Health Savers Initiative
The Health Savers Initiative is a collaborative project of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Arnold Ventures, and West Health which works to identify bold and concrete policy proposals to make health care more affordable for the federal government, businesses, and households.
The purpose of the Health Savers Initiative is to develop policy-ready options that will lower health care costs economy-wide, reduce the cost of health care and its impact on families, and save money for the federal government. For each option, we produce an issue brief along with federal budget and national health expenditure impact scores. The option presented in each brief is meant to be just one of many, but we incorporate specifications and savings estimates so policymakers can weigh costs and benefits, and gain a better understanding of whatever health savings policies they choose to pursue.
The project is led by Josh Gordon, Director of Health Policy at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Health Savers Initiative Briefs:
Reducing Medicare Advantage Overpayments: This brief addresses overpayments to private insurance plans in the Medicare Advantage program that reduce market incentives for innovation by allowing plans to profit from the overpayments rather than through improvements in quality and efficiency. (For updated projections, see here)
Equalizing Medicare Payments Regardless of Site-of-Care: This brief addresses the fact that Medicare payments for similar procedures vary widely based on site-of-service, incenting provider consolidation and driving up costs for the federal government and the private sector.
(NEW) Moving to Site Neutrality in Commercial Insurance Payments: This brief looks into site-of-service payment differentials in commercial insurance as they drive service provision to higher-cost sites – primarily hospital-based outpatient departments (HOPDs) and incentivize hospitals to purchase physician practices. This vertical integration increases the market power and name recognition of health systems, allowing them to demand even higher prices from commercial payers.
Capping Hospital Prices: This brief addresses the high hospital prices paid by commercial insurance plans. On average, commercial plans pay more than twice as much as Medicare, with some hospitals charging three or four times as much. Those commercial prices are fueled by several factors, including increasing market consolidation and “must-have” hospitals using their market power to negotiate higher prices.
Injecting Price Competition into Medicare Part B Drugs: This brief addresses the misaligned incentives in Medicare payments for physician-administered drugs that blunt price competition and advantage higher-priced drugs — especially within drug classes that have clinically comparable options but a wide variation in prices.
Limiting Evergreening for Name-Brand Prescription Drugs: This brief addresses the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) temporary market exclusivities for new brand-name drugs. These exclusivities prohibit generic drug competitors from accessing the market for a limited period. However, drug manufacturers are often able to take advantage of the current rules, using “evergreening” strategies to extend their exclusivity periods and either delay generic drug market entry or limit the number of patients who switch to a new generic.
Journal Article: "6 Ways to Reduce Health Care Costs," Milken Institute Review, April 2023.
Blog Post: Two Ways to Reduce Prescription Drug Costs
Blog Post: Three Ways to Lower Health Care Costs
Event: Health Solutions Summit
With the cost of health care rising and the Medicare trust fund quickly approaching insolvency, experts came together to discuss policy solutions for the next Congress to consider.
To mark the publication of the first three Health Savers Initiative briefs, we hosted an event that featured remarks from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID), and a panel of experts discussing necessary policy interventions that should be on the health care policy agenda.
Launch Event: Opportunities for Lowering Health Care Costs
The project launched on November 21, 2019, with an event that discussed current proposals and new ideas to slow the growth of health care spending, including a discussion of high prescription drug prices, surprise medical billing, and the rising cost of health care for families, businesses, and the federal government.
We were joined by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), and committee member Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH). Our event also featured two panels of experts.
More Health Policy Products:
More from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:
- CBO Offers Approaches to Reduce Commercial Health Prices
- New York Times Highlights Need to Improve Medicare Advantage
- Committee Sends Letter to CMS on Medicare Advantage
- Congress Should Proceed with Caution on Telehealth Extensions
- IRA Would Lower Medicare Costs, NOT Cut Benefits
- CBO Estimates Drug Savings for Reconciliation
- Strategies to Lower Health Care Prices from KFF
- Medicare at 60 Costs $155 Billion, According to CBO
- Medicare Advantage Costs Continue to Rise
- The Physician Bonus and Medicare Sequester Suspension Should Not be Continued
- Limiting the Cost of Medicare Expansion
- Reducing Private Health Care Costs