibility with Consumer Protections

December 20, 2011 - In a new blog post on the HHS's proposed approach to minimum coverage standards, Sara Collins says it will be critical that HHS balance the desire of states and health insurers to determine what benefits are included with the law’s intended goal of providing consumers and employers with comprehensive health insurance coverage options.

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Going Mobile: Integrating Texting and Online Tools into Health Care Delivery

December 14, 2011 - Innovative uses of information technology in public health campaigns can expand access to preventive and chronic care for underserved populations and may even improve health outcomes while reducing costs. Programs in New Zealand and the Netherlands may offer lessons for the United States.

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The Aftermath of the Super Committee: What Will It Take to Reduce Federal Health Spending?

December 12, 2011 - At the December 2 Alliance for Health Reform briefing, "Inside Deficit Reduction: What Now?," a panel of experts with diverse perspectives discussed the potential impact on health policy of the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to reach agreement on a plan to reduce the federal deficit.

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Final Regulation on Medical Loss Ratio Reporting and Rebates: Good for Consumers

December 08, 2011 - Last week HHS issued final regulations governing the Affordable Care Act’s medical loss ratio (MLR) requirements on the percentage of enrollees' premiums that health plans spend on medical care versus administration and profits. This post addreses where the rule came down on the MLR calculation, rebates, exceptions, and more.

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Zooming in on Health System Performance: The Interactive Map

December 07, 2011 - The Commonwealth Fund's benchmarking and quality improvement tool,, has just launched a new version of its interactive map that displays comparative performance information—on health care quality and safety, outcomes, and patient experiences—at the national, state, hospital referral region, and county levels.

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Controlling Costs Across Health Systems: The Commonwealth Fund 2011 International Symposium on Health Care Policy

December 05, 2011 - The Commonwealth Fund's Robin Osborn reports on international symposium, which brought together health ministers and leading policy thinkers from across the industrialized world to explore ways of achieving a sustainable high-performing health care system.

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The Innovation Center at One Year: Much Progress, More to Be Done

November 29, 2011 - The Commonwealth Fund's Mark Zezza, Melinda Abrams, and Stuart Guterman review the Innovation Center's first year and highlight areas for future development and consideration.

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Is the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan Working?

November 22, 2011 - A recent government report on the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan program found overall enrollment is lower than projected, and that total enrollment in the 24 federally administered programs is much lower than in the 27 programs administered by states. Jean Hall looks at the true drivers of enrollment.

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Making Sense of Multiple Delivery System Reform Efforts

November 17, 2011 - The list of efforts under way to improve health care delivery way is impressive. The Commonwealth Fund's Anthony Shih says these efforts are synergistic strategies moving us toward a more organized delivery system.

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Better Health, Better Care, and Lower Costs for All Americans: The Affordable Care Act

November 14, 2011 - HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius on some of the ways that Americans are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act and how the law is helping to control health care costs.

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