HCP Advisory Board Meeting Presents Research Results, Identifies New Challenges

June 3, 2016
HMS Health Care Policy logo Gordon Hall
In April 2016, the HCP advisory board sat down with department members to hear about recent research and strategize goals for the department. The theme for this meeting was primarily an update of several important policy issues related to changes in payment but also included mention of several new and ongoing studies. 
Barbara McNeil began the meeting by discussing the impact and accomplishments of the faculty as well as new communications endeavors within the department and developments in big data. She outlined how HCP has contributed to major national health policy debates and will continue to effect policy. 
Joseph Newhouse and Bruce Landon reported on their research with colleagues at HCP comparing Medicare Advantage and Traditional Medicare. Newhouse assessed how recent changes in plan payment methods and rules for beneficiary switching between the sectors affected the distribution of health cost risks between Medicare Advantage and Traditional Medicare. Data show that while some favorable selection into Medicare Advantage remains, the magnitude has diminished. 
Landon presented results comparing utilization and quality between Medicare Advantage and Traditional Medicare. Objective quality measures from claims and subjective measures from patient experience both tend to favor Medicare Advantage. Patterns of cost and utilization also indicate higher efficiency in Medicare Advantage overall compared to Traditional Medicare. Future research will add comparisons of the new Accountable Care Organizations to the Medicare Advantage-Traditional Medicare comparisons. 
David Grabowski presented his planned research on poor decision-making in aging populations, specifically around Medicare Part D plan selection. Grabowski plans to study the current CMS plan finder tool, and how it may be improved with clearer, more intuitive information. This research, in collaboration with new post-doctoral fellow Brian McGarry, will hopefully lead to future projects in this area in collaboration with industry partners. 
Timothy Layton, who is a newly-appointed assistant professor at HCP, explained his work in and focus on Medicaid Managed Care, which is a relatively new research area for the department. Layton described the research opportunities in Medicaid Managed Care and presented preliminary analysis using data on Medicaid recipients in New York City who were randomly assigned to managed care plans.
Anupam Jena described his research on physician characteristics that influence quality and costs of care. He first presented his work on how spending impacts the value of care, and indicated that higher spending doctors may have lower mortality rate for their patients. He also discussed his studies of how physician experience influences patient outcomes among general internists.  
Finally, Ateev Mehrotra laid out the structure and methodology of the Essentials course, hosted by Mehrotra and Haiden Huskamp. The course, which is part of the HMS Pathways program, follows the same values of combining clinical and traditional medical teaching with an emphasis on self-directed learning. Essentials covers the role of insurance in medicine, organization, spending, growth, and quality measurement. Medical student Kirstin Woody Scott spoke about what she learned from the course.