The MedPAC Blog

  • Meeting highlight: hospital consolidation and its implications for Medicare

    by MedPAC Staff | Nov 15, 2016
    At its November public meeting, the Commission held a session to discuss hospital consolidation and its implications for the Medicare program. The Commission has been tracking trends in provider consolidation, Medicare and private insurer payment rates, and provider costs for many years. In this post, we pull together a variety of analyses from MedPAC and others for a comprehensive backgrounder on hospital consolidation and Medicare.
    Full post
  • MedPAC presents new marginal cost analysis

    by MedPAC Staff | Dec 21, 2015
    This year, in addition to its traditional margin calculation, the Commission is considering a new aspect of the relationship between Medicare payments and providers’ costs: Medicare payments relative to providers’ marginal costs, i.e. marginal profit.
    Full post
  • Models for preserving access to emergency care in rural areas

    by MedPAC Staff | Nov 24, 2015
    The Commission has consistently stated that rural beneficiaries’ access to emergency services needs to be preserved. Since January 2013, there have been 41 hospital closures in rural counties and rural parts of urban communities. While some closures reflect excess capacity in areas, in other cases, the closed hospital has been the sole emergency room in the area. It is both the concern over maintaining access to care and concerns over inefficiencies in the current delivery system that motivated the Commission’s October session on preserving rural access to emergency services.
    Full post
  • BLS hospital price data should be used with caution

    by MedPAC Staff | Jul 24, 2015
    This post points out some technical caveats when using BLS hospital price data. These technical issues may explain the divergence between BLS data and the pricing data reported by insurers and hospitals for their privately insured patients. We will discuss technical issues with three different BLS measures of hospital price inflation.
    Full post
  • The hospital readmission penalty: How well is it working?

    by MedPAC Staff | Mar 24, 2015
    The hospital readmission reduction program (HRRP), established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, has helped to reduce hospital readmissions. Since the introduction of the HRRP, readmission rates have fallen for Medicare beneficiaries across all types of hospitals, including those seeing higher shares of poor patients.
    Full post
  • Hospital Costs: What to Make of Them

    by MedPAC Staff | Dec 11, 2014
    Each year during its update process (read this post for more on that), the Commission examines Medicare’s payments to hospitals for inpatient and outpatient care. As part of this analysis, MedPAC compares Medicare’s payments to hospitals’ costs to determine a Medicare “margin.” For several years, these margins have been negative, indicating that on average, Medicare’s payments are less than hospitals’ costs. Some would argue that negative margins are an indication that Medicare needs to increase its payments to cover hospital costs. A different way to think about the issue is to ask whether hospitals’ costs have to be as high as they are and whether hospitals have the ability to control costs. Said differently, we wondered, “Are hospital costs immutable?”
    Full post
  • Upcoming: MedPAC's Annual Payment Updates

    by MedPAC Staff | Dec 02, 2014
    At our November meeting, we had a session on beneficiary access to hospital services, which was the first part of MedPAC's yearly work on payment updates. Here’s an explainer on why we do this work and what it entails...
    Full post

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