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Disinformation and the healthcare system

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The Mainstream Media Refuses to Understand the Meaning of President Trump’s Healthcare Insurance Associations  

 Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

The Mainstream media refuses to acknowledge the advantage of the Presidential order to allow Associations to participate in available health insurance plans.

Democrats do not want the public to understand the advantages President Trump’s healthcare insurance associations will provide to consumers. It is an important step in Repairing the Healthcare System. Obamacare was advertised only to fix the individual insurance market.

Pre- Obamacare there were 14 million people who had individual healthcare insurance plans. Most were unaffordable. Now, there are only 12 million in the individual market on Obamacare. Most are unaffordable.

Medicaid has expanded from 2 million to 10 million under Obamacare. The total on healthcare insurance provide by Obamacare  is 22 million. Medicaid is a failed healthcare insurance plan. It is a socialized medical insurance plan the has failed.

The mainstream media has forgotten that Obamacare was originally sold by President Obama to cover the individual insurance market. The individual healthcare insurance market was unaffordable. Obamacare was supposed to make it affordable. It turns out that 85% of Obamacare recipients are subsidized by the federal government. President Obama has expanded socialized medicine and a single party payer (the government) with Obamacare. Even with government subsidies the insurance is unaffordable because of the high deductibles.

It is difficult for me to understand how President Obama says he always tells the truth. He said he was going to make the healthcare individual market more affordable. He has not.

I remember he also said; “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” and “if you like your healthcare plan you can keep your healthcare plan.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

When Obamacare was passed there were requirements in the bill that outlined coverage the healthcare insurance industry must provide for everyone who has any kind of healthcare insurance. These requirements included levels of coverage that many people did not need. This excess coverage raised the cost of healthcare insurance in both the individual healthcare insurance market and the group healthcare insurance market. Both types of insurance became unaffordable.

This, combined with the inefficiency of a bureaucratic government raised prices of healthcare insurance even further. Remember the government outsources all of the administrative services to the healthcare insurance industry.

Now, the Democrats want the government to run the entire healthcare delivery system with “Medicare for All.” The unsustainability of “Medicare for All” is estimated at 32 TRILLION dollars over the next ten years!

Associations will not solve all the problems in the healthcare system.  However, they will start solving a good many of them. The Democrats are scared to death that the public will start to understand the advantages of associations. Consumers will have a choice of healthcare insurance plans. Consumers will be in a position to start controlling their healthcare dollars.

The pundits in the mainstream media seem to have no interest in understanding this dynamic. Their only interest is to despise President Trump and regurgitate the Democrats’ easy to understand talking points.

Trump’s associations will:

  1. allow the healthcare industry to sell healthcare plans without the rigid requirements imposed on them by Obamacare.
  1. make individual healthcare plans tax deductible. The large corporations’ group healthcare insurance plans are tax deductible. The individual healthcare insurance plans presently are not tax deductible.
  1. allow members to buy healthcare insurance across state lines. This will create price competition that will lower premiums.
  1. let small companies and the self-employed band together and buy health insurance outside of Obamacare’s strict rules.
  1. offer a way for people to take advantage of the group insurance market, even if they are self-employed or work for a business too small to provide insurance.
  1. will “level the playing field” by giving small businesses bargaining power.” This statement was made by Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.

Mr. Acosta said “As the cost of insurance for small businesses has been increasing, the percentage of small business offering health coverage has been dropping substantially,”. “This expansion will offer millions of Americans more affordable health care options.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the change, “will give employers the relief and flexibility they need to cover more employees at a lower cost with more choices for quality care.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 4 million people, including 400,000 who otherwise would go without insurance, are expected to join association health care plans by 2023.

The introduction of associations is going to disrupt the Democrats plans to take total control of the delivery of healthcare. It is going to start to put healthcare delivery back in the hands of the consumer!

Mr. Trump said at the National Federation of Independent Business’ 75th anniversary celebration in his usual hyperbolic style;

“You’re going to save a fortune,”

I believe he is closer to being right than he is being wrong.

 

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



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Democrats’ New Election Issue Is Ridiculous

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Just before the midterm elections Democrats came up with a brilliant idea in order to fix the healthcare system. They are recommending “Medicare for All.”

Isn’t this what they have recommended since 1935? The Democrats are trying to make a mid-term election issue out of a recommendation that will create a more dysfunctional healthcare system. I have pointed out this plan on multiple occasions is destined to fail.

Democrats refuse to admit that Obamacare made a terrible mess in the healthcare system worse. America needs an innovative system that will get us out of this expensive, nonfunctioning mess.

Instead, the Democrats are proposing a system that makes consumers captives of past government failures and whims of American politicians and political bureaucrats.   The innovative systems needed would promote consumer choice, independence, responsibility and control.

I believe My Ideal Medical Savings Accounts will do just that. It is fair, democratic and promotes patient responsibility to become a medical care prosumer (a productive consumer of medical care).

Democrats and the media now have a “new” most important issue. They have ignored the Obamacare disaster until now in this mid-term campaign season. Democrats did not have any issues except hating President Trump.

Now many Democrats are running in the 2018 midterm elections on a promise to provide “Medicare for All.” The issue is almost as old as the hills. Progressives have been trying to pass socialized medicine since 1935. They finally passed Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

Both Medicare and Medicaid have created trillions of dollars of deficit for the federal and state governments. Costs have been unfunded or have incurred unsustainable liabilities. The inefficiency of the bureaucracies of state and federal governments have created these unsustainable liabilities.

Some of the unsustainability is because of inefficient management and terrible management of government funds.

Democrats are proving Republicans right: the GOP warned Obamacare was a “Trojan Horse,” designed to fail so Democrats could replace it with a totally socialist system.”

