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Pay for Performance (P4P)


An Excellent Reader Comment On P4P (Pay for Performance)


Stanley Feld M.D., FACP, MACE

The costs of healthcare system have become unsustainable. There are many ways to reduce the costs in a sensible way. Pay for performance is not one of them.

President Obama and others have concluded that the way to reduce the costs is to change the way physicians are reimbursed.

President Obama is ignoring the fact that physicians receive only 10 to 15% of the healthcare dollars spent.

Who is the rest of the money going to?

Pay for Performance (P4P) is stupid idea to me. It sounds good to some.

P4P failed to produce cost savings during the major pilot program by undefined criteria. President Obama is rolling out the program to the rest of the country because he and his healthcare staff believe in it.

In my opinion P4P will only increase the cost of healthcare.

I offer President Obama a piece of advice. He should listen to retired physicians who practiced medicine for many years and understands patients’ wants and needs.

It is entirely possible that President Obama wants to collapse the healthcare system and have the government become the payer of last resort. Then he can create his beloved “single party payer” healthcare system.


Medicare is a “single party payer” in its present form is unsustainable and will disappear in 2016 or 2021. The addition of another 30 million people to its roles will make it less sustainable.

The problem with a single party payer system is that it will not work in America. It is turning out that it does not work in England and many other countries.

A retired radiation oncologist sent me this comment about the Pay For Performance (P4P) concept.



Now there's an excellent example of a term that sounds good but, absent a definition of the second "P", has no meaning at all.

I haven't heard anybody address that issue in a way that could be understood and accepted by all of the parties at interest.  Patients, physicians, hospitals, and insurance companies might be considered in the same light as the proverbial blind men describing the elephant of performance.

Perhaps, instead of "evidence-based medicine" we could look at developing the concept of "goals based medicine". 

Yogi Berra is credited with the thought, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there". 

If the second "P" stands for performance, the question is begged, "Whose performance?" The assumption is made that the party doing the performing is the physician, I suppose. 

If that is the case, how is performance to be measured? 

Patient satisfaction? (pretty subjective).

Compliance with some set of guidelines? (If so, whose guidelines?)

Restoration of health of the patient?  (Now there's an interesting idea, that sounds pretty good, but must take into account the state of health being experienced by the patient before the current illness began.) 

 Quality of life? (Who defines that?) 

 Relief of symptoms?  (Pretty easy to assess, but different patients will define the severity of symptoms differently, and nobody else's definition really matters to each one of them.  People "suffer" differently, and some of their suffering is culturally derived.)

 Extension of some number of life-years?  (Quality adjusted, or just more years?  Who can tell?) 

Almost never, in the initial transaction between a physician and a patient and family is there any conversation about the goals or expectations to be accomplished in the experience the "system participants" are entering into and sharing. 

I would suggest that such an interaction might be the place to begin to define "performance".  Were the expectations met?  If they were, we have done our job.  If they were not met, there is either more work to be done in the current relationship between physician and patient, or there is a need for the formation of a new relationship between the patient and a new physician. 

Left unsaid is that such a discussion of goals and expectations, if held as early as possible in the relationship, may be the time for the physician to share with the patient what is capable of being accomplished, in contrast to what is expected to be accomplished.

Only when these terms are understood by all of the parties, can "performance" be adequately measured,

If "P4P" becomes the way services are valued, it is the only rational process through which the transaction can result in fair compensation. 

Bureaucrats sitting in offices far away cannot do this, only those directly involved in any clinical situation can. 

And, to makes matters more difficult, every clinical situation will differ from every other clinical situation in one way or another.


This physicians comment is an excellent argument for a Consumer Driven Healthcare System. Consumers must have the right to pursue their own destiny and be responsible for their own choices.

Consumers must own their healthcare dollars even it those dollars are given to them by the government. Consumers must have a financial incentive to be responsible for their own health and healthcare needs.

My Ideal Medical Savings Account accomplishes this. It can provide first dollar coverage to all at a lower cost to the healthcare system presently and motivate Americans to have a healthier life style further reducing the cost.

