Top 10 Milbank Memorial Fund Publications of 2020

While 2020 was a year like no other, in keeping with our tradition, we’ve compiled our top 10 most-read publications of the year. (This list doesn’t include Milbank Quarterly articles.)  Half of the top pieces address the COVID-19 response, such as lessons learned from nations like Australia and states like Washington.  Other publications consider the value of payment reform for supporting primary care or meeting social needs, the decline in life expectancy, and the implications of California’s Sutter Health settlement for other states seeking to fight the effects of health care provider consolidation.

1. What the US Could Learn from Australia’s COVID-19 Response

In the United States, state governments have struggled to coordinate with the federal government on a coherent COVID-19 response. In this blog post, Anne-marie Boxall of the University of Sydney suggests that the United States look to Australia — another federation in which the powers of government are divided between the federal government and smaller state, territory, or county governments — for ideas.

2. How Payment Reform Could Enable Primary Care to Respond to COVID-19

The University of Colorado’s Stephanie Gold and Larry A. Green and the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care’s John M. Westfall make the case for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implement risk-adjusted, prospective primary care payments now to enable all practices to meet better people’s needs.

3. California’s Sutter Health Settlement: What States Can Learn About Protecting Residents from the Effects of Health Care Provider Consolidation

Journalist Rob Waters examines the lawsuit against Sutter Health filed by a group of large payers and later joined by California Attorney General and incoming US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. Experts say that the settlement provisions — which include ending its “all-or-nothing” practice of requiring health plans to contract with all Sutter hospitals and facilities if they want access to any Sutter facility — could change the health care market there.

4. Community Health Workers: Developing Standards to Support These Frontline Workers During the Pandemic and Beyond

In this blog post, Shreya Kangovi, executive director of the Penn Center for Community Health Workers, and Margaret O’Kane, president of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, explain that to scale up the use of community health workers, policymakers will need professional standards to ensure quality and to serve as guardrails for federal funding.

5. On the Front Lines of COVID-19: A Blueprint for Health and Human Services from Washington State

Washington State reported the first COVID-19 case in the United States last January. In this issue brief, Susan Birch and MaryAnne Lindeblad of the Washington State Health Care Authority, which oversees care for 2.5 million Medicaid beneficiaries and public employees, and State Representative Eileen Cody outline the major initiatives taken and the lessons learned as of its April 2020 publication.

6. The Impact of COVID-19’s Closure of Meal Sites on Older Adults

COVID-19 has led to the restricted access and closing of senior centers and churches, many of which offer group meals through a federal–state nutrition program for older adults. In this blog post, Brown University’s Emma Tucher and Kali Thomas explain that the closure of these sites, which provide meals for more than 1.5 million people over age 60 each year, will likely have harmful effects on the health and well-being of their participants.

7. Change for Longer Life Expectancy

In this View from Here blog post, Milbank Memorial Fund President Christopher F. Koller reflects on state-level variation in changes in life expectancy and the improvements seen in some states. He speculates about which state policies might affect life expectancy—and proposes that all of our social policies should contribute to that goal.

8. Marrying Value-Based Payment and the Social Determinants of Health through Medicaid ACOs: Implications for Policy and Practice

Medicaid programs are experimenting with two vital trends in health policy: value-based payment and interventions to address social determinants of health, such as housing and transportation. How can they best be coordinated? In this report, Brown University’s Elizabeth Tobin-Tyler and Benjamin Ahmad analyze the policy levers that states are employing through their Medicaid accountable care organizations (ACOs) to encourage ACO providers to address unmet social needs.

9. Maryland’s Innovative Primary Care Program: Building a Foundation for Health and Well-Being

The Maryland Primary Care Program (MDPCP) was launched in 2019 by the state’s Department of Health in collaboration with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to strengthen primary care in the state. This issue brief by MDPCP’s Chad Perman, Robert Patterson, and Howard Haft, describes the program’s evolution and core components.

10. Uniquely Similar: New Results from Maryland’s All-Payer Model and Paths Forward for Value-Based Care

In 2014, Maryland implemented its All-Payer Model establishing a global budget for hospitals with the aim of lowering costs and improving quality and access. Five years later, CMS released an evaluation of this model. In this issue brief, Mark Japinga and Mark McClellan of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy discuss the evaluation’s generally positive results and explore its implications for other states that want to accelerate the adoption of new payment models.