Saturday, November 27, 2010

Health Care Reform Articles - November 30, 2010

November 26, 2010

Health Law Faces Threat of Undercut From Courts

WASHINGTON — As the Obama administration presses ahead with the health care law, officials are bracing for the possibility that a federal judge in Virginia will soon reject its central provision as unconstitutional and, in the worst case for the White House, halt its enforcement until higher courts can rule.

November 26, 2010

Think Twice Before Signing Up for That Medical Credit Card

IF you are like most people, you have probably used a credit card to pay some of your medical bills. With rising health costs and gaps in insurance coverage, it’s almost unavoidable.
Patients pay about $45 billion worth of health care costs with plastic, according to a report from McKinsey & Company. By 2015, that number could more than triple to an estimated $150 billion. And big finance companies and medical providers have taken note.

Printed from

'The US model of private health insurers is inefficient, expensive'

Joseph Stiglitz the Nobel prize-winning economist has written several articles on the inequity in access to health and the flaws in the drug discovery process of pharmaceutical companies. On a recent visit to Delhi, Professor Stiglitz spoke to Rema Nagarajan about the negative role of patents in drug discovery and the pitfalls of private insurance in health. 

Why have you been pitching for a single payer system for health insurance rather than a system where several private companies compete?

Read more: 'The US model of private health insurers is inefficient, expensive' - The Times of India

Ezra Klein - Americans Pay Too Much For Health Care -

Posted at 4:13 PM ET, 11/23/2010
By Ezra Klein
There are a lot of complicated explanations for why American health-care costs so much, but there are also some simple ones. Chief among them is "we pay too much." And I don't mean in general. I mean specifically. Mountains of research show that for every piece of care you might name -- a drug, a doctor visit, a diagnostic -- you'll pay far more in the United States than in other countries. That's why seniors head to Canada to buy drugs made in the United States. In Canada, the government negotiates one low price. In America, insurers with much less bargaining power negotiate many higher prices.

International Federation of Health Plans
2010 Comparative Price Report Medical and Hospital Fees by Country

The Price Problem That Health-Care Reform Failed To Cure

The health-care law of 2010 is, as Vice President Biden put it, a "big [expletive] deal." It sets us on the road to universal health insurance. It is a favorite target for Republicans gunning to take over Congress. Lawmakers who supported it could lose their jobs. And it will remain a central focus after the midterms, as Democrats defend it against legal and political challenges through 2014, when it takes full effect.

November 28, 2010

Gates Seeking to Contain Military Health Costs

WASHINGTON — Francis Brady enjoys a six-figure salary and generous benefits at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, but as a retired Marine lieutenant colonel he and his family remain on the military’s bountiful lifetime health insurance, Tricare, with fees of only $460 a year. He calls the benefit “phenomenal.”
“It is so cheap compared to what Booz Allen has,” Colonel Brady said in a recent interview, acknowledging that premiums called for by private employers can run many times greater.

Don't Litigate, Innovate." How To Implement A Fully Funded Alternative To The New Health Care Overhaul -- And It's Already In The Law

This post of mine first appeared at Kaiser Health News last week.
What if a Republican governor and a Republican legislature had the ability to implement their version of health insurance reform and the federal government would have to pay for it? It's a great idea. And I'm thrilled to say that a bi-partisan bill has already been introduced in the Senate by Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Scott Brown, R-Mass., that would help facilitate exactly this end.

Doctors Blame New Health Law For Death Of Private Practice : Shots

Maine Companies' Health Care May Shrivel With Dirigo

Posted: November 30
Updated: Today at 9:50 PM

Some businesses may kill their own plans as federal exchanges are put in place, a top Baldacci aide says.

AUGUSTA — Some small businesses in Maine may drop health insurance plans when DirigoHealth is replaced by the insurance exchanges outlined in the federal health reform law, a top Baldacci administration official said Monday.
Trish Riley, director of the Governor's Office of Health Policy and Finance, told a legislative committee that the exchanges would provide subsidies only to individuals, unlike Dirigo, which provides subsidies to employers that offer coverage

Congress Puts Off Cuts To Doctor Medicare Payments

WASHINGTON — Congress agreed to a one-month delay in Medicare payment cuts to doctors yesterday, giving a short-term reprieve to a looming crisis over treatment of the nation’s senior citizens.

November 29, 2010

Inefficiency Hurts U.S. In Ranking of Health

By any measure, the United States spends more on health care than any other nation. Yet according to the World Fact Book (published by the Central Intelligence Agency), it ranks 49th in life expectancy.
Researchers writing in the November issue of the journal Health Services say they know the answer. After citing statistical evidence showing that American patterns of obesitysmoking, traffic accidents and homicide are not the cause of lower life expectancy, they conclude that the problem is the health care system.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Health Care Reform Articles - November 26, 2010

Doctors Say Medicare Cuts Force Painful Decision About Elderly Patients

Doctors say Medicare cuts force painful decision about elderly patients
By N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 26, 2010; 12:02 AM 
Want an appointment with kidney specialist Adam Weinstein of Easton, Md.? If you're a senior covered by Medicare, the wait is eight weeks.
How about a checkup from geriatric specialist Michael Trahos? Expect to see him every six months: The Alexandria-based doctor has been limiting most of his Medicare patients to twice yearly rather than the quarterly checkups he considers ideal for the elderly. Still, at least he'll see you. Top-ranked primary care doctor Linda Yau is one of three physicians with the District's Foxhall Internists group who recently announced they will no longer be accepting Medicare patients.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Health Care Reform Articles - November 25, 2010

Role Of Nurses In Primary Care May Expand : NPR

Copyright © 2010 National Public Radio®. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington.
Expanded health coverage could bring millions of new patients into already crowded doctor's offices, and in a lot of places, primary care physicians are already scarce.
Last month, a report issued by the Institute of Medicine proposed that better-trained nurses can fill a big part of that gap and reignited an old debate about what's called scope of practice. Should nurses be authorized to order tests, write prescriptions and take on other responsibilities now reserved to doctors?

