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Disinformation and the healthcare system

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Why Vermont’s Single Party Payer Healthcare Plan Failed

 Stanley Feld M.D., FACP,MACE

Vermont’s single party payer healthcare plan was doomed to fail from the onset for several reasons.

Healthcare policy consultants do not understand the medical care system. The healthcare policy consultants for the Vermont healthcare system were the same consulting architects President Obama used for Obamacare.

The consultants were Harvard’s William Hsiao and MIT’s Jonathan Gruber.

William Hsiao has spent most of his academic career helping governments install healthcare systems. William Hsiao is the K.T. Li Research Professor of Economics in Department of Health Policy and Management and Department of Global Health and Population, at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Jonathan Gruber is a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught since 1992.[1]

He is also the director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is a research associate.

Jonathan Gruber has been heavily involved in crafting public health policy.

He has been described as a key architect[2] of both the 2006 Massachusetts health care reform, sometimes referred to as “Romneycare”, and the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as the “ACA” and “Obamacare”.

There is little evidence that the systems he and Dr. Hsaio have built are overwhelming successful, cost effective or preserve consumer freedom of choice.

In fact, a study by NPR and Harvard’s T.Chan School of Public Health concluded that Obamacare is a complete failure.

Dr. Hsaio is on the faculty the Harvard T.Chan School of Public Health.

NPR AND HARVARD T.H. Chan School of public Health SAY: OBAMACARE IS A COMPLETE FAILURE

In a New York Times interview in 2009 Dr. Hsiao discussed the system of healthcare Reform he installed in Taiwan.

The question was:

What’s the most important lesson that Americans can learn from the Taiwanese example?

Dr. Hsiao.

You can have universal coverage and good quality health care while still managing to control costs. But you have to have a single-payer system to do it.

The Taiwan government managed to insure 98 percent of the population with a premium cost of 4.6 percent of wages.

Q.

Has your system of healthcare in Tiawan translated into better life expectancy or lower complication rates from major diseases?

Dr. Hsiao.

“There is evidence of positive health results for select diseases, like cardiovascular disease and kidney failure.”

There is no medical or financial data available to prove outcomes have improved.

“Overall, it’s really difficult to say that national health insurance has improved the aggregate health status, because mortality and life expectancy are crude measurements, not precise enough to pick up the impact of more health care.”

“That said, life expectancy is improving, and mortality is dropping. And everyone now has access to good health care”.

This is not good science. It is not even good social science. This is a biased opinion.

Q.

What are the system’s weaknesses?

Dr. Hsaio

“In the legislative process, compromises had to be made. First, the president yielded on payment reform, so Taiwan kept its fee-for-service payment system. Unfortunately, that encourages doctors and hospitals to give more treatment in order to boost their income.

“Second, the Taiwanese system doesn’t have a systematic way to monitor and improve quality of care.”

“Third, in the legislative process, they rejected a provision to adjust the premium automatically when the national health system depletes its reserves.”

“In every country, health care costs are increasing faster than wages. When that happens, the premium has to go up. But that provision wasn’t incorporated into the law. As a result, the system is running a deficit.”

“National health insurance tries to cut the fees for hospital and physician services. But eventually these fee reductions will adversely affect the quality of health care.”

President Obama was so anxious to change the healthcare system in the United States to fit his socialist ideology that he picked two professors, Dr. Hsaio of Harvard and Jonathan Gruber of MIT to be the architects of Obamacare.

Jonathan Gruber has been introduced as the ‘architect’ of the Massachusetts law and/or Obamacare”.[52]

Neither professor had scientific evidence that a single party payer system would work efficiently.

Obamacare was not working efficiently yet the progressives in Vermont hired Dr. Hsaio and Dr. Guber to be the architects for Vermont’s single party payer system.

Jonathon Gruber has turned out to be a honest about the Obama administration’s lies.

Many of the videos show him talking about ways in which he felt the ACA was misleadingly crafted or marketed in order to get the bill passed, while in some of the videos he specifically refers to American voters as ill-informed or “stupid”.

In October 2013, Gruber we said: “the bill was deliberately written “in a tortured way” to disguise the fact that it creates a system by which “healthy people pay in and sick people get money”.

Some of Americans are waking up to the fact that they cannot trust President Obama and his administration to be our surrogate. This is true not only in healthcare but in his decision making in every area of the economy and our live.

Gruber said this obfuscation was needed due to “the stupidity of the American voter” in ensuring the bill’s passage. Gruber said the bill’s inherent “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” in selling it .[31]

 In 2010, Jonathan Gruber expressed doubts that the ACA would significantly reduce health care costs. He thought lowering costs played a major part in the way the bill was promoted by the Obama administration.[36]

President Obama said he never met Jonathan Gruber and did not think he came to the White House. President Obama forgot he hired him and paid him a $400,000 consultation fee.

In 2014, the Obama administration claimed that Gruber did not have a major role in creating the PPACA.[50]

President Obama acted irresponsibly to the public by hiring healthcare policy wonks to change America’s healthcare system without evidence for the success because their thoughts fit his ideology.

I don’t think President Obama understands he has changed the way hospitals and physicians have changed their approach to healthcare and medical care.

In my opinion, healthcare and medical care has changed for the worse.

Rich Lowry said that the videos were emblematic of “the progressive mind, which values complexity over simplicity, favors indirect taxes and impositions on the American public so their costs can be hidden, and has a dim view of the average American”.[41]

The American public eventually figures it out.

Commentator Charles Krauthammer called the first Gruber video “the ultimate vindication of the charge that Obamacare was sold on a pack of lies.”[42]

 The Vermont governor hired Dr. Hsaio and Dr. Gruber to create a single party payer system in Vermont figuring,the system would be easier in one small state than in the nation.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin (D.) announced that he was pulling the plug on his four-year quest to impose single-payer, government-run health care on the residents of his state.

“In my judgment,” said Shumlin at a press conference, “the potential economic disruption and risks would be too great to small businesses, working families, and the state’s economy.”

Watch out Colorado!

Why doesn’t a single party payer system work?

All of the healthcare policy wonks, especial Dr. Hsaio and Dr. Gruber, leave out the most important ingredients in a successful healthcare system.

