Saturday, April 30, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - May 1, 2011

APRIL 29, 2011, 6:00 AM

Does the Ryan Plan Curb Health Spending?

Uwe E. Reinhardt is an economics professor at Princeton. He has some financial interests in the health care field.
My post last week, on the budget plan offered by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, ended with the observation that the plan did not propose measures to control overall health spending in the United States, “nor does that appear to have been Mr. Ryan’s objective.”

April 18, 2011, 6:00 AM

Comparing Ryan’s Medicare Plan to What Congress Gets

Health Care Reform Articles - April 30, 2011

The Changes to Save a Big Idea

One of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s final acts as a legislator was to try to make it easier to buy insurancethat could help pay for assistance in your home if an injury or illness made it hard to live life normally.
In fact, he spent about a decade working on it, finally succeeding when the Class Act, short for Community Living Assistance Services and Support, became law as part of last year’s landmark health insurance package.

California regulator calls Anthem Blue Cross rate hike 'unreasonable'

But the Department of Managed Health Care says it can't stop the state's largest for-profit insurer from raising rates for 120,000 customers an average of 16%.

By Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times
April 30, 2011

New Medicare payment strategy to reward hospitals for high-quality care

Medicare will pay more to hospitals that score well on a series of measures that gauge patient care and pay less to those that don't hit the quality benchmarks.

By Noam N. Levey, Los Angeles Times
April 30, 2011
Reporting from Washington,0,193379,print.story

GOP pushes surprise insurance overhaul through committee

Maine Senate Dems respond to yesterday's forced vote on 29 page health care bill

by: Gerald Weinand

Sat Apr 30, 2011 at 12:51:04 PM EDT

The Maine Senate Democrats issued the following statement regarding how the Maine Republican Chairs gave Insurance and Financial Services Committee (IFS) members 5 hours to review a 29 page amendment to a health care bill before demanding that the committee vote on it:

Maine Explores Managed Care for Medicaid Recipients
Posted By Stephan Burklin On April 28, 2011 @ 10:50 am In Featured,News | No Comments
Confronted with expanding federal mandates and static state revenues, Maine is joining the ranks of other states that are overhauling their Medicaid systems.
At the behest of the Legislature and the Governor’s office, officials at the state Department of Health and Human Services[1] (DHHS) are currently working with stakeholders to reduce costs and enhance coverage for Medicaid recipients through an arrangement known as managed care.

Medicare's Math Problem: Taxes - Benefits = Trouble

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - April 29, 2011

The Left's Stealth Budget Plan

NEW YORK – Unlike unpopular budget plans by Obama and Paul Ryan, the People’s Budget saves Social Security, jacks up taxes on the rich, and produces a surplus within a decade. David A. Graham explains why the plan is flying under the radar.

America Needs a Single Payer Health Care System

Even if Obama's overhaul works as planned, there will still be 23 million Americans lacking health insurance in 2019.

Progress in medicine comes slowly.  Handwashing was first shown to prevent infections caused by doctors by Ignaz Semmelweis in 1847! - PC
APRIL 28, 2011, 9:10 PM

Speaking Up for Patient Safety, and Survival

On Tuesday, I wrote about a new technological system that might help hospitals to accurately track whether health care workers are washing their hands, and remind them to do so in real time. The reason hospitals might want to spend the money to install such an expensive fix is that so far, very few hospitals have been able to get their hand-washing rates above 50 percent.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - April 28, 2011

Senate gives initial OK to single-payer health care bill
Posted By Anne Galloway On April 26, 2011
The spirit of order and compromise was upon them. The Vermont Senate passed the universal health care reform bill in a 21-8, largely along party lines on Monday, after just five hours in the Green Room. (Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, voted aye; Bobby Starr, D-North Troy, voted nay.The senators will take up the bill for third reading on Tuesday.

First Single-Payer System Advances in Vermont Legislature

Dukakis pushes health
care for all

The former Bay State governor and son of an immigrant doctor speaks at UNE's Portland campus.

PORTLAND - Former Democratic presidential candidate Michael S. Dukakis kicked off his appearance Tuesday night at the University of New England with an apology.

Public hospital president's retirement pay spotlights issue of 'supplemental' pensions

The president and CEO of a Salinas, Calif.-area public hospital district will receive nearly $4 million in retirement pay on top of his $150,000 annual pension. Such 'supplemental' pensions are one focus of criticism over the way public officials are compensated in retirement.

By Sam Allen, Los Angeles Times
April 28, 2011
When he turned 65 two years ago, Samuel Downing received a $3-million retirement payment from a public hospital district in Salinas, Calif., where he serves as president and chief executive.

But Downing continued working at his $668,000-a-year job for another two years, and after he retires this week, he will receive another payment of nearly $900,000. That comes on top of his regular pension of $150,000 a year.