Hopefully Americans’ will not try to support “Medicare for All.” Socialized medicine is bankrupting countries all over the planet. I have pointed out the reasons for the failures repeatedly.

Below are a couple more examples for not having Medicare for all.

Medicare for All failed in Bernie Standers’ home state of Vermont. It failed because in this small state it was too expensive and too complicated. 

 Medicare for All failed to pass in Colorado and even in California because the people realized it was too expensive and it would put the state government in control of consumer healthcare decisions.

 “A recent study showed “Medicare for All” would cost $38 trillion over the first 10 years — again, twice the current federal budget.”

“Medicare for All” would end up looking like Medicaid. Medicare would have to reduce reimbursement paid to providers once it was expanded to all. Medicaid has its own unsustainability problems. States already have huge budget deficits. State deficits are against the law. Many physicians will not participate in the Medicaid program. Medicaid patients have trouble finding physicians because Medicaid reimbursement is too low. Since Obamacare was passed many Medicare patients are having trouble finding physicians who participate in Medicare because its reimbursement is too low.

Medicare presently has many problems and does not need an additional 250 million enrollees. A few of the problems are an endless bureaucracy leading to overspending and fraud and abuse from all provider including hospital systems big pharma and the healthcare insurance industry that services the Medicare bureaucracy.

“Adding 250 million consumers to the roughly 50 million Medicare now serves would be a recipe for disaster.”

The Democrats who say we should have “Medicare for All” also want to allow as many immigrants into the country as possible — legal or illegal. That would swiftly bankrupt and destroy whatever health care the government managed to provide, leaving Americans with nothing.”

The Democrats’ “Medicare for All” is another phony gimmick to promise consumers a free ride no one can afford. They have no intention of being able to pass Medicare for All.

 Making “Medicare for All’ an issue is designed by Democrats with the help of the traditional media to get votes during this midterm election.

Any thinking person will know that it cannot work. I think it will backfire on the Democrats.

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



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More Single Party Payer Noise

Stanley Feld M.D., FACP,MACE

Democrats have tried to pass a single party payer healthcare system since 1935. Slowly, but surely, the American population has been indoctrinated into believing that a single party payer system run by the government is the best healthcare system to have.

Americans have been filled with disinformation about the wild successes of single party payer systems in the rest of the world.

The economics of these single party payer systems are seldom discussed in a coherent way. Americans have no idea of the economic burden a single party payer system places on the budget of countries that have such a system.

The fact that these governments continue to raise taxes to pay for their single party payer system while decreasing their citizens’ access to care is hardly ever discussed. Only the favorable statistics that fit the progressive narrative are published.

In Norway the income tax rate is 50%. This is mostly because of its universal single party payer healthcare system. Norwegians seem happy with the system. If they get sick they have nothing to worry about. Their health care is free.

The Canadian healthcare system is unsustainable.

Canada spends 50% of its GNP on healthcare. All of the provinces are experiencing massive deficits due to additional healthcare costs.”

“Canadians who are healthy and do not need to interact with the system are happy and feel secure that their healthcare needs will be serviced without cost. Nothing is free.”

“The United States consumes only 18.5% of our GDP on healthcare. This percentage is rising as access to care is decreasing.”

The Frazer Reportis very specific on the cost of healthcare in Canada although the government is not very transparent.

Each province is having a difficult time figuring out how to fix its healthcare system. Many Canadians are convinced that a single party payer system is not the answer but cannot politically eliminate it.

The fact is nothing is free and only 20% of the population interacts with the healthcare system at any one time. People who are not sick think the single party payer system in great. They are happy they have no anxiety about the cost of healthcare if they get sick.

In Britain taxpayers are unhappy with the National Health Services. Consumers recognize the bureaucratic waste in their healthcare system. They suffer from decreased access to care. Wait times for health care and surgery are ridiculously long.

The private healthcare market is flourishing in Britain for those who can afford it. 

The British healthcare system is unsustainable. The British government has not been able to fix the expensive National Health Service.

America has a single party payer system for Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and the VA system.

Seniors love Medicare. Most seniors could not afford to get medical treatment if there was not the Medicare System. Policy wonks and Democrats refuse to recognize that in 1965 after Medicare was enacted, healthcare prices exploded. Most economist agree, as a result of Medicare, the cost of healthcare in America has continued to increase yearly for all Americans.

Congress has ignored the basic defects in the Medicare system that has caused this explosion. Over the years a few brave congressmen have made attempts to correct these structural defects.

The Democrat and Republican establishment have ignored these congressmen.

The political establishment has made feeble attempts to control costs through ineffective regulations. The bureaucracy has grown and the healthcare system has become more costly and inefficient.

The reduction in reimbursement to physicians has resulted in the tremendous increase in concierge medicine. This explosion in concierge medicine has decreased access to medical care in many cities in the U.S.

The result is an increase in cost and greater opportunity for abuse by the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals and healthcare providers. The government has imposed more control over the individual’s ability to make his or her own healthcare decisions.

Medicaid has experienced the same increasing costs. It also created a shortage of physicians because of low reimbursement. Obamacare has expanded Medicaid. This has decreased the availability of medical care for Medicaid patients.

President Obama’s law (Obamacare) increased the number of Medicaid recipients but did not cure the reasons for the lack of providers. Many clever Medicaid providers have figured out how to exploit Medicaid rules only to suffer from government investigations and penalties in the long run.

The VA system is the purest example of sheer failure. Not only are the patients unhappy but also the providing administrative bureaucracy is riddled with inefficiency, corruption and waste.

The inefficiency, corruption and waste have not been able to be fixed by many notable private sector executives the government has hired to fix it. They have all ultimately resigned or were fired.

The VA system’s single party payer system remains an incurable failure.

