Ken Thorpe's blog

Family Caregivers: Unsung Heroes of Healthcare in America

November 6, 2014

About half of all adults in the U.S. —117 million people— have one or more chronic health conditions, and one in four adults is struggling daily with two or more chronic conditions. Though biomedical innovation has enabled many with chronic illness to live longer and better lives, those with more debilitating conditions often rely heavily on family members and other loved ones to provide daily care and support. All year, but particularly during National Caregiver Month, we applaud the millions of family caregivers for their dedication and recognize the critically important roles they play in healthcare in America. According to the Caregiver Action Network, two in five adults in the U.S. are caring for a sick or disabled loved one, and these caregivers provide $450 billion worth of unpaid care each year.

Scrutinizing Adherence Must Not Be Short Sighted

August 11, 2014

Considering how critical taking medications as prescribed is to managing chronic diseases effectively, it should be no surprise that improving patient adherence to medicines can deliver great value. This truth makes the conclusions of an article in Health Affairs’ about declining medication adherence rates in Medicare Part D particularly troubling.

Quantifying Quality in Healthcare

November 20, 2013

As a supporter of efforts to promote health and wellness by preventing and better managing chronic diseases, and accordingly, policy efforts to align financial incentives, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) believes that managing healthcare costs and improving quality are and should be pursued as complementary goals. Encouraged by increased discussion on quality measures among policymakers, the PFCD sees several issues critical to achieving patient-centered, value-driven care.

Exploring Opportunities to Improve Outcomes and Reduce Costs Among the Growing Aging Population

March 1, 2013

This week, I was invited to testify on Capitol Hill in front of the Senate Special Committee on Aging in a hearing to discuss “Strengthening Medicare for Today and the Future.” Called to explore the possibilities for protecting the Medicare program without shifting costs or cutting benefits, the hearing provided an opportunity to underscore several concepts that were raised at the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease’s (PFCD) event in December, “Medicare & Health Care Savings: Can Entitlement Reforms Help to Bridge the Gaps for Healthy Aging.”

The Long-term Approach to Entitlement Reform

December 14, 2012

With all of the rhetoric about entitlement reform, both sides are debating the best way to cut Medicare. Rarely discussed in these conversations, though, is what the short-term and long-term impact will be to the patient.

Addressing the health needs of individual patients

In an earlier post in this space, I noted that the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease is supportive of the mission of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). In fact, I noted that PCORI could do important and necessary work by devoting resources to a better understanding of the millions of Americans who have multiple chronic diseases.

NCDs Check-up Convened to Empower Collaboration and Motivate Change

October 18, 2012

I had the opportunity to join an esteemed panel of health care and policy experts at The Washington Post this week for a panel event “The Check-up: Noncommunicable Diseases,” to revisit issues addressed last September at the United Nations summit on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The panel included a variety of thought leaders gathered to identify the progress made over the last year and highlight the projects yielding the greatest success.

Affordable Care Act Upheld

July 3, 2012

Last week the Supreme Court of the United States released their greatly anticipated ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act that was passed in 2010.

The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, including the provision of the individual mandate that requires all Americans to buy insurance or face a penalty. The law was upheld with a vote of 5-4, Chief Justice Roberts being seen as the key swing vote to secure the majority.

Obesity Projections for 2030 Demand Solutions to Control Chronic Diseases and Health Care Spending

May 10, 2012

A new study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine presented at the CDC’s Weight of the Nation conference projects that 42 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030.  This projection is in line with the findings of my 2009 study that showed that a large portion of the increase in health care spending is attributable to obesity.

Evidence Based Care Coordination CAN Work in Medicare

January 31, 2012

In light of the recent summary from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), “Lessons from Medicare's Demonstration Projects on Disease Management, Care Coordination, and Value-Based Payment” there has been some short-sighted reporting on the findings of the demonstrations that have left some impressions that I feel need correcting. The solid and growing evidence base around care coordination - the vast majority of which was not included in CBO's document - shows that well-designed programs do work to both improve outcomes and lower costs.

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