Consumers cannot be treated as a commodity. Consumers cannot be forced to take what is given to them. The healthcare system must have a viable physician patient relationship provision.

The physician patient relationship is a big part of the therapeutic index. If treatment is to be successful patients must participate in their care.

Consumers of the healthcare system must drive the healthcare system. It must not be government or the healthcare insurance industry.

Consumers must be a the center of the healthcare system.

A system needs to be developed that puts patients in charge, not the government. Consumers must be responsible for their healthcare and their healthcare dollars.

This will motivate doctors and hospitals to compete for patients’ business.

My Ideal Medical Savings Account will provide incentives for the consumers to have a consumer driven healthcare system. This system will in turn drive hospital systems and physicians to compete for their care.

The end result will be to decrease the cost of the healthcare system and improve medical care and consumer satisfaction with the healthcare system.

 

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

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

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We Never Learn: Watch Out Colorado

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

 Winston Churchill

There are many smart people in America.

Americans form opinions from the information presented to them. When the information presented in incorrect or incomplete it is easy to form the wrong opinion.

The art of presenting misinformation and disinformation has been perfected.

The people of Colorado are now being bombarded with the need to pass Amendment 69 or ColoradoCare.

Most Coloradans have not paid sufficient attention to the amendment. Their opinions are being influenced by misinformation or inadequate information concerning the unintended consequence that are inevitable.

Many might look at ColoradoCare’s official website. http://www.coloradocare.org/know-the-facts/increases-savings/ and read the following.

  • With Amendment 69, ColoradoCare, every Colorado resident can contribute their best, knowing ColoradoCare has everyone covered with universal health care.”   Sounds wonderful.
  • “ Imagine life with ColoradoCare. If you’re a resident and you need any kind of health care (including mental health), you just go to see your provider, and ColoradoCare pays the bill.”Free is great.
  • “Without the layers of hassles, businesses, providers, and everyone in the state can go about their important work of contributing to their families and communities knowing ColoradoCare has everyone covered.”   The problem is nothing is free.                                                                                                        
  •  In a statement to the Colorado Independent October 2016, Bernie Sanders lent his support to the single-payer measure.
  • “Colorado could lead the nation in moving toward a system to ensure better healthcare for more people at less cost. In the richest nation on earth, we should make healthcare a right for all citizens.”

Hillary Clinton has not yet supported ColoradoCare. I believe she is afraid it will steal her thunder by having large increases in government healthcare expenditures she has planned. She plans to increase taxes and get healthcare governance firmly in the hands of the federal government.

The ColoradoCare website goes an to say,

“An economic analysis of health care spending in Colorado has calculated that comprehensive health coverage for every resident could be paid for with pre-tax payroll premiums of 3.33% for employees and 6.67% for employers.”

There has been no effort to prove these numbers are correct.

In fact, all of the Republican establishment politicians in Colorado are against ColoradoCare as well as many high ranking members of the Democratic establishment.

The Democratic establishment includes Governor John Hickenlooper and former governor Bill Ritter. They are opposed to Amendment 69’s passage because they understand the financial burden ColoradoCare would put on the state’s budget and growth.

The size of the current state budget is $25 billion dollars. The tax increase for ColoradoCare would be an additional $25 billion dollars. Everyone can assume the state would need more to implement the program.

ColoradoCare would be far and away the largest tax increase in state history, and would give Colorado the highest tax rate in the nation.”

“ This would be implemented as a payroll tax that would be split into 3.33% for employees, and 6.67% by employers.

An additional $18billion dollars would be asked of the federal government, as well as a waiver to let the state opt out of the Affordable Care Act in order to fund Colorado care.

If voters approve ColoradoCare, it would be written into the state constitution, making it very difficult to dismantle and impossible to amend.

The president of the Denver chamber of commerce is opposed to ColoradoCare because the chamber knows this will drive businesses out of the state and inhibit businesses from coming into the state. The Denver chamber of commerce has worked very hard and very successfully to bring business into the state.

Most of all these politicians know that Obamacare has failed. Oregon’s attempt at the state being the single party payer has failed.

Most recently, Vermont’s attempt at a single party payer system has failed.

Both Oregon’s and Vermont’s governance realized the great fiscal burden to the state budget as well as its businesses and residents.

These states quit before the taxpayers realized the extraordinary tax burden the single party payer system would have on their state.

However, most progressive thinking people cling to the ideology that a single party payer system is the way to universal coverage.

Why did Vermont fail to institute a single party payer system after the state legislature passed the bill?

I will describe the reasons for failure in my next blog.

Walker Stapleton, the Colorado state treasurer said, “a major part of his responsibilities is attention to the fiscal and economic condition of the state.”

He goes on to say,

“If passed by the voters, the provisions of Amendment 69 will have a great negative impact on the state’s fiscal and economic health, as well as impacting individual residents fiscally.”

“If passed, Amendment 69 — creating a governmental entity called ColoradoCare to administer the health care payment system — would amend the Colorado Constitution. It would not be a legislative issue to which the Colorado Legislature could make amendments as needed.”

Walker Stapleton said the state health exchange was supposed be self-sustaining. However, the state health exchange has blown through federal dollars provided.

The State has no way to fix the state exchange or has a way to pay back the federal loan. Walker Stapleton acknowledged the problems with Colorado Health Benefit Exchange, saying, “The exchange was intended to be self-sustaining, and it is anything but, and we have blown through federal dollars.”

United Health and others are leaving the exchange. The exchange has one-fifth of the enrollment anticipated because of cost, network size and service.

“The exchange is in a hole and we have not yet come up with a way to fix it,” he said.

He added that Amendment 69 would assume the state health exchange burden in addition to its debt.

This burden is not good for the single party payer financial burden.

ColoradoCare (Amendment 69) was proposed by a Boulder State Senator, a progressive M.D., with support of the other progressive M.D.s in the Boulder, Colorado community.

Most of the M.D. practices in the Boulder community are owned by Boulder Community Hospital.

I wonder if the M.Ds understand the unintended consequences to the state’s fiscal health, the unintended consequence to the business environment as a result of the increase in tax rate and the unintended consequence to residents experiencing increases in taxes.

I wonder if these physicians are aware of the unintended consequences to their ability to practice medicine.

I suspect the author of the amendment and her followers have not thought about the unintended consequences.