These examples are proof that a single party payer system is unsustainable and not economically feasible. The government continues to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Are these mistakes intentional? Perhaps.

The government’s goals are to gain power and have control over the population. If its goals were to have an efficient and effective healthcare system, it would provide the resources to permit all consumers to drive the healthcare system. It would create a system that would motivate consumers to be responsible for their healthcare.

What is happening now?

The healthcare policy ideologists are using the New York Times as their propaganda vehicle to promote a single party payer system.

The article, Back to the Health Policy Drawing Board” may be intellectually simulating to readers of the Sunday Times. However, many of its details are untrue.

After one casually reads the article on a pleasant Sunday morning it would seem much simpler to have a single party healthcare system controlled by the government than the chaotic system that presently exist. The New York Times article is promoting Medicare for all.

Medicare currently is a single party payer system whosecost is out of control. America cannot continue to print money forever.

America’s politicians are ignoring this fact in order to gain more power.

 

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



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President Trump’s Drug Plan Is On Target

Stanley Feld MD,FACP,MACE

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trumps-medicare-rx-blueprint-has-a-tricky-wrinkle/    

President Trump’s proposal for lowering drug prices to an affordable range is on target.

I have received a several requests asking me to explain the administrations plan. The “media is the message.” The traditional media has once again missed President Trump’s message completely. I suspect the traditional media has missed President Trump’s message on purpose because of their bias against the president.

The traditional media jumped on Trump’s plan as a non-plan aimed to penalize the middle class for the benefit of the pharmaceutical industry.

Either the traditional media hates Trump and his administration so much that they are against everything he does or they have not read his plan with an open mind because it has too many words in it.

It is pretty clear that Nancy Pelosi did not read President Trump’s drug plan or if she did she did not understand it. She said:

“This weak plan abandons the millions of hard-working families struggling with the crisis of surging drug prices.”

Nancy Pelosi’s statement is otter nonsense.

Her statement is reminiscent of the statement she made about Obamacare;

“You have to pass the plan in order to see what is in it.”

Any thoughtful Democrat should be ashamed that Nancy Pelosi is their leader.

I picked the coverage of only a few of the traditional media, CBS news, The New York Times and the Washington Post’s. All the progressive leaning media are really echo chambers of each other.

Each media outlet missed the Trump administrations’ point. They all are looking through their progressive lens. They believe the only plan that would work is a single party payer system controlled by the government.

They also see a tired public looking forward for the government to take over the complicated issue of healthcare. They have not interest is looking at the unintended consequences of a government takeover of the healthcare system.

A single party payer system will not work because public dependence on bureaucrats and politicians has never worked.

Simple examples are the VA Healthcare System and Medicaid. Government controlled health plans such as the VA system became too inefficient, costly, corrupt and unsustainable. The quality of care decreased and consumer choice and input has been eliminated.

People would never know what President Trump’s drug plan is all about it if they just read about it in the traditional media. If they made it easier for themselves and just read the headlines, as some of my friends have, they would know nothing about Trump’s drug plan.

One must listen carefully and read the source material.

President Trumps YouTube

https://youtu.be/Cds8h9DbTdc

This is the official outline document of the steps that need to be taken to fix the broken drug plan system.

CBS new got it wrong right off the bat.

http://www.cbsnews.com/trumps-medicine-rx-bluprint-has-a-trickly-wrinkle/

“The Trump administration’s “Blueprint” to lower drug prices and reduce patient costs made one thing clear: The government will not directly negotiate with drug companies to secure lower prescription prices. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t proposing changes that would dramatically alter the way Medicare pays for some of the most expensive drugs, and in the process, potentially raise out-of-pocket costs for some of the country’s sickest patients.”

CBS News then brings up an issue that part of President Trump’s solution. The news agency criticizes the administration before it knows the administration’s solution.

A cornerstone of the Trump plan calls for all Medicare drug payments to be consolidated under Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan for Medicare enrollees administered by private insurers. Under Part D, insurers and middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) negotiate with drug companies for discounted prices in exchange for the drug companies’ products being included in the PBMs’ list of covered drugs.

But drugs intravenously administered in physicians’ offices, such as chemotherapy and vaccines, are usually covered as a medical treatment under Medicare Part B. Physicians buy these drugs directly from manufacturers, and Medicare reimburses doctors for the drugs’ average sales price plus 6 percent.

A perfect example is the yearly flu shot. Most flu shots are given at local pharmacies and supermarkets for Medicare patients’ convenience.

Medicare Part B pays $120 for a $15 injection dose. How is that for a colossal waste of Medicare dollars?

Pharmaceutical companies are against the idea, partly because they generally are paid more under Part B than Part D.

Alex Azar, Health and Human Services secretary and former president of the U.S. division of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly (LLY), has been touting the move to consolidate Medicare drug payments.

“Bringing negotiation to Part B drugs is such a potent way to bring down prices that PhRMA is already protesting the idea,” Azar said in a recent speech at the American Enterprise Institute in which he referred to the drug industry trade group called Pharmacuetical Research and Manufacturers.

Nonetheless, CBS points out a potential paper tiger to leave the message that the plan is no good. The “media is the message” even if it is a lie.

“But Azar and others have shed little light on exactly how this change would take place, leaving patients worried about the potential for astronomically higher out-of-pocket costs”.

The plan is there. CBS news has not read the plan.

“Medicare Part B presently creates incentives for doctors to purchase more expensive drugs to get a higher dollar profit”

This is a negative incentive that the President promised to eliminate. Physicians to not profit from higher drug prices. In the case of the flu shots pharmacies and supermarket pharmacies administering the flu shots profit.

“Azar said; it will create incentive for insurance companies and PBMs in Medicare Part D to negotiate discounts and lower prices and pass them on to patients.”

