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In The Spotlight

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Issue Brief -- Cost Drivers in Health Care

Almost two dozen factors are contributing to the high cost of health care, according to a new issue brief from the Alliance. To download, click here.

Drafted by Jack Ebeler of Health Policy Alternatives and supported by a grant from Eli Lilly, the four-page publication divides the drivers into three groups: national demographic and economic factors, determinants of the health of individuals and societies, and health system factors.

Among the demographic and economic factors, the paper notes that as a country’s national per capita income goes up, so does per capital health spending. Similarly, the mix of diseases in a population and the relative health of the population can produce marked differences in health spending from one country to the next.

Factors determining the health of individuals and societies can make a big difference in health spending the paper reminds us. It’s well known that a person’s diet and exercise level can affect the person’s health. But the person’s surroundings matter too. Exposure to contagious disease, toxic hazards, a dangerous working environment and violence can drive up health costs. In addition, women and men have differing health care experiences over a lifetime – differences that can affect costs.

The bulk of the cost drivers cited in the issue brief fit under the "health system factors" umbrella. These include the supply of health care providers (the greater the supply, the greater the spending). Consolidation among providers dampens competition and can cause price increases. Our present fragmented health care delivery system leads to inefficient care and duplication of services, the paper notes.


Toolkit: Emergency Preparedness in the U.S.: The Ebola Threat

Is the U.S. prepared for a potential virulent pandemic? This new Alliance toolkit examines public health infrastructure, funding and policy levers that deal with these kinds of health crises in America.

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Mike Leavitt Video: Consolidation and Control-The Evolving Health Care System

Mike Leavitt, chairman of Leavitt Partners and former HHS secretary, addresses the aggressive repositioning of players in the evolving health care system in a new Alliance for Health Reform video.

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Telemedicine Toolkit: The Promise and Challenges

The integration of technology and health care is on the rise. Although evidence shows that telemedicine has improved access to health care and resulted in lower costs in rural and underserved areas, challenges to expansion include reimbursement policies and acceptable security measures. A new Alliance for Health Reform Toolkit, “Telemedicine: The Promise and Challenges,” addresses the effectiveness of telemedicine as a tool for communication, as well as the expected outcomes and challenges ahead.

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Toolkit on Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS)

The aging of the baby boomers and the increase in the number of old-old persons (those 85 and older) are predictors for the increasing need for long-term services and supports (LTSS). Among persons age 65 and over, an estimated 70 percent will use LTSS. A new Alliance for Health Reform toolkit, “Long-Term Services and Supports: Changes and Challenges in Financing and Delivery,” provides a background on LTSS and discusses policy issues surrounding the topic.

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Experts Discuss Workplace Wellness Programs

In a new interview video, Karen Pollitz, senior fellow, private insurance and health reforms, The Kaiser Family Foundation and Dan Newton, vice president, product/solutions development and behavior economics, Anthem Care Management discuss the impact of workplace wellness programs. They address questions about regulations and program design and analyze the scope of wellness programs.

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Alliance Search for New CEO

WASHINGTON, DC (Aug. 3) – Edward F. Howard, founding executive vice president and CEO of the Alliance for Health Reform in Washington, DC, will retire in March 2016. A nationwide search is underway for his successor.

Over the years, the Alliance has presented hundreds of seminars on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, has organized briefings for reporters around the country and has prepared dozens of issue briefs and “toolkits,” as well as a series of highly-regarded sourcebooks for reporters on health policy topics.

Dr. Robert Graham, Chairman of the Board, noted that the search for a new CEO is being coordinated by Association Strategies of Alexandria, Va. Those interested in learning more about this opportunity should email or call 703/ 683-0580. You can also view the position profile on their website. The deadline for applications is Monday, October 12. 

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Position Profile

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Toolkit on Biosimilars

The Alliance for Health Reform has released a new toolkit, “Biosimilars: Unpacking Complex Issues.”

The Affordable Care Act created an expedited licensure pathway for biosimilars, and, in March 2015, the U.S. approved the first biosimilar, leaving policy makers, regulators, providers and stakeholders to grapple with regulatory and financial questions.

Biosimilars are similar – but not identical – to biologic drugs, and cost less. Unlike traditional pharmaceuticals, biologic drugs are derived from living organisms and tissues, making them more complex and expensive to produce.

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