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Lies About Government Spending

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

President Obama and the mainstream media have been bragging about how well Obamacare is working. They cite that Obamacare is bringing down government health-spending growth.

However they have not been telling the truth. They have taken numbers out of context and have spun a lie.

The evidence presented by federal actuaries is that health growth has been under 4% in the five years prior to 2014.

The Obama administration has made a big deal out of this finding. President Obama has bragged that he is bending the cost curve with Obamacare.

His statements are deceptive. It means government health spending growth has been just under 4%. It is still increasing by 4% year to year and not the usual 6%-10% increase.  

Obamacare spending for direct medical care did not go into effect until 2014. All that went into effect was increases in taxes from 2010 until 2014 and spending on the growth of the bureaucracy resulting in a 4% growth. The math had nothing to do with increased direct medical care.

According to federal actuaries, spending on all health care grew 5.5% in 2014. Actual enrollment was lower than expected enrollment in 2014.

2014 was the first year of spending on direct medical care. Healthcare spending will continue to increase in 2015 to 5.3%. The reason is spending for Obamacare took affect in 2014 and continued in 2015. The reason for the slight predicted percentage decrease for 2015 is at least two fold. Less people signed up for Obamacare in 2015 than predicted and reimbursement for physicians and hospitals decreased.

Other reasons for a government decrease in spending are consumers are paying a greater share of their medical bills and reining in their use of medical care services.

One in three Americans said they or a family member delayed medical care because of costs in 2014, according to a report late last year by survey company Gallup.”

President Obama and his administration are deceiving the American public about the success of Obamacare.

The cost to taxpayers and people who are insured has actually increased. President Obama continually tells us costs are decreasing.

The mainstream media, especially The New York Times and Paul Krugman, continually repeat the lie. If you repeat a lie enough times people begin to believe it is the truth.

A reader asked me where did the New York Times readers leave their thinking apparatus. Someone else pointed out that the New York Times readership is decreasing because the newspaper has lost its credibility.

The New York Times opinions seem to be presented without supporting evidence.

The truth is premiums are increasing, coverage is decreasing and insurance deductibles are increasing for everyone including the middle class. Access to medical treatment is decreasing. Out of pocket expenses are skyrocketing.

The deception continues unchallenged by Republicans. No one is talking about the fact that the Obama administration is lying about what is happening on the ground.

“According to a report from actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published in the journal Health Affairs. In the years through 2024, spending growth is expected to average 5.8%, peaking at 6.3% in 2020.”

The cost of healthcare to the government is going to increase further and faster than predicted by federal actuaries as a result of expanded government insurance coverage under the 2010 health law, and the ever expanding Medicare’s baby-boom beneficiaries entering Medicare age.

As technology increases and as the baby boomers enter Medicare and more expensive life-saving drugs are developed costs to the government are going to increase.

The cost of pharmaceuticals is reported to have increased by 12% last year. The deals the government makes with the pharmaceutical companies are pathetic. The prices continue to mount for the government as consumer out of pocket costs for drugs increase.

By 2024 healthcare costs to the government and consumers are projected to be over 20% of our GDP and rising at the present Obamacare rate.

Americans will be older and sicker.

There is little government focus on helping our population become motivated to become  healthier and more responsible for their health and their own healthcare as they age.

Obamacare is forcing Americans to become more dependent on the government for their healthcare needs.

Hopefully, people are noticing that government does not work and more government will be a disaster to our medical and financial health.

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Medical Care Must Not Be Converted To A Commodity

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

This blog post is a follow up to my last blog "Restricting Access To Care." I published this blog on May 10 2010. The Obama administration has ignored every word. As consumers and physicians might have notice the quality of medical care and the patient/physician relationships have deteriorated as I predicted because Obamacare.

Medical care is not patient centric. Healthcare reform (Obamacare) has been focused on process and not patients. This focus has distorted the effectiveness of medical care even more that it was pre Obamacare.

President Obama has increased the complexity of healthcare in an attempt to make medical care a commodity. His scheme is failing at the expense of consumers.

President Obama keeps on telling the same lie. “Obamacare is a success.” Consumers are not that stupid.

The public must start understanding what is happening now and not complain about why medical care has been destroyed later.

Once the public understands what is happening, individuals must write their congressperson and protest.

Consumers must not believe every lie thrown at them by the traditional media especially when the lie is counter to their every day experience.

I am republishing a previous blog that explains the attempt of turning medical care into a commodity.

Medical Care Must Not Be Converted To A Commodity

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

" President Obama is creating a new bureaucratic agency. It is called the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The Independent Payment Advisory Board will not be measuring clinical judgment or patient compliance when judging the effectiveness of treatment. Its measurement will be physician compliance with evidence based medicine. President Obama, please reexamine your premises.

I am in favor of clinical practice guidelines and evidence based medicine. However, both should be used as an educational tool for physicians and not as a punitive tool to judge payment.

The USPHTF will determine the evidence based medicine to be used. I have pointed out the deficiencies in the USPHTF in the past.

This bureaucracy is an attempt by the government to commoditize medical care. Once medical care is commoditized the cost for medical care is suppose to decrease.

Intensive control of the blood sugar for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus can be expensive in the short run. If intensive control decreases the complications of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus it can decrease costs in the long term.

The conclusion of the ACCORD study was intensive control was not worth the cost of medical care in the short term or long term. After the data was reexamined it turned out that the ACCORD conclusions were incorrect.

“It was not hypoglycemia from intensive control or intensive control itself that caused the increased deaths in the ACCORD study.”

Unfortunately, this information was not being reported on every TV station as the original study results were. The original study results set back universal use of intensive control of Type 2 Diabetes at least a decade.

“ It was important to say that in the intensive group it really was not the people with lower A1c who had problems, it actually was those who had the higher A1c who, despite intense efforts, we couldn't get under control."

This means patients did not comply with their responsibility to intensively control their chronic disease or their physicians did not teach them to control their blood sugar adequately.

"This reexamination gives a stronger momentum to the idea that we need to be thinking that one size doesn't fit all, we need to have different targets for different groups of people and perhaps different treatment strategies to reach those different targets as well. That's troubling both clinically and to the trialist.”

"This is something of a new idea, because previously there has been a strong impetus to having standardized guidelines for doctors and people with diabetes, but it's probably not the right thing to do.”

The reader can sense the discomfort of the academic physicians. They are realizing they cannot commoditize medical treatment. Ask any experienced practicing physician about their patients. Patients have different attitudes about their disease and treatment.

Each patient has to be related to differently. This is clinical judgment. Physicians communicating with their patients is called the physician patient relationships. Patients should be responsible for their outcomes along with physicians. This is the art of medicine. Neither patient nor physician can be treated as a commodity.

