The amount of money the United States spends on health care is astronomical, as Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel writes in today’s The New York Times. But is it money - $2.6 trillion in 2010 - well spent?
According to Emanuel, the United States spent about $8,000 per person on health care in 2010. That’s roughly 35 percent more than other countries with high health care bills.
“The truth is, the United States is not getting 20 or 30 percent better health care or results than other countries,” Emanuel said in the article. “While there are peaks of greatness, especially at some of America’s leading academic health centers and in integrated health care plans, the quality is uneven.”
I wrote a summary of health care systems in other countries for USA TOAY in 2009 that really drove this point home. The United States spent more on health care than any other country I could get information on, but had the shortest life expectancy, highest infant mortality rate, and the highest amount of people who wanted to completely change the system.
“Even if you do not like comparing the United States with Europe, it is widely acknowledged that within the United States there is no clear link between higher spending on health care and longer life, less disability or better quality of life,” writes Emanuel.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services uploads an updated list of Special Focus Facilities (SFF) to its website every month. Special Focus Facilities are nursing homes “that (a) have had a history of serious quality issues and (b) are included in a special program to stimulate improvements in their quality of care.”
The program aims to better homes by subjecting them to a more stringent review process. However, critics say the program only stretches what limited resources states have.
The SFF program operates under the assumption that all states are created equal when it comes to poor performing nursing homes. However, in 2009 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that found the contrary.
“Under GAO’s estimate…the most poorly performing homes are distributed unevenly across states, with 8 states having no such homes and 10 others having from 21 to 52 such homes,” said the report.
The SFF program allows for each state to have at least one SFF on the list, except Alaska, which is exempt.
According to the GAO, “CMS limits the SFF Program to 136 nursing homes nationwide (fewer than 1 percent of nursing homes) at any point in time because of resource constraints.”
Criticism aside, the list is still a valuable resource to see which homes tend to be the most poorly performing in a given state.
I went through the PDF list and created a quick Google Fusion Table for you to take a look at. You can find it below, or a larger version here.
Red: Homes that are not improving
Blue: Homes showing some improvement
Yellow: Homes recently added to the list
Green: Recent graduates of the SFF program
Purple: Homes no longer part of the Medicare or Medicaid programs
I haven’t learned anything new about what the federal exchange would look like.— A state insurance official told reporters after a closed-door meeting yesterday. Alina Selyukh of Reuters has the complete story.
Good morning to all of you in my tumblrdom. Here is a quick look at what I’m reading this morning.
- The New York Times looks at what cutting Medicare and Medicaid payments does to providers and beneficiaries. http://nyti.ms/rq8v44
- The Associated Press, by way of The Washington Post, examines President Obama’s proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. http://wapo.st/qHXEaj
- The Health and Human Services spending bill doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon, reports The Hill. http://bit.ly/n4oVAt
- USA TODAY explains what Senior Medical Patrols are. http://usat.ly/ovTO4v
- The new Health Care Cost Institute brings together medical claim information from some of the U.S.’s largest insurers to identify trends, reports Bloomberg. http://bloom.bg/rotMeT
- The Los Angeles Times reports on the grants states are getting to help oversee health insurers. http://lat.ms/ob9NA2
- Why doesn’t President Obama invite Secretary Sebelius to play basketball? TIME’s Amy Sullivan writes about President Obama’s “woman problem.” http://ti.me/pOsy2e