Health Care

Health Care

Research

Bradley Herring, Erin Trish | Feb 2016
At least 70 percent of the recent slowdown in healthcare spending can likely be explained by long-standing patterns in healthcare spending related to changes in income, insurance, and provider market characteristics.
Joseph V. Gulfo, Jason Briggeman, Ethan Roberts | Feb 02, 2016
Despite rapidly advancing technology and patients’ increasing desire to try new drugs and devices, the FDA has strayed significantly from the statutorily defined safety and effectiveness standards for drug approvals. The FDA now very often demands proof of clinical utility, including survival and disease outcomes, as a requirement for premarket approval.
Brian Blase | Nov 19, 2015
A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University examines the reasons behind the ACA exchanges’ failure to meet widespread expectations. The study explains the likely impact of this failure on health insurance prices and risk pool stability, bringing into question the law’s future prospects of survival without significant revisions.
James C. Capretta, Joseph Antos | Oct 27, 2015
Proponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have frequently pointed to official cost estimates projecting that the law will reduce federal budget deficits. Much less attention has been paid to the primary reason for this favorable outlook: the law’s heavy reliance on indexing important provisions to restrain spending and increase revenue. These components of the ACA will automatically impose perpetual, across-the-board cuts on payments to certain institutional medical providers; increase premiums for lower-income households; and raise taxes on an ever-expanding segment of taxpayers.
Richard Williams, Robert Graboyes, Adam Thierer | Oct 21, 2015
A new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University shows why the current system of medical device approval discourages technological innovation and ultimately affects patient choice. The approval process could be improved by introducing competition for approval—a process that already exists in the European Union.
Roger Feldman, Bryan Dowd, Robert Coulam | Oct 08, 2015
A new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University assesses the numerous problems with Medicare’s price calculations and looks at how they affect prices in commercial insurance policies. The study proposes an arrangement of competitive bidding on bundles of services as a promising alternative to Medicare’s price-fixing regime.

Testimony & Comments

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Expert Commentary

Feb 05, 2016

With the results now in from the Affordable Care Act’s third open enrollment period, it’s getting increasingly difficult to sugarcoat the extremely low numbers of enrollees relative to original projections. The 12.7 million people who signed up for an exchange plan amounts to just half as many enrollees as was projected by government and private sector research organizations when the ACA passed.
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Feb 02, 2016

Our best information remains that the ACA, by expanding Medicaid as well as other subsidized insurance, didn’t merely shift more of the burden of funding existing health care costs to taxpayers– it actually increased those costs.
Feb 02, 2016

Six years after enactment, the ACA remains a law very much in turmoil. Beyond the widely reported website problems, many of the law's fundamental institutions — individual exchanges, SHOP exchanges, co-ops, mandates — are failing to perform as expected.
Jan 26, 2016

Occupational licensing laws are ubiquitous in the health care labor market. A recent report from the White House suggests that more than 80 percent of all health care practitioners are licensed. Occupational licensing laws require workers in a particular health care field to pass exams, complete minimum levels of schooling and pay fees before they're eligible to practice.
Jan 22, 2016

Insurers in the exchange have reported that customers appear to be gaming the new system — not just by signing up when they need care, but by then dropping it. As a result, the largest insurer in the country, UnitedHealth, is talking about withdrawing from the exchange in 2017, leading some to wonder if the whole system will collapse.
Jan 19, 2016

The decision states face of whether to expand Medicaid to non-disabled, working-age, childless adults—the Affordable Care Act (ACA) primary expansion population— involves tradeoffs. These tradeoffs include higher taxes, reduced spending on items like education, transportation, or infrastructure, or reduced spending on other Medicaid populations such as the disabled, children, or the elderly. The ACA funding formula allows states to pass a much greater share of the costs of covering non-disabled childless adults to federal taxpayers, but the tradeoffs still exist.

Charts

The ACA contains indexing provisions that are set to automatically reduce federal payments for health services or increase tax revenues every year into the future. CBO estimates show that the ACA will reduce future deficits by about 1.0 percent of GDP in the decade beyond the current 10-year budget window (roughly 2026–2035). This projection assumes uninterrupted implementation of the ACA’s aggressive indexing adjustments, but historical precedent tells us that these indexing measures will not be implemented as stated. The first chart below estimates, based on reasonable adjustments to the implementation of the indexing provisions, the presumed second decade deficit reduction of 1.0 percent of GDP will be eliminated and the ACA will start to increase the federal deficit.

Experts

Charles Blahous is the director of the Spending and Budget Initiative, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and has served as a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare. He specializes in domestic economic policy and retirement security (with an emphasis on Social Security), as well as federal fiscal policy, entitlements, demographic change, and health-care reform.
Robert Graboyes is a senior research fellow and healthcare scholar with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and is the author of the study “Fortress and Frontier in American Health Care.” He earned his PhD in economics from Columbia University. An award-winning teacher, Graboyes holds teaching positions at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia.
Christopher J. Conover is an affiliated senior scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a research scholar at the Center for Health Policy & Inequalities Research at Duke University.
Jerry Ellig is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a former assistant professor of economics at George Mason University. He specializes in the federal regulatory process, economic regulation, and telecommunications regulation.
Michael L. Marlow is an affiliated senior scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and professor of economics and distinguished scholar at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Podcasts

Brian Blase | January 13, 2016
Brian Blase considers the president’s Affordable Care Act claims in the State of the Union.

Upcoming Events

Feb 18, 2016
Please join us for a lunch discussion on the ways Obamacare isn’t working as planned, what may happen with the law under a new Congress and president, and ideas for improving health care policy.

Recent Events

Join Mercatus senior health care scholar Brian Blase, senior regulatory fellow Patrick McLaughlin, & senior budget reform fellow, Jason J. Fichtner, for a Capitol Hill Campus that will showcase Mercatus resources & explore how congressional staff can more effectively use our research.

Books

| Sep 29, 2015
In a new set of essays commissioned by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, seven leading policy experts share innovative ideas on how to solve the pre-existing condition challenge. While their approaches exhibit differences as well as similarities, they are unified in their pursuit of a humane, equitable, fiscally sustainable solution to a conundrum that has driven and strained the entire post–World War II healthcare debate.

Media Clippings

Casey B. Mulligan | Oct 09, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in The Washington Times.
Robert Graboyes | Sep 25, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in Reuters.
Charles Blahous | Jun 04, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in CQ and also appeared Roll Call.
Robert Graboyes | Jan 29, 2014
Robert Graboyes cited at Star-Telegram.
Tyler Cowen | Oct 30, 2013
Tyler Cowen cited at The Washington Post.
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