Weekly roundup of health policy news and research

The internet says that email newsletters are experiencing a “renaissance,” and the internet is never wrong. At any rate, I’ve decided to start one, capturing the top headlines and research of the week. It isn’t intended to be a TIE roundup—though TIE links will surely find their way into it.

Interested? You can subscribe here. I’ve pasted content from the first newsletter below.



2015 is the year we all decided to care a lot about one university modestly tweaking health benefits. Read Robert Pear’s Harvard story, if you haven’t already. My thoughts, grounding Harvard in the expansive tangle that is employer-sponsored coverage, are here.

Harvard’s benefits guide points to the ACA as a culprit for the changes, but is that right? Gaming out premium growth at different levels, the numbers don’t add up—Harvard isn’t likely to face the Cadillac tax until the late 2020s. (Other benefit requirements are unlikely to change much in already generous large-employer plans.)

Steven Brill’s new book America’s Bitter Pill was released Monday. Malcolm Gladwell’s review at The New Yorker is the most thorough I’ve seen. Only just started the book myself, so I’m not sure yet whether I agree with Gladwell. Brill went on The Daily Show to promote.

The House passed a bill that would redefine “full-time work” for the employer mandate. This is bad policy: CBO estimates it would induce a far greater number of employers to drop coverage, increasing the ranks of the uninsured by 500,000 and increasing federal deficits by $53.2 billion over ten years, as more people collect subsidies. President Obama promised to veto any such legislation that crosses his desk.

More red states are eyeing Medicaid expansion under waiver. Texas hasn’t taken an “alternative” expansion totally off the table, though it remains a long shot. Utah and Tennessee are the other two states that seem to be on deck.

2014 was the biggest jobs-growth year in the health care sector since 2008. Today’s report also has non-health employment up to pre-recession levels, after seven years.



The January issue of Health Affairs* is out and full of interesting stuff—too much to cite here. Link takes you to the table of contents.

Implications of a Supreme Court Finding for the Plaintiff in King vs. Burwell: 8.2 Million More Uninsured and 35% Higher Premiums (RWJF/Urban Institute)

Viewpoint: The Role of Private Payers in Payment Reform* (JAMA)

Effect of Medicare’s Nonpayment for Hospital-Acquired Conditions: Lessons for Future Policy (JAMA)

Effect of Expanding Medicaid for Parents on Children’s Health Insurance Coverage Lessons From the Oregon Experiment* (JAMA) — Parent’s randomization to Medicaid increased children’s odds of coverage.

A Prospective Examination of Whether Childhood Sexual Abuse Predicts Subsequent Sexual Offending* (JAMA) — The evidence says no.

* Content behind paywall

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