President Obama, I hope you are listening. Medical care is difficult to commoditize.

The ACCORD study originally suggested that the goal to normalize the HbA1c resulted in an increase in cardiovascular deaths. It turned out not to be true.

On the other hand an observational study was just published concluding that the lower the HbA1c the lower the complication risk.

The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study is a community-based assessment of 11,092 middle-aged adults in four US communities with normal HbA1c were followed for up to 15 years (4 visits at about 3-year intervals) for onset of new diabetes, new CVD, stroke, and all-cause mortality.”

The higher the HbA1c the higher the average blood sugar and the greater the risk for chronic complications of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. HbA1c is a measure of the average blood sugar over the previous three months.

Table. HbA1c Levels and Corresponding Multivariate Hazard Ratios

HbA1c Level

Multivariate-Adjusted Hazard Ratio

< 5%

0.52 (0.40-0.69)

5% to < 5.5%

1.00 (reference)

5.5% to < 6%

1.86 (1.67-2.08)

6% to < 6.5%

4.48 (3.92-5.13)

≥ 6.5%

16.47 (14.22-19.08)

HbA1c = hemoglobin A1c

“The hazard ratios for stroke were similar, but for all-cause mortality, HbA1c displayed a J-shaped association curve. All associations remained significant after adjustment for the baseline FPG.”

The study found HbA1c values predicted Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) or death, whereas fasting plasma glucose (FPG) levels were not significant after adjustment for other risk factors.

“The recent ADVANCE [Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease: Preterax and Diamicron MR Controlled Evaluation], ACCORD [Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes], and VADT [Veterans Affairs Diabetes Trial] trials left us wondering about the value of tight glycemic control in reducing CVD risk.

“One of the many shortcoming of each of these trials was that most participants had had diabetes for many years, and the designs could not account for the long-term accumulation of glycemic burden.”

The authors claim that the vascular damage from high HbA1c may have already occurred. Tight control during the trials might have had relatively little effect. This is probably not true.

There is evidence that normalizing the blood glucose can lead to regression of the vascular lesions that cause the complications of Diabetes.

The current ARIC analysis demonstrates that higher HbA1c levels, even in the normal range, increase CVD risk.

These results are not conclusive because it is an observational study as opposed to a double blind placebo controlled study. The USPHTF and President Obama’s Independent Payment Advisory Board would not give this study as much credit as the ACCORD study.

The ACCORD study was a placebo controlled double blind study. Its conclusions have more power than an observational study (ARIC). The problem is ACCORD measured the wrong endpoint. ACCORD has resulted in a great disservice to the standard of medical care of diabetes.

The results of The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study suggest that maintaining a HbA1c as near normal as possible even before the onset of diabetes may help prevent CVD.

As President Obama tries to quantify the standard of care he could be picking the wrong standard of care in order to reduce the cost of medical care. All medicine is local. Standards of care are always evolving. The standard of medical care should be determined by local medical leaders who are respected as teachers by local practitioners. It can also be enforced by local peer review with no monetary interest in the outcome.

President Obama’s effort to improve medical care at a reduced price will not succeed if it is interpreted as a punitive measure by a national bureaucracy.

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

May 30, 2010 "

A healthcare system that would work and be cost effective must be a consumer driven healthcare system. It must be patient centered and not stakeholder centered.

It must put consumers in a position of responsibility for their health and healthcare dollars and not in a position of dependence on the government.

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

Please have a friend subscribe

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Medical Care Must Not Be Converted To A Commodity

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

This blog post is a follow up to my last blog "Restricting Access To Care." I published this blog on May 10 2010. The Obama administration has ignored every word. As consumers and physicians might have notice the quality of medical care and the patient/physician relationships have deteriorated as I predicted because Obamacare.

Medical care is not patient centric. Healthcare reform (Obamacare) has been focused on process and not patients. This focus has distorted the effectiveness of medical care even more that it was pre Obamacare.

President Obama has increased the complexity of healthcare in an attempt to make medical care a commodity. His scheme is failing at the expense of consumers.

President Obama keeps on telling the same lie. “Obamacare is a success.” Consumers are not that stupid.

The public must start understanding what is happening now and not complain about why medical care has been destroyed later.

Once the public understands what is happening, individuals must write their congressperson and protest.

Consumers must not believe every lie thrown at them by the traditional media especially when the lie is counter to their every day experience.

I am republishing a previous blog that explains the attempt of turning medical care into a commodity.

Medical Care Must Not Be Converted To A Commodity

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

" President Obama is creating a new bureaucratic agency. It is called the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The Independent Payment Advisory Board will not be measuring clinical judgment or patient compliance when judging the effectiveness of treatment. Its measurement will be physician compliance with evidence based medicine. President Obama, please reexamine your premises.

I am in favor of clinical practice guidelines and evidence based medicine. However, both should be used as an educational tool for physicians and not as a punitive tool to judge payment.

The USPHTF will determine the evidence based medicine to be used. I have pointed out the deficiencies in the USPHTF in the past.

This bureaucracy is an attempt by the government to commoditize medical care. Once medical care is commoditized the cost for medical care is suppose to decrease.

Intensive control of the blood sugar for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus can be expensive in the short run. If intensive control decreases the complications of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus it can decrease costs in the long term.

The conclusion of the ACCORD study was intensive control was not worth the cost of medical care in the short term or long term. After the data was reexamined it turned out that the ACCORD conclusions were incorrect.

“It was not hypoglycemia from intensive control or intensive control itself that caused the increased deaths in the ACCORD study.”

Unfortunately, this information was not being reported on every TV station as the original study results were. The original study results set back universal use of intensive control of Type 2 Diabetes at least a decade.

“ It was important to say that in the intensive group it really was not the people with lower A1c who had problems, it actually was those who had the higher A1c who, despite intense efforts, we couldn't get under control."

This means patients did not comply with their responsibility to intensively control their chronic disease or their physicians did not teach them to control their blood sugar adequately.

"This reexamination gives a stronger momentum to the idea that we need to be thinking that one size doesn't fit all, we need to have different targets for different groups of people and perhaps different treatment strategies to reach those different targets as well. That's troubling both clinically and to the trialist.”

"This is something of a new idea, because previously there has been a strong impetus to having standardized guidelines for doctors and people with diabetes, but it's probably not the right thing to do.”

The reader can sense the discomfort of the academic physicians. They are realizing they cannot commoditize medical treatment. Ask any experienced practicing physician about their patients. Patients have different attitudes about their disease and treatment.

