By now the benefits of Medicaid expansion are well known. In addition to providing health coverage to millions of Americans, it has helped create new health care jobs, decrease hospitals’ spending on uncompensated care, and generate budget savings for states. But another benefit is often overlooked: Medicaid expansion can help improve the quality of health care and reduce costs throughout a state’s entire health care system, not just in Medicaid.
Black History Month inspires us to celebrate the rich history, achievements, and contributions of African Americans in our nation, as well as the hard work that remains to dismantle racism and achieve true racial equality. We agree with Dr. King that fighting injustice in health care is an urgent civil rights issue central to achieving our shared dream of peace, prosperity, and equality for our children. But it is clear that a focus on health care alone will not achieve health equity for African Americans.
In early January, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation announced its first program focused on addressing a patient’s social needs. This 5-year, $157 million pilot program, called Accountable Health Communities, will try to bridge the gap between clinical and social services, testing whether addressing these needs can improve health, lower costs, and improve quality for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
Americans spend more money per capita on health care than any other country, yet there is little evidence to suggest that we get a higher quality of care for that extra money. Indeed, far too often, Americans receive substandard quality of care. So, what can we do about it? In order to improve health care, we need to be able to measure its effectiveness.
Measuring the quality of health care can improve care for consumers in five ways:
Almost everyone will be faced with the need to make a critical decision about treatment for a disease or medical condition at some point in our lives. If you’re diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease, for example, you’ll want to make sure that you get the best care possible. In that moment, many will ask: What’s the right treatment option for me?
The answer to that question may not be as simple as we might like or expect. Medical evidence is the foundation for determining what works and for whom in health care and informing decision making.
States are leading the way in improving how health care is paid for and delivered. Consumer advocates are integral to these reform efforts. Their participation can help ensure that reforms protect and improve consumers' access to high-quality care. While advocates often find it difficult to get involved in these discussions, the State Innovation Model (SIM) grant program gives consumer advocates an opportunity to weigh in on reforms in their states.
Across the country, states are experimenting with new health delivery models aimed at strengthening primary care and addressing social service needs that can affect a patient’s overall health. Both community health workers and enrollment assisters can serve an important role in this work by connecting clients with services that enable them to access care and manage their health.
If the Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs who brought the case, an estimated 6.4 million moderate-income people would lose premium tax credits. Without these subsidies, many people will simply be unable to afford to purchase health insurance.
Dr. Mary Williard, a mother and a dentist working in Alaska Native communities, describes how our broken dental care system brought her adopted daughter into her life for the first time. And, how an innovation she has made her life's work could change the way we provide dental care to the millions in the United States, like her daughter, who have suffered without it.
In just 10 years, dental therapists in Alaska have been able to expand dental care to 40,000 people here who couldn’t get that care before. They are so effective because they work with dentists as part of a team to bring dental care to communities that dentists can’t get to very often.