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All items for April, 2016


One Could Go Nuts

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Measuring quality care in the healthcare system is out of control. My conclusion is that these measurements of hospitals and providers by Obamacare to determine medical care quality is distraction to quality medical care.

The method used is so complex that its measurements are inaccurate and the system is destined to fail.

The measurements are a distraction and costly. They end up diverting resources away from the hospitals’ and providers’ primary mission to provide quality healthcare at an affordable price.

In March 2016, the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) published a report called Measure Madness. The report identified 2,100 required measurements of “quality care” imposed by the federal government and in turn the healthcare insurance industry on hospitals and physicians. The goal is to rate the quality of care given by hospitals and physicians.

The measurement agency claims that the rating system is set up to help consumers make better healthcare choices.

Below is a graph of the various measurements:

Measurement madness final. jpg

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City teamed up with the Medical Group Management Association to put a price on time spent per physician to enter the data into the electronic health record to keep track of newly introduced measures and create protocols to track and report them.

Each year US physician practices in four common specialties spend, on average, 785 hours per physician and more than $15.4 billion dealing with the reporting of quality measures.”

 This report only covers 4 common specialties,and not all specialties and all hospital costs. There is no telling what it costs other hospitals and providers
HANYS report stated “

The volume of measures that exist, promulgated by lack of alignment and poor coordination, has created an environment of measure madness, “Consuming precious resources that could be directed toward meaningful efforts to continuously enhance quality and patient safety.”

The “measurement madness” may be doing more harm than good, according to the report. It’s the latest in a growing number of reports urging consolidation and standardization among the various groups that require reporting of healthcare quality and safety data. 

The Electronic Medical Record is a great idea in theory. I have discussed functional Electronic Medical Records in detail previously. A reader can go to the search engine on this blog to review my criticism of the defects in the Electronic Medical Records sold to hospitals and doctors.

A major defect in EMR is hardly ever discussed. There is a massive amount of copy and pasting to complete the “documentation. The record does reflect anything about the patient’s illness or real progress. It does not provide a true reflection of the patient’s quality of care, natural history of his disease or disease improvement. It does not compare efficiency of medical care outcomes with the financial results of care.
The HANYS report listed the number of reports required for a computer program to evaluate the quality of medical care delivered. It is reflected in the crazy cartoon at the top of this blog.

Number of Reports Per Measurement

Accountable care organizations: 33

The Delivery-System Reform Incentive Payment (or DSRIP) : more than 100

Private Health Plans: 546

National Quality Forum: 635

CMS: 850

Each report has at least one sub report. One has only to recall all the agencies Obamacare has set up.



This bureaucratic scheme can never work efficiently.

HANYS urges stakeholders to do the work to fix the system.

The call for action was for providers of healthcare to jointly commit to the minimum number of measures needed to evaluate healthcare quality, align them with national, standardized, evidence-based data, and focus on efforts that target the most vital aspects of care.

Last week CMS was forced to delay publishing its hospital quality ratings until July 2016 because of the perceived defects in the Obamacare’s measurements.

Congress received tremendous pressure from hospitals because of the confusion the measurements have created.

CMS also plans to host calls with providers to clear up questions about current methodology and get feedback on refining the program”.

Obamacare has been promoting the ratings for hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis facilities and other providers as a way for consumers to compare and select providers.

If one measures the wrong things one will get the wrong answer.

Only 87 hospital of more than 3,600 U.S. hospitals got the highest five-star rating, according to the American Hospital Association.

Just over half of the hospitals fell within the three-star range.

A total of 142 got one star. In January, the AHA challenged the CMS, stating that the program “oversimplifies the complexity of delivering high-quality care.”

Hospitals reviewed the ratings earlier this year.
Sixty U.S. senators heard the hospitals’ message. They sent a letter to CMS earlier this month urging the delay of the program. The senators warned of confusing methods, compromised outcomes for hospitals in disadvantaged communities and the potential to mislead consumers.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has not been able to come up with the same conclusions as CMS, using the same data sets and methods.