President Trump said he promises to eliminate the extreme profit the pharmacy benefit managers take from the system.

The New York Times took a different negative slant in order to criticize Present Trump.

“President Trump has the power to sink pharmaceutical stocks with a single jab about high drug prices.”

“But in a much-anticipated speech on the topic on Friday, Mr. Trump largely avoided the issues the industry fears the most, such as allowing Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices, or allowing Americans to import drugs.”

President Trump’s plan is to force pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate the best price for Medicare and patients with private insurance in a free market system and not in a government controlled system.

The government negotiates much lower drug prices for itself in the military and VA systems. The drug companies just cost shift and charge the rest of us a higher price

“Investors noticed: Stocks of major drug companies rose after his speech, as did those of pharmacy benefit managers, or the “middlemen” that Mr. Trump said were getting “very, very rich.”

Last weekend I asked a retired friend what he thought of the Trump plan. He said President Trump is going to make the drug companies and the pharmacy benefit managers very, very, rich.

This is regurgitation of the NY Times coverage from a well-educated man. The media is the message!

 

Time Magazine coverage was no better. It, too, was anti-Trump. Time Magazine did not bother to understand that the Trump drug program is a free market system without cronyism.

“ President Donald Trump’s long-promised plan to bring down drug prices would mostly spare the pharmaceutical industry he previously accused of “getting away with murder.” Instead he focuses on private competition and more openness to reduce America’s prescription pain.”

Why can’t the media discuss the facts and let us decide what will work or not work? What is wrong with competition? It works. Government control doesn’t seem to work.

“The administration will pursue a raft of old and new measures intended to improve competition and transparency in the notoriously complex drug pricing system.”

“But most of the measures could take months or years to implement, and none would stop drug makers from setting sky-high initial prices.”

I believe the public is starting to see how the traditional media does not want to understand President Trump’s proposal or how President Trump is going to execute on his promises.

“Trump called his plan the “most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs for the American people.”

“But it does not include his campaign pledge to use the massive buying power of the government’s Medicare program to directly negotiate lower prices for seniors.”

Actually President Trump’s drug plan does use the massive buying power of the Medicare program to negotiate lower prices for seniors. He is doing it indirectly but through a free market system.

The traditional media’s prime focus is to criticize President Trump’s programs regardless of the facts.

In fact, with his drug plan, President Trump has published a blueprint that is going to change the metrics of how drugs are priced. His plan will make prices transparent to patients and physicians.

Patients will be given the choice to pick the best price. Physicians will be given the choice to decide if the price charged for new medication is worth the increase in price.

President Trump is going to eliminate the present failed system of pricing medication. It has not worked for consumers.

His blueprint cannot be evaluated in the context of the present pricing system.

I will describe the potential for improving the system with his blueprint in my next article.

All I can say at this point is let us see what is going to happen.

 

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



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Here They Come Again

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Democrats have tried to pass a single party payer healthcare system since 1935. Slowly, but surely, the American population has been indoctrinated into believing that a single party payer system run by the government is the best healthcare system to have.

Americans have been filled with disinformation about the wild successes of single party payer systems in the rest of the world.

The economics of these single party payer systems are seldom discussed in a coherent way. The American public has no idea of its economic burden to its countries.

The fact that these governments continue to raise taxes to pay for their single party payer system while decreasing their citizens’ access to care is hardly ever discussed. Only the favorable statistics that fit the progressive narrative are published.

In Norway the income tax rate is 50%. This is mostly because of its universal single party payer healthcare system. Norwegians seem happy with the system. If they get sick they have nothing to worry about. Their health care is free.

The fact is nothing is free and only 20% of the population interacts with the healthcare system at any one time.

In Britain taxpayers are unhappy with the National Health Services. Consumers recognize the bureaucratic waste in their healthcare system. They also suffer from decreased access to care. Wait times for health care and surgery are ridiculously long.

The private healthcare system is flourishing in Britain for those who can afford it.

The British healthcare system is unsustainable. The British government cannot figure out how to make it more efficient.

America has a single party payer system for Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and the VA system.

Seniors love Medicare. They could not afford to get treatment if there was not a Medicare System. Policy wonks and Democrats refuse to recognize that in 1965 after Medicare was enacted, healthcare prices exploded. The price of healthcare has continued to explode yearly.

Congress has ignored the basic defects that have caused this explosion. A few congressmen are making feeble attempts to correct this continuing price explosion.

The political establishment largely ignores these congressmen.

As attempts are made to try to control costs through regulations the bureaucracy grows and the system becomes more inefficient. The reduction of reimbursement to physicians has resulted in the explosion of concierge medicine.

The result is an increase in costs and greater opportunity for abuse by the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals and healthcare providers and government.

Medicaid has experienced the same increasing costs. It also created a shortage of physicians because of low reimbursement. Obamacare has expanded Medicaid. This has decreased the availability of medical care for Medicaid patients.

President Obama’s law increased the number of Medicaid recipients but did not cure the reasons for the lack of providers. Many clever Medicaid providers have figured out how to exploit Medicaid rules only to suffer from investigations and government penalties in the long run.

The VA system is the purest example of sheer failure. Not only are the patients unhappy but the providing administrative bureaucracy is riddled with inefficiency, corruption and waste.

The inefficiency, corruption and waste have not been able to be fixed but many notable private sector executives. They have all ultimately resigned or were fired.

The VA system’s single party payer system remains an incurable failure.

These examples have proven to me that a single party payer system is unsustainable and not economically feasible. The government continues to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Are these mistakes intentional?

The government’s goals are to gain power and have control over the population. If its goals were to have an efficient and effective healthcare system, it would provide the resources to permit all consumers to drive the healthcare system. It would create a system that would motivate consumers to be responsible for their healthcare.