Consequences.

1. Amendment 69 authorizes state taxes be increased $25 billion annually in the first full fiscal year and by such amounts that are raised thereafter.

2. ColoradoCare would be exempt from Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

3. “A 10 percent payroll tax for every employer in Colorado,” Stapleton said.

The employer would pay 6.7 percent and the employee 3.3 percent. If a taxpayer were self-employed, he/she would pay both, for a total 10 percent.

4. Investment income is subject to this tax.                                                                                                                                                                         5. If the employer is outside the state, the tax does not apply for the employer’s 6.7 percent so the employee pays the full 10 percent.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Walker Stapelton said, “It is possible retirement income would be taxed,”

Also of great concern to Stapleton are these additional provisions in Amendment 69:

Transferring administration of the Medicaid and children’s basic health programs and all other state and federal health care funds for Colorado to ColaradoCare;

• Transferring responsibility to ColoradoCare for medical care that would otherwise be paid for by workers’ compensation insurance;

• Requiring ColoradoCare to apply for a waiver from the Affordable Care Act to establish a Colorado health care system;

• And suspending the operation of the Colorado health benefit exchange and transferring its resources to Colorado Care.

I hope the people of Colorado understand what this dangerous amendment represents to the fiscal health of the state.

The population will only understand its negative connotations if it starts paying attention to the consequences.

If it only believes that free medical care is good they do not understand that nothing is free.

A system in which the state offers free medical care will fail at the expense of all the taxpayers.

It has already been proven in Oregon and Vermont.

There is a more effective and less expensive way!

If you are interested please read the following links.

My ideal medical savings account is democratic and provides universal coverage with the consumers being responsible for their choice of medical care while being in control of their healthcare dollars.

Consumers’ responsibility for their health is always left out of models of healthcare reform.

If the federal government or a state government wants a business model to be successful, it should adapt my future state business model.

It is a consumer driven model with consumer responsibility built in so that consumers control their healthcare dollars.

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

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2016 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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More On The Public Option

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Hillary Clinton is a tax and spend Democrat. She will be an extension of the Obama administration.

Her list of promises and expenditures will continue in healthcare without success in providing better cost effective care to Americans.

Her plans for healthcare will result in increased government control of Americans’ lives and freedoms while escalating the federal deficit.

The expansion of President Obama’s failed programs will simply accelerate the path toward total collapse of our healthcare system.

Slide7

Dr. Robert Kocher was special assistant to President Obama for health care and economic policy from 2009 to 2010. He was instrumental in promoting the consolidation of healthcare systems. He also encourage these healthcare systems to buy physicians practices in order to consolidate networks.

The rational was the government would then deal with one provider (the hospital system). The communications within the network would improve the quality of care and decrease the cost of care.

Theoretically, this should be true. However, the differences between the culture of hospital administrator and physicians made Dr. Kocher’s goals impossible to achieve.

I believed then that the consolidation of doctors into larger physician groups was inevitable and desirable under the ACA.”

This last week he admitted that he was wrong and individual practicing physician groups are more efficient and less expensive than “hospital controlled networks of physicians.”

“I, along with Ezekiel Emanuel and Nancy-Ann DeParle, argued that “these reforms will unleash forces that favor integration across the continuum of care.”

“We thought only hospitals or health plans can afford to make the necessary investments” needed to provide the care we will need in a post-ACA world.”

“Now I think we were wrong to favor it.”

“What I know now, though, is that having every provider in health care “owned” by a single organization is more likely to be a barrier to better care.”

In 2010, I predicted hospital systems owning physicians would not work. Anyone with an understanding of hospital politics and hospital administrators thinking knew it could not work.

The only reason physicians let hospital systems buy their practices was because the physicians were disgusted with the intrusive government rules and regulations and they were afraid they would be left out of the growing future trend.

It was clear to me the trend was misguided political manipulation.

The best of the clinicians tried to make it work but failed. ACO’s controlled by hospital systems were destined to fail and not save money.

ACO’s that are owned by private group practices are barely saving money and profiting by that savings.

President Obama and his administration fell for the concept because they visualized it as a path to control physicians and the healthcare system.

The Obama administration and its experts never considered what the consumers might want or need.

The healthcare insurance industry is now suing the government because the government is reneging on its reinsurance commitment totaling billions of dollars.

President Obama and Hillary Clinton are calling for a public option. This is a diversionary tactic The public option is certain to fail.

The government will continue to remain totally dependent on the healthcare insurance companies for administrative services.

The reintroduction of the public option will accelerate the collapse of the healthcare system. It appears that Ms. Clinton has no idea of the unintended consequences.

The unspoken reality of the “public option” is to destroy private healthcare insurance. It is not a good idea. It will accelerate the  collapse of the healthcare system.

Slide7

I have written extensively about the consequences of the public option.

The government would squeeze private insurance out of the marketplace through regulatory control over access to care, premium control over consumers, and financial control over providers. The government would undercut the marketplace.

The government will remain dependent on the healthcare insurance industry to administer the services provided for all of the existing government healthcare services including Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare.

The healthcare insurance industry would be in better shape because all the insurance risk would be transferred to the government.

The government programs are unsustainable at the moment. This unsustainability will escalate.

“While private plans must negotiate market rates with doctors and hospitals, a Medicare-like “public option” would fix payment rates by fiat, well below the rates that would otherwise prevail in a real market.

President Obama said just the opposite in his Journal of the American Medical Association article.

Adding a public plan in such areas would strengthen the Marketplace approach, giving consumers more affordable options while also creating savings for the federal government.”

President Obama’s statement is a total lie. However, the mainstream media is repeating the lie as a fact.

I hope President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s public option is no more convincing today to the public than it was in 2009.

It should be less convincing in the face of all the Obamacare failures to date.

Taxpayers are realizing that the public option will put them at more real financial risk. Taxpayer financial risk was clearly stated in the first version of the public option with no congressional questions asked.

The public option does not create a competitive marketplace and level the playing field. The competition will disappear at the taxpayers’ expense.

“Using a market mechanism, like a “health insurance exchange,” then adding a “public option” to undercut private plans and destroy a competitive private market was a political strategy.”

