The Commonwealth Fund Connection

The Commonwealth Fund Connection is as a roundup of recent Fund publications, charts, multimedia, and other timely content. 

Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Last month, Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in recognition of her outstanding contributions to her profession and to society. As a member, she joins the company of John Adams, the founder, Albert Einstein, Margaret Mead, and many others.

NASHP Seeks Proposals from States to Link Children's Primary Care Providers with Other Providers
The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) seeks proposals from state Medicaid agencies to participate in a three-year project to improve state capacity to strengthen linkages between pediatric primary care providers and providers of assessment and treatment services that address developmental needs. Part of The Commonwealth Fund’s Assuring Better Child Health and Development Initiative (ABCD), this project seeks to improve developmental outcomes and children’s readiness to learn and to prevent the need for more intensive and expensive care at a later age. Visit http://abcd.nashpforums.org/abcd-rfp to download the Request for Proposals and other information.
New Guidelines to Reduce Disparities and Provide Patient-Centered Care
The National Quality Forum, an organization dedicated to improving health care quality, has endorsed 45 practices to guide health care systems in providing care that is culturally appropriate and patient-centered. The practices cover such issues as communication, community engagement and workforce training and provide systems with practices they can implement to help reduce persistent disparities and create higher-quality, patient-centered care. The project was funded by The California Endowment and The Commonwealth Fund.
Health Care Opinion Leaders Views on Slowing the Growth of Health Care Costs
Nearly all respondents to the latest Commonwealth Fund/Modern Healthcare Health Care Opinion Leaders Survey agree that the U.S. must rein in the growth of health care spending, and most believe it is possible to hold the current percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) devoted to health care steady over the next decade. In addition, large majorities expressed support for a range of strategies to reduce costs, including many of those outlined in President Obama’s budget blueprint. Also available are two related commentaries, Uniquely American Solution by Karen Ignagni, CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, and Change the Microenvironment by Francis J. Crosson, M.D., senior fellow at the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy.
Increasing Participation in Benefit Programs for Low-Income Seniors

Commonwealth Fund review of the literature shows that some of the most vulnerable Americans, low-income seniors, do not participate in benefit programs for which they are eligible. The two major obstacles to enrollment are lack of knowledge about public benefit programs and the complexity of application and enrollment processes.

Measuring Efficiency: The Association of Risk-Adjusted Hospital Costs and Quality of Care
This Commonwealth Fund–supported study in Health Affairs found that low-cost hospitals had modestly lower scores on process-of-care measures for two common heart conditions, compared with higher-cost facilities. Strategies are needed to ensure that care is both high quality and low cost in all hospitals, the authors said.
Progressive or Regressive? A Second Look at the Tax Exemption for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Premiums

Limiting the current tax exemption on employer-sponsored health insurance premiums could adversely affect individuals who are already at high risk of losing their health coverage, according to this Commonwealth Fund analysis. Evidence suggests that capping the exemption could disproportionately affect workers in small firms, older workers, and wage earners in industries with high expected claims costs.

Reducing Rehospitalizations Q&A
During the April 2 Commonwealth Fund webinar, "Reducing Rehospitalizations: A National Priority," panelists outlined effective national, state, and facility-level strategies to redesign care delivery and payment methods to foster reduction in rehospitalization rates. Because there was not enough time to answer all questions during the 60-minute event, Steve Jencks, M.D, M.P.H., and Mark V. Williams, M.D., F.A.C.P., have answered participant questions in a published Q&A.
National Medicare Readmissions Summit
Sponsored by HealthTech and Harvard Health Policy Review, the National Medicare Readmission Summit will take place June 1–2, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. It will also be streamed live on the Web. Commonwealth Fund Quality Improvement and Efficiency vice president Anne-Marie J. Audet, M.D., M.Sc., is among the presenters. For more information, go to www.ReadmissionsSummit.com or e-mail registration@hcconferences.com.
The Commonwealth Fund on Twitter
The Commonwealth Fund has joined Twitter. Follow us at www.twitter.com/commonwealthfnd for updates.
Webcast on Public Insurance Plan Option
A May 1 webcast in the "Talking Health" series, presented by the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), The Commonwealth Fund, and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, focused on one of the most controversial aspects of the health reform debate: whether employers and individuals should have the option to obtain health insurance through a public plan that is similar to Medicare. It featured two health policy experts: Cathy Schoen, senior vice president for research and evaluation at The Commonwealth Fund, and Bruce M. Bullen, chief operating officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Two journalist experts, Noam Levey, a reporter in the Washington Bureau of the Los Angeles Times, and Ceci Connolly, a staff writer at the Washington Post, offered their insights and suggestions for reporters covering what will be a major story in the coming months. The archived webcast is now available.
The Continuing Cost of Privatization: Extra Payments to Medicare Advantage Plans Jump to $11.4 Billion in 2009
Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have, for the past six years, been paid more for their enrollees than they would be expected to cost in traditional fee-for-service Medicare. Payments to MA plans in 2009 are projected to be 13 percent greater than the corresponding costs in traditional Medicare—an average of $1,138 per MA plan enrollee, for a total of $11.4 billion, according to this Commonwealth Fund update.