What is happening now?

The healthcare policy ideologists are using the New York Times as their propaganda vehicle to promote a single party payer system.

The article, Back to the Health Policy Drawing Board” is intellectually simulating to readers of the Sunday Times. However, many of its details are untrue.

After one casually reads the article on a pleasant Sunday morning it would seem much simpler to have a single party healthcare system controlled by the government than the chaotic system that presently exists.

However, the cost of the Medicare system is out of control. America cannot continue to print money forever. America’s political class is ignoring this fact.

It is so out of control political wonks are starting to talk about having another Debt Jubilee.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jubilee_Debt_Coalition

The New York Times article starts by saying:

The Affordable Care Act needs help.

It sure does. The problem is there are too many defects in the structure of Obamacare that led to the increases in costs to the government and consumers. Obamacare is beyond repair.

After scores of failed repeal attempts, Congress enacted legislation late last year that eliminated one of the law’s central features, the mandate requiring people to buy insurance.

There was only one failed repeal attempt not scores of repeal attempts. The one repeal attempt failed by one vote. It seemed to me to be a vindictive vote. It was not on the bills lack of merit. It seemed to me to be on John McCain’s personal animosity toward President Donald Trump.

There has been a total lack of bipartisanship in trying to repair Obamacare. The have been no ideas offered by Democrats. Its goal was to stymie the Republican administration.

Many establishment Republicans’ goal was to also stymie the Republican administration.

Obamacare had three principal features:

  • Insurers could not charge higher prices to people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Those without coverage had to pay a penalty to the government (the “mandate”).

President Trump slipped the elimination of the mandate into the tax bill to bring a speedier death to Obamacare.

  • Low-income people would be eligible for subsidies.

Each feature represented a death bell from the onset

A June 2017 poll showed that 60 percent of Americans said the government should provide universal coverage, and support for single-payer insurance rose more than one-third since 2014.

Americans are frustrated with the dysfunction in the healthcare system. Premiums have increased tremendously since Obamacare. Its regulations and defective principles increased dysfunction.

Enormous deductibles have resulted in individual buying defective insurance policies. Consumers have ended up with essentially no insurance coverage except for catastrophic illness. Only people at risk for high cost treatment have bought these policies.

I cannot imagine what the 60% who want a single party payer were thinking. Can a government run system improve the inherent inefficiency, waste, abuse and unsustainability of Obamacare or a VA like healthcare system?

A government run single party payer system can only make things worse.

The healthcare system will not improve until congress acts to level the playing field and fix the defects inherent in our present healthcare system.

I believe a universal consumer driven healthcare system, available to all, can “Repair the Healthcare System” at a much lower cost to society and individual consumers than a single party payer system.

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

 All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2018 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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It Is Getting Worse

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Charles Gabe’s graph of enrollment as of 12/9/2017 was published with only six days of open enrollment left.

There are only 5,894,342 confirmed enrollees. There is no indication of how many enrollees paid the first month’s premium. The low-ball estimate was 7.2 million.

Of those enrolled only 3,604,44 were enrolled in President Obama’s Health Insurance Exchanges to buy healthcare insurance.

2,289,902 were enrolled in Medicaid. The number of illegal immigrants in that number is unknown.

December 15th is the deadline for enrollment in 42 states. Eight states have already extended the deadline.

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This is an extremely disappointing outcome for Democrats who refuse to believe Obamacare has failed. Last year the Democrats and President Obama were bragging that Obamacare provided healthcare insurance for 20 million people.

The problem was that 13 million of those 20 million were enrolled in Medicaid and of the 9 million who bought insurance through the health insurance exchange many did not complete their premium payment for the whole year.

The government subsidized eighty-five percent of those people who bought healthcare insurance through the health insurance exchanges.

Organized medicine has not provided leadership for the medical and surgical community or its patients.

In turn medical professional feel powerless. I believe the profession is about to give up on trying to influence positive change in the healthcare system for its benefit and its patients benefit.

A reader, D.F. M.D., responded to my last blog writing;

“That nothing much is happening in Washington re: healthcare reform may be one of the largest blessings our country has seen this year.”

It might be a blessing because the politicians do not have a clue as to what can be done to repair the healthcare system.

Politicians are not interested in listening to physicians or patients. The people that stand to lose the most in this dilemma are patients.

D.F., M.D. goes on,

 “ We are agreed that our congress hasn’t done much, but there are other activities afoot that will almost certainly be game changers and they are largely un-noticed when it comes to their impact on healthcare services.”

his is very true. When President Trump was running for president he kept declaring that the “government” made the worse deals for the American people with NAFTA, Iran nuclear deal, and the pacific trade deal. He essentially called President Obama and congress stupid.

Now congress is asking big business to help them out of the healthcare mess. The pending take over of medicine by big business is going to destroy medical care in America while they are claiming to save the healthcare system.

D.F. MD writes

“The CVS/Aetna merger, and today’s announcement that United Healthcare is buying DaVita, a healthcare group with over 300 sites of service to add to it’s Optum, segment, with 1,100 care sites of various sorts, not to mention US Oncology, owned by McKesson, that sees about 14-15% of patients with cancer in the US.”

The corporate take over of medical care is growing daily. Without physicians and patients there would not be a need for a healthcare system. Physicians have voluntarily given up their intellectual property and freedom to use their own clinical judgment to the will of corporations.

America is in the early stages of this phenomenon. Medical care is becoming a commodity. Physicians and patients have given up the thought of a personal relationship embodied in the physician patient relationship. Good medical care (in my opinion) is predicated on the patient physician relationship because much morbidity and negative emotional responses to treatment can vanish with an effective patient physician relationship.