“The delay is a necessary step as hospitals and health systems work with CMS to improve the ratings for patients,” the AHA said in a statement.

On May 12 a conference call is scheduled to educate hospitals on how to analyze and interpret the data. In general, even the government has been confused about how best to interpret the data.

Ben Harder and Avery Comarow of U.S. News & World Report said in a recent article, “Different methodologies can produce different results even when the same raw data sets are used, said cent article.

“No approach to identifying outstanding medical centers is ideal—not ours or the government’s or anyone else’s,” the column stated.”

 A case in point: none of CMS’ five-star facilities made it onto U.S. News’ annual Honor Roll. Ben Harder said, It is likely because the CMS does not yet adjust for socio-economic factors.

 Again the Obama administration is making another costly complicated mistake that is making hospitals and providers go nuts and distract from their main mission of providing quality care at an affordable price.

If anyone thinks complete control of the healthcare system by the federal government via a single party payer system can do better than this government mishmash they should think again.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2015 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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We Don’t Need A Public Option

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP.MACE

When President Obama told Barry Frank and John Kerry “We don’t need a Public Option in the Affordable Care Act legislation” he was right.


Senator Chuck Grassley know all along what President Obama’s scheme was. His problem was none of his Republican friend would listen to him or do anything about it.

President Obama’s goal all along was to sneak in a Public Option in through the expansion of Medicaid. He wanted the local states to be administratively and financially responsible for Medicaid while the Federal government controlled the system through regulations.

President Obama had figured out the way to get to a single party payer without a Public Option. However, he and his advisors misjudged the defects in Medicaid.

Republicans have been opposed to a single party payer system and government control of the healthcare system. Republicans felt government control would increase the cost of healthcare, increase inefficiency in the administration of healthcare care, ration healthcare and decrease access to healthcare.

President Obama thought he could use a myriad of regulations to help Obamacare back into a single party payer system. The State and Federal Health Exchanges (“so called Obamacare competitive model”) has resulted in both the health exchange and the private insurance industry increasing the cost of healthcare to unaffordable levels, decreasing access to care, rationing of care and destroying the healthcare system.

The politicians, in a state like California, by following the federal money, ignored the will of the people. The people hate Obamacare because it is restrictive. They are angry about the lie President Obama told them to get their support. “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. If you like your insurance you can keep your insurance.”

President Obama has created a healthcare system infrastructure that played on states’ greed. Many states have tremendously high budget deficits. They have over taxed state residents.

State citizens and businesses are leaving for more tax friendly states. The migration has created larger state budget deficits. State politicians say a way of getting more federal money into the states and perhaps attracting people back to the state will be by expanding Medicaid. The federal government promised to pay 100% for the first three years of the Medicaid expansion program

Twenty-two states fell into President Obama’s trap. These states are on their way to a single party payer system without even knowing it.

I predict his scheme will fail.

California was the first state to jump into this pot of boiling water.

The federal government is going to pay 100% of newly qualified enrollees to Medicaid until 2017. Medicaid is under state control.

A record number of people have signed up for Medi-Cal in California. This has led to huge cost increases in Medi-Cal. Its price tag has jumped from $59 billion to $91 billion.

Where does President Obama get the money to pay for it? He increased the federal deficit. I guess $32 billion dollars would be considered a rounding error to most Democrats in congress.

States will have to start paying 5% of the bill for the newly eligible and enrolled enrollees in 2017. In 2020 the states will start paying 10% of the bill.

Medi-Cal is the state’s Medicaid plan for low-income Californians. Nearly one in three Californians now receive coverage in Medi-Cal. With its continued Medi-Cal expansion it is predicted to expand to 20 million by 2020.

Medi-Cal Explosion

Medi-Cal Growth of enrollment

The people of California are going to be the first victims of the increased costs and decreased services.

Every government program creates a complex bureaucracy along with money wasting inefficiencies and abuses.

California politicians were bragging about the great deal the government had given them.

That’s a really great deal for California,” said Scott Graves, research director at the California Budget & Policy Center. “You don’t find that anywhere else.”