Mandates do not work!

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

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Pay For Performance (P4P) Pilot Project Fails

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

The CBO announced that the P4P pilot project did not reduce the cost of providing healthcare nor yielded long-term gains in mortality.

"Tying financial incentives to performance, often referred to as pay for performance, has gained broad acceptance as an approach to improving the quality of health care.1-4 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently completed a 6-year demonstration of pay for performance for hospitals through the Premier Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration (HQID), and the Affordable Care Act calls for CMS to expand this program to nearly all U.S. hospitals in 2012. 

P4P sounds good theoretically. The government paying more money for better outcomes sounds logical from the payer’s point of view.  It is not logical from the payees’ (physicians’) point of view.

The emphasis of P4P is on physicians and hospitals practice process to improve quality through the use of evidence based medicine.

The evidence based medicine guidelines are determined by the Independent Physician Advisory Board (IPAB). The evidence based medicine should improve quality and lead to better patient outcomes and decrease healthcare costs..

This pilot project showed that P4P does not produce the desired result. The hope was to inspire poor performing centers to improve and good performing centers to perform better in order to receive incentive pay for performance as a bonus.

"In summary, we found little evidence that participation in the Premier HQID program led to lower 30-day mortality rates, suggesting that we still have not identified the right mix of incentives and targets to ensure that pay for performance will drive improvements in patient outcomes.

  Even though Congress has required that the CMS adopt pay for performance for hospitals, expectations with regard to programs modeled after Premier HQID should remain modest."

This last sentence is great advice.

Congress and President Obama should reexamine their premise.

Patients’ performance is left out of the P4P program. Patients’ attitude toward their disease, adherence to taking medicine prescribed, compliance with prescribed therapy and patients ability to make rapid therapeutic adjustment of medications depends on patients and not physicians or physicians’ practice process.  

There is no question that the process of care is important. There is no question that processes based on evidence must be learned by all physicians. There is also no question that processes based on evidence rapidly change and must be swiftly adjusted.

The most important determinant in patients’ outcome depends on patients. Physicians’ practices should not be judged disregarding patients’ behavior.  

It is the physicians’ responsibility to teach patients how to be “Professors Of Their Diseases.”

Just imagine how many re-hospitalizations could be avoided for congestive heart failure if patients were motivated and educated to detect the onset of congestive heart failure and how to increase the dosage of medication to abort the episode.

Think of all the heart disease that could be prevented if obesity was prevented.

Think of all the acute asthma attacks and uncontrolled diabetes whose hospitalizations could be prevented.

Think about all the complications of diseases could be prevented if patients were incentivized to lead a healthy lifestyle.

At present the administration is trying to change incentives. It will not work.

The reason is simple.

I have written several blogs on why P4P will fail. 

When will someone listen?

I clearly explained the reasons for predicting P4P’s failure in a blog written in April 2007.

 Pay for Performance(P4P): Another Complicated Mistake.


April 15,2007

Stanley Feld M.D.FACP,MACE

The intuitive meaning of Pay for Performance (P4P) is the better you perform the more you get paid. This is true in many industries. The concept is well advertised in the well publicized salaries of professional athletes. Recently we have heard of grotesques salaries of fired CEO that get hundreds of millions of dollars in termination salaries for doing a bad job. They are getting paid well for poor job performance.

The underlying assumption is that with P4P, physicians should be responsible and accountable for medical outcomes. The physicians will be reimbursed for medical outcomes. The reimbursements made to the physicians are under the control of the government or insurance industry. These entities are interpreting the criteria for the quality of medical outcomes.

We have seen what happened to Dr. Petak even though his treatment is correct and saves money for the health care system. Many physicians feel P4P is simply code for reducing physician reimbursement. In an environment of existing mistrust between all the stakeholders, the potential is great for generating more mistrust. The growth of the mistrust will result in more dysfunction in the healthcare system and increased cost.

