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Reading the Stars: Nursing Home Quality Star Ratings, Nationally and by State

This issue brief presents national and state-level analysis of nursing homes based on the Five-Star Quality Rating System, recently updated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to help consumers compare nursing homes when selecting one for themselves or their family members. The issue brief finds that more than one-third (36%) of the nation’s 15,500 nursing homes certified by Medicare or Medicaid received relatively low ratings of 1 or 2 stars (out of a possible 5 stars). In 11 states, at least 40 percent of nursing homes in the state have 1- or 2-star ratings. In 23 states, however, at least half of the nursing homes have 4- or 5- star ratings. This issue brief discusses relevant policy considerations regarding nursing home quality—a serious issue in light of the vulnerability of the nursing home population and recent reports of problems arising from inadequate staffing, fire safety hazards, and substandard care.

Public vs. Private Health Insurance on Controlling Spending

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman analyzes whether public or private health insurance does a better job of controlling costs. All previous columns by Drew Altman are available online. 

Medicare 101: What You Need To Know

Hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Alliance for Health Reform, this briefing reviewed basic questions about the Medicare program, such as: What services does Medicare provide, and how does Medicare pay for these services? How is Medicare financed? What changes did the Affordable Care Act (ACA) make to Medicare? How fast is Medicare spending growing? What are current proposals to strengthen Medicare for the future, and what are prospects for action in the new Congress?

Income-Related Premiums in Medicare: Who Pays, and How Much Do They Pay?

Since 2007, seniors with incomes greater than $85,000 have had to pay higher premiums for Medicare than their counterparts with lower incomes.  Six percent of Medicare Part B enrollees are expected to pay higher monthly premiums in 2015, ranging from $147 to $336, depending on their income.  Lawmakers on Capitol…

Poverty Among Seniors: An Updated Analysis of National and State Level Poverty Rates Under the Official and Supplemental Poverty Measures

This brief presents data on poverty rates among seniors, as context for understanding the implications of potential changes to federal and state programs that help to bolster financial security among older adults. The analysis presents national and state-level poverty rates among people ages 65 and older, based on two measures from the U.S. Census Bureau, using data from the 2014 Current Population Survey (CPS): the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure.

Dual Eligible Demonstrations: The Beneficiary Perspective

This issue brief provides insights about initial implementation of the financial alignment demonstrations from the perspective of dual eligible beneficiaries in Massachusetts, Ohio, and Virginia, based on 12 individual interviews conducted in early 2015. Profiles of six beneficiaries are presented to illustrate representative program experiences, along with key findings from across all of the interviews.

What’s In and What’s Out? Medicare Advantage Market Entries and Exits for 2016

This Issue Brief examines the availability of Medicare Advantage plans nationwide and by state in 2016, and tracks changes in plan availability since 2012. It documents the number and share of Medicare Advantage enrollees affected by plan withdrawals each year, the characteristics of plans that will be entering or exiting the market in 2016, and the potential implications of these changes for Medicare Advantage enrollees.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.