Truly, corporate medicine, once outlawed in many states, (for good reason) is on track to become the biggest player in healthcare.  Add to that the report that 60% of physicians are now employed by hospitals, which is in some ways creating a body of spokespersons for healthcare that has not been seen before.”

The result is massive Medicare and Medicaid cost overruns that are not approved by congress. The Democrats are trying hard to blame the costs overruns and Obamacare’s failure on President Trump without good reason.

However, the media is the message and the media is on President Obama and the Democrats side.

D.F., MD continues,

“I have always believed that the medical profession though organized medicine has been remiss by maintaining a low profile where change is concerned, either in the development of programs or the creation and passing of legislation.”

Edward Annis M.D. a former president of the AMA was organized medicine leaders who lead the fight to outlaw corporate take over of the healthcare system and the takeover of medical practice. Dr. Annis wrote an excellent book called Code Blue in 1993.

A reviewer,  Frank J. Primich M.D. in 1994 wrote;

“Code Blue takes its name from the most common term used by hospital public address systems to signify cardiac arrest.

The announcement sends an assortment of specially trained personnel scurrying to the designated site. Modern techniques and technology, when given the timely opportunity, have been highly successful in restoring life.”

“The protagonist in Dr. Annis’s book is the private practice of medicine, which has been declared dead by some of its adversaries. Resuscitation requires an understanding of what has gone wrong, and what can be done about it.”

Dr. Annis was right on target. No one involved in organized medicine has taken this stand presently.

The reviewer goes on;

“In every field, there is an internal rating system. Ed Annis is the acknowledged superstar of those of us who have pleaded the cause of fee-for-service medical practice and maintenance of the traditional doctor-patient relationship.”

All of the healthcare policy wonks and congress people ignore the importance of the physician patient relationship. When they get sick and do not have a patient physician relationship they yearn for one.

“The same time span has seen a steady encroachment into the process from a variety of third parties, particularly government.”

“The concept of socialized medicine, discredited elsewhere in the world, has been introduced, through gradualism, to the point where we are now, in effect, semi- socialized. The current proposals for national health care threaten to push us beyond the point of no return.”

These quotes were taken from the article written in 1994 at the peak of the Hillary-care debate. Wilbur Mills started the socialized medicine debate in America in 1935.

D.F. MD note goes on to say,

“Now they are increasingly tied to large business entities one sort or another.”

 Soon, advocates for patients with no financial axe to grind may end up being only us old retired docs, some of whom have retired because of “improvements” like the electronic medical records which have managed to make their developers rich while not doing all that much to enhance patient care. Unfortunately the old docs lack organization, money, and voice.”

Organized medicine has not provided leadership to help patients understand that when large corporations take over the infrastructure of medicine medical care will be totally commoditized and the important physician patient relationship will be lost forever.

 “Then there are the CBO projections https://www.cbo.gov/publication/53090 which are sometimes wide of the mark, but which the liberal media trumpet as the gospel in projecting the effect on patient care is certain healthcare reforms are enacted and implemented.”

 “The result of all that is that almost anything that is proffered as change is shouted down by one interest group or another, often by people who don’t have much of a clue re: what they are protesting about.”

DF, MD

The only thing that can turn this trend around is patients and a consumer driven healthcare system along with some organized medicine leadership.

   

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

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Is Anyone Confused Or Convinced?

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

Obamacare has failed. You wouldn’t know it by the massive misrepresentation by the mainstream media.

The mainstream impression is that registration during the open enrollment period for 2018 ending December 15,2017 is doing well.

I have not written a blog in about a month because there has been nothing to write about.

I have laid out my ideas about what is necessary to repair the healthcare system. It is all about personal responsibility and physician/patient relationships for both acute and chronic diseases.

It is the only way to control costs and decrease waste in the healthcare system.

Frankly, I am saddened that our representatives in congress don’t give a damn about the costs to the American people.

They simply want Americans to be dependent on government. The government wants to control Americans rather than Americans controlling the government.

Both the Republican and Democratic establishment have been brain dead on how to effectively repair our healthcare system.

Republicans had seven years to figure out an efficient system. The have controlled the house for two terms. They have controlled the senate for one term.

Then they failed. Almost 100 bills passed the house. any passed both houses and were vetoed by President Obama.

Why couldn’t they send one of those bills to President Trump?

Tom Price M.D. had some ideas on how to repair the healthcare system. However he was disposed of by claims of misuse of government funds.

There has been little published since the Republican establishment failed it its effort to repeal and replace Obamacare in November 2017.

It is unclear to me whether the Republican effort failed because it was a step in the wrong direction or the Republican establishment hates Donald Trump.

In any case the Democratic establishment is trying to blame Donald Trump for the Obamacare failure.

They claim it is Donald Trump’s fault the healthcare insurance industry is not being paid the unauthorized supplement President Obama promised but could not pay. He could not find the money.

It is the House of Representative that authorizes expenditures. The cost of those promised subsidies that were unauthorized was 88% short of the healthcare insurance industry’s claims.

The Obamacare cost overruns were gigantic. It must be remembered that the Health Insurance Exchanges only provided insurance for less than 10 million people in the individual healthcare market.

Many factors added to the cost overruns including subsidizes of over $15,000 dollars a year for these premiums in the individual market. The 2018 subsides will be over $20,000.

The healthcare system has become such a partisan issue that the truth about Obamacare’s failure is not the point anymore.

It seems that the Republican establishment is not any smarter than the Democrat establishment in trying to repair the system.

The end of the open enrollment period for 2018 is supposed to be December 15, 2017.

I posted two graphs in this post. One represents enrollment until 11/25/2017 and the second represents enrollment until 12/2/2017.

They bring out several points about Obamacare’s failure.