The definition of quality medical care has not been made clear by the secondary facilitators while proposing the P4P rollout. Organized medicine has not been outraged by the proposal. No one has analyzed it with all the potential for unforeseen consequence. Can P4P prevent the onset of disease or decrease complication rate for chronic disease? Who are the responsible stakeholders for increasing quality? The stakeholders responsible for medical quality care are the physician and the patient. If the patients do not adhere to the medical regime prescribed, the quality of care will not improve. Many studies have shown that compliance rates are as low as 30% for certain treatments. Patients will not have improved medical outcomes if they do not follow a treatment plan. Why should the physician be penalized? Why doesn’t the government and the insurance industry declare that patients are equally responsible for both good and bad medical outcomes? The structures of bureaucratic systems would not permit it because not only would it be judged to be insensitive it would be socially incorrect and result in a public outrage.

Patients have to be educated and become professor of their disease, be responsible for their health behaviors such as filling their prescriptions, exercising , decreasing obesity, not smoking or drinking. All preventive measures must be promoted. Patient need to be responsible their behavior and adherence to therapy. The physicians should not experience all of the brunt of poor outcomes or the credit for good outcomes. The P4P movement is misguided.

They are misguided when they think this is the fix. P4P represents another false hope and complicated mistake that in my opinion will lead to great cost to the healthcare system without improvement in medical outcomes.

I have defined quality medical care in a measurable way. None of these criteria are individual indicators of quality medical care. The system of quality of care should be the quality measure of prevention of medical complications and not the measurement of the parts on the path toward quality medical care. The patients’ activity is at least half of the quality equation to reduce the complications of chronic disease.

However, the secondary stakeholders are making a mistake with P4P. They have developed artificial quality indicators that do not measure quality medical care accurately. They want to force physicians to follow their indicators rather than use their medical skill and medical judgment. The way to improve quality is not to be punitive to the physicians. They are only one half of the quality equation to reduce medical care cost. The way to do it is to set up a competitive environment.

Lasik surgery is a perfect example. It stated with all ophthalmologic doing Lasik for $3000 an eye. Insurance did not pay for Lasik surgery. Some ophthalmologists’ developed focus factories that did just Lasik surgery. They developed economies of scale and expertise that enabled them to reduce the price. Patients chose these focused factories on the bases of price, and outcomes rather than the local opthalmologists. The price in some cities is now $250 an eye. Remember patients are not stupid. However, they are the 50% of the quality care equation. They will spend their money wisely and drive quality, if they own their healthcare dollar. It is our job to teach patients how to make the correct decisions. It is not the insurance industry or the government to restrict access to care and judge what is best. I believe the market place can do it.

In diabetes the healthcare system sends 15% of the healthcare dollar on 5% of the population and rising. Ninety percent of those dollars is spent on the complications of diabetes. If patients with diabetes were given control of their healthcare dollar and were rewarded for avoiding complications of diabetes we would be on our way to a competitive environment for the treatment of diabetes. The patients would search for physicians that had economies of scale and expertise to help them improve their quality of medical care. They would drive the creation of focus factories in diabetes as well as any other chronic disease. The system would then be stimulating competition and improving quality medical care not punishing physicians and patients. A negative and faulty penalty system (P4P) will not solve any of our problems. I predict it will only make it worse for the patient and the physician and more profitable for the insurance industry and hospitals. The physician and patient community ought to be outraged. They are not because we are a sound byte society and do not pay attention to the details of issues.

The P4P fad is simply another reason why patients need to be in control of their healthcare dollar. They should be rewarded if they avoid complications and improve their health. Physicians should compete to develop focus factories in order to generate economies of scale and improved medical outcomes. All of this has to be done in a price transparent environment.


April 15, 2007 in Medicine: Healthcare System | Permalink

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Medical Care Must Not Be A Commodity

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table. HbA1c Levels and Corresponding Multivariate Hazard Ratios

HbA1c Level

Multivariate-Adjusted Hazard Ratio

< 5%

0.52 (0.40-0.69)

5% to < 5.5%

1.00 (reference)

5.5% to < 6%

1.86 (1.67-2.08)

6% to < 6.5%

4.48 (3.92-5.13)

≥ 6.5%

16.47 (14.22-19.08)

HbA1c = hemoglobin A1c

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Stimulus Fiasco: Part 3

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE


President Obama’s goal for healthcare reform is to increase the quality of medical care, increase efficiency of medical care and decrease the cost of care. The goal is admirable. The route he is taking is wrong. In the process he might destroy the medical workforce.

