Tuesday, August 9, 2011

health Care Reform Articles - August 13, 2011

August 8, 2011

Democrats Challenging Administration on Medicaid

WASHINGTON — In an unusual break with the White House, the Democratic leaders of Congress told theSupreme Court on Monday that President Obama was pursuing a misguided interpretation of federalMedicaid law that made it more difficult for low-income people to obtain health care.
The Democratic leaders said Medicaid beneficiaries must be allowed to file suit to enforce their right to care — and to challenge Medicaid cuts being made by states around the country.

Partners enters pact to acquire nonprofit insurer

Deal requires state, US approvals

AUGUST 11, 2011, 12:49 PM

Letting Doctors Make the Tough Decisions

Seth Resnick/Getty Images
Soon after I finished my surgical training, I worked with a young doctor who was impressive not only for his clinical skills but also for his devotion to patients. He was large and powerfully built but never seemed to loom over his patients, miraculously shrinking down to their eye level whenever he spoke with them. He listened intently to every detail of their travails and always ended the visits by asking if they still had any unanswered questions.
One afternoon I was surprised to see him at a nursing station, his massive arms gesticulating as he complained to a nurse about one patient’s family. The patient was dying, and the young doctor had organized a meeting with the family to talk about withdrawing life-support machines and medications and starting comfort measures. The family had spent the entire meeting asking questions but then refused to make any decisions or withdraw any treatments.

August 11, 2011

A Scalpel, Not an Ax, for Medicaid

Many states are struggling to balance their budgets by curbing spending on Medicaid, a joint state-federal program that provides health insurance for the poor and disabled. They have little choice because Medicaid is one of their biggest, fastest-growing expenses. The risk is that injudicious cuts could harm their most vulnerable citizens.

Editorial: If U.S. is serious about debt, there's a single-payer solution.

By the Editorial Board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Posted: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 12:00 am
If America truly is serious about dealing with its deficit problems, there's a fairly simple solution. But you're probably not going to like it: Enact a single-payer health care plan.
See, we told you weren't going to like it.
But the fact is that everyone who has studied the deficit problem has agreed that it's actually a health care problem — more specifically, the cost of providing Medicare benefits to an aging and longer-living population. The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform reported last December: "The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects if we continue on our current course, deficits will remain high throughout the rest of this decade and beyond, and debt will spiral ever higher, reaching 90 percent of GDP in 2020.

Deal in Place for Inspecting Foreign Drugs

More than 80 percent of the active ingredients for drugs sold in the United States are made abroad, mostly in a shadowy network of facilities in China and India that are rarely visited by government inspectors, who sometimes cannot even find the plants.
But after decades of failed attempts, the federal government and the generic drug industry have reached an agreement that is almost certain to pass Congress and that will lead to routine inspections of these overseas plants, potentially transforming the enormous global medicine trade.

August 12, 2011

Health Law Is Dealt Blow by a Court on Mandate

The provision in President Obama’s health care law requiring Americans to buy health insurance or face tax penalties was ruled unconstitutional on Friday by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta.
It was the first appellate review to find the provision unconstitutional — a previous federal appeals court upheld the law — and some lawyers said that the decision made it more likely that the fate of the health care law would ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

Appeals court strikes down health-care law’s insurance mandate

By N.C. Aizenman and ,Published: August 12

A federal appeals court struck down a central provision of the 2010 health-care law Friday, ruling that Congress overstepped its authority by requiring virtually all Americans to obtain health insurance.
The divided three-judge panel from the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta is the first appellate court to rule against any portion of the statute. The decision marks a significant victory for the 26 Republican attorneys general and governors who challenged the health-care law on behalf of their states.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - August 8, 2011

US Physician Practices Versus Canadians: Spending Nearly Four Times As Much Money Interacting With Payers

  1. Dante Morra1,*
  2. Sean Nicholson2
  3. Wendy Levinson3
  4. David N. Gans4,
  5. Terry Hammons5 and 
  6. Lawrence P. Casalino6

August 5, 2011

The Phantom Menace of Sleep Deprived Doctors

Last month something extraordinary happened at teaching hospitals around the country: Young interns worked for 16 hours straight — and then they went home to sleep. After decades of debate and over the opposition of nearly every major medical organization and 79 percent of residency-program directors, new rules went into effect that abolished 30-hour overnight shifts for first-year residents. Sanity, it seemed to people who had long been fighting for a change, had finally won out.
Of course, the overworked, sleep-deprived doctor valiantly saving lives is an archetype that is deeply rooted in the culture of physician training, not to mention television hospital dramas. William Halsted, the first chief of surgery at Johns Hopkins in the 1890s and a founder of modern medical training, required his residents to be on call 362 days a year (only later was it revealed that Halsted fueled his manic work ethic with cocaine), and for the next 100 years the attitude of the medical establishment was more or less the same. Doctors, influenced by their own residency experiences, often see hospital hazing as the most effective way to learn the practice of medicine.