Advocates say the expansion, with the huge infusion of federal money, should in fact eventually yield savings for states, possibly enough to make up for the costs.”

UC researchers calculated that each new federal dollar brought to California by Medi-Cal will generate 5.4 cents in tax revenue for the state, which would mean several billion dollars. That’s because the money creates jobs in healthcare, which creates income and sales tax.”

Over the years because of the cost overages, Medi-Cal has been forced to decrease reimbursement to physicians and ration both care and access to care. Physicians have opted out of Medi-Cal participation. As Medicaid has grown as a result of Obamacare, Medi-Cal patients cannot find a physician to care for them.

I suppose President Obama could force physicians to accept Medicaid payment in order to retain their license to practice medicine. This executive action would attack freedom of choice and propelling the United States further down the road to serfdom.

As predicted, a group of Californians filed a civil rights complaint against Medi-Cal, alleging that failures in the program have prevented Latinos from accessing their healthcare they needs.

“But the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services claims that because Medi-Cal administrators don’t pay doctors enough to see patients, they “effectively deny the full benefits of the Medi-Cal program to more than seven million Latino enrollees.”

Many complain that Medi-Cal’s reimbursement rates, among the lowest in the nation, create a shortage of doctors willing to see Medi-Cal patients.

The audit confirmed our long-standing concerns about access for Medi-Cal patients,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of the advocacy group Health Access California. “The findings of the audit cry out for more oversight.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year accommodates an influx of uninsured residents into Medi-Cal.

However, at Governor Brown’s request, the Legislature left in place a 10 percent recession-era cut in reimbursement to most doctors, dentists and other health care providers who treat Medi-Cal patients.”

Health providers predicted this harmful contradiction. The contradiction is that Medi-Cal expansion will provide more of the poor with adequate healthcare coverage. It is, in fact, reducing  poor persons ability to get into clinics, practices and even hospitals.

The California HealthCare Foundation reported that 76 percent of primary physicians accept new patients through private insurance. Only 57 percent accept new Medi-Cal patients.

Medicaid and MD

The optimism of politicians for the expansion of Medi-Cal improve state revenue has vanished. California’s deficit is increasing rapidly as a result of Obamacare’s largess.

In California, state officials are discussing how they’ll afford the program next year (2017). Gov. Jerry Brown called a special legislative session this year to address funding for Medi-Cal.

“It’s a strained system,” said Hernandez, “and I really believe we need to figure out how to resolve.

The 20 states that have not accepted President Obama’s offer to expand Medicaid were correct. These states wanted to make their own decision in the name of states’ rights. Many of the states could not afford expansion in the way President Obama was dictating it. Their budget deficits and taxes would have to increase.

California has just proven these states fears. In 2017 California will start paying 5% into the Medi-Cal expansion. It will make the budget deficit worse.

California will, once again, start begging the federal government to bale it out.

President Obama’s plan was to dump the financial burden on the states while controlling the system and creating a single party payer by default.

There is a much better way to provide healthcare to all people at an affordable cost.

The better way is to put consumers in control of their healthcare dollars.

They will control their health to avoid costly complications of chronic diseases. The people will be given financial incentive to be responsible for their health to try to avoid the onset of chronic disease.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2015 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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Keeps Making The Same Mistakes

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If Something Works, Destroy It!

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

If a program is working well the Obama administration starts regulating the program out of existence. In a very quiet and deceptive way the Obama administration is destroying Health Savings Accounts.

The fastest growing health insurance plan in the private healthcare market is Health Saving Accounts (HSAs). HSAs are also available in Health Insurance Exchanges.

Consumers love HSA’s because the money not spent for their yearly deductible expenses go into a personal trust fund, which goes to pay future medical expenses. Consumers, employers or government can fund the deductible. Healthcare coverage starts after the deductible is reached. The trust fund can grow tax-free until funds are withdrawn.

HSAs are not ideal but they do act to provide a mild financial incentive to consumers to be responsible for their health and healthcare dollars. Consumers decrease their overuse of the healthcare system.

