HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Friday, October 24, 2014

Guest Blogger Research Fellow and Lecturer in Law Tara A. Ragone: Valuable Internet Resource Focused on Healthcare Cost Containment and Competition


Ragone_lg_1Jaime King and colleagues at UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy have been busy building a rich web resource devoted to promoting cost control and competition in health care. The Source for Competitive Healthcare seeks to create a one-stop shop for academics, journalists, state attorneys general, and potential litigants by “posting news articles, policy papers, academic articles, litigation documents, and legislative/regulatory materials, as well as legal and policy-based analysis of those materials,” focused on “market issues, such as provider leverage and reform efforts, including the promotion of price transparency in healthcare.”

The site is relatively new and actively seeking content and feedback, but it already is a valuable treasure trove of information. The Litigation/Enforcement and Legislation/Regulation tabs immediately caught my eye. Each offers an interactive map of the United States highlighting states that are active in this space with links to pleadings, proposed statutory and regulatory language, and other primary sources in addition to analyses. I am exploring ways to weave these resources into simulations in my health law skills class this spring. 

There are some limits to the site design that hamper usability. The Academic Articles and Reports sections of the site seem to provide all articles and reports with only temporal and not substantive sorting capacity.

The Stakeholder Perspectives section of the site lets users sort opinion pieces, reports, and other information from different points of view, including consumers/patient, government, providers, society, payers, and employers. But it does not let you also sort these perspectives by issue area.

The Key Issues area of the site is more sophisticated, permitting users to aggregate scholarly and journalistic articles by a number of topics -- healthcare markets, healthcare costs, ACA impact, quality, and price transparency. Although an improvement over the Academic Articles and Reports sections, this sorting feature may be a bit rudimentary. When I selected the ACA impact category, for example, the sort included a rather broad range of topics, including preparing for open enrollment, Medicaid costs, accountable care organizations, narrow networks, emergency room crowding, and insurance rates, leaving users to do a fair amount of digging to find articles relevant to their work. It also does not permit sorting both by perspectives and issue areas.

The Source actively is seeking feedback from its users, so there is good reason to believe improvements will come, if people share feedback. Perhaps the site will add additional tags and sorting capacity as the site grows. Until those developments are implemented, users may need to do some digging to find what they need. But undoubtedly it will be more fruitful to begin with the Source’s vetted resources than to initiate a virgin search of the behemoth internet using a generic search engine.

Although the Source is “not aligned with any advocacy-based organizations or parties to litigation,” it acknowledges that it seeks to “serve as a catalyst for change within the U.S. healthcare system... [and] empower individuals and groups seeking to bring rationality to healthcare markets.” It certainly is empowering users with information. It will be interesting to see what we do with these sources to advance policy reform.

-Research Fellow and Lecturer in Law Tara A. Ragone [Cross-posted to Health Reform Watch.]

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