The route the electronic medical record (EMR) stimulus package should take should be flexible and educational for patients and physicians. It should use modern software technology instead of subsidizing old inflexible technology that is set up to be punitive to physicians and patients to the advantage of the government and the healthcare insurance industry.

The term "quality medical care’ is used loosely. It has not been appropriately defined. The practice of evidence based medicine has been used to define quality medical care. The problem is evidence based medicine is changing daily.

A better definition should be the best clinical outcome with the most efficient financial outcome. It is assumed that practicing evidence based medicine will lead to the best clinical outcome at the most efficient cost.

Clinical guidelines are defined by “experts” interpreting evidence based medicine. I am/was one of those experts and appreciate its short comings.

Some guidelines are essential and should be inflexible. Others are ever changing and must be flexible. In bureaurocratic systems it is difficult to create flexible rules. Also, all patients are different. Clinical judgment plays an important role in treatment.

Physicians should not be penalized for using clinical judgment. Nonetheless, physicians are penalized in a pay for performance evaluation for deviating from inflexible clinical guidelines. Since some clinical guidelines are always changing the weakness of the approach is obvious.

An example of an inflexible clinical guideline is the need for rules to have a sterile operating room with sterile gowns and tools to avoid surgical infection.

An example of a need for a flexible clinical guideline should be a physician’s approach to a patient with hypertension. The goal should be to normalize the blood pressure. The goal for lowering the blood pressure to normal is to avoid heart attacks and stroke. However, if the patient’s blood pressure was elevated for a long period of time and was severe enough to compromise the renal (kidney)) blood flow, lowering the blood pressure too quickly could result in the patient having a stroke from a relatively low blood pressure. This is an example of the value of clinical judgment.

Physician performance should not be evaluated on static measurements. It must be evaluated on physicians’ medical judgment. Clinical judgment is a function of a physician’s ability to relate to his or her patients. (patient physician relationship)

On the other hand, if a patient felt poorly as a physician tried to lower the blood pressure to normal the patient might stop his medication without telling the physician. The physician’s workup might have been perfect and his choice of medication may have been excellent. This physician might get an excellent mark on his performance but the patient had a stroke because the patient did not comply with treatment. The patient might not have complied because he was not taught to be a professor of his disease. Healthcare is a team sport. The patient physician relationship failed but was not measured. .

The poor performance was missed by the static digital healthcare evaluation imposed by an inflexible EMR. The importance of the patient physician relationship and not including patient responsibility in the clinical outcome should be part of any performance measurement. A performance measurement should be a measurement of both the patients’ and physicians’ performance.

Now that the federal government plans to spend $50 billion to spur the use of computerized patient records, the challenge of adopting the technology widely and wisely is becoming increasingly apparent.

There is no question we should have universal electronic medical records. It should be a teaching tool for patients and physicians. The EMR should be inexpensive and flexible. It should not a tool to judge and penalize clinical performance. President Obama is being ill advised. His EMR stimulus program is going to result in a waste of $50 billion dollars.

“In a “perspective,” Dr. Kenneth D. Mandl and Dr. Isaac S. Kohane portray the current health record suppliers as offering pre-Internet era software — costly and wedded to proprietary technology standards that make it difficult for customers to switch vendors and for outside programmers to make upgrades and improvements.”

The software the government is going to spend $50 billion dollars on is going to be too expensive, inflexible and not widely distributed.

“Instead of stimulating use of such software, they say, the government should be a rule-setting referee to encourage the development of an open software platform on which innovators could write electronic health record applications”.