Health Savings Accounts are not as powerful as my ideal Medical Savings Accounts. Medical Savings Accounts provide greater financial incentive for consumers to be responsible for their healthcare and healthcare dollars.

Consumers seem to lack the desire to prevent obesity, which is responsible for many chronic diseases and their complications. These diseases are responsible for 80% of the healthcare dollars spent.

With my ideal Medical Savings Account consumers or the consumer’s sponsors (government or employers) pay a high deductible. The sponsor then buys first dollar reinsurance for healthcare coverage. The unspent deductible goes into a Medical Saving Account tax-free retirement fund. It does not stay in the healthcare system.

The Medical Saving Account provides greater financial incentive for consumers to become more responsible for their health care and healthcare dollars.

Why and how does Obamacare want to regulate Health Savings Accounts out of existence?

In case you missed it, final regulations published on March 8 will make it impossible to offer HSA-qualified plans in the future.

 The health insurance industry has been opposed to HSAs and MSAs because the premiums the healthcare insurance industry receives is lower than regular healthcare insurance premiums.

Once the premiums are put into a trust it does not belong to the healthcare insurance industry to invest.

The healthcare industry has tried to influence HHS to dissuade consumers from buying HSAs through Health Insurance Exchanges since the exchanges began.

However HSS has done nothing (a) to help consumers identify HSA-qualified plans on the exchanges or (b) provide information to individuals that choose HSA-qualified plans about where to get more information about opening and contributing to an HSA.”

Last year’s proposed standardization of healthcare plan design rule gave no hint that the proposal would eliminate the possibility of HSAs surviving.

This year’s rule change made it clear that this was President Obama’s goal.

1)” Plans must apply specific deductibles and out-of-pocket limits that are outside the requirements for HSA-qualified plans.”

2) “Plans must cover services below the deductible that are not considered “preventive care.”

“ Regarding the deductibles and out-of-pocket limits, no Bronze, Silver, or Gold plans adhering to the standardized benefit designs will likely be HSA-qualified for 2017.”

The first step was for HHS to change the definition of a qualified plan. The next step was to force the plan design to be incompatible with HSAs.

HHS and CMS have given the healthcare insurance industry another gift. Maybe it is a payback for CMS short changing the insurance industry on its reinsurance payback promise.

In any event HSAs look doomed. The Obama administration has succeeded in destroying the development of a viable healthcare system that the free market, not the central government controls.

John Dunn M.D.,J.D. wrote a wonderful summary of Obamacare’s failed attempts to control the healthcare system to his chat group followers.

He has summarized all the policies that have failed in the Obama administration’s goal to destroy the private healthcare market and eliminate the free market system.

 “ Subject: HSAs being eliminated?

Yep, Obamacare strikes again to accomplish the real goal, elimination of private capitalist free market healthcare.

 Now let’s tally up the failures of Obamacare in its attempt to destroy the healthcare system—

  1. more expensive, less accessible,
  2. restrictions on hospitals and care givers,
  3. promotion of mid level practitioners, extraordinary inefficiencies created by computer mandates,
  4. penalties for hospitals and physicians that are created by apparatchiks,
  5. no decline in the uninsured,
  6. in fact there might be an increase in the uninsured because of the cost of premiums and deductible,
  7. more movement of people to Medicaid where coverage is free,
  8. bankruptcies of COOP insurance programs,
  9. exchanges failing with insurers leaving the market for taking big economic hits from adverse selection,
  10. and most of all—the death spiral of private market insurance—with the goal being to destroy the private market ????  
  11. Why of course, Medicaid for all. 

 The goal of government bureaucrats is control and power, achieved in this case by the growth of single payer government controlled medicine—Medicaid on steroids—

The result will be mediocrity as far as the eye can see, and destruction of innovative and creative health care,

but also the loss of the ethics and patient consideration that comes from physician guided health care,

 instead a trade for mandarins with frowns and red pencils,

 Checking the data banks that aren’t secure from hacking.

