Grant enables Conti to examine pricing and spending implications of medical provider consolidation

Rena Conti, PhD (Photo by Rick Reinhard)

Rena Conti, PhD (Photo by Rick Reinhard)

The Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) and the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) have awarded one of five State Health Policy Grants to Rena M. Conti, PhD, an assistant professor of pediatrics and population health sciences at the University of Chicago Medicine.

Each of the five research teams will receive up to $150,000 and will have access to HCCI’s repository of commercial claims data for more than 50 million insured Americans—one of the largest private health insurance claims databases of its kind.

Conti’s project will focus on the impact of provider consolidation on outpatient cancer care spending.

“There has recently been significant horizontal consolidation among hospitals and vertical consolidation between hospitals and physician practices in the US,” she explained. “Our study will examine whether oncology practice consolidation increases per-person spending on outpatient cancer treatment.”

“We suspect state policies interact with the effects of provider consolidation on cancer spending,” she added. “This project will systematically examine the spending consequences of consolidation and state policies.”

The State Health Policy Grants are designed to evaluate health policy initiatives at the state level and use that information to improve the value delivered by the U.S. health care system.

“Currently, we have limited information on the effects of health care reforms happening at the state level,” said HCCI executive director David Newman. “This grant program is funding data-driven research that will build a knowledge base about state reforms, and serve as a resource for policymakers and consumers alike.”

“Future action in health care reform will occur largely at the state level,” Trish Riley, executive director at NASHP, said. “State policymakers implementing reforms need research like this to inform their thinking, offer models and share real world lessons from other states’ experiences.”

The State Health Policy Grant program is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), a private foundation that has committed more than $25 million dollars to organizations that are working to improve value in the health care system.

“These research projects will help to identify key health care reforms that are delivering promising results,” LJAF vice president of venture development Kelli Rhee explained. “Once we have a better understanding of what works, we can then replicate and scale those models as part of a broader effort to lower costs and improve the quality of patient care across the United States.”

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