EMR software platforms in the cloud should be developed. This link by Christopher Barnatt  is an excellent utube explanation of cloud computing. I suggest all watch it.Amazon uses the cloud to sell books.’s business model tracks sales force activity at a minimal cost to the company. It is flexible and maintenance free.

“Such an approach, they say, would open the door to competition, flexibility and lower costs — and thus, better health care in the long run. “If the government’s money goes to cement the current technology in place,” Dr. Mandl said in an interview, “we will have a very hard time innovating in health care reform.”

The rules can be immediately changed. The cost to a medical practice could be minimal. Its effectiveness is maximal. The cost to the government using modern software technology could be between 1-10 % of what the stimulus is proposing to spend. If it is fashioned as an educational tool to patients and physicians the payback will be maximal, quality of care will improve and the cost of care will decrease.

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

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President Obama Don’t Confuse Us With Illogical Thinking.


Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

Medicare and Medicaid flunk the Institute of Medicine’s criteria defining an effective healthcare plan.

The President’s $634 billion "down payment" on health care reform in his proposed budget depends on raising taxes and saving money largely through administrative payment changes in existing entitlement programs. That is not exactly fundamental reform.”

John Goodman’s analysis of Nicholas Kristof New York Times editorial is perfect. He starts off by saying: I have observed before that when people start talking about health care their I.Q. tends to fall about 15 points.”

“The same error in reasoning appears in almost every speech on health care given by Barack Obama and by just about everybody else on the political left as well.”

I am not interested in partisanship. I am only interested in logical problem solving. If a plan for medical treatment makes sense and has good clinical evidence to prove a positive outcome, I am for it. The same applies to solving social and economic problems.

President Obama’s healthcare team is in the process of formulating a plan that is not logical . The healthcare plan has not succeeded in the past and will fail at a greater cost to taxpayers and society.

John Goodman has outlined the logic used by Nicholas Kristof and the administration to justify the validity of the administration’s healthcare reform plan.

Classic syllogisms are taught to every high school student ;

All men are mortal

Socrates is a man

Therefore Socrates is mortal

John Goodman points out the syllogism used about by Nicolas Kristoff and the administration:

“Major Premise:

The United States spends twice as much per person on health care as Canada and most European countries and has worse outcomes.

Minor Premise:

Spending twice as much in return for less is bad.


We should tax the rich and spend even more on health care.

Whoa! Something’s wrong here.”

You bet there is something wrong. It is not logical. The proposed solution of taxing the rich does not follow expanding failed programs (Medicare and Medicaid).

President Obama’s healthcare reform proposal;

1. Down Payment or Unknown Costs

President Barack Obama’s budget sets aside $634 billion over 10 years in a health care reserve fund, which is earmarked for the enactment of unspecified policies intended to bring down costs and expand coverage but its true costs are still unknown..

The congressional budget office’s estimates are much higher.

2. Key Provisions in the Health Care Budget

Higher Taxes. The President is proposing tax increases on those making over $250,000 annually. This revenue is projected to finance approximately half of the projected health care spending, an estimated $318 billion.

The President’s healthcare team is proposing to throw money at a broken system and use the tax increases to pay for it. The result will be a further increases in future taxes. President Obama should be developing a healthcare system that will provide incentives to the primary stakeholder (consumers) and promote innovative thinking and behavior by the other primary stakeholder (physicians) to promote efficiency and decrease costs.

His plan does not initiate real change in the healthcare system. The government will still outsource administrative services to the healthcare insurance industry. The healthcare insurance industry will still control the healthcare dollar.

3. Medicare Private Plan Payment Changes.

4. Medicare Prescription Drug Premiums.

Under this proposal, higher-income seniors would pay higher premiums than lower-income seniors for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Part D is presently too expensive. Its premiums have tripled in the last two years. Medicare Part D has benefited the healthcare insurance industry. The healthcare insurance industry’s net profit is $5 billion dollars per  year. Only 20% of Medicare patients participate.

5. Medicaid Prescription Drug Payment.

6. Medicare Payment Changes.

“Systemic delivery reforms, such as "pay for performance" (where physician and hospital reimbursement are tied to compliance with government practice guidelines), are intended to result in securing better value for dollars.”

