The United States ranks last among 16 high-income, industrialized nations when it comes to deaths that could potentially have been prevented with timely access to effective health care, according to a Commonwealth Fund–supported study that appeared online in the journal Health Policy. According to the analysis, other nations lowered their preventable death rates an average of 31 percent between 1997–98 and 2006–07, while the U.S. rate declined by only 20 percent, from 120 to 96 per 100,000. At the end of the decade, the preventable mortality rate in the U.S. was almost twice that in France, which had the lowest rate—55 per 100,000.
New U.S. Census data show that the number of people without health insurance climbed to 49.9 million in 2010, up from 49 million in 2009. In a recent blog post, The Commonwealth Fund's Sara R. Collins, Tracy Garber, and Karen Davis point out that the Census report also shows a reversal in the decade-long increase in the number of young adults without health insurance: about 500,000 more young adults had insurance coverage in 2010, compared with 2009. This change is likely attributable to the Affordable Care Act, which requires health plans to let young adults under age 26 stay on or join their parents' health plan.
In 2010, the U.S. Veterans Health Administration (VA) launched a program to create patient-centered medical homes in more than 900 primary care clinics over a three-year period. This case study examines the VA's initiative and profiles implementation efforts in two clinics, one in Memphis, Tenn., and another in Lincoln, Neb.
Scotland is the first country in the world to mandate a structured safety improvement program for its whole health care system. As described in a new post by Derek Feeley and David Steel, the Scottish Patient Safety Program aims to reduce mortality by 15 percent and patient harm by 30 percent by the end of 2012.
A recently updated post looks at states' efforts to pass legislation enabling them to form health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act; it includes a map showing the range of states' legislative actions.
In the latest issue of Purchasing High Performance, CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D., describes the Partnership for Patients program to reduce medical errors, infections, and other instances of harm as well as avoidable hospital readmissions. Also included: a case study showing how one business saved money by focusing on high-risk individuals, plus a look at the growing trend among small businesses to self-insure.
The Affordable Care Act seeks to strengthen Medicaid's primary care capacity by raising provider payment rates for 2013 and 2014. A Commonwealth Fund–supported initiative, led by the Center for Health Care Strategies, will involve six states in efforts to leverage the payment increase to drive improvements in care. The six states are Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island.
Margaret McDonald, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, "Using Care Transitions Measure to Assess Home Care Patients' Experiences of Their Recent Hospital Discharges"
Ashley-Kay Fryer, Michelle M. Doty, and Anne-Marie Audet, M.D., The Commonwealth Fund, "Opportunities for Small and Medium Practices to Increase Their Capacity to Provide Patient-Centered, High Quality Care Through Shared Resource Models"
Julia Berenson, The Commonwealth Fund, "The Role of the Medical Home for Vulnerable Populations: Opportunities to Reduce Health Disparities"
The Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy is designed to prepare physicians for leadership roles in promoting health policies and practices that improve access to high-quality care for minority, disadvantaged, and vulnerable populations. The application deadline for the 2012–13 fellowship is January 3, 2012. For more information, please visit: http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Fellowships/Minority-Health-Policy-Fellowship.aspx.
The mission of The Commonwealth Fund is to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society's most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults.