Health Policy Research Roundup

Urban Institute: Estimating the Cost of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities – In this brief, researchers analyze the cost burden associated with excess rates of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke and renal disease among Hispanics and African Americans relative to non-Hispanic whites. The study predicts that in 2009, "Medicare alone will spend an extra $15.6 billion while private insurers will incur $5.1 billion in additional costs due to elevated rates of chronic illness among African Americans and Hispanics." The researchers also estimate that "[o]ver the 10-year period from 2009 through 2018 … the total cost of these disparities [will be] approximately $337 billion, including $220 billion for Medicare" (Waidmann, 9/22).

Annals of Internal Medicine: Ambulatory Care Among Young Adults in the United States – Using cross-sectional data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, researchers examined ambulatory care utilization among adults, ages 20 to 29 years. Despite young adults being "the most likely age group to be uninsured and have the highest prevalence of substance abuse, motor vehicle accidents, and sexually transmitted diseases," the researchers conclude, "Young adults use less ambulatory medical care relative to other groups and infrequently receive preventive care directed at the greatest threats to their health" (Fortuna, Robbins and Halterman, 9/15).

Health Affairs: Containing Costs And Improving Care For Children In Medicaid And CHIP – This study examines the overall distribution of spending for children in Medicaid/CHIP as measured by the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. The study found: "Ten percent of enrollees (two-thirds of whom have a chronic condition) account for 72 percent of the spending" whereas "30 percent of enrolled children," who are disproportionately African American, "receive little or no care" over a twelve-month period. "These results highlight the importance of cost containment strategies that reduce avoidable hospitalizations among children with chronic problems and policies that increase preventive care, particularly among African American children," the authors write (Kenney, Ruhter, and Selden, 9/17).

Kaiser Family Foundation: Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program Provisions: America's Affordable Health Choices Act & America's Healthy Future Act – This brief examines provisions related to Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the House Tri-Committee bill and Senate Finance Committee bill compared to current law (9/22).

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Cost Savings and Cost-Effectiveness of Clinical Preventive Care -- This report evaluates the economic evidence for investing in preventative care as indicated in cost-effectiveness literature. The authors conclude: "Based on the literature synthesized in this report, there are relatively few clinical preventive interventions for which there is strong evidence of cost savings. Moreover, many preventive interventions that do save money are already in widespread use (e.g., childhood immunizations), thus limiting the potential for additional savings. For these reasons, it is unlikely that substantial cost savings can be achieved by increasing the level of investment in clinical preventive measures. On the other hand, this review has shown that many preventive measures deliver substantial health benefits given their costs" (Cohen and Neumann, Sept. 2009)

Children's National Medical Center: In a policy statement  scheduled to appear in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics, a team of pediatric emergency medicine specialists and other health experts point to a IOM report that found only 6 percent of U.S. hospital emergency departments are fully equipped to properly care for children even though children account for more than 20 percent of all emergency room visits. The authors make "recommendations for appropriate equipment, training, medications, and policies for pediatric emergency care," according to a Children's National Medical Center description of the policy statement (9/21).

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