Similar “reforms” have lead to providers adjusting by gaming the system. Centralized medical decision making in Washington will lead to political manipulation of the system by healthcare lobbyists. It does not repair the healthcare system.


7. Medicaid Family Planning.

8. Prescription Drug Re-Importation.

President Obama’s healthcare plan does little to empower the patient. It does little to change our healthcare system’s flawed public and private payment system. The power to manipulate the system’s payment remains in the healthcare insurance industry’s hands. Its appeal is to the populist notion to “soak the rich” to help the poor. It does not add value to individual freedom of choice and ability to secure valuable healthcare. It does not repair the healthcare system.

If President Obama really wanted to repair the healthcare system he would place control and decision making for healthcare needs in the hands of the consumers and their families.

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

  • jacksmith

    Finally, the time has arrived to fix Americas Healthcare crisis, and Americas healthcare nightmare. Hundreds of thousands of you are killed needlessly every year by your healthcare delivery system in a rush to profit. And because of a rush to profit Hundreds of thousands more of you are needlessly dying from treatable illness that people in other developed and civilized countries don’t DIE! from. Rich, middle class, and poor alike. Insured, and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies.
    Additionally, thousands more of you are driven into financial ruin, and bankruptcy just because you, or one of your loved ones got sick or injured. And all of this is happening at a time when America spends twice as much of it’s GDP (Gross Domestic Productivity) on health care than any other country in the developed world. Individual Americans spend about ten times as much on health care as any other people in the developed world. This is a CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY. AND IT MUST END!
    But before we can truly fix this healthcare crisis and disgrace, everyone needs to clearly understand what the problem is. And everyone needs to clearly understand the real enormity of the problem. The problem is that HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY IN AMERICA IS SEVERELY CORRUPTED AND COMPROMISED BY GREED! AND THE PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MOTIVE. And it is corrupted, and compromised IN EVERY ASPECT, AND EVERY PLACE OF HEALTHCARE AND MEDICAL DELIVERY. Unfortunately for all Americans, compromised healthcare ALWAYS results in needless suffering, injury, disability, and or death. Which is exactly what is happening now in America in shocking numbers.
    Health care is NOT! a private for profit business. Healthcare is an essential public service. Like police, and fire. And healthcare is also a human right! PRIVATE FOR PROFIT HEALTHCARE IS AN OXYMORON, AND AN IMMORAL AND UNETHICAL PERVERSION OF HEALTHCARE AND HUMAN RIGHTS.
    So how do we fix this healthcare disgrace? I believe the fix for Americas healthcare disaster is essentially the same thing that every other developed country in the World has essentially done. “NOT FOR PROFIT, TAX PAYER SUPPORTED, SINGLE PAYER, AUTOMATIC, FREE UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE FOR ALL. Essentially HR676 (enhanced, and expanded medicare for all). Just like every other CIVILIZED! country in the developed World has. There is no other way to truly fix and reform our current disastrous healthcare delivery system.
    All Universal health care systems work best when everyone participates. But I know that the healthcare lobby, and some politicians will try and undermine “Not For Profit, Tax payer supported, Single payer, Automatic, Free Universal Healthcare for all” by falsely claiming that it will limit your choice, and require you to participate.
    So, I propose that everyone be included in the national plan unless they choose to opt out. If you opt out and need medical care the national plan will insure your provider that they will be reimbursed under the rules for members in the national plan. But those who opted out, and their insurer will be responsible for the FULL! cost to the national plan for providing your care if you or your private insurer fails to reimburse the provider or the national plan in a timely manor to at least the standards of the national plan.
    Including reporting you to credit agencies, withholding of taxes, leans, and garnishment of wages for unpaid medical bills. Just like you have now under private for profit healthcare, and private for profit health insurance.
    Further, people who opted out will be required to provide proof of financial responsibility for future illness or be required to participate in the national plan. And everyone with children will be required to participate in the national plan. Or provide proof of insurance coverage on each child to the standards of the national plan. It will be against the law to report anyone in the national plan to a credit agency for unpaid medical bills.
    Frankly, only a dope would want to opt out of the national plan and opt to keep our current disastrous private for profit medical, and insurance plans. But they will be free to choose. The most important thing is that the vast majority of Americans that want the protection, benefits, and higher quality of a universal national plan have that choice.
    You see, one of the most important aspects of a universal healthcare system is easy access, and patient protection. This is accomplished by having a single payer without a conflict of interest in patient care. And by having a payer who has the power to enforce minimum standards of excellence in healthcare delivery for everyone in the plan. This is much of what Medicare does now for senors. “Aeger Primo” (The patient comes first). Unfortunately in our healthcare system the patient comes last. We are just a peace of meat to them. Cash cows to be slaughtered for profit.
    So this is IT! my fellow Americans, My fellow human beings, My fellow World Citizens. And my fellow Cyber Warriors. 🙂 The time has come. D day. H hour. HEALTHCARE REFORM THIS YEAR! Let no one stand in our way. Contact your representative and tell them you want “Not For Profit, Tax Payer Supported, Single Payer, Automatic, Free Universal healthcare for all. And tell them you want that choice now. Tell them you want President Obama’s budget passed without delay. President Obama’s budget is brilliant. And exactly what is needed now.
    President Obama, and his allies will need all the support you can give them. The healthcare lobby will try to take out his people if they can, like they did with Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer. And they will try to neutralize President Obama’s popularity, and political power. Or they will try to take him down someway. Don’t stand for it. If they attack him. Go after them ten times harder and remove them from office. We had an election. And you the people chose President Obama’s leadership, and change agenda. Let no one in government disrespect the will of the American people and remain in office.
    Let’s get this healthcare reform done now my fellow Americans. This year. Take no prisoners.
    God Bless All Of You
    Jack Smith — Working Class 🙂

