Regulatory Policy

Title Date
Did Medicare Advantage Payment Cuts Affect Beneficiaries Access and Affordability?

    DISCUSSION The ACA’s cuts to MA payments were expected to reduce the attractiveness of MA to both plans and beneficiaries, primarily through reductions in rebates, thereby decreasing enrollment in the MA plan program.7-9 Instead, MA enrollment steadily increased as the ACA was implemented. Prior research indicates that MA plans…

Limiting Tax Breaks for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: Cadillac Tax vs. Capping the Tax Exclusion

NIHCR Research Brief No. 20

Among the most expensive "but nearly invisible" federal expenditures is the roughly $250 billion1 annual tax break for employer-sponsored health insurance. Under current law, the value of both employer and most employee contributions for health insurance are excluded from employee federal income tax and employer and employee payroll taxes. While…

Health Reform 2.0: Alternate State Waiver Paths Under the Affordable Care Act

NIHCR Research Brief No. 19

State leaders interested in reforming their health care systems face a dilemma. Every state’s health care system is utterly dependent on funding flows from federal health programs and subsidies in the federal tax system, but federal programs, in some cases, run counter to state political cultures and priorities. Section 1332…

Cutting Medicare Hospital Prices Leads to a Spillover Reduction in Hospital Discharges for the Nonelderly

Health Services Research

Objective. To measure spillover effects of Medicare inpatient hospital prices on the nonelderly (under age 65). Primary Data Sources. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Inpatient Databases (10 states, 1995-2009) and Medicare Hospital Cost Reports. Study Design. Outcomes include nonelderly discharges, length of stay and case mix, staffed hospital bed-days,…

Accountable Care Organizations 2.0: Linking Beneficiaries

JAMA Internal Medicine

There is broad consensus among physicians, hospital and health insurance leaders, and policy makers to reform payment to health care providers so as to reduce the role of fee for service, which encourages high volume, and instead to use systems that reward better patient outcomes, such as bundled payments for…

How Do Hospitals Cope with Sustained Slow Growth in Medicare Prices?

Health Services Research, Early View

Objective. To estimate the effects of changes in Medicare inpatient hospital prices on hospitals’ overall revenues, operating expenses, profits, assets, and staffing. Primary Data Source. Medicare hospital cost reports (1996–2009). Study Design. For each hospital, we quantify the year-to-year price impacts from changes in the Medicare payment formula.We use cumulative simulated price impacts as…

Contrary to Cost-Shifting Theory, Lower Medicare Hospital Payment Rates for Inpatient Care Lead to Lower Private Payment Rates

Health Affairs, Vol. 32, No. 5

Many policy makers believe that when Medicare constrains its payment rates for hospital inpatient care, private insurers end up paying higher rates as a result. I tested this “cost-shifting” theory using a unique new data set that combines MarketScan private claims data with Medicare hospital cost reports. Contrary to the…

Achieving Health Care Cost Containment Through Provider Payment Reform that Engages Patients and Providers

Health Affairs, Vol. 32, No. 5

The best opportunity to pursue cost containment in the next five to ten years is through reforming provider payment to gradually diminish the role of fee-for-service reimbursement. Public and private payers have launched many promising payment reform pilots aimed at blending fee-for-service with payment approaches based on broader units of…

Small Employers and Self-Insured Health Benefits: Too Small to Succeed?

HSC Issue Brief No. 138

Over the past decade, large employers increasingly have bypassed traditional health insurance for their workers, opting instead to assume the financial risk of enrollees’ medical care through self-insurance. Because self-insurance arrangements may offer advantages—such as lower costs, exemption from most state insurance regulation and greater flexibility in benefit design—they are…

Addressing Hospital Pricing Leverage through Regulation: State Rate Setting

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 9

Although U.S. health care spending growth has slowed in recent years, health spending continues to outpace growth of the overall economy and workers’ wages. There are clear signs that rising prices paid to medical providers—especially for hospital care—play a significant role in rising premiums for privately insured people. Over the…

The Growing Power of Some Providers to Win Steep Payment Increases from Insurers Suggests Policy Remedies May be Neededuggests Policy Remedies May be Needed

Health Affairs, Vol. 31, No. 5

In the constant attention paid to what drives health care costs, only recently has scrutiny been applied to the power that some health care providers, particularly dominant hospital systems, wield to negotiate higher payment rates from insurers. Interviews in twelve US communities indicated that so-called must-have hospital systems and large…

Limited Options to Manage Specialty Drug Spending

HSC Research Brief No. 22

Spending on specialty drugs typically high-cost biologic medications to treat complex medical conditions is growing at a high rate and represents an increasing share of U.S. pharmaceutical spending and overall health spending. Absence of generic substitutes, or even brand-name therapeutic equivalents in many cases, gives drug manufacturers near-monopoly pricing power…

State Benefit Mandates and National Health Reform

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 8

From requirements that insurers cover prescription drugs to services of chiropractors, state health benefit mandates have a long and controversial history. Critics contend mandates drive up health insurance costs, while advocates assert they ensure access to important care. The 2010 national health reform law requires states to pay for mandated…

Promoting Healthy Competition in Health Insurance Exchanges: Options and Trade-offs

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 6

Under national health reform, new federal rules will govern the nongroup and small-group health insurance markets, including a requirement for state-based health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, to be operational by Jan. 1, 2014. Between now and then, both the federal government and states must make key decisions about the design…

Reforming Provider Payment—The Price Side of the Equation

New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 365, No. 14

It's pretty basic economics: spending equals price times quantity. For some time, public health care payers, such as Medicare and Medicaid, have focused much of their cost-containment effort on constraining the prices they pay for health care services, which they set administratively. The Affordable Care Act includes additional constraints on…

Spending to Save—ACOs and the Medicare Shared Savings Program

New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 364, No. 22

While criticism that the government set the bar too high for accountable care organizations (ACOs) has been fast and furious, the proposed rule for the Shared Savings Program is a wake-up call that Medicare is serious about achieving better care for individuals, better health for populations and lower growth in…

Health Care Certificate-of-Need (CON) Laws: Policy or Politics?

NIHCR Research Brief No. 4

Originally intended to ensure access to care, maintain or improve quality, and control capital expenditures on health care services and facilities, the certificate-of-need (CON) process has evolved into an arena where providers often battle for service-line dominance and market share, according to a new qualitative research study from the Center…

Ginsburg Testifies Before Joint Senate and House Committees in Maryland on Hospital Rate Setting


Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D., HSC President and research director of the National Institute for Health Care Reform, testified before a joint hearing of the Maryland Senate Finance Committee and House Health and Government Operations Committee on hospital rate setting. Access Ginsburg's testimony

Ginsburg Testifies Before the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy


Paul B. Ginsburg, Ph.D., HSC president and research director of the National Institute for Health Care Reform, testified before the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services, Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, on health care spending trends.

Episode-Based Payments: Charting a Course for Health Care Payment Reform

NIHCR Policy Analysis No. 1

As consensus grows that true reform of the U.S. health care system requires a move away from fee-for-service payments, designing alternative payment methods, including episode-based payments, has emerged as a high priority for policy makers. An episode-based payment approach would essentially bundle payment for some or all services delivered to…