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The AARP Public Policy Institute focuses on issues of critical importance as we age. Below we highlight research, analysis, background and commentary on Medicare.

Culture of Health Initiative

AARP Well-Being ChampionsSM

When it comes to catalyzing a Culture of Health in America’s communities, creative solutions are emerging to promote well-being. As a means of fostering that trend, the AARP Public Policy Institute has launched a Culture of Health initiative to champion change across America in the areas of health and well-being. Meet a group of 10 leaders who saw a challenge before them in their own communities and responded. Read

Recent Analysis

Using Telehealth to Improve Home-Based Care for Older Adults and Family Caregivers

This paper describes the consumer perspective on the value of telehealth and the current policy concerns with this avenue of health care delivery. This consumer perspective is provided by AARP’s Public Policy Institute on behalf of older adults and their family caregivers. Read

Off-Label Antipsychotic Use in Older Adults with Dementia: Not Just a Nursing Home Problem

This Spotlight is based on an analysis of administrative claims data from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse. In our sample of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries ages 65 and older with dementia living in the community, antipsychotic (AP) use increased by 6% between 2012 and 2015, from 12.6% to 13.4%. Read

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Provides Benefits for Millions of Adults Ages 50 and Older

This fact sheet provides an overview of the SNAP program’s eligibility criteria and provides state-level data on benefits, household composition, and participation for SNAP households with older adults. Read

How Big is the Problem of Low-Value Health Care Service Use?

This Spotlight describes the use of low-value health care services by private plan enrollees age 50+. Read

Rx Price Watch Report: Trends in Retail Prices of Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans: 2006 to 2015

The latest Rx Price Watch report by Leigh Purvis and Dr. Stephen W. Schondelmeyer finds that retail prices for widely used prescription drugs increased, on average, between 2006 and 2015. In 2015, retail prices for 768 brand name, generic, and specialty prescription drugs widely used by Medicare beneficiaries increased by an average of 6.4 percent. In contrast, the general inflation rate was 0.1 percent over the same period. Read

Medicare Spends More on Socially Isolated Older Adults

Studies have shown that socially isolated older adults are at greater risk for poor health and death than their well-connected counterparts. Now a new study—the first to examine whether social isolation also affects health care spending among older adults—finds that a lack of social contacts among older adults is associated with an estimated $6.7 billion in additional Medicare spending annually. Read

Implantable Medical Devices: A closer look at issues related to regulatory oversight and cost

Implantable devices, like cardiac pacemakers and artificial hips, are a central part of medical treatment today. As the population has aged and technology has advanced, the range of implantable devices and the number that are being inserted in people have increased dramatically. As a result, AARP’s Public Policy Institute is taking a closer look at issues related to the regulatory oversight and cost of these devices. Read

Prescription Drug Abuse among Older Adults

Prescription drug abuse is a serious and growing public health problem, and older adults are not immune to the growing problem. This Insight on the Issues examines age-related differences in prescription drug misuse, describes various challenges unique to the older population and offers broad recommendations to address those challenges. Read

Rx Price Watch Report: Trends in Retail Prices of Specialty Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans: 2006 to 2015

The latest Rx Price Watch report by Leigh Purvis and Dr. Stephen W. Schondelmeyer finds that retail prices for widely used specialty prescription drugs increased, on average, between 2006 and 2015. In 2015, retail prices for 101 widely used specialty prescription drugs increased by an average of 9.6 percent—the highest average annual increase since at least 2006. Read

Should Race and Ethnicity Be Factored into Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines?

This spotlight is based on an analysis of administrative claims data from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse. We found substantial racial and ethnic differences in PSA screening and prostate cancer diagnoses between 2009 and 2014. Read

Disparities in Diabetes Prevalence Among Older Adults

While diabetes affects Americans of all ages, older adults are disproportionately affected. In a recent analysis, we found that 23 percent of Americans ages 65 and older in 2015 reported having been diagnosed with diabetes (Table 1). The stark racial and ethnic disparities in diabetes prevalence among older adults are particularly concerning—about 20 percent of whites reported a diabetes diagnosis, compared to 35 percent of both blacks and Hispanics. Read

Rx Price Watch Report: Trends in Retail Prices of Brand Name Prescription Drugs Widely Used by Older Americans: 2006 to 2015

The latest Rx Price Watch report by Leigh Purvis and Dr. Stephen Schondelmeyer finds that retail prices for widely used brand name prescription drugs increased substantially faster than general inflation between 2006 and 2015, and that the difference between the rate of brand name drug price increases and the rate of general inflation has been widening. Read

Livability Index

How livable is your community?

Few Hip Fracture Patients Receive Osteoporosis Care

This spotlight is based on an analysis of insurance claims data from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse. We found that surprisingly few women are evaluated or treated for osteoporosis following hip fractures, and these missed opportunities may leave some patients at increased risk for subsequent fractures. Read

Share of the Population 85+, in 2015 and 2050, by State

How many people are age 85-plus in your state, and how much is this population projected to grow? Find out here: Read

Taking a Closer Look at American Indians and Alaska Natives Ages 50 and Older

This report outlines the demographics of this growing cohort and concludes with recommendations for coordi­nating programmatic resources to better serve it. Read

Hospital Readmission Rates Falling Among Older Adults Receiving Joint Replacements

Rates of unplanned hospital readmissions following elective hip and knee replacement procedures fell markedly among the 50- to 84-year-old population between 2009 and 2013. Read

Observation Status: Financial Implications for Medicare Beneficiaries

Do Medicare beneficiaries face higher out-of-pocket costs when they remain in observation status rather than being admitted as hospital inpatients? Read

Star Power

The effect of Angelina Jolie’s personal story of BRCA1 mutation on testing rates among commercially insured women.  Read

Transforming the Workforce to Provide Better Chronic Care

First in a series looking at innovative projects around the country. This report: The role of nurses in Rhode Island. Read

Use of Clinical Preventive Services and Prevalence of Health Risk Factors Among Adults Aged 50-64

A national and state-level look at how Americans 50-64 underuse preventive services and face considerable health challenges. Read

Rapid Growth in Hospital Observation Services: What’s Going On?

How does increasing use of hospital observation services by Medicare beneficiaries impact cost and quality of care? Read

Senior Vice President Susan Reinhard blogs about recent reports and topics such as caregiving and nursing. Read Susan's Blog