Medical tourism - surgery with a twist

By Loretta McLaughlin
August 7, 2011
FRIGATE BAY, St. Kitts THE BIG news here is that the Marriott Hotel plans to build a small but elite hospital within two years in a new beachside building on the Atlantic, with resplendent ocean views and sumptuous resort amenities.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - August 5, 2011

Deal could endanger health care law
By: Jennifer Haberkorn
August 3, 2011 11:28 PM EDT
The debt ceiling agreement could jeopardize millions of dollars, and perhaps billions, in initiatives from President Barack Obama’s health care reform law if the super committee can’t come up with required spending cuts.
Many of the pots of money in the law — one of the Democrats’ most prized pieces of legislation — could get trimmed by the debt deal’s sequestration, or triggered cuts. The funds for prevention programs and community health centers, grants to help states set up insurance exchanges and co-ops, and money to help states review insurance rates could be slashed across the board if the panel can’t find enough cuts this fall.

Debt ceiling deal ignores real driver of deficits: healthcare costs

Participants in the debt ceiling debate placed the spotlight on programs with a barely measurable impact on the deficit and put off to the indefinite future the things that really matter.

Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times
7:56 PM PDT, August 2, 2011,0,2472202,print.column


Rethinking the Value of Medical Services

by Brian Klepper and David Kibbe

One of American politics’ most disingenuous conceits is that health care must cost what we currently pay. Another is that the only way to make it cost less is to deny care. It has been in industry executives’ financial interests to perpetuate these myths, but most will acknowledge privately that the way we value and pay for medical services is a deep root of America’s health care cost explosion.

Medicare gives state hospitals $275m lift

Other regions rip change in rules

By Liz Kowalczyk
Globe Staff / August 5, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - August 3, 2011

Potential Medicare payment cuts alarm doctors, hospitals

By Tracy Jan and Theo Emery
Globe Staff / August 3, 2011

Abortion foes target Romney’s law

Group aims to undo universal health care

Debt deal raises pressure on Medicare providers

Payments to them would be cut 2% if a deficit reduction plan is not put in place this year. Advocates for the elderly fear a loss of services.

By Noam N. Levey and David S. Cloud, Washington Bureau
August 3, 2011
Reporting from Washington

Monday, August 1, 2011

Health Care Reform Articles - August 2, 2011

July 31, 2011

Opposing the Health Law, Florida Refuses Millions

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — When it comes to pursuing federal largess, most of the states that oppose the 2010 health care law have refused to let either principle or politics block their paths to the trough. If Washington is doling out dollars, Republican governors and legislators typically figure they might as well get their share.
Then there is Florida. Despite having the country’s fourth-highest unemployment rate, its second-highest rate of people without insurance and a $3.7 billion budget gap this year, the state has turned away scores of millions of dollars in grants made available under the Affordable Care Act. And it is not pursuing grants worth many millions more.

Health insurer Humana posts 35 percent 2nd-quarter profit gain on higher Medicare enrollments

By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, August 1, 8:04 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Humana Inc. posted a 35 percent surge in second-quarter profit Monday, easily beating Wall Street views, as more people enrolled in the health insurer’s Medicare plans while existing members made less use of its health care services.
The Louisville-based company, which has expanded into health care delivery, also raised its earnings forecast for the full year to a range of $7.50 to $7.60 per share, up from $6.70 to $6.90 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet predict, on average, an annual profit of $7.02 per share.
Humana credited the rosier outlook to a favorable trend in which a smaller percentage of premium dollars from its members are going to pay for medical claims, reflecting an industrywide slowdown in health care utilization.

Medicare targeting hospital readmissions

Washington Post / August 1, 2011

State exploring health care shift for veterans

Posted July 31, 2011, at 1:06 p.m.
Last modified July 31, 2011, at 5:48 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — State officials are exploring ways to encourage veterans on Medicaid to shift some or all of their health care to the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, saving the state money and potentially improving benefits for veterans.

August 2, 2011

Reaping Millions in Nonprofit Care for Disabled

Medicaid money created quite a nice life for the Levy brothers from Flatbush, Brooklyn.
The brothers, Philip and Joel, earned close to $1 million a year each as the two top executives running a Medicaid-financed nonprofit organization serving the developmentally disabled.
They each had luxury cars paid for with public money. And when their children went to college, they could pass on the tuition bills to their nonprofit group.
Philip H. Levy went as far as charging  the organization $50,400 for his daughter’s living expenses one year when she attended graduate school at New York University. That money paid not for a dorm room, but rather it helped her buy a co-op apartment in Greenwich Village.

Insurers told to cover contraception in full

AUGUST 2, 2011, 8:00 PM

Slashing the Price of Health With Common Sense

Fixes looks at solutions to social problems and why they work.
As health care costs continue to spiral out of control, it’s often forgotten that one of the best ways to lower health care expenditures is to reduce the amount of medical care that’s needed to keep people healthy. This is no revelation. However, because of the financial incentives in our health system, the things we can do to promote health, and prevent illness, are not prioritized.

AUGUST 2, 2011, 8:10 PM

Can Big Food Regulate Itself? Fat Chance

Mark Bittman on food and all things related.
Life would be so much easier if we could only set our own guidelines. You could define the average weight as 10 pounds higher than your own and, voilĂ , no more obesity! You could raise the speed limit to 90 miles per hour and never worry about a ticket. You could call a cholesterol level of 250 “normal” and celebrate with a bag of fried pork rinds. (You could even claim that cutting government spending would increase employment, but that might be going too far.) You could certainly turn junk food into something “healthy.”