Seven states of the 39 states have already extended their open enrollment period. California has extended open enrollment until 1/31/2018.

On 11/25/2017 confirmed but not paid enrollment was only 2,660,938 with only 2,277,079 through Healthcare.gov and 383,859 for Medicaid.

Open enrollment projected for 11/25/2017 was 4.2 million with 2.6 million through Healtcare.gov. and 1.6 million through Medicaid.

These projected numbers were revised upward during the summer of 2017 to 4.6 million with 2.8 million through Healthcare.gov and1.8 million through Medicaid.

This represents a 500,000 person enrollment short fall for healthcare.gov. It also must be remember that 85% of the people enrolling through healthcare.gov have preexisting illnesses and are subsidized by the government.

  Chart 1 3 8

The open enrollment numbers look worse on December 2, 2017 although there is not a word of it in the mainstream media.

On 12/2/2017 confirmed but not paid enrollment was 3,491,164 with only 2,751,260 through Healthcare.gov and 709,904 for Medicaid.

Open enrollment projected for 12/2/2017 was 5.1 million with 3.5 million through Healtcare.gov. and 1.6 million through Medicaid.

These projected numbers were revised upward during the summer of 2017 to 5.8 million with 4 million through Healthcare.gov and1.8 million through Medicaid.

This represents a 1,248,840 (4,000,000-2,751,260= 1,248,840) person short fall for healthcare.gov with 13 days to go for the open enrollment period.

Chart 2

It is difficult seeing these numbers by casually studying these charts.

Obamacare is an unmitigated failure. Democrats want to throw more money at it.

Republicans do not know what to do.

I suggest they look at my blog entitled The Ideal Medical Saving Accounts are democratic.

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

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Consumers Need To Take Back Their Medical Care And Healthcare Dollars

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

A consumer driven healthcare system is the solution to the dysfunctional and unaffordable healthcare system that americans are presently experiencing.

President Trump wants to create the conditions for consumers to take responsibility for their medical care and their healthcare dollars.

The negative noise in the mainstream media should be ignored.

The Obamacare health insurance exchanges have failed. The Democrats and establishment Republicans should realize that the health insurance exchange plan was a defective system that it can not be repaired with patches and more money.

President Trump has signed an executive order to permit private associations to sell insurance. There are many associations that a person could belong too. Consumers could shop for the right association at the right price.

Democrats are behaving as if associations are a foreign enemy.

UnitedHealth has contracted with AARP (an association) to sell Medicare supplemental insurance. UnitedHealth sells this insurance across state lines.

USAA has contracted with Humana to sell Medicare supplemental insurance and Medicare Drug coverage.

There are many supplemental plans that consumers can choose from in these associations. These plans are sold across state lines and are competitive.

The government has to change the tax law to treat individual healthcare insurance plans bought through the associations to be paid for with pre-tax dollars just as the employer sponsored group plans do.

However, associations selling healthcare insurance are only the first step in empowering consumers.

A well-known retired physician (DEF M.D.) sent me his view on what consumers need to be aware of to survive any healthcare system. He calls it

“My Three Rules For Survival”

Remember my three rules for survival:

1) Stay the hell away from doctors.

They always either want to do something or prescribe something, and all too frequently do both.

A large part of this physician reflex is their need to practive defensive medicine. Physicians are afraid they might miss something and get sued.

Major tort reform is necessary in most states. Defensive medicine accounts for $250 billion to $700 billion dollars in unnecessary expenses each year.

I have outlined the steps necessary to remedy the malpractice (tort) crisis and its resulting overuse of testing and medication.

If anyone in President Trump’s administration wants to review the issue in full click on this link.

http://stanfeld.com/?s=Tort+reform

Nobody confronts the reality you mentioned , people are too fat, they drink too much and smoke, AND they don’t even think about the importance of, and benefits from, exercise.

 I started a war on obesity many years ago. Public officials and poly wonks have ignored my suggestions.

It would be worthwhile to read my post about obesity.

http://stanfeld.com/?s=war+on+obesity

The cost to all of us (including them) of all this denial of personal responsibility is huge!  We need to find ways to get people to focus on taking care of themselves, or to create cost incentives that will encourage them to do so.

While you are in this reading mood you should check out my pleas for the importance of patient responsibility.

ttp://stanfeld.com/?s=patient+responsibility

We simply cannot continue on the path we are on. I don’t recall ever seeing a patient on a “scooter”, and many in wheelchairs that are obese, and only getting fatter and fatter over time.

     2) Take as little medicine as you can.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are continuing to drive up the cost of their products and are making enormous profits as a result.  Data is available re: the necessity of people getting medicines that they don’t really need, especially if taken long term on an ongoing basis.

To that, one can add the cost of unnecessary procedures that often leave patients worse off than they were before.  Direct to the public advertising of prescription medications creates demand that is often unaccompanied by benefit.

More and more current information regarding side effects and late effects of medications need to be provided, and not just put into the “fine print” on the package stuffers.

     3) Stay out of hospitals.

 They are dangerous places, with a high prevalence of patient injuries and deaths due to various sorts of medical errors that occur all too frequently, despite a host of quality improvement projects that are well-intended, but would be better in terms of effectiveness if they were made public on a regular basis.

 Scott Atlas makes good arguments for encouraging patients to “price shop” for services they must have.  To that information should be appended information about outcomes of what is proposed, which could, over time, become both hospital-specific and physician-specific.

I have expanded on Scott Atlas’ Wall Street Journal article in my last blog.

http://stanfeld.com/the-plan-to-empower-consumers-of-healthcare/

Most doctors and most hospitals have not much of a clue as to the outcomes of the services they provide their patients.

And, that is probably plenty for today.  DEF”

Consumers need to be educated to become aware of the many pitfalls involved in their new responsibility.

