AcademyHealth prides itself on being a non-partisan resource for congressional staff, members of Congress, and other federal, state, and local policymakers who wish to connect with some of the best and brightest health policy researchers when implementing evidence-based policy. Thanks to our members' deep and broad expertise, we are able to serve as a one-stop-shop and trusted knowledge broker for those working across all areas of health policy and research.

On June 17, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan "Strengthening Medicare Advantage through Innovation and Transparency for Seniors Act of 2015" (H.R. 2570), and AcademyHealth had a role in linking some of our member experts to the policymakers behind the initial legislation.

The legislation, originally introduced as the VBID for Better Care Act by Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), establishes a demonstration project in which eligible Medicare Advantage plans would implement value-based insurance design (VBID). As described by the University of Michigan, VBID "aligns patients' out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments, with the value--not the cost--of health care services" by reducing cost-sharing for high-value health care. Over the years, VBID has gained increasing attention from employers, insurers, and policy experts as a tool to improve health care quality while lowering financial barriers to essential medications and care.

Prior to the bill's release among congressional offices, AcademyHealth was contacted by a staffer in Rep. Black's office, who in consultation with Rep. Blumenauer and his staff, was drafting the legislation. Dr. Lisa Simpson, president and CEO of AcademyHealth, acted as a convener and connected the offices with some leading experts in VBID: Michael Chernew, Harvard Medical School; Niteesh Choudhry, Harvard University and Brigham & Women's Hospital; and Matthew Maciejewski, Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Duke University Medical Center, to provide feedback on the legislation.

The call sparked a desire by all parties to host a congressional briefing on VBID, with a specific focus on VBID's potential role for reducing disparities in health care delivery. The invitation-only briefing covered the evidence base for various VBID models, how VBID could be structured in Medicare Advantage, and how it could be used to inform disparities reduction efforts. This is how AcademyHealth approaches all our briefings: to translate research into policy and practice.

Health care grows more complex and costly every day--even more so when considering the challenging fiscal and political environment in which health systems must operate. The advances we've made and the treatments and cures that have been discovered are astounding; yet, they will plateau if they're not meaningfully incorporated into policy and practice by leaders who understand the evidence.

AcademyHealth will remain a key partner at this critical intersection of research, policy, and practice and looks forward to continued work with decision makers as they consider evidence and develop policies that could yield the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people at the lowest cost.

Blog comments are restricted to AcademyHealth members only. To add comments, please sign-in.