 It leaves one almost breathless, but it started a long time ago.

Good intentions and unanticipated results—Bastiat von Mises, Fredrick Hayek warned us about the fatal conceit and the problem of government actions to protect certain interests or promote a cause—ignorant of the realities of markets and the benefits of free markets. 

Socialism and statism will produce mediocre, expensive healthcare run by bureaucrats and apparatchiks who aren’t interested in good patient care,

They are only interested in control.

Looks like I am not the only one who has figured it out.

I do not understand why the political establishment cannot understand why Americans are getting ready to cast a protest vote against them.
 The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2015 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE




Biased Newspaper Reporting

Stanley Feld M.D.FACP, MACE

I used to read every word of the New York Times. After all it was “all the news fit to print.”

It took me a long time to figure out it was the same sensational journalism as the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Its sensationalism is subtler.

Both the News and the Post had better Sports sections than the Times. All three newspapers are biased. They all leave out important facts.

The New York Times leaves out important facts and does not connect related facts. The result is intelligent people reading and believing the New York Times can have one world view, while another group of intelligent people reading and connecting the facts can have an opposite world view.

The following headline appeared on the front page of the Sunday Times on Easter Sunday.

On Campaign Trail, Republicans Tone Down Criticism of Obamacare.

On its surface the headline infers that Obamacare is working and citizens like it.

The Times claim is, “Among the most embattled Senate Republican incumbents, the campaign websites of Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin barely mention the health care law.

The article goes on to quotes Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

“The explanation for (the lack of criticism of Obamacare) may be that for all its controversy and imperfections, the sweeping law has taken hold.”

 “This (Obamacare) is in the fabric of the nation,” said Burwell.

 “To be sure, the presidential election outcome will be a determinant of whether the health care law is reshaped, bolstered or downsized.”

Is reporting this Obama administration bias?  To me it certainly is. This conclusion is total nonsense. It is an attempt by the New York Times to help the Obama administration spin the truth and save President Obama’s legacy

The Times also points out that; President Obama took part in a celebration in Milwaukee this month after the city was given an award for increasing health insurance enrollment.”

Paul Krugman’s New York Times articles have been telling reders how successful Obamacare has been. The problem with his commentary is it does not fit the facts.

Meanwhile President Obama and the administration have been modifying the law almost monthly without the consent of congress.

It has also been spending money without congressional approval because the law has not worked out well for President Obama and his administration.

Obamacare has been a failure for all the stakeholders. It has had a negative impact on the economy and the delivery of medical care.

It cannot be fixed with a few modifications.

I hope the New York Times is just printing the Obama administration’s press releases. However, the Times editorials reflect the lies.

Anyone running for congress who believes the New York Times propaganda about the success of Obamacare should not be elected.

Many patients credit the President with giving them access to coverage even if they have a pre-existing condition and are not in a group plan. Meanwhile, the cost of the insurance has changed with higher premiums and deductibles, and the cost of coverage is increasing annually for both Obamacare and private insurance.

Remember President Obama’s promise, “If you like your insurance you can keep your insurance

 The cost of has been a debacle. It had been riddled with scandals, inefficiency, cronyism, and disrespect for consumers’ intelligence. I thought the original $800 million dollar cost estimate was ridiculously high. Its present estimate is $2.1 billion dollars. the web site is still not right.


How much did CMS really spent on Obamacare? No one really knows. It has not been cheap. Most of the expenditures have not been approved by congress.

For the last three years the Obama administration has lied about the enrollment numbers. At the same time they have bragged about the enrollment success. In 2014 the grand total enrollment in private insurance through the Obamacare exchange was 260,000 while 14 million privately insured lost coverage.

However the total number of consumers enrolled through Medicaid was 8.99 million. This occurred with only 23 states participating in the expansion of Medicaid


The enrollment figures had not improved at the end of 2015 even though the Obama administration extended the enrollment period constantly throughout the year.

“Earlier this month (2016), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that nearly 8.8 million Americans had “effectuated” coverage at the end of 2015, meaning they were paying their health insurance premiums.”