Each patient has to be related to differently. This is clinical judgment. Physicians communicating with their patients is called the physician patient relationships. Patients should be responsible for their outcomes along with physicians. This is the art of medicine. Neither patient nor physician can be treated as a commodity.

President Obama, I hope you are listening. Medical care is difficult to commoditize.

The ACCORD study originally suggested that the goal to normalize the HbA1c resulted in an increase in cardiovascular deaths. It turned out not to be true.

On the other hand an observational study was just published concluding that the lower the HbA1c the lower the complication risk.

The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study is a community-based assessment of 11,092 middle-aged adults in four US communities with normal HbA1c were followed for up to 15 years (4 visits at about 3-year intervals) for onset of new diabetes, new CVD, stroke, and all-cause mortality.”

The higher the HbA1c the higher the average blood sugar and the greater the risk for chronic complications of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. HbA1c is a measure of the average blood sugar over the previous three months.

Table. HbA1c Levels and Corresponding Multivariate Hazard Ratios

HbA1c Level

Multivariate-Adjusted Hazard Ratio

< 5%

0.52 (0.40-0.69)

5% to < 5.5%

1.00 (reference)

5.5% to < 6%

1.86 (1.67-2.08)

6% to < 6.5%

4.48 (3.92-5.13)

≥ 6.5%

16.47 (14.22-19.08)

HbA1c = hemoglobin A1c

“The hazard ratios for stroke were similar, but for all-cause mortality, HbA1c displayed a J-shaped association curve. All associations remained significant after adjustment for the baseline FPG.”

The study found HbA1c values predicted Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) or death, whereas fasting plasma glucose (FPG) levels were not significant after adjustment for other risk factors.

“The recent ADVANCE [Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease: Preterax and Diamicron MR Controlled Evaluation], ACCORD [Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes], and VADT [Veterans Affairs Diabetes Trial] trials left us wondering about the value of tight glycemic control in reducing CVD risk.

“One of the many shortcoming of each of these trials was that most participants had had diabetes for many years, and the designs could not account for the long-term accumulation of glycemic burden.”

The authors claim that the vascular damage from high HbA1c may have already occurred. Tight control during the trials might have had relatively little effect. This is probably not true.

There is evidence that normalizing the blood glucose can lead to regression of the vascular lesions that cause the complications of Diabetes.

The current ARIC analysis demonstrates that higher HbA1c levels, even in the normal range, increase CVD risk.

These results are not conclusive because it is an observational study as opposed to a double blind placebo controlled study. The USPHTF and President Obama’s Independent Payment Advisory Board would not give this study as much credit as the ACCORD study.

The ACCORD study was a placebo controlled double blind study. Its conclusions have more power than an observational study (ARIC). The problem is ACCORD measured the wrong endpoint. ACCORD has resulted in a great disservice to the standard of medical care of diabetes.

The results of The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study suggest that maintaining a HbA1c as near normal as possible even before the onset of diabetes may help prevent CVD.

As President Obama tries to quantify the standard of care he could be picking the wrong standard of care in order to reduce the cost of medical care. All medicine is local. Standards of care are always evolving. The standard of medical care should be determined by local medical leaders who are respected as teachers by local practitioners. It can also be enforced by local peer review with no monetary interest in the outcome.

President Obama’s effort to improve medical care at a reduced price will not succeed if it is interpreted as a punitive measure by a national bureaucracy.

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

May 30, 2010 "

A healthcare system that would work and be cost effective must be a consumer driven healthcare system. It must be patient centered and not stakeholder centered.

It must put consumers in a position of responsibility for their health and healthcare dollars and not in a position of dependence on the government.

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

Please have a friend subscribe

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Simple, Viable Republican Alternatives To Obamacare

Stanley Feld M.D., FACP, MACE

There are many simple and viable alternatives to Obamacare which Republicans should start considering.

Republicans should seriously consider My Ideal Medical Savings Account as an alterative to Obamacare. It is logical, simple, does not require a large complicated infrastructure and aligns all the stakeholders’ incentives.

It is easy for consumers to understand.

Consumers want to have choices. The dysfunction of our healthcare system has gotten to the point where most consumers don’t have a choice. Consumers simply do not know they lost their freedom of choice and access to care until they get sick.

Consumers think they have adequate healthcare coverage until they get sick. Only 20% of the population gets sick.

The other 80% of the population refuses to think about the problem.

When they do experience illness, the dysfunction in the healthcare system makes them furious. They want to blame someone. Physicians are usually the targets of their frustration.  

Most physicians are trapped in a situation that causes them to fight for their own survival for all the reasons I have previously enumerated. This creates a more dysfunctional healthcare system.

All the stakeholders fight for their own vested interests. These vested interests have become misaligned. The vested interest of the government is to control of the system and decrease its costs.  

Costs cannot be controlled by regulations without consumer involvement.   Consumers of healthcare must understand the effectiveness of their care is dependent on their involvement in their own medical care.

Consumers’ adherence to treatment is a key component in the effectiveness of medical care.

Medical costs cannot be controlled by government price fixing.

Medical costs cannot be controlled by government restrictions to access of care. Consumers will become sicker resulting in a higher cost illness.

Consumers must be empowered to be intelligent, motivated and responsible consumers of medical care. Only then can healthcare costs be controlled.

A functional healthcare system must provide financial incentives to consumers in order for them to want to be empowered to control costs. Consumers should not be dependent on the government to control costs.

The government must repair the actuary and accounting rules of the healthcare insurance industry. Insurance reserves should not be scored as a loss to justify premium increases.

The healthcare insurance industry takes 40 cents off the top of every insurance dollar that is spent. Consumers with both private insurance and government insurance are only getting 60 cents value for every healthcare dollar spent. The healthcare industry is allowed to do some strange accounting with their required reserves.

If this accounting method were repaired, premium costs would decrease.

Effective malpractice reform would result in a significant decrease in healthcare costs. The Obama administration refuses to believe tort reform is needed.  

Many of the rules written into Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid are so screwy they defy common sense and penalize consumers. One glaring rule is Medicare permitting hospitals to admit Medicare patients to the hospital for observation for 48 hours.

Medicare does not pay for Observation admissions. Patients have to pay out of pocket for these admissions.

Consumers must become aware of these screwy rules and protest them. These rules have been written by the Obama administration to save the government money. These rules penalize patients the government professes to help.

Consumers are the only stakeholders that can motivate President Obama and congress to fix the significant points of waste in the healthcare system. Consumers have the power to vote.

I do not believe that President Obama has an interest in repairing the healthcare system. All of his actions signify that he wants the healthcare system to fail. After it fails people will beg the government to completely take over and have a single party payer.

Does anyone trust the government to take over our most valuable asset, our healthcare?

