Health Policy Updates: January 27 2018

Kentucky is set to begin imposing health literacy requirements in order to maintain Medicaid eligibility.

“For one thing, many Americans, not just those who seek Medicaid, struggle with health and financial literacy. And to some, literacy quizzes — however well intentioned — evoke the tests used to impede voting registration of black Americans in the Jim Crow South.”

The Health Cost Institute put out a report this week, tracking health care prices and utilization in recent decades. The report has come under some criticism for failing to adjust for different types of utilization (as in, new drugs, better imaging, etc.) over time, but I think it still generally tells an important story of stable health care utilization, but increasing health care prices.

New research this week in the New England Journal reached some troubling conclusions about the 340B drug discount program. In particular, it appears that it has failed in its goals of promoting the care of the underserved, and instead driven health care consolidation as providers seek to capitalize on the very lucrative administration of oncology drugs.

“We found no evidence of hospitals using the surplus monetary resources generated from administering discounted drugs to invest in safety-net providers, provide more inpatient care to low-income patients, or enhance care for low-income groups in ways that would reduce mortality. These results suggest hospital responses that are contrary to the goals of the program and have a number of important policy implications.”


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