The agency praised this number as a sign of Obamacare’s success in expanding access to coverage.”

This is a perfect example of spinning the news. At the of the 2015 enrollment period before the enrollment extensions 11.69 million members signed up and paid. At the end of 2015 only 8.78 million people continued to pay their premiums.


This represents less than the Obama administration claimed enrollment of 2014.

 The New York Times is publishing fiction because of it’s bias toward President Obama and Obamacare. The truth about Obamacare’s lack of success is public record. Unfortunately the New York Times ignores the truth.

Obamacare enrollment decreased even further this year (2016). The insurance premiums and deductibles are too high for people making over 50,000 dollars a year. Only the fully subsidized people can afford to stay in Obamacare.

 Obamacare’s State Co-Ops were formed to have states run their own state insurance exchanges. Inefficiencies and faulty business model cause 13 of the 23 to fail so far.

The Obama administration provided 2.5 billion dollars in loans to these State Co-Ops. So far the federal government has lost 1.2 billion dollars of it 2.5 billion loaned to the state Co-Ops.

The Affordable Care Act allowed for the creation of consumer-operated and oriented plans, or co-ops, that were intended to inject competition into areas where consumers had few choices.

At present 8 more Co-Ops are on the verge and will probably close for enrollment for 2017.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have little hope or collecting the money lent to the State Co-Ops. Information surrounding the liability of the failed state Co-Ops for the loans has not been transparent.

A total of $2.4 billion in loans was awarded to 23 Co Ops start-up and solvency loans to the 23 co-ops.

Now, 12 of the 23 co-ops that opened their doors in 2013 have closed and have left 900,000 consumers without insurance. No one can tell if these people were assimilated into the federal health exchanges. Republicans in Congress are questioning whether the taxpayers will ever get repaid $1.2 billion loaned to those failed Co-Op insurers.


Obamacare has made insurance available to millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions were denied coverage. This is true. However both the premiums and the $6000 deductibles are unaffordable.

A diabetic wrote to me, “Obamacare is great! Now I can buy insurance. My premium cost $12,000 a year. My deductible is $6,000 for a total of $18,000 a year. My medical bills were $100,000 last year.

I asked what was her HbA1c. She said it was 9.2% (normal 4.5% -5.5%).

The high HbA1c means she is a poorly controlled diabetic.

Shouldn’t this patient be responsible to lower the HA1c to 6% in order to reduce her diabetes complication rate?

Not everyone can afford $18,000 per year. Most of the diabetic patients who cannot afford the high insurance rates in the federal health exchanges have even higher HbA1c levels. They will ultimately cost the payer of last resort, the government, even more after the patient is bankrupt.

A better system needs to be developed to incentivized these people to be responsible for their own diabetes control.


Another feature of Obamacare that is publicized as one of the great successes is that children can stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.

The unintended consequence of this feature has given the healthcare insurance industry and excuse to raise insurance premiums by double digits increase each year.

President Obama has bragged, and the New York Times has applauded him for it, that health care inflation has been lowered since Obamacare was passed into law. He say that Obamacare has bent the healthcare cost curve.

This is false. Obamacare was collecting Obamacare imposed tax increases on every income bracket for three years prior to implementation of the healthcare coverage.

The cost curve was bent because there were no expenditures in the delivery of healthcare. In 2015 the healthcare cost curve is rising.

There are 20 hidden taxes in the law that effect citizens earning less than $250,000 dollars a year. .

These new taxes contradict President Obama’s promise that “anyone making under $250,000 a year will not pay a dime in new taxes.” Many of these taxes on businesses are being passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

Insurance companies are leaving the federal health exchanges in droves because they are not making as much money as promised by the Obama administration. Obamacare will disappear without insurance company participation.

When compared to 2015, 22 states and the District of Columbia have fewer insurers offering coverage on the exchanges in 2016.

 Just 10 states have more insurers offering coverage on Obamacare’s exchange.
The New York Times presents deceiving information about Obamacare. I cannot understand why readers believe these lies.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2015 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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