Keith Lind is a senior policy advisor for the AARP Public Policy Institute, where he covers issues related to Medicare and chronic care. He has a JD and BSN from the University of Michigan and an MS in health policy and management from Harvard.

Regulatory Reform Options for Implantable Devices

In 2011, some widely used implantable heart defibrillators, designed to correct potentially fatal irregular heart rhythms, developed cracked insulation on their high-voltage electrical wires. The result was that in some cases they caused severe shocks, and even deaths. Consumers with the defective implants had to decide whether to undergo dangerous surgery to replace the device or simply monitor it. Until the defective device is replaced, consumers run the risk that it will deliver an unnecessary high-voltage jolt of electricity—described as …

More Price Transparency Needed for Implantable Devices

Implantable devices, such as hip replacements and heart valves, are a central part of medical treatment today. Americans receive about 370,000 cardiac pacemakers and about 1 million total hip and knee replacements per year. Despite how common the use of implantable devices is, little information is publicly available on the prices paid for these devices in the United States. Limited information about prices and performance of many implantable devices has raised concerns that providers, consumers and insurers may be paying …

Are You in the Hospital or Not?

If you think you are having a stroke, you’ll probably go to the nearest ER. But will the hospital admit you? After you have been checked into the ER, the doctor may instead put you under “observation,” especially if it is unclear whether you have had a stroke, a fainting spell or something else. What is observation status? It’s an outpatient designation used to monitor patients during periods of medical uncertainty. Rather than being formally admitted as inpatients, patients in …

Lifting the Veil on Hospital Charges

This year, Medicare took a major step toward promoting real price transparency for hospital care. The federal agency posted online the prices charged by more than 3,000 hospitals for the most common inpatient and outpatient procedures. This caught the attention of media across the nation. Medicare’s public release of hospital charge data was the first time that hospital charges had been aggregated to show a “bundled” price for specific procedures, including all hospital-related services except physician fees. Previously, data were …

Improving Care for Medicare Beneficiaries with Chronic Conditions

Patients typically receive coordinated care in the hospital from a team of health professionals. But what happens when patients go home? AARP has been concerned about such “care transitions” for years. In 2009, we published a paper titled “Beyond 50.09: Chronic Care: A Call to Action for Health Reform,” which captured some of the difficulties people have when they leave the hospital. For instance, many patients and families say the “ball was dropped” after discharge. “They would discharge me and …