Health Policy Center Authors
Publications by Judy Feder for Health Policy Center
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More about Judy Feder's areas of expertise can be found on this Urban Institute expert's page.
Narrow Provider Networks in New Health Plans (Research Report)
Sabrina Corlette, JoAnn Volk, Robert A. Berenson, Judy Feder
Consumers choosing health insurance plans inside and outside the new marketplaces may face a tradeoff: narrower provider networks may lower premiums, but they may also limit access to care or increase out-of-pocket costs. This policy brief assesses the benefits and risks of policy options open to federal and state policymakers now reviewing requirements for plans' network adequacy. The authors find that no single policy can achieve the appropriate balance between insurers' flexibility to negotiate with providers and consumers' confidence that plans will deliver on promised benefits. Accordingly, the authors call on policymakers to protect consumers with a combination of regulatory standards, up-to-date information to facilitate consumer choices, and active monitoring of plans' actual performance.
Health Homes in Medicaid: The Promise and the Challenge (Research Brief)
Barbara A. Ormond, Elizabeth Richardson, Brenda Spillman, Judy Feder
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health care providers and insurers are actively engaged in payment and delivery reform. Much of this reform focuses on integrating primary care and other aspects of health care. Medicaid Health homes, and option to states under the ACA, aims to improve the integration of physical health care needs with the broad range of mental health and social needs for high-cost, high-needs Medicaid beneficiaries. This brief draws on findings from Urban Institute's five-year evaluation of this new model of care, exploring the concept, as well as the challenges that must be overcome to achieve the desired results.
The Inevitability of Disruption in Health Reform (Policy Briefs/Timely Analysis of Health Policy Issues)
Concern about even modest disruption of existing health insurance coverage by the ACA regenerates the belief that "there's got to be a better way" to make coverage available, adequate and affordable. But this brief shows that disruption is inevitable in any health reform and that the ACA's disruption is remarkably limited—far less than single payer proposals on the left or market-based proposals on the right. Further, unlike even many narrowly targeted reform alternatives, the ACA improves the pooling of risk that is essential to effective insurance.
Bundle with Care - Rethinking Medicare Incentives for Post-Acute Care Services (Commentary)
Based on experience with payment for Medicare post-acute care services, Judy Feder argues that a shared-risk-and-savings approach to these services may be the best strategy for promoting Medicare's efficiency without undermining quality and access to care. Medicare already bundles skilled-nursing-facility (SNF) services into "days," and home-health-agency (HHA) services into "episodes." These bundles have generated high and varied profits that appear to have far more to do with skimping on care and avoiding costly patients than with efficiency in care delivery. In a service area with weak patient classification mechanisms and quality norms, a payment approach in which savings and risk are shared - a hybrid of a fee-for-service system and one providing rewards for spending reductions - will achieve a better balance of cost, quality, and access than a system of single bundled payments, at least until our capacity to measure patients' care needs and outcomes is sufficiently robust.
Financing Medicare and Medicaid (Testimony)
Judy Feder, Paul Van de Water
Continuing to slow health cost growth is essential; but Medicare and Medicaid are not in crisis. Recent per beneficiary cost growth has slowed so significantly that CBO has dramatically reduced its spending projections for the coming decade. In Medicare, refinement of existing payment mechanisms alongside payment reform can produce additional savings. But as the elderly population doubles over the coming decades, a balanced deficit-reduction package must include new revenues The alternative, changing entitlement structures through vouchers or block grants (or adopting an overly ambitious savings target that could produce the same results), would undermine essential protections and shift or even increase health care costs.
Implications of the Affordable Care Act for American Business (Policy Briefs)
Linda J. Blumberg, Matthew Buettgens, Judy Feder, John Holahan
Updated results from our Health Insurance Policy Simulation model show that, contrary to critics' claims, the law has a negligible impact on total employer-sponsored coverage and costs, leaves large business costs-per-person-insured largely untouched and makes small businesses-for whom coverage expands the most-financially better off, through tax credits and market efficiencies that lower premiums. Only among mid-size businesses does the ACA noticeably increase costs, largely due to increased enrollment. Our simulation does not reflect ACA cost containment provisions that may contain private as well as public cost growth-potentially slowing the decline of employer-sponsored health insurance that has been occurring for more than a decade.
Why Premium Support? Restructure Medicare Advantage, Not Medicare (Policy Briefs)
Judy Feder, Stephen Zuckerman, Nicole Cafarella Lallemand, Brian Biles
Premium support proponents argue that replacing public insurance with vouchers to purchase private (or public) coverage will harness market forces to contain costs. But the debate often ignores traditional Medicare's administrative efficiency, purchasing power and the rewards to risk selection that accompany competition among plans. We show that despite Medicare Advantage (MA) plans' success in enrolling beneficiaries, they have been unsuccessful in lowering costs. Except in 15 percent of counties, MA costs per beneficiary exceed costs for traditional Medicare. Fiscal prudence warrants limiting MA payments to 100 percent of traditional Medicare costs, while keeping payments to MA plans below traditional Medicare in the highest cost counties.
Protecting High-Risk, High-Cost Patients: "Essential Health Benefits," "Actuarial Value," and Other Tools in the Affordable Care Act (Policy Briefs/Timely Analysis of Health Policy Issues)
Lisa Clemans-Cope, Linda J. Blumberg, Judy Feder, Karen Pollitz
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will dramatically improve the nongroup and small group health insurance markets for everyone in them, including the high-risk population. But insurance reforms, guided by requirements for minimum or "essential health benefits," insurance plan actuarial value and other tools provided by the ACA, are and will remain a work in progress. This analysis suggests the way these tools-working together and reevaluated over time-can most effectively ensure that ACA implementation progresses toward the goals of adequate and affordable insurance protection, especially for the highest-need, highest cost patients.
The Individual Mandate in Perspective (Policy Briefs/Timely Analysis of Health Policy Issues)
Linda J. Blumberg, Matthew Buettgens, Judy Feder
The "individual mandate"-the requirement that individuals either have health insurance coverage or pay a fine-is both the best known and the least popular component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That people know about the mandate-and may even worry about it-is not surprising, given both the heated political controversy and the constitutional challenge surrounding this provision of the law. What may be surprising, however, is that if the ACA were in effect today, 94 percent of the total population would not have to newly purchase insurance or pay a fine. While a small number of people would be affected by the individual responsibility requirement, the overall benefit to the population would be large, in terms of reducing premiums and increasing stability of insurance markets.
The Case Against Premium Support (Summary)
Judy Feder, Paul Van de Water, Henry J. Aaron
Proposals to replace traditional Medicare with "premium support"-or vouchers for the purchase of private insurance or, in some cases, Medicare-have once again emerged on the political agenda. This critical commentary on the Rivlin/Domenici proposal (markedly similar to the Ryan/Wyden proposal) finds much wanting in premium support—in particular, that Medicare already provides benefits more equitably and at lower cost than private insurance; that without "regulatory teeth", premium support would actually create coverage inequities and increase costs; and that implementation of the Affordable Care Act's payment and other Medicare reforms, not Medicare replacement, ought to be the nation's top priority in controlling overall health costs. These remarks were presented at a Brookings Institution forum on December 16, 2011.