“All the public relations rhetoric about expanded “consumer choice,” promoting “market competition,” and keeping private plans “honest” was, of course, classic boob bait.”

It is clear that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton think the American public is stupid.

President Obama has been playing the American public for 71/2 years. He was correct when he told Senator Kerry and Representative Barney Frank that we don’t need a public opinion.

Obamacare was enough to get central government control of the healthcare system.

Let us think about it a little.

The federal government mandated coverage. The problem is the mandates didn’t work.

Then, Obamacare defined what healthcare plans are permissible.

These Obamacare regulations escalated the premiums and the deductibles to unaffordable heights.

The federal government determined what health benefits consumers could receive.

It didn’t work. If a benefit was not included, consumers bought that benefit outside the system or did not buy healthcare insurance if the benefits where too many.

Physicians started to not participate in the Obamacare system. This non-participation has caused a shortage of providers.

Some medical procedures or treatments were not covered. The government decided what should be covered, what level of coverage should exist and what copayments and deductibles were to be allowed.

Consumers have been protesting. The government has not been listening.

Obamacare has all the tools and power of the law to control the healthcare system without a public option.

However, the Obama administration and another future Clinton administration feel they must destroy the healthcare insurance industry in order to give the public no choice and compel them to comply.

The public option will also fail. It will lead to restrictions on freedoms and liberty. When this is clear the public will get very angry.

The cost of healthcare will rise, not fall, because of greater inefficiency and bureaucratic control.

There will be reams of red tape and unenforceable provisions as a result of government control.

There will be special deals to certain providers in order to avoid uncontrollable protest.

Who will lose? The poor and the middle class!

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

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2016 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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The Folly of Obamacare

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America Is Being Set Up By Progressives

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

During the past six months the Obama administration and its surrogates have being setting up Americans to believe that Obamacare is increasing in popularity in America. The surrogates being used are the New York Times, the Washington Post and progressive organizations such as the Kaiser Foundation and various think tanks that issue surveys geared to make that point.

Donald Trump is correct. The system is rigged.

The widely quoted Kaiser Health Tracking Poll published monthly spins its information in the direction the administration wants it to be. The conclusions of the February 2016 survey were;

  1. Americans (36 percent) say policymakers should build on the existing law to improve affordability and access to care than any other option presented.
  2. Sixteen percent say they would like to see the health care law repealed and not replaced.
  3. 13 percent say it should be repealed and replaced with a Republican-sponsored alternative.
  4. 24 percent say the U.S. should establish guaranteed universal coverage through a single government plan.

There are several things wrong with these findings.

  1. The Republicans did not have an understandable alternative at the time of the survey and they still do not have an understandable alternative.
  2. In February 2016 the Real Clear Poll survey of all state polls resulted in 51.9 % opposing Obamacare while 43% of all those surveyed approved of Obamacare.

Here is the rub in the February 2016 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll. Opinions of those surveyed were swayed after hearing counterarguments about Obamacare.

Before those surveyed heard the counterarguments the survey found that 50% were in favor of a single party payer system with the government running the system. 43 percent were opposed.

After the counterarguments were explained, the survey results were completely different. When it was understood that taxes would go up many changed their vote. Now, 43% of those surveyed plus an additional 20% opposed a single party payer system. Only 30% of those surveyed were in favor of a single party payer.

When the question was asked after the counterarguments were understood about how many would want the current healthcare law (Obamacare) eliminated or replaced, 14% switched their vote to favor eliminating Obamacare for a total vote of 14% plus 43% (57% total).

This is a very different view of the popularity of Obamacare.

These numbers appear in the weeds of the survey and were never advertised. One has to look carefully but they are there. The percentages opposed in these survey numbers are higher than the percentages in the Real Politics Poll.

Since the media is the message the conclusion of a casual reading would be that more than 50% want a single party payer system.

The disinformation creates a false impression of Obamacare’s popularity for the public. The hope is that the public would believe that more people like Obamacare and the prospect of a government controlled single party payer system.

In June 2016 the Kaiser Tracking Poll followed up with another survey that contained more disinformation.

The conclusions were:

  • Current attitudes about the ACA are divided, with 44 percent expressing an unfavorable opinion and 42 percent reporting a favorable opinion; 16 percent of Democrats report an unfavorable opinion, down from 25 percent in April.

It is not at all divided as reported by the Real Politics Polls or Kaiser’s previous corrected survey.

In May 2016 a Real Clear Politics survey of all state polls showed that 48.8% percent of all polled opposed Obamacare and wanted it repealed. Only 39.2% were in favor of Obamacare. The media had set the administration’s false message.

  • Increases in the amount people pay for their health insurance premiums tops health care costs concerns; premiums and deductibles are the biggest financial burdens.

This is true but the increases noticed it is because of the 10 hidden taxes for Obamacare and the healthcare insurance companies projected premium increases as of result of Obamacare.

  • A majority of Americans are following the news about rising health insurance premiums, but the public doesn’t differentiate reports about ACA marketplace premiums from private insurance premiums overall.

In the individual private insurance market premiums were always high and not tax deductible to the individual. Now that everyone is guaranteed healthcare insurance coverage in the individual private market the projected premiums have increased. This is the result of Obamacare regulations. I have described the exact details previously.

However, it is convincing enough to say Obamacare is falling short of providing universal care. The administration’s conclusion is that Obamacare must be expanded to a single party payer system with the government in control to achieve universal care at an affordable cost.

All I can say is everyone should remember the cost of VA Healthcare System is astronomical as well as universal. In this government controlled single party payer system our veterans are treated very poorly despite several scandals and the infusion of more government money.

Three weeks later, on July 10, along comes Hillary Clinton declaring that Obamacare must be expanded and more money must be spent. What will follow is higher taxes and more government bureaucracy.

Can anyone deny that something fishy is going on?

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

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2016 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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Deals With The Devil, How To Destroy The Healthcare System

Stanley Feld M.D., FACP, MACE

President Obama’s goal is to destroy the healthcare system. His deals and regulations lead the healthcare system on the path of destruction.

The strategy is creating so much pain to all the stakeholders that the healthcare system will implode.

At that time public opinion will demand the government take over the healthcare system.

What makes the government a better manager than the free market? The key is to have a system that aligns all the stakeholders’ incentives.