The government take over will also fail because dependent consumers will figure out how to game the system just as food stamp recipient have figured out how to game that inefficient system.

The goal of a sincere administration and congress is to figure out how to motivate consumers to be “PROSUMERS” (productive consumer) with an economic interest in the healthcare system.

Airlines, banks, bookstores, entertainment venues have all figured it out. Why can’t the government help consumers figure it out?

My blog entitled “My Ideal Medical Saving Account Is Democratic” presents a consumer driven healthcare formula. It gives every socioeconomic group the opportunity to be an effective “Prosumer”.

It gives all Prosumers the incentive to be responsible for their health and healthcare dollars.

Below is the blog My Ideal Medical Savings Account Is Democratic!

My Ideal Medical Savings Account Is Democratic!

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

A reader sent this comment; “My Ideal Medical Savings Account (MSA) “was not democratic and leads to restriction of medical care for the less fortunate.'

This comment is totally incorrect. I suspect the comment came from a person who has “an entitlements are good mentality.”

I believe that incentives are good. They lead to innovation. Innovation leads to better ideas.

Healthcare entitlement leads to ever increasing costs, stagnation, restrict freedom of choice and decrease in access to care.

The excellent example of increasing costs, decreasing choice, and decreasing access to care is Medicaid.

The fact that someone is covered by healthcare coverage does not mean they have access to medical care.

 I have written extensively about the virtues of My Ideal Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs). They are different than Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

HSAs put money not spent in a trust for future healthcare expenses. MSAs take the money out of play for healthcare expenses. MSAs provide a trust fund for the consumer’s retirement.

MSAs provide added incentives over HSAs to obtain and maintain good health.  Obesity is a major factor in the onset of chronic diseases. Consumers must be motivated to avoid obesity to maintain good health. MSAs can provide that incentive.

The MSA’s can replace every form of health insurance at a reduced cost. It limits the risk to the healthcare insurance industry while providing consumers with choice.

This would result in competition among healthcare providers. Competition would bring down the cost of healthcare.

Some people might not like MSA’s because they are liberating. They provide consumers of healthcare with freedom of choice. They also give consumers the opportunity to be responsible for their healthcare dollars while providing them with incentives to take care of their health.

MSAs could be used for private insurance purchasers, group insurance plans, employer self- insurance plans, State Funded self-insurance plans and Medicare and Medicaid.

In each case the funding source is different. The cost of the high deductible insurance is low because the risk is low. 

If it were a $6,000 deductible MSA, the first $6,000 would be placed in a trust for the consumer. Whatever they did not spend would go into a retirement trust.  If they spent over $6,000 they would receive first dollar healthcare insurance coverage. Their trust would obviously receive no money that year.

The incentive would be for consumers to take care of their health so they do not get sick and end up in an expensive emergency room.

If a person had a chronic illness such as asthma, Diabetes Mellitus, or heart disease with a tendency to congestive heart failure and ended up in the emergency room they would use up their $6,000.

If they took care of themselves by spending $3,000 of their $6,000 trust their funding source could afford to give their trust a $1500 reward. The benefit to the funding source is it saved money by the consumer not being admitted to the hospital. The patient stayed healthy and was more productive.

President Obama does not want to try this out. He wants consumers and businesses to be dependent of the central government for everything.

MSAs would lead to consumer independence from central government control of our healthcare. MSAs would put all consumers at whatever socioeconomic level in charge of their own destiny.

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

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Republicans who really want to repair the healthcare system should take notice of these suggestions. They should stop proposing complicated alternatives to Obamacare that will not work.

Republicans should start trying to understand the real problems in the healthcare system.

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

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Republican Leadership Is Chickening Out!

 Stanley Feld M.D.FACP, MACE

Since the Republican’s massive victory in November President Obama has been setting up strategy to blame Republicans for all that will go wrong as that majority pledged they would repeal Obamacare.

It was strange that President Obama was not contrite or acted defeated by the election. He said 66% of the people did not vote. He said that those 66% did agreed with his policies and therefore it was a mandate for him to carry on.

President Obama knows he has the RINO’s on their heels

 The traditional mainstream media did not question President Obama’s premise that 66% liked his policies.

Another explanation could be that those 66% disagree with   President Obama’s policies. They believe in President Obama but believe his policies are wrong and did not vote for them.

After all, President Obama said the election was about his policies.

He has not paid attention to needs or will of the Americans people.

President Obama has used the traditional mainstream media (TMM) to promote his agenda. After the TMM publishes the Obama administration’s lies over and over again it becomes the truth even though it remains a lie.

A perfect current example is the administration’s lie that open enrollment for Obamacare is going great.

 The Republican moves come, ironically, as the Affordable Care Act is working fairly well. The three-month enrollment season for 2015 is going smoothly and will likely surpass the administration’s modest second year goals of having 9 million covered in exchange plans.’

After two years of open enrollment if Obamacare signs up the original estimate of 13 million, it still has 320 million people short.  However, President Obama will tout the amazing success ever though Obamacare is unsuccessful and harmful to Americans who were satisfied with their insurance and their doctor before Obamacare.

President Obama has been collecting increased taxes for Obamacare for 4 years.

 “Republicans have been vowing to repeal Obamacare for nearly five years. But 2015 could be the year that Republicans finally define how they would replace it.”

Now Republicans are chickening out. Some Republicans want to delay their repeal strategy until after the Supreme Court rules on the King v. Burwell case in June. Some want to delay it until the presidential campaign in 2016.

I believe Republicans should be aggressive. They should lay out a business model that will work immediately. Then repeal Obamacare . Let the President veto the bill as Republican actively work to replace Obamacare with a carefully explained alternative that makes sense to the public. Republicans can then try to overturn the Presidents veto.

President Obama has asked Republicans over and over again to give him some ideas to fix Obamacare. Obamacare cannot be fixed because of President Obama’s ideology. It must be repealed.

Republicans have many ideas to replace Obamacare with. For years they’ve discussed tax credits to buy insurance, high-risk insurance pools that work and allowing insurance to be sold across state lines. They need to put these ideas together with a compelling and viable business plan such as my ideal medical savings account.

Republicans must create a consumer driven healthcare system.

President Obama and the media have mocked Republicans for not having a plan or offering a fix for Obamacare. I said previous there is not fix for Obamacare. The American public does not want their freedoms restricted. In addition a single party payer system have failed economically in all of the developed countries except Switzerland.

Various Republican proposals have been put forth over the years, but forging agreement requires bridging deep ideological differences among Republicans about the scope of a plan, the role and responsibility of the federal government in health care, and how much to money to spend.”

A plan must include an entirely new system that includes a business plan. The plan must include the freedom for consumers of healthcare to choose and provide access to care without rationing of care.

