The Commonwealth Fund Connection

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

Achieving Medicare and Medicaid Savings Through Health System Improvement
new blog post by The Commonwealth Fund's Karen Davis and Stuart Guterman looks at three options for achieving Medicare and Medicaid savings: cutting eligibility and benefits, trimming payments, and ensuring that beneficiaries get the right care. And in his invited testimony this week before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health, Guterman discussed how the Independent Payment Advisory Board, created under the Affordable Care Act, can help focus attention on controlling health care spending throughout the health system.
Health Care Spending and Quality in Year 1 of the Alternative Quality Contract
This Commonwealth Fund–supported study evaluated the Alternative Quality Contract, a global payment system for health care providers developed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts to replace fee-for-service reimbursement. The researchers found that the contract was associated with modestly lower medical spending and improved quality of care in its first year of use.
Administrative Compensation for Medical Injuries: Lessons from Three Foreign Systems
Several countries, including New Zealand, Sweden, and Denmark, have replaced litigation with administrative compensation systems for patients who experience an avoidable medical injury. Such "no fault" schemes enable patients to file claims for compensation without using an attorney. Read a brief and listen to a new podcast about these approaches, featuring interviews with author Michelle Mello, The Commonwealth Fund's Tony Shih, and former Harkness Fellow Marie Bismark.
State Health Insurance Exchanges: New Regs and Resources
This week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its new proposed regulation providing states guidance on establishing new health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. To learn more about the insurance exchanges, read the updated blog post on state progress by The Commonwealth Fund's Sara Collins and Tracy Garber. There's also a new resource page with additional Fund blog posts, publications, and webinars.
An Early Look at a Four-State Initiative to Reduce Avoidable Hospital Readmissions
The authors of this Commonwealth Fund–supported article report on the State Action on Avoidable Rehospitalizations (STAAR) initiative at the midpoint of the four-year mobilization effort to reduce 30-day rehospitalization rates in Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington. STAAR is fostering partnerships among hospitals and their community-based partners to improve provider communication at critical transitions in patient care.
What Other States Can Learn from Vermont's Bold Experiment: Embracing a Single-Payer Health Care Financing System
Vermont's newly passed single-payer health care financing law will produce annual savings of 25.3 percent compared with current spending, cut employer and household spending by $200 million, create 3,800 jobs, and boost the state's overall economic output by $100 million, according to this Commonwealth Fund–supported study.
Reinventing Medicaid: State Innovations to Qualify and Pay for Patient-Centered Medical Homes Show Promising Results
This Commonwealth Fund–supported article in Health Affairs focuses on 17 states that are aligning medical home standards with incentive payments to support primary care reform.
New Commonwealth Fund News Feeds and Widget

The Commonwealth Fund has made available new topic-based RSS feeds and the ability to select topics, such as Affordable Health Insurance and Patient-Centered Care, to create a custom feed. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a format for sharing and distributing Web content. Using an RSS reader or aggregator, you can view data feeds from sites such as The Commonwealth Fund that offer headlines, summaries, and links to the full text.

You can also now embed a Commonwealth Fund news widget on your blog or Web site to display the latest Fund releases on your site.

Explore My Commonwealth Fund
Through My Commonwealth Fund, you can manage your subscriptions, publicly comment on Web content, and save content to your personal library for easy reference. Visit your Profile page.
2012–13 Harkness Fellowships Open to Applicants
The Commonwealth Fund's Harkness Fellowships in Health Care Policy and Practice provide a unique opportunity for mid-career professionals—academic researchers, government policymakers, clinicians, managers, and journalists—to spend up to 12 months in the United States conducting a policy-oriented research study. The fellowships are open to applicants from Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. The deadline for receipt of applications is September 12, 2011. For details and the application form, please visit http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Fellowships/Harkness-Fellowships.aspx.