The government is not doing a good job keeping Medicare and Medicaid solvent and providing access to care. It is providing horrible healthcare services to our veterans in the VA system.

The government has conditioned progressive Democrats to continuously declare; “ I don’t mind paying a little more to make the system better.”

The destruction of the healthcare system is a slow process. The Obama administration is proceeding step by step in a very organized fashion.

When it is replaced by a single party payer system controlled by non-elected bureaucrats, consumers will have no control over their free choices.

Hopefully, the U.S. and its citizens are too diverse and too accustomed to freedom of choice and freedom of expression to let this happen.

Hopefully, consumers realize that central government control and socialized medicine doesn’t work. The concept of central control and socialism has failed too many times to count.

Our founding fathers certainly understood this concept.

Hopefully, consumer will realize that Adam Smith was right. The free market is self-correcting. It is only self-correcting with everyone plays by the rules and the government enforces the rules.

A government run by the political establishment that is controlled by vested interests does not work. It will eventually generate mistrust among all parties.

The mistrust of government is building to a tipping point.

Two recent examples of approaching the tipping point are the new ACO rules and the deception involved in the Obamacare reinsurance scandal.

Most of the 242 ACOs out of 3000 potential ACOs have three-year contracts. Many ACOs are not about to reach their Shared Savings goals for the reason I have mentioned.

I don’t know if these ACOs realized in their quest to become more efficient they would eventually lose money. Next year’s sharing goal will be this year’s modified to be the new profit sharing benchmark.

It might be impossible to deliver care more efficiently by the new benchmark.

When the ACO automatically progress to track 2 and fall short of the most recent efficient cost sharing savings benchmark these ACOs will have to repay the government for the losses.

The second important point that is propelling the healthcare system to the tipping point is that the new ACO rules do not take into consideration the healthcare systems that signed up to become ACOs initially.

Any savings the new rules offer in order to attract more healthcare systems to sign up for the ACO program have not been offered to the original signees until 2019. The original 242 have to wait until 2019 to be eligible for the extra bonuses given to new signees.

This might get the original hospital systems to quit their ACO participation completely. If the old ACOs quit the program, it would create more dysfunction in the healthcare system.

It would be just the thing the Obama administration wants to happen. The more dysfunction, the closer America is to a single party payer system.

An equally frustrating example was the money promised to the healthcare insurance industry to guarantee it a profit if it participates in the federal and state health insurance exchange program.

I have described President Obama’s reinsurance program in detail previously.

I was opposed to the reinsurance program. The Obama administration is totally dependent on the healthcare insurance industry to perform healthcare administrative services.

I am not sure either house of congress was aware of or appreciated the implications of the reinsurance program until it because obvious three years after Obamacare was passed.

The healthcare insurance industry knowing full well that they couldn’t make legitimate profits selling coverage through Obamacare’s exchanges, relied on Democrat guarantees that their losses would be covered by the taxpayers.

But a funny thing happened on the way to easy profits. Congress refused to appropriate the funds.”

When congress realized what was going on it capped the funds appropriated to the reinsurance program. President Obama is still trying to find the fund to pay the healthcare insurance industry.

President Obama paid only 12.6% of the 2.87 billion dollars the industry claimed the government owed it.

Now the healthcare insurance companies that have not been paid are starting to sue the Obama administration.

The companies included are Health Republic Insurance Company. It has filed a class action lawsuit against the government for $5 billion, Highmark Health has sued for $223 million, Moda Healthfiled filed a $180 million suit. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina has sued for $129 million. Land of Lincoln Health has filed a $70 million suit.

It isn’t clear that these lawsuits aren’t going anywhere. “

“The defendant in the class action suit, for example, is “The United States of America” and the plaintiffs ask the court to strike down provisions of two congressional budget resolutions that require the risk corridor program to be budget neutral.”

Congress is the only branch of government that has the power of the purse. It is not the administration or the court.

As U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer put it in a ruling against the Obama administration in a similar case involving unauthorized HHS spending, “Congress is the only source for such an appropriation … See U.S. Constitution, Art. I, § 9, cl. 7”

“(‘No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.…’).” And a budget resolution becomes law once it has been signed by the President. That’s why the 2015 spending bill is titled, “Public Law 113–235.” Yet the Health Republic class action suit holds that losses somehow render the law invalid:”

Qualified Health Plans have incurred even greater compensable losses in 2015 that CMS and HHS cannot pay as a result of the 2016 Spending Bill.

“Neither the Obama administration nor the congressional Democrats with whom they made their cynical deal can save them. In the end, the Devil will have his due.”

Another way to look at the entire debacle of Obamacare is this is exactly the way President Obama and his administration wanted it to turn out. It will lead the way to a single party payer system. The single party payer system will be another disaster.

Was Obamacare designed and implemented with such incredible ineptitude that Co-Ops like Health Republic and Lincoln Health were doomed from the onset?

Were Texas and the thirty other states that did not join smart enough to know the Co-Ops and state exchanges were destined to fail and go bankrupt?

Was it done purposefully by the Obama administration in order to create chaos in the healthcare system?

Why would anyone believe that a central government that runs and controls the healthcare system be any different than the VA system and the insolvent Medicare and Medicaid System?

Who is responsible for the debacle? The traditional mainstream media such as the New York Times and the Washington Post will blame it on a Republican congress that is refusing to change the law to pay President Obama’s illegal debts.

Who do you think will pay for the upcoming debacle?

You guessed it.

The taxpayers will pay for President Obama and his administration’s obvious fiscal irresponsibility.

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

All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2016 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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More ACOs Rules Will Mean More Problems For Obamacare

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

 I have written many articles on why I believe Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) will fail.

ACOs are critical to the success of Obamacare as are many the other programs introduced by the Affordable Care Act.

If one listens to the Obama administration’s propaganda about how wonderful Obamacare has been for the American public, one would be living in a dream world, not the real world.

Obamacare has failed on many levels. The administration believes the public will not remember the previous failures.

Here are the failed promises.

  1. You can keep your doctor if you like your doctor.
  2. You can keep your health insurance policy if you like your health insurance policy.
  3. Each family will save $2500 dollars on healthcare each year.
  4. Anyone making less than $250,000 a year will not pay one red      cent in new tax.