The plan must also include systems of care for the most expensive chronic diseases such as Diabetes, Asthma, Cancer and Chronic Infectious Diseases.

The plan must not exclude access of care for the elderly that need hip replacements, knee replacements, cancer treatment or heart disease.  

The plan must develop a system for decreasing the cost of the treatment of chronic diseases. It must have within the treatment system a plan to make the consumers more responsible for the health and healthcare dollars.

It should shift the responsibility of care from the government and insurance companies to consumers. Consumers should decide what they need not the government.

Republicans have had six years to decide on what they should be promoting.

President Obama is in a perfect position to mock and veto any Republican piecemeal suggestion.

President Obama has already smiled regarding the new Republican majorities when he said he has to sharpen his veto pencil implying all they will do is present bills that are stupid.

However, the Republican leadership, rather than passing bills in the senate and house of representative to repeal Obamacare, have chosen to work with the Democrats and President Obama.

The Republican leadership is too afraid to do anything scary. They are afraid to lose votes to the Saul Alinsky tactic of ridicule. It might cause them to lose the 2016 Presidential election.

So what does the Republican leadership do the first day they are in power? They take away key healthcare committee chairmanships of leaders who have voted for the removal of Speaker Boehner.

Next they propose a lame reform to change the definition of part-time employment from 29 hour a week to 40 hours per week.

 President Obama would veto Republican legislation that would alter the definition of full-time work under Obamacare from 30 to 40 hours, the White House said Tuesday.”

 It is a stupid proposal on many levels.

 The Harvard faculty uproar of the last few days is very important. Almost all the faulty were big supporters of Obamacare until it affected them. I hope the rest of the country reacts the same way and demands their local newspapers publish multiple stories about their citizens pain.

Now that the Republicans are in power in both houses they should be educating the public about the irreparable issues in Obamacare and define its business model for 2020.

The Republicans should let everyone know they are feeling the public’s pain. Republicans should define a business plan that will provide healthcare for everyone at an affordable cost.

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

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Looking For Alternatives To Obamacare

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

The dice have been loaded against the American people by the rules and regulations in Medicare and Obamacare.

Patients liked their doctors. Once they discovered that they could not keep their doctors under Obamacare they became angry at President Obama for lying to them. The soon to be released new payment rules will increase the anger.

Physicians have found it more difficult to run small private practices.  The complexities of compliance with the rules, regulations and the payment systems for both Medicare and Obamacare are forcing physicians to sell out to hospital systems.

These complexities are in effect ending independent medical practices. This has been intentional. The Obama administration doesn’t want to control 600,000 independent physicians. It wants to deal with the hospital systems the are involved with. The hospital systems can then deal with the doctors.

Republicans are looking for a compelling alternative to Obamacare.

Just as Obamacare was forced through congress, President Obama is trying to force how medicine is practiced in America down the throats of Americans.

It is consistent with Jonathan Gruber’s view that Americans are to stupid to understand what is going on. It follows that Americans are too stupid to be responsible for their own care.

Americans want freedom of choice. They do not want the government to tell them what to do.

Republicans are looking for an alternative to Obamacare. A viable alternative could be to save the private practice of medicine and not subject Americans to the inefficiencies of a government controlled bureaucracy.

 Physicians by nature and education are competitive. Competition leads to improvement of the delivery of medical care.

All medicine is local. The alternative to Obamacare is to have local completion among physicians and permit patients to choose their doctors.

The answer to the Republican’s dilemma is right in front of their eyes.

A real Republican alternative to Obamacare would support physician ownership of independent medical practices and preserve local competition between doctors and maintain choice for patients.

Obamacare’s promotion of large hospital systems with salaried physicians eliminates physicians competing for patients. The lack of physicians competing for patients destroys the physician/patient relationship.

Physicians listen to patients if patients have a choice. The interaction is a partnership called the patient /physician relationship.

This solves the problem of President Obama’s lie. “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor period.” Patients choose their doctors.

Dr. Donald Berwick and Jonathan Gruber’s view the consolidation of physicians and hospital systems as a necessary step to enable payment liability onto providers through hospital systems and away from government programs such as Medicare and Obamacare.

President Obama does not understand that doctors are not stupid either. At the moment physicians feel financially cornered by the government and the hospital systems and are joining hospital systems as a temporary means of surviving.

President Obama also does not realize that over the last 50 years there has been a build up of physician distrust for most hospital administrations.

Most administrators have tried to repair that mistrust but it has not been very successful. Hospital systems have been trying for years to own their physicians’ intellectual property and surgical skills for their hospital system’s profit. It is all about economics. Patient care is secondary.

As hospital systems consolidate competition will be eliminated.  Then hospital systems will realize they are losing money because of the risk they agreed to accept from the government. Hospital systems will demand more money from the government or consumers or go out of business.

Who loses? 

Patients lose, taxpayers lose, and the American healthcare system loses.

The abuses of the healthcare system by all the stakeholders must be fixed. It will never be fixed by forcing stakeholders to fix it. It will only be fixed by aligning incentives of all the stakeholders. Consumers must lead the way.

A recent Physicians Foundation survey of 20,000 U.S. doctors found that 35% described themselves as independent, down from 49% in 2012 and 62% in 2008.

It has also been reported that hospital systems are complaining that they are losing money on their physicians in these integrated systems.

Hospital systems are dropping out of the Obamacare Accountable Care Organization programs. There have been reports that salaried physicians are less productive that independent practicing physicians.

I believe in the team approach to the management of chronic disease. The patient must be at the center of the team with the physician being the head coach or manager and his team being an extension of the physician’s care.

Medical decision making entities must not be the insurance company or the government.

The idea that integrated systems with salaried physicians leads to increased economic efficiency, better quality of care and clinical outcomes than small independent private practices never made syllogistic sense to me.

Patient care becomes depersonalized in large hospital systems. Both patients and physicians become commodities in systems focused on the bottom line.

Small practices have the advantage of providing a personal style of care. Consumers want that comfort when they are sick. They want someone they know who is going to listen to them and talk to them.

In a private setting physicians can practice the way they want, without interference by a large, impersonal organization driving efficiency.

If a physician in private practice does not satisfy the consumer’s need the consumer can leave the practice and go somewhere else.

  "When you work closely with patients and empower them, they are going to make better choices," said Craig C. Koniver, MD, a solo family physician in North Charleston, South Carolina. He said a team of caregivers at a large practice will not have the same impact, because none of them are as close to the patient as he is.”

Health Affairs published a study in August 2014 looking at primary care physicians in small practices and “ambulatory care sensitive” admission rates. The study included such conditions as congestive heart failure in which admission to the hospital can be preventive by high quality primary care. The patient relates positively to the physician and the physician relates positively to the patient (positive patient/physician relationship).