The educational process can be accomplished with online information and chat sessions. The government could provide the education necessary.

Consumers also need financial incentives to be encouraged to be responsible for their care and their healthcare dollars

This can be accomplished with my ideal medical saving accounts.

http://stanfeld.com/?s=ideal+medical+savings+accounts

Then and only then can we have a consumer driven healthcare system that will lower the cost of healthcare.

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

 All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2017 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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The Plan To Empower Consumers Of Healthcare

 Stanley Feld M.D., FACP,MACE

The only way to empower consumers of healthcare is to allow them be responsible for their health and healthcare dollars.

The delivery of medical and surgical care has progressed markedly in the last sixty years. Life expectancy has also increased.

At the same time medical care has become unaffordable and the cost of healthcare has become unsustainable.

The incidence of obesity has risen every year. Over fifty percent of Americans are obese. The percentage is rising yearly.

Obesity begets many chronic diseases and subsequently the complications of these diseases.

Physicians can treat these complications fairly well but the treatment of these complications comes at a high cost.

How do you decrease obesity in America?

How do you get people to be responsible for their health and healthcare dollars?

One of the key elements in decreasing obesity is to give consumers financial incentives to use the healthcare system efficiently.

ObamaCare went in the wrong direction. Its regulations—including required “essential benefits”—raised prices on these plans and limited their availability.”

The only incentive Obamacare provided was the incentive to overuse the system. This was especially true for patients on Medicaid. They had zero premiums and deductibles.

A second tool for motivating patients to consider price is large liberalized health savings accounts. These tax-sheltered accounts are generally used to pay for the noncatastrophic expenses that form the bulk of medical care.

First, equip consumers to consider prices.”

 Critics always claim this is unrealistic: Are you supposed to shop around from the back of the ambulance?

 The critics use the ambulance excuse argument to eliminate the possibility of consumers using their own judgment to make price decisions.

But emergency care represents only 6% of health expenditures.”

“For privately insured adults under 65, almost 60% of spending is on elective outpatient care. “

The critics argument is that consumers do not know how to shop prices. Consumers are smarter than the critics think. It would be easy to teach consumers to shop prices.”

http://stanfeld.com/the-failure-of-the-republican-establishment-to-repeal-and-replace-obamacare/

“My ideal medical saving account provides that financial incentive to not overuse the healthcare system. The many articles about my ideal medical saving accounts are attached to this link.

Likewise, nearly 60% of Medicaid money goes to outpatient care.”

 Medicaid patients also overuse the healthcare system.

“ For the top 1% of spenders—a group responsible for more than a quarter of all health expenditures—a full 45% is outpatient.”

These patients can be identified as outliers and educational vehicles can be created to decrease this overuse of the system.

In my opinion Medical Savings Account are better than Health Savings Accounts. Medical Savings Accounts take the money out of the healthcare insurance company’s hands and delivers it to consumers.

Both HSA’s and MSAs have the unique advantage of providing and financial incentive to save.

When people have savings to protect in HSAs, the cost of care drops without harmful effects on health. 

 The financial incentive decreases the overuse of the healthcare system.

“ According to a 2012 study in Health Affairs if even half of Americans with employer-sponsored insurance enrolled in this kind of coverage, U.S. health expenditures would fall by an estimated $57 billion a year.”

My ideal Medical Savings Accounts provide an even a greater financial incentive and should decrease costs even further.

“ HSAs should be available to all Americans, including seniors on Medicare. Given that seniors use the most health care, motivating them to seek value is crucial to driving prices lower.”

Scott Atlas has publicized the obvious. This would apply to Medicaid recipient also. The details for Medicaid recipients can be found in my article “My Ideal Medical Savings Accounts Is Democratic. “

The maximum contribution to a MSAs should be raised to $6000 or $7000 dollars. If a consumer get sick and experiences a cost of $6000 he should receive 100% (first dollar) coverage through a reinsurance policy that would cost less than $6000.

There can be many variations on this theme for the consumers benefit.

 When a person with an HSA dies, the funds should be allowed to roll over tax-free to surviving family members.  

This financial incentive should be added to My ideal Medical Savings Account.

“The information that patients require to assess value must be made radically more visible. A 2014 study on magnetic resonance imaging showed that price-transparency programs reduced costs by 18.7%.”

A consumer driven system would force providers to compete for patients. Information on price could easily be provided to consumers by the government and the healthcare insurance industry.

“The most compelling motivation for doctors and hospitals to post rates would be knowing that they are competing for price-conscious patients empowered with control of their own money.”

 In his age of technology and rapid communication telemedicine should be promoted and paid for. One way to do it is to permit physicians to practice telemedicine across state lines.

It would supply instant access to expertize at an affordable cost.

Everything possible should be done to encourage consumer responsibility and provider competition.

The present tax code does the opposite. Consumers’ in-group plans provided by large and small corporations receive their healthcare insurance from the corporation with tax-free dollars.

The larger the corporation the more leverage the corporation has for negotiating the premiums with the healthcare insurance companies.

The younger and healthier the corporate employees are the lower the premiums.

This is where the formation of associations with larger memberships of all ages fits in to lowering the price of healthcare. Large associations would have great leverage in negotiating price with insurance companies. They would also spread the risk.

If financial incentive with my ideal medical saving account was added to the price the association negotiated and the consumer paid for the premium, usage would fall and the cost of insurance would decrease.

Tax deductibility must be given to these “individual” insurance policy holders and association policy holders so they are, in reality, paying for healthcare insurance with pre-tax dollars as the corporate group plan policy holders.

These simple changes in the law would result in an affordable healthcare system that was market driven by consumers. The changes would force providers and the healthcare insurance industry to become competitive.

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

 All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2017 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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