The failures of Obamacare

  1. Obamacare will bend the healthcare cost curve. It bent the cost   curve for the first three years because Obamacare collected new taxes without providing healthcare services until 2014.
  2. Thirty-two (32) states refused to expand Medicaid.
  3. Twenty-two (22) of 50 states signed up to have state health insurance exchanges.
  4. All of the states that developed state co-ops with federal loans are under water. Fourteen of the 22 are bankrupt now. All will be bankrupt by 2017 or 2018.
  5. Private insurance enrollment though the federal health insurance exchanges has not increased for the last 3 years. Many of the buyers of health insurance exchange insurance have pre-existing illness. The health insurance exchanges are the only available insurance.
  6. The hospital system and private practice meaningful use electronic medical records have not increased percentage wise as expected.
  7. Worthless electronic medical records have increase at high costs to medical practices and hospital systems. These electronic medical records are providing some false big data information to the government and healthcare insurance industry to generate defective policy regulations. Hospital systems and physicians benefit little from the data generated.
  8. Healthcare.gov is still not right after spending billions of dollars over budget.
  9. Healthcare insurance premiums have skyrocketed for companies providing healthcare insurance to its employees.
  10. Healthcare insurance premiums have skyrocketed for people buying healthcare insurance from the federal and the few remaining state health insurance exchanges.

The only success I have seen is in Medicaid enrollment for the poor and illegal immigrants. The access of care has not improved for tax paying people.

These are just a few of the Obamacare failures. The public would never remember there have been so many failures reading the propaganda and press releases that appear from the government in the traditional mass media.

The Obama administration’s information has blurred those failures. I sense the public does not want to know about the impending disaster in the healthcare system.

Many intelligent people ignore these facts. They keep reciting the administration’s talking points about Obamacare’s success.

ACOs were supposed to lower healthcare costs. They were supposed to provide incentives for hospital groups and private practice groups to save money by providing more efficient medical care.

If these groups did lower the cost of care they would share in the savings along with the government.

There are many ways to achieve these savings and many measurements to determine these saving.

In short, ACOs were designed to shift the financial risk of care from the government to the physicians. If the physicians didn’t hit the benchmark they would lose money. The goal was also to shift to a flat rate payment for each illness from the individual fee for service based payment system.

Physicians will get paid a flat rate for a particular illness. It means that the risk for taking care of the illness at a particular cost shifts the financial burden to physicians and not the insurance company or the government.

The gigantic defect in the system is there is no burden on the consumer nor is there an incentive for consumers to be responsible for their health or healthcare dollars.

No risk is placed on the patient for compliance with treatment advice.

I have pointed out most of the defects in the ACO model in past blogs. ACOs are essentially an HMO on steroids. Hillary Clinton did not do too well in 1993 with the HMO model

ACOs do not address the problem of the high salaries of hospital administrators and healthcare insurance executives (who provide administrative services for the government). These salaries increase the cost of the healthcare system.

Last week CMS released another final rule intended to improve the way Medicare pays accountable care organizations (ACOs) in its Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).

It is clear that if another final rule is made the last final rule is not working.

The hype of this new final rule is that the Obama administration has solved what many viewed as a critical flaw in the bonus structure for Medicare’s accountable care organizations.

I think the new final rule might make ACOs fail completely.

CMS spokesman said, ”Physician buy-in is critical for the long-term sustainability of the ACO program, which could play an important role within Medicare’s broader reforms to physician payments under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, or MACRA.

MACRA is another poorly designed program that makes payment for physician service more difficult to understand.

MACRA could inspire physicians to quit the whole ACO enterprise.

A group of executives on the MACRA (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act) task force said,

“The goal is to force physicians and payers determine how to most effectively tie payment to performance and value.”

“A panel of healthcare experts and organizational leaders who began adapting to value-based payment years before the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act started fleshing out regulations talked about their programs at the event sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund.”It is obvious to me that you cannot force anyone to do anything they do not want to do. You can only provide motivation and incentive for people to do what is best for themselves from their point of view.

MACRA will not get physician buy in because it will be too restrictive, arbitrary and controlling.

So far there are only 433 Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs. There are 3000 hospital systems that should be participating in the Obamacare’s ACO program.

Only 14% of the hospital systems are participating after 3 years.

There are many large physician practices that should be participating in the ACO program. The number of these groups are unknown.

The lack of participation is a result of the complexity of the ACOs, the inability to form a unified culture of physicians in a hospital system and the difficulty hospital systems have with pricing risk.

Pricing risk is the job of the healthcare insurance industry and not physicians or hospital systems.

The government wants to put that task on the shoulders of the physicians and hospitals.

There are two risk tracts for ACO. Tract one is called one-sided risk.

The ACO only shares in the savings and does not participate in the losses if they spend more than the benchmark costs.

Tract 2 is call two-sided risk. The ACO shares in the savings with a more generous bonus from Medicare than the bonus of the tract 1 participants but pays a penalty to Medicare if doesn’t save money or demonstrate high quality care.

Only 22 of the shared-savings 433 ACOs or 5% of the participating ACOs have chosen two-sided risk. The Obama administration’s goal is to have all 3000 hospital systems participate the two-sided risk model.

The participation rate is .7% participation rate for the 3,000 hospital system that should be participating. It is far short of the Obama administration’s goal.

I would not rate the ACO participation rate as a success after 3 years.

This absolute failure has not been acknowledged by the Obama administration or the Obamacare praise singing traditional mass media.

The new final regulations and MACRA will not fix this failure. It will only make the failure worse. I will discus both the new final rule and MACRA next time.

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

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

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More On Women’s Health, HRT And WHI

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) was published in 2002. I presented a critique of the study in 2003. I gave a lecture in different parts of the country at that time debunking its statistical significance.

No one paid attention to the statistical results. The media was the message and the message has lasted despite good data refuting the message.

My last blog reviewed the lack of statistical significance of all the conclusions of the WHI study.

I published these thoughts once before in a 2007 blog post. I was stimulated to republish my comments last week because of two excellent lectures I heard at a recent American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) meeting reviewing the recent literature as to the value of estrogen replacement therapy in post-menopausal women.

Holly L Thacker M.D. presented “Women Getting Older-and Even Better”.

Dr. Thacker is the Director of the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic.