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You Can’t Change The Practice Of Medicine With Demand-Side Reforms. Let Us Put An End To Pay For Performance (P4P) Initiatives: Part 1

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

have pointed out the folly of P4P initiatives as a methodology for improving the
quality of medical care
medical care has not been adequately defined.
One definition could be to
maintain health at the lowest cost. Physicians have classically been trained to
fix things that are broken. The paradigm shift has been to prevent things from
becoming broken.

is a two way street
. It is the  patient who needs to prevent disease from
occurring. It is the physician who must teach the patient how to prevent disease
and its complications.

measures will not encourage behavior change
. The economist, John Goodman,
stated: “You
can't change the practice of medicine with demand-side reforms.”
  I have
said repeatedly it can only be changed with innovative and incentive driven
education for both patients and physicians. This will lead to behavior change
and a true increase in quality of care.

Quality medical care should not be judged on what tests are done for a
particular chronic disease in a given year. It should be judged on the basis of
maintenance of health of a patient with chronic disease. It should be evaluated
as a dual responsibility of both the patient and physician. If there is going to
be an increase reimbursement for performance, performance has to be judged
correctly and both physician and patient should be rewarded.

Quality medical care should be judged on the maintenance of health and
avoidance of the complications of chronic disease. The treatment of the
complications of chronic disease utilizes 80% of the healthcare dollar. If
complications of chronic disease are avoided the costs to the healthcare system
costs would be decreased to manageable levels and Americans would be healthier. 

Several readers have challenged me on the use of the term “socialized
medicine”. One reader said “our healthcare system is socialized already. The
government through Medicare and Medicaid controls 40% of the expenditures for
healthcare.” This is true.

The term “ socialized
medicine” has been demonized
. I believe most physicians’ and patients’
objection to “socialized medicine” is rooted in experiences they have had. It
has restricted access to care and freedom of choice, and it has dictated
permissible care of physicians. It has also produced an added layer of
inefficient bureaucracy.

premiums for patients are becoming expensive
. The premium is determined by
means testing. It can be as high as $14,000 per year. The government subsidizes
that amount with an additional $6,600.  Medicare advantage costs the government
over $9,000 extra.  Yet there is a decrease in access to care as the costs of
the system are spinning out of control. 