The payments amount to one of the more generous pension packages granted to a public official in California and come amid growing debate about "supplemental" pensions that some officials receive on top of their basic retirement benefits.,0,6979128,print.story

In Florida, H.M.O.’s Would Treat Medicaid Patients

DAVIE, Fla. — A crucial experiment in the future of Medicaid is playing out in Florida, where both houses of the Legislature are vying to find ways to drastically cut costs, manage care and reduce waste and fraud.
The cuts and changes being sought by the Republican-led Legislature and encouraged by the new Republican governor, Rick Scott, a wealthy former hospital company executive, are deeper than those in many other states.
In the past 11 years, the cost of Medicaid in Florida has grown to $21 billion from $9 billion and amounts to a third of the state budget. The federal government pays more than half the tab.
“There is a consensus that the Medicaid system is irretrievably broken,” said State Senator Joe Negron, a Republican who took the lead in writing the Senate bill, which is expected to come to a vote before the legislative session ends a week from Friday. The House approved its bill this month. The changes could go into effect as early as next year.

April 28, 2011

What's Behind Seniors' Fears of GOP Medicare Plan?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican plan to privatize Medicare wouldn't touch his benefits, but Walter Dotson still doesn't like the idea. He worries about the consequences long after he's gone, for the grandson he is raising.
"I'd certainly hate to see him without the benefits that I've got," said Dotson, 72, steering a high school sophomore toward adulthood.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - April 26, 2011

April 25, 2011

The Special Doctor-Patient Relationship

To the Editor:
Re “Patients Are Not Consumers” (column, April 22):
Bravo to Paul Krugman. As a physician for 44 years, I have seen the sick person seeking medical care transformed from a patient to a consumer and, like Mr. Krugman, I have been sickened by this.

April 25, 2011

Justices Reject Request for Fast Health Law Ruling

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday turned back an unusual request from Virginia to put the state’s challenge to the new federal health care law on a fast track. The court’s one-line order offered no reasoning, and there were no noted dissenting votes.

Bills would mandate drug testing for MaineCare enrollees

Posted April 25, 2011, at 7:17 p.m.
AUGUSTA, Maine — Republican lawmakers Monday introduced two proposals that would impose mandatory — and possibly unconstitutional — drug testing on Maine residents who are enrolled in MaineCare, the state’s Medicaid program for low-income and disabled residents.

Tea party vs. affordable health care
By: Frank Micciche
April 26, 2011 04:39 AM EDT
What does the tea party have against helping small businesses find affordable health insurance for their employees?
Tea party-linked groups have recently spiked legislation in three states that would have authorized federally funded planning to create health insurance exchanges. Activists successfully blocked the efforts of these GOP governors to explore market-based alternatives that would address the stubbornly high ranks of the uninsured in their states. In doing so, they blanketed Republican supporters of this exchange legislation with claims of complicity in the enforcement of “Obamacare.”

Vermont Legislature Tackles Single-Payer Health Bill

Health Care Reform Articles - April 25, 2011

A Call to Lead
Imagine a microbe that lowers life expectancy. Suppose this
microbe also causes increases in obesity, drug use, teen
pregnancy, incarceration rates, and homicide rates, and a
breakdown of social cohesion.
We would expect pharmaceutical companies and the
Centers for Disease Control to engage in a no-holds-barred
campaign to develop an antibiotic or a vaccine to do away
with the threat and protect public health.
The threat is here. It is real and it is causing untold harm.
But the threat is not a microbe. It is us, or more accurately,
how we organize our social environment.

April 24, 2011

A Fight Over How Drugs Are Pitched

Before pharmaceutical company marketers call on a doctor, they do their homework. These salespeople typically pore over electronic profiles bought from data brokers, dossiers that detail the brands and amounts of drugs a particular doctor has prescribed. It is a marketing practice that some health care professionals have come to hate.

April 24, 2011

Let’s Take a Hike

When I listen to current discussions of the federal budget, the message I hear sounds like this: We’re in crisis! We must take drastic action immediately! And we must keep taxes low, if not actually cut them further!
You have to wonder: If things are that serious, shouldn’t we be raising taxes, not cutting them?

Advocates plan campaign on immigrants’ health care

By Russell Contreras
Associated Press / April 25, 2011
Text size  +
Immigrant advocates in Massachusetts say they are preparing an “intense’’ lobbying effort to help about 20,000 legal immigrants who are at risk of losing their state-sponsored health care coverage under a proposal to slash state spending.

The following articles highlights yet another unfixable problem with fee-for-service payment:

Under Health Law, Colonoscopies Are Free—But It Doesn't Always Work That Way

APR 25, 2011
This story was produced in collaboration with 
For years, doctors have urged patients over the age of 50 to get colonoscopies to check for colorectal cancer, which kills 50,000 Americans a year. Their efforts were boosted last year by the federal health care law, which requires that key preventive services, including colonoscopies, be provided to patients at no out-of-pocket cost.
But there's a wrinkle in the highly touted benefit. If doctors find and remove a polyp, which can be cancerous, some private insurers and Medicare hit the patient with a surprise: charges that could run several hundred dollars.