  1. Mitchell Harman, M.D. presented “Hormonal Treatment of Menopausal Women: What Are The Data Telling Us (and Not Telling Us)?”

Hopefully these two presentations will help us move forward in getting to the truth about hormone replacement therapy in the post menopausal woman.

Neither presentation stated outright that the Women’s Health Initiative conclusions were invalid because of the fact that none of WHI conclusions were statistically significant.

However, several important new points were added to the discussion using the WHI’s own data. I will present the discussion.

First, I want to present an email exchange a reader had with a retired statistician about my last blog.

Mon, Jun 6, 2016,

S wrote:

R,

The blogger writing below is a now retired endocrinologist, academician and oft critic of ObamaCare.

In his post below he takes on many of the reports that were published based upon the WHI and related.

Passing it along to you FYI owing to his assertions as presented below.

 Perhaps instructive after all.
S

June 6.

Stan,

I sent your post on the flaws of WHI data and interpretation to a retired statistician for comments.

He applauds your evaluation and comments.  As do I.

FYI.
S

From: R
Sent: Monday, June 06, 2016
To: S
Subject: Re: FW: Repairing the Healthcare System

 The points made are good ones.  The major point missed is that the study was done with horse piss estrogen, not human biologically identical estrogen which have been shown to produce none of the negative effects of horse derived estrogen.

None the less, the scientific criticism of the reported study are very accurate and very good.

R

In 2011 AZ LaCroix using the WHI’s own data analyzed the myocardial event risk. Women talking estrogen between ages 50-59 had less risk of having a myocardial infarction than women starting to take estrogen replacement therapy from age 60-69 and from age 70-79.

The WHI lumped conclusions lumps all three groups together in its analysis.

  Estrogen early Memopause results

 

It is well known and accepted that the incidence of myocardial disease increases in women as they age and increases in post menopause to the same incidence as males.

Estrogen slide 2

The timing hypothesis for starting estrogen therapy was proposed as a result of this new interpretation of WHI data.

The effects of HRT on CVD are dependent upon time HRT is initiated relative to menopause and/or age (the “timing hypothesis”).

E3

The upper two curves reflect the thickness in the carotid artery tested with ultrasound in women starting to take estradiol ten years after menopause. There is not a significant difference in the increase in intimal thickness between the placebo group and the treatment group (p==.029). Significant p values are 0.05 or less (i.e. 0.001).

Whereas the lower curves where estrogen started in less than 6 years post menopause the placebo thickness increased greater than the estradiol thickness for a very significant p value of 0.007.

This data reflect the influence of estrogen on vessels when taken shortly after the onset of menopause. The result presumes the protective effect of estrogen in post-menopausal women as opposed to the conclusions of the WHI.

I believe that WHI stimulated fright that estrogen causes breast cancer has been exaggerated. Only 4% of the causes of death in women are the result of breast cancer.

It is true the WHI was published in 2002. Prior to 2002 early detection of breast cancer with mammogram and treatment with surgery and chemotherapy was prevalent. It certainly resulted in a decrease in the incidence of death from breast cancer. Today the incidence of death from breast cancer might even be lower.

There is a sense that the breast cancer death rate might be even lower if estrogen is used immediately in postmenopausal women. There has been an 80% decrease in women being treated with hormone replacement immediately post menopause.

The goal should be to lower the death rate from breast cancer to zero.

Causes of death in women

The huge death rate from cardiac disease in women easily surpasses the death rate from breast cancer.

There is evidence that estrogen replacement might serve to lower the 4% death rate from breast cancer if given appropriately as opposed to the message that estrogen raises the breast cancer death rate as the WHI concluded.

Eliminating patients with Breast Cancer genetic makers from receiving estrogen replacement would lower the death rate even further.

Estrogen only cofidcience limits

The subgroups in the WHI Estrogen only arm were analysized in 2004. Please note that all subgroups at all the diseases catagories crossed 1 and is not statistically significant. Only the incidence of stroke in the 60 – 69 group did not cross 1.

Therefore none of the subgroups except the 60-69 stroke subgroup was statistically significant. However that group did not attain a hazards ratio above 2 required for it to be statistically significant.

Importantly, the Breast Cancers subgroups all crossed 1 indicating there was no difference statistically significant between estrogen treated age groups and placebo age groups. It cannot be concluded from the WHI study that estrogen causes breast cancer.

Estrogen adjusted reative risk nurses

Colditz,in the Nurses Health study did not use nominal confidence limits as did the WHI in its conclusions. Colditz considered all of the confounding variables such as age, age of menopause, BMI, hysterectomy or normal onset of menopause, BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol level, smoking, oral contraceptive use, and family history of cardiac disease, or breast cancer.

He used adjusted confidence limits required to be used with confounding variables.

The confidence interval for the occurrence of breast cancer in nurses currently using estrogen was 0.59- 1.00 and using estrogen in the past was 0.63-1.09 both touching or crossing 1. Therefore the results were not statistically significant.

The game changer after all the evidence that the WHI data was misinterpreted was the Danish study DOPS published in the British Medical Journal in 2012.

Game changer

I have presented this data to my readers to ponder after I heard these two excellent reviews at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) meeting.

I wanted to point out once again that the media is the message. The media without proper peer review of data has changed the way women are treated post-menopausal forever.

Hopefully disseminating this data will help remove some of the emotional stigma that has influence the thinking and use of estrogen replacement therapy since 2002.

It might stimulate the medical profession, the government, the malpractice legal system and women to start re-thinking their recommendations and conclusions.

This is especially true when women are living longer and estrogen therapy can alleviate some of the emotional, and physical effects women suffer in menopause when estrogen is prescribed appropriately.

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

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

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Women’s Health Initiative (WHI): The Medical Community Is Waking Up

Stanley Feld M.D. FACP, MACE

The Women’s Health Initiative’s conclusions changed how peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women are treated in the U.S.

The conclusions of the study were released to the media before the medical community had a chance to study or debate the findings.

Since the media is the message and damn the facts, it was clear that estrogen caused heart disease, breast cancer, stroke and pulmonary embolism when used in peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women.

The conclusions frightened every peri-menopausal and post menopausal woman in this country. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) usage has decreased by eighty percent since the WHI was published in 2002.