The government has its heart in the right place in wanting to provide
universal care. Americans should have access to healthcare coverage. A few
changes in the tax rules can solve many problems. The self-employed should be
able to purchase healthcare insurance with the same pre tax dollars as
businesses. They should have the same negotiated price structure large companies
have. The self-employed should have the same guaranteed  insurability as those
working in a large company without a premium penalty.

The healthcare system’s costs rise each year. The Medicare premiums rise each
year and patient’s out of pocket expenses rise each year. Medicare is going to
bankrupt the country. It will only be accelerated by putting everyone on

In order to reign in expenses someone came up with the idea of pay for
performance. It is a reasonable concept if a system could be devised that could
evaluate performance accurately and encourage improvement.

In order to test validity of any concept the government subsidizes
initiatives at a great expense. These initiatives are costly because of the
bureaucratic evaluation of the requests for proposals and the measurement

The list of government initiatives is long. The pilot studies are 3 to 5
years. There have been many cost overruns so that several outsourced study
vendors are dropping out of the management of the initiatives. Most initiatives
have been unsuccessful in proving cost savings.

The reason for lack of proof of cost saving to the healthcare system is
because of errors in design. The wrong questions are being asked and the imposed
bureaucracy is punitive to the healthcare entities. Below are initiatives that
are presently funded for pay for performance.


“Medicare has various initiatives to encourage improved quality of care in
all health care settings where Medicare beneficiaries receive their health care
services, including physicians’ offices and ambulatory care facilities,
hospitals, nursing homes, home health care agencies and dialysis


1. Hospital Quality Initiative   (MMA section 501(b))

2. Premier Hospital Quality Incentive Demonstration


1. Physician Group Practice Demonstration (BIPA 2000)

2. Medicare Care Management Performance Demonstration (MMA section

3. Medicare Health Care Quality Demonstration (MMA section 646)


Chronic Care Improvement Program (MMA section 721)

ESRD Disease Management Demonstration (MMA section 623)

Disease Management Demonstration for Severely Chronically Ill Medicare
Beneficiaries (BIPA 2000)

Disease Management Demonstration for Chronically Ill Dual Eligible

Care Management For High Cost Beneficiaries

So far the chronic disease management initiative have not been proven to save

The pilot initiatives are not directed by physician in private practice.
Physicians are the stakeholders that will make these initiatives work.  Nine
sites selected are either healthcare insurance companies or disease management
groups. Disease management groups can be successful facilitators of physician
care only if they are extensions of physicians care rather than physician

Help desks of the healthcare insurance companies do not work because they are
not an extension of the physicians care. Free standing chronic disease
management clinics do not work because they are not extensions of physicians
care. Many hospitals have tried to set up Diabetes Education Centers only to
have them close because physicians do not refer patients to the centers. The
center is not reimbursed adequately by the government or private insurers to be
profitable. The fees charged in hospitals are at least twice as much as the fees
the physicians charges. Once the physician knows the charges he is even more
hesitant to send the patients to the centers.

The following are the groups selected for the pilot phase: Humana in South
and Central Florida, XLHealth in Tennessee, Aetna in Illinois, LifeMasters in
Oklahoma, McKesson in Mississippi, CIGNA in Georgia, Health Dialog in
Pennsylvania, American Healthways in Washington, DC and Maryland, and Visiting
Nurse Service of NY and United Healthcare in Queens and Brooklyn, New York.

I believe we should give up on trying to produce a pay for performance system
that will reduce medical costs. The health policy wonks should concentrate on
something that will work.

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

  • Call CareNet

    I have always gone to Call a Nurse for all of my health concerns. Whenever I have a question I call Call a Nurse and they are always very polite and knowledgeable.

  • Rhinoplasty Beverly Hills

    This is quite a comprehensive and interesting posting on the approach to put an end to the system of Pay for Performance Initiatives. This approach may turn out to be effective in