“The study found that practices with 1 to 2 physicians had ambulatory care-sensitive admission rates fully 33% lower than practices with 10 to 19 physicians.”

This is not the only study that shows that small independent private practices can deliver just as high or higher quality of care than large integrated hospital systems with salaried physicans.

“ A 2013 study[2] showed that small practices in general had slightly lower hospital readmission rates than large practices.”

Additionally, “a 2012 study[3] looking at practices ranging from 5 to 750 physicians found that the smaller ones had fewer ambulatory care-sensitive admissions and lower overall costs of care for diabetes.”

 All three studies turned a piece of conventional wisdom on its head; that large practices, with their care management teams and sophisticated clinical information systems, produce better clinical outcomes.

Republicans should start presenting alternatives to Obamacare. The alternative must provide consumers with what they want rather than systems that let the government to tell consumers what they are going to get.

The ideal medical savings account will let consumers choose and keep their doctor if they like their doctor.

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

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If You Like You Doctor

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

 This is a message for the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Obamacare is a disaster built on a failed ideology, deceptions and lies.

Obamacare started off with lies and continues to deceive the American public.  

Its emotional seductions have also deceived many physicians.

All one has to remember is Jonathan Gruber’s statement about the lack of transparency being a powerful political tool. Gruber said given the lack of transparency, the public is too stupid to figure out the truth.

http://www.lijit.com/search?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lijit.com%2Fusers%2Fstanleyfeld&start_time=&p=g&blog_uri=http%3A%2F%2Fstanleyfeldmdmace.typepad.com%2F&blog_platform=&view_id=&link_id=7386&flavor=&q=Jonathn+Gruber&x=28&y=9

President Obama told us; ”If you like your doctor you can keep you doctor, period.”

This statement was not true for an instant. President Obama knew it but ideology trumps reality. Many have blamed Obamacare’s failure on President Obama’s inexperience as a manager. This is not the reason.

The failed progressive ideology of big government controlling choices and freedoms of the American people is the reason for Obamacare’s failure.

Last week, Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) admitted the passage of Obamacare was a mistake. Not surprisingly, the mainstream traditional media has not mentioned Schumer’s admission.

The mainstream media has been a shill for Democrats and President Obama. It has helped the Obama administration keep the truth from the American public.  

 

 

 

http://youtu.be/O9m7fsSUUKQ

 

  

http://youtu.be/kOJfyT8juhA

President Obama keeps the American public uninformed with the help from the traditional mainstream media. His goal is central government control of Americans’ choices and freedoms. President Obama’s support is derived from his appeal to Americans’ emotions and not from the facts.

His problem is Americans are not stupid. They can separate reality from appearance when they pay attention. Obamacare is now affecting them directly and they are paying attention.

President Obama is waking up the sleeping tiger of Patient Power.

Obamacare is failing, but Obama’s lies keep coming. One recent lie is Obamacare’s open enrollment period is going well. I have shown evidence to the contrary in my last blog. So far the administration is 50% behind their estimated sign ups.

As of 12/05/2014 open enrollment is still (884,354/1,050,000) behind with 59% of estimates to sign up.

 

Confirmed 2015 QHPs: 884,354 as of 12/04/14

 

Estimated 2015 QHPs (Cumulative):11/21: 610K (462K HC.gov) • 11/28: 1.02M (765K HC.gov)
12/05: 1.50M (1.12M HC.gov) (special: 1.64M / 1.23M HCgov)

Thru 12/06: 1.57M (1.18M HC.gov)

 The biggest lie, since “you can keep your doctor, period” is that healthcare spending is decreasing because of Obamacare. This lie is a complicated lie. It is important to understand this lie.

 Obamacare is not lowering healthcare spending. It is increasing healthcare spending. Premiums and out of pocket costs are increasing for consumers.

 As a result of Obamacare deductibles have increased beyond affordability. Consumers cannot afford to utilize their “healthcare insurance” until absolutely necessary. The result will be higher costs when patients are forced to use the insurance because of the development of complications from a chronic disease.

 “The Bureau of Economic Analysis issued its advance estimate of first-quarter growth in 2014, which barely made it into the black with an annualized GDP growth rate of 0.1 percent.

Healthcare spending rose at an annualized rate of 9.9 percent, far outstripping inflation and standing in stark contrast to other components of the BEA report.

 Exports fell 7.6 percent, and demand for imports declined by 1.4 percent. Consumer consumption rose 3.0 percent, but that came in part from the high rate of health-care spending.

Without the spending on health care in 2014 Q1, annualized GDP would have dropped to a recessionary -1.0 percent, according to economist Ian Shepherdson.”

 In 2008, pre Obamacare, the US had seen a drift downward in health-care spending.

 The downward trend began to reverse as Obamacare first officially launched in October 2013. In the fourth quarter of 2013, health-care spending rose 5.6 percent, far above the 2.6 percent growth rate of the economy, to which it significantly contributed.

 The New York Times writes article after article claiming that the cost of healthcare is decreasing. The implication is that Obamacare is working.

 Nothing could be further from the truth.

“The rapid increase in spending does not indicate that the system is working to lower costs, an absurd if not Orwellian construct by President Obama.

“Nor is the debate “over,” no matter how many times Obama claims otherwise. Too bad the White House chose not to take advice from National Journal’s Ron Fournier

“The president risks insulting a vast majority of Americans by dismissing their concerns with a consultant's talking point,” Fournier wrote before the economic figures were released, “and Obama can't afford any more blows to his credibility.”

Consumers are tired of President Obama’s lies. He has lost all credibility with the American public.

The Obama administration keeps telling us how well Obamacare’s Accountable Care Organizations are doing. The Obama administration keeps saying hospital systems must set up integrated healthcare systems (ACOs) to increase the quality of care.  

 Hospital systems have been promised increased revenue incentives by setting up ACOs. Most hospital systems are losing money with their ACO’s.

As a result of losing money hospital systems are dropping out of the federal ACO program.

 This week, the Obama administration published regulations to decrease the hospital systems’ risk and increase its financial incentives, in order to decrease the ACO dropout rate.

President Obama refuses to believe that even though the ACO model sounds great its successful execution is difficult to impossible. 

The chances for ACOs to succeed is not only dependent on the hospital system’s ability to decrease utilization, it is heavily dependent on patients taking responsibility for their own care. Patients must follow instructions.

President Obama believes he can lie his way out of reality. The American public is not buying these lies any more.

Republicans must focus on the reasons for the obvious failures of Obamacare.

Consumers want to have freedom of choice. They do not want the government to control them.