Women were afraid to take HRT because they were afraid to contract these deadly diseases.

Physicians were afraid to prescribe HRT because of the fear of being sued in our litigious society if their patient contracted one of these diseases.

In the years before the WHI, observational data supported the conclusion that estrogen was of great value in treating symptoms associated with the acute menopausal syndrome, namely hot flashes, vaginal dryness, urinary tract irritation, skin changes and emotional instability.

Estrogen also seemed to protect against heart disease, osteoporosis and weight gain and promote a general sense of well being in peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women. There was no good evidence for or against breast cancer.

One common complaint about observational studies is they are not double blind studies. One observes the outcome against a control group that does not have the same outcome.

“One common observational study is about the possible effect of a treatment on subjects, where the assignment of subjects into a treated group versus a control group is outside the control of the investigator.[1][2] This is in contrast with experiments, such as randomized controlled trials, where each subject is randomly assigned to a treated group or a control group.”

This NIH sponsored double blind placebo controlled study (WHI) was performed to prove with a level A (double blind placebo controlled) study to test the validity of observational data reports of the positive effects of estrogen.

The WHI reported results that concluded that estrogen had the opposite effects of previous observational studies.

The WHI conclusions were that conjugated estrogen caused breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and pulmonary embolism. The WHI claimed that conjugated estrogen did protect against osteoporosis.

The media is the message and the conclusion resulted in the media frenzy. The implication was the medical profession was killing women by prescribing estrogen.

Prior to the release of the study’s conclusions many women were afraid to take estrogen on general principles alone. Many felt that estrogen deficiency was part of the aging process.

However, women had a life expectancy of 50 years in the early part of the 20th century. Women today live much longer and observational data suggests estrogen therapy (HRT) results in a healthier life.

There are many statistical problems with the WHI study. These problems have not been discussed in the media.

Practicing physicians were confused by the WHI study’s conclusions. They were also enraged because the results were released to the public before there was peer reviewed by the entire medical community.

Patients taking estrogen were upset at their physicians for giving them estrogen.

There are many defects in the WHI study from a statistical viewpoint.

  1. Age Distribution: 66.6% of the patients were between 60 and 70 years old. 87% of the patients were 60 to 80 years old. The majority of the patients in the study receiving Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for the first time were at least 10 years post-menopausal. This age distribution does not represent the usual population starting HRT.

 

HRT is usually started just prior to the onset of menopause or at menopause (48 years old).

  1. The drop out rate in the placebo and HRT group was 40%. The significance of the dropout rate was not addressed. This dropout rate nullifies the validity of statistical significance of all the conclusions in the study.

 

Maximal tolerable dropout rate for statistically significance of data in a study should not be greater than 20%.

Everyone had ignored this important statistical fact.

 

  1. The unblinding of 3000 women in the study represents a departure from the protocol. It biased the findings of treatment difference.

 

  1. A hazards ratio (HR) in a statistically significant conclusion should be greater than 2.0 in order for a conclusion to be valid. The Hazard Ration should not be expressed to two decimal places.

 

A Hazards Ratio of less than two does not discriminate causality from bias and confounding of variables.

  1. A 40% drop out rate nullified the power of the study. The study was not sufficiently powered to yield statistically significant results.

 

  1. Presenting data as a nominal confidence interval is valid only when one outcome is being studied against one placebo.

 

Adjusted confidence intervals must be used when multiple outcomes are involved that represent multiple confounding variables.

 

Confidence interval must not cross 1 to be statistically significant.

 

The WHI’s statistical conclusions of the WHI study were based on using nominal confidence intervals. The nominal confidence intervals were barely significant.

The WHI nominal confidence intervals came close to touching number one (1).

All of the WHI’s published adjusted confidence intervals were non significant because they all crossed 1.

These are the defects in the WHI study’s statistical analysis that invalidates its statistical significance.

The estimated Hazard Ratios (HRs), (Nominal 95% Confidence Intervals [Nom CIs] and Adjusted 95% Confidence Intervals [Adj CIs ) in the WHI study were as follows:

 

Cardiac Heart Disease: HR 1.29, Nom CI (1.02-1.63)                Adj CI 0.85-1.97.

Conclusion should have been the WHI was statistically insignificant for causing Cardiac Disease.

 

Breast cancer: HR 1.26, Nom CI(1.00-1.59),

Adj CI 0.83-1.92.

Conclusion should have been the WHI was statistically insignificant for causing Breast Cancer.

 

Stroke: HR 1.41, Nom CI (1.07-1.85)

Adj CI 0.86-2.31.

 

Conclusion should have been the WHI was statistically insignificant for causing Stroke.

 

Pulmonary Embolism: HR 2.13, Nom CI(1.39-3.25),

Adj CI 0.99-4.56.

The WHI conclusion for estrogen causing Pulmonary Embolism might be statistically significant if statistical analysis rules were not disregarded.

The Hazard Ratio (HR) was above 2. The Nominal Confidence limit (Nom Cl) did not go below 1. However it cannot be used for this study.

The Adjusted Confidence limit which must be used for this study crossed 1 making the WHI conclusion not statistically significant.

The adjusted confidence intervals were published in the original paper.

Media blitz publicity of the WHI’s invalid conclusions created a high level of public certainty about the results of the study.

Few physicians were in a position to dispute the statistical weakness of the data. Those who were in a position to dispute the statistical significance either remained silent or were marginalized.

The media blitz’ results changed the approach to women’s health in the U.S. in 2002. Eighty percent of women taking HRT discontinued estrogen replacement therapy.

In my opinion, the results have been a great disservice to women’s health. The media publicity also has had a devastating impact on the physician patient relationship and patients’ confidence in clinical research.

Even though estrogen might cause heart disease, pulmonary embolism, stroke, and breast cancer, the Women’s Health Initiative did not prove it in a statistically significant way.

Once again the media is the message.

Freedom of the press is vital to our freedom of speech, but the media’s tendency to sensationalize issues prior to proper judgment is disruptive to seeking the truth.

The medical community is starting to pick apart the conclusions of the WHI study.

I will describe some of the new and contradicting findings next time.

Dr. Joe Goldzieher, Reproductive Endocrinologist, helped me critique the statistics in 2002.

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

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