Brown University researchers have found that the increasing use of hospice care at the end of life has increased health care spending. That’s contrary to what experts expected.
Hospice is for patients with a terminal illness who are ready to forgo more aggressive treatments. It’s supposed to be less expensive. But Brown University researcher Pedro Gozalo says the numbers tell a different story. He found more people entering hospice, staying longer, and driving up costs. Gozalo said he supports the use of hospice care.
In 2013, the top prescribed drug for Rhode Islanders with Medicare drug plans was Omeprazole, a treatment for heart burn, ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Health care providers wrote about 190,000 prescriptions for it.
(Reminder: Medicare is the health benefit plan for people over the age of 65 or disabled adults.)
That's followed by atorvastatin calcium (brand name Lipitor), used for lowering cholesterol - prescribed to 27,000 individuals.
A rising tide lifts all boats. That’s the finding of a Brown University researcher who investigated whether hospital quality improvements brought better care for minority patients as well as white.
Brown University professor Amal Trivedi wanted to know if improved standards at hospitals have helped all patients equally. Medicare asked hospitals to start reporting certain quality measures in 2005. Trivedi said that at that time, there were significant disparities between the care whites and minorities got at hospitals around the country.
My recent story about the high cost of new hepatitis C treatments focused on the difficulty of deciding who gets these new drugs now and who has to wait. That's because, while new drugs like Sovaldi and Harvoni (both made by Gilead) promise to cure a lot of people, they're so expensive we simply couldn't afford to treat everyone who's infected right now.