Republican must focus on creating programs to provide incentives for consumers to be in control and responsible for their health and healthcare dollars. 

Republican must focus on ways to permit consumers “to keep their doctors if they like their doctors period.”

My ideal medical saving account will do all of the above.

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

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Obamacare Post Mid-Term Elections

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

The mid-term elections are over. The Republicans captured majorities in the House and Senate. The election was a clear repudiation by the people of President Obama’s policies.

President Obama has denied this reality. He has pledged to pursue his ideological goals that have hobbled the people and the country so badly.

 The polls have indicated that the public is opposed to Obamacare and all of its unintended consequences.

We ain’t seen nothin yet. The unintended consequences are going to escalate starting with the delayed open enrollment season on November 15 2014. This opened enrollment was unnoticed, so Democrats did not suffer any blowback from Obamacare during the mid-term elections.  

Larger categories of people and businesses will be affected by Obamacare’s rules and regulations on January 1,2015. Last year only people in the individual healthcare insurance market were affected.

President Obama continues to mock Republicans by telling them he will be happy to listen to them to see if they have a better idea than Obamacare.

Everyone knows he has no interest in changing or repealing his legacy healthcare law.

The majority of people are dissatisfied with Obamacare. All the Republicans have to do is come up with an idea that is compelling to all of the public. The power of public opinion can demand that Obamacare must change.

 It has to be a simple idea. It has to teach consumers how to be responsible for their health and their own healthcare dollars. It has to educate consumers on how to drive the healthcare system and remove government from controlling their healthcare choices.

The basic problem with our present healthcare system is medical care is fragmented. In addition, all the stakeholders’ vested interests are misaligned. 

President Obama, with his forced passage of Obamacare, has added to the dysfunction of the healthcare system.  .

 Obamacare is meant to be a step toward a single party system. 

 The government cannot afford, and the nation will not accept, a government controlled single party payer system. 

Obamacare does not do anything to repair the distortions of to the system that have led to the dysfunction of the healthcare system pre Obamacare.

The most important stakeholder in the healthcare system is the consumer. Obamacare has marginalized consumers/patients even further.

It was hard for consumers to have notice the dysfunction in the healthcare system because only 20% of consumers use the healthcare system at one time. The remaining 80% thought their healthcare insurance was fine.

Since Obamacare was passed into law it is affecting everyone directly and they are starting to complain.

The current state problem are shown in the figure below.

Barriers

 A dizzying array of stakeholders is all fighting for a competitive advantage, or at the very least survival, in the dysfunctional current state.

Obamacare’s rules and regulations have made the current state more difficult for everyone.  This is leading to the impending collapse of the healthcare system.

Republican Party should not tinker with legislation to try to fix Obamacare.

It should step in right now and educate the consumers about their consumer power. Republicans need to present a market driven solution that is easy to understand.

 My ideal medical saving account can provide the financial incentives for consumers to act and drive the new healthcare systems.

Once the public understands what they can do, it will change its attitude from the helplessness and hopelessness to an empowered reaction to do something to change the system.  

There are many other things that need to be demanded by the public. I believe empowering the public to demand a market driven system is crucial to a viable and affordable healthcare system.

Almost all the stakeholders believe something must change. The centrally controlled healthcare system’s business model will not work or be sustainable. All one has to do it look at the VA Health System.

Consumers and businesses are becoming frightened and beg the government for help.  The government will institute a single party payer system.

 The result is that consumers will not be able or willing to tolerate a centrally controlled healthcare system.

 As I see it, the nation has two choices: Alternative 1 and Alternative 2.

Alternative 1:

  Alternative 1 future state

 If we extend the course of our present healthcare system to a single party payer system (Alternative 1) the costs will escalate, and access to care will decrease. It is inevitable the rationing of care will occur.

 Alternative 2

Alternative 2 Future state
 Alternative 2 would be a market-based system that would put the consumer in the center of the healthcare system.

Provider systems and administrative systems would have incentive to make its products attractive to consumers at the lowest price possible with the highest quality of care.

Consumers, by owning their healthcare dollars, would have the freedom and resources to choose. Government and its bloated and inefficient bureaucracies should not be making medical care choices for consumers. 

Two things must happen. Republicans must teach consumers the advantages of a market based business model.

 The Republican congressional majority must start teaching all the other stakeholders (physicians, hospital systems, the government, the healthcare insurance industry and Big Pharma) the advantages of this market-based system to their vested interest.

 The alignment of vested interests must start right now and not down the line.

 The Obama administration will dismiss the possibility of a successful market based system. Republicans must not be intimidated. Didn’t they win the election this time?

The Obama administration’s conclusions are based on ideology not past history, logic, fact or evidence.

 The Obama administration and its followers will reject the possibility of success for an incentive driven system instead of a government controlled system.

 A market-based system can be presented in a way where all the stakeholders can buy into a successful consumer driven future state.

 

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

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I Am Not The Only One

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Readers ask if I think practicing medicine is becoming more difficult because of Obamacare.

 My answer has been it is becoming impossible to practice medicine. The overwhelming bureaucratic rules and regulations are becoming too difficult to understand and even harder to execute.

Patients will suffer the most because of the disappearance of a physician-patient relationship. Patients are being converted from patients to commodities.

Why don’t more physicians protest? Why don’t they describe their problems in the age of Obamacare?”

There are complex reasons that there has not been an organized physician outcry.

Organized medicine (AMA) and other organizations representing specialties in medicine and surgery are afraid to lead an outcry. Their main goal is to not lose their seat at the table.

This is strange goal. Politicians and their health policy advisers have ignored organized medicine for the last 50 years. Many smart physicians in or out of these organizations have tried to have their voice heard but have failed.

Since Medicare was passed (the last 50 years) there have been many outrageous changes proposed by non-physicians The healthcare policy changes were proposed to decrease the increasing cost of healthcare. Instead these changes have increased the cost of care.

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The politicians and healthcare policy advisers are always changing the wrong policies. They are always putting more power into the government bureaucrats and healthcare industry’s hands rather that putting power into the patients’ hands.

Physicians who have seen these policy changes work out for their benefit are hesitant to participate in an Obamacare protest. These physicians assume Obamacare will also work out well for them

However, physicians do not realize that their intellectual property and surgical skills have been devalued with each of the present changes in healthcare policy.

In a 2006 blog I described how to cook a frog without the frog jumping out of the pot water. Everyone knows that you increase the temperature of the water one degree at a time. When the frog realizes what is going on he is too weak to jump out.

Obamacare has increased the temperature of the water to an intolerable level. At present few frogs have the energy to jump out of the water.