November 24, 2010

Mistakes Still Prevalent in Hospital Care, Study Finds

Efforts to make hospitals safer for patients are falling short, researchers report in the first large study in a decade to analyze harm from medical care and to track it over time.
The study, conducted from 2002 to 2007 in 10 North Carolina hospitals, found that harm to patients was common and that the number of incidents did not decrease over time. The most common problems were complications from procedures or drugs and hospital-acquired infections.

State Holds Health Insurance Hikes Under 10 Percent

After rejecting double-digit increases earlier this year, Massachusetts regulators are allowing a more modest round of rate hikes to take effect in January for health insurance policies covering small businesses and individuals.
State officials hailed the smaller increases as a victory in Governor Deval Patrick’s campaign to rein in escalating health care costs.

51 Percent Of Americans Want To Keep Or Expand Health Care Law

Published: Tuesday, November 23, 2010, 4:00 AM
STEVEN THOMMA, McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON -- A majority of Americans want Congress to keep the new health care law or actually expand it, despite Republican claims that they have a mandate from the people to kill it, according to a new McClatchy Newspapers-Marist poll.

On Health Policies, U.S. Lags Other Nations: Survey

Access, costs are better managed in other countries, report finds

THURSDAY, Nov. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Patients in the United States are more likely to forgo medical care because of cost than residents of other developed countries, a new international survey finds.
Compared with 10 other industrialized countries, the United States also has the highest out-of-pocket costs and the most complex health insurance, the authors say.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Health Care Reform Articles - November 24, 2010

Will It Be The Bond Market That Finally Forces Serious Health Care Financing Change?

When will the Congress and the White House finally make the hard decisions in order come to grips with the federal deficit problem?
When will we finally deal with real health care reform and get the entitlements, and with them the private health care cost issue, under control?

New GOP Governors Will Affect Health Law

New GOP governors will affect health law
By N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 9, 2010; 12:52 AM 
Republicans' consolidation of power in state capitols is likely to expand the number of states that employ a far more limited, free-market-oriented approach to implementing the nation's new health-care law than the robust regulatory model favored by its supporters.

Ezra Klein - Why Does Gov. Rick Perry Want More Uninsured Texans?

Posted at 1:41 PM ET, 11/23/2010
By Ezra Klein
One of the weirder stories in the health-care sphere right now is that a handful of conservative states are threatening to pull out of Medicaid and instead free ride on the Affordable Care Act. I don't think there's much chance that this'll happen, largely for the reasons that Edwin Park outlines here: First, it's not actually clear that states can free ride on the new health-care law, and second, doing so would mean losing an enormous amount of federal funds.

Liberals Pounce On GOP Congressman Who Wants His Health Care

When a little-known GOP Congressman-elect who campaigned against the new health law demanded that the benefits of his new federal health plan start immediately, it was an irresistible opening for some.
"Call Congressman Harris and tell him to stop whining about HIS health care, and start fighting for ours," intones an outraged-sounding woman in a new radio ad (see below) launched by the liberal groupAmericans United for Change.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Health Care Reform Articles - November 23, 2010

Nurses’ Union Flexes Its Muscle

WASHINGTON — The nurses at Washington Hospital Center were all set to wear red scrubs — the union color — yesterday in preparation for a strike tomorrow. But those scrubs can be put away, at least for now.
The union canceled the one-day strike and management put controversial pay cuts on hold, as both sides agreed to resume talks after the holiday.
That turn of events reflects an aggressive strategy by a national nurses’ union, analysts say: Its members are growing in numbers, and they have not been afraid to walk picket lines. The huge costs of hiring temporary nurses — and, probably, bad publicity — have forced institutions like the hospital center to return to bargaining on staffing and wages.

US Mandates Strict New Cost Management For Health Insurers

WASHINGTON — Health insurance premiums should go toward actual medical care — not insurers’ overhead and profits — the Obama administration said yesterday in rules that for the first time require the companies to give consumers a rebate.

Drug Makers’ Payments Detailed - The Boston Globe

Massachusetts health officials published online yesterday the most comprehensive state database in the country listing payments drug companies and medical device makers have made to doctors, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals, and other health care providers.
The report lists $35.7 million in payments from hundreds of companies for the six months between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2009, for speaking, consulting, food, educational programs, marketing studies, and charitable donations.

Medical Costs Are Slowing In The Bay State, But At What Price?

We’ve spent years imagining what it would take to slow down the growth of medical costs in Massachusetts, and now we’re living it.
The big trend of 2010: many people using fewer products and services — going without, postponing, or following a different medical course that costs less. It’s not happening in every category of medical care, and some declines require a microscope to detect. But there’s no mistaking the broad trend reported by hospitals, insurers, and even leading pharmacy chains.

Snowe, Collins Back Lawsuit Challenging Health-Care Law

Posted at 12:25 PM ET, 11/22/2010
By Matt DeLong
This post was last updated at 1:42 p.m.
The Portland (Maine) Press-Herald reports that both of Maine's senators -- Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins -- are signing on to a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health-care law.