Most of the changes in Obamacare are going hurt patients by decreasing access to care and rationing of care. The physician/patient relationship has also been destroyed.

Dr. Mark Sklar, a Clinical Endocrinologist in Washington D.C., had enough energy to jump out of the hot water. He launched his protest in an excellent article and got the attention of the editors of the WJS.

My hope is Dr. Sklar’s article will launch a consumer protest demanding that a change be made from Obamacare to a healthcare system that will empower consumers.

The new healthcare system should be a consumer driven healthcare system that puts consumers in control of their health and healthcare dollars. The control of the healthcare system should not be in the government’s or the healthcare insurance industry’s hands.

A consumer driven healthcare system should provide incentives to consumers to remain healthy, and provide financial reward if they do. It should also make shopper of consumers.

A consumer driven healthcare system will drive the other stakeholders into a competitive mode to vie for the business of the consumer.

The financial reward should be for consumers, not to the healthcare insurance industry, government, hospital systems or physicians.

I want to echo Dr. Sklar’s protest. I will try to help Dr. Sklar  make his article  a wake up call for consumers.

Consumers are the only stakeholders that can turn the destruction of the medical system around.

Consumers elect politicians. Politicians like the advantages and perks they receive from their elected positions. Politicians are afraid of the consumers that vote to reelect politicians. They will comply with their voters demands.

Below is Dr. Sklar’s article listing most of the issues that are making the delivery of healthcare very difficult.

"Doctoring in the Age of ObamaCare"

"Endlessly entering data or calling for permission to prescribe or trying to avoid Medicare penalties—when should I see patients?

MARK SKLAR M.D., FACE

Sept. 11, 2014 7:35 p.m. ET

http://online.wsj.com/articles/mark-sklar-doctoring-in-the-age-of-obamacare-1410478521

‘It has been four years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, so I thought it may be useful to provide the perspective of a physician providing daily medical care. I am an endocrinologist in Washington, D.C., and have been in solo private practice for 17 years after seven years at an academic institution. Since 1990, the practice of medicine has changed significantly, seldom for the better.

In the 1990s insurance companies developed managed-care plans that greatly increased their profits at the expense of the physician. With the Affordable Care Act, we are seeing new groups profiting from changes to the health-care system. Entrepreneurs and hospital executives are capitalizing on organizing physicians into groups called Accountable Care Organizations from which they will take a very substantial percentage of collected income. Now that physicians are being required to use electronic medical records, the companies that develop them are harvesting money from physicians' practices and from hospitals.

The push to use electronic medical records has had more than financial costs. Although it is convenient to have patient records accessible on the Internet, the data processing involved has been extremely time consuming—a sentiment echoed by most of my colleagues. To save time, I was advised by a consultant to enter data into the electronic record during the office visit. When I tried this I found that typing in the data was disruptive to the patient visit. My eyes were focused on the keyboard and the lack of direct contact kept patients from opening up and discussing their medical and personal problems. I soon returned to my old method of dictating notes and pasting a print-out of the dictation into the electronic record.

Barrier between patient and physician
 David Klein

Barrier between Patient and Physician

Yet to avoid future financial penalties from Medicare, I must demonstrate "meaningful use" of the electronic record. This involves documenting that I covered a checklist of items during the office visit, so I spend 90 minutes each day entering mostly meaningless data. This is time better spent calling patients to answer questions or keeping updated with the medical literature.

If electronic records ever allow physicians to obtain data from previous laboratory and imaging testing, it will improve costs and patient care. So far, however, the data in electronic records—like paper charts—can't be shared unless physicians work in the same health-care system.

My practice quickly adopted the new Medicare requirements for electronically prescribing medications. Yet patients often do not want their prescription sent electronically. They want a physical copy—either because they don't trust the Internet or because they don't need to fill the prescription immediately. If I don't electronically prescribe for a certain number of Medicare patients, I am penalized with a decrease in reimbursement that can rise to a maximum of 5%. Patients should have a choice in how their prescriptions are delivered, and physicians shouldn't be penalized for how the patients choose.

To prevent physicians from prescribing more costly medications and tests on patients, insurers are increasingly requiring physicians to obtain pre-authorizations. This involves calling a telephone number, often being rerouted several times and then waiting on hold for a representative. The process is demeaning and can take 30-45 minutes. Rather than having physicians pre-authorize expensive medications, the outrageous costs of many non-generic medications must be addressed. I understand that pharmaceutical companies need to make profits to cover investments in drug development. However, they should have some compassion for their customers.

To avoid Medicare penalties, I also must participate in the Physician Quality Reporting System program. Initially, this involved choosing three codes during the patient visit to reflect quality of care, such as blood pressure or blood-sugar control, and reporting them to Medicare. In 2015, the requirement will increase to nine codes.

Coming down the pike, but thankfully postponed from the October 2014 deadline, is something called ICD-10. This is a newer system that will contain about 70,000 medical diagnostic codes used for billing insurance. The present ICD-9 system has about 15,000 codes. The Physician Quality Reporting System and ICD-10 requirements are intended to benefit population research, but the effect is to turn physicians into adjuncts of the Census Bureau who spend time searching for codes—and to further decrease the amount of direct contact with patients.

The practice of medicine in the current environment is unsustainable. The multiple bureaucratic distractions in my day consume so much time that I have to give up what little personal time I have in the morning, evening and on weekends if I want to continue to provide excellent care during office hours.

If high-quality medical care is the goal, the bureaucracies need to be tamed. Our government and insurance companies understandably want to measure outcomes of health-care dollars spent. However, if the health-care system rewards data entry, that is what it will get—the quality of care seems an afterthought.

The patient should be the arbiter of the physician's quality of care. Contrary to what our government may believe, the average American has the intellectual capacity to judge. To give people more control of their medical choices, we should move away from third-party payment. It may be more prudent to offer the public a high-deductible insurance plan with a tax-deductible medical savings account that people could use until the insurance deductible is reached. Members of the public thus would be spending their own health-care dollars and have an incentive to shop around for better value. This would encourage competition among providers and ultimately lower health-care costs.

By contrast, the Affordable Care Act's plans for establishing "medical homes"—a team-based health-care delivery model—and accountability-care organizations will only add more bureaucracy and enrich the consultants and companies organizing these entities.

To improve quality, we need to unchain health-care providers from the bureaucracies that are strangling them fiscally and temporally. We can better control medical costs if we strengthen physicians' relationships with their patients rather than with their computers.”

“Dr. Sklar is an assistant professor of medicine at the Georgetown University Medical Center and at the George Washington University Medical Center.”

I hope all the consumers of healthcare can feel the pain physicians are experiencing in delivering care on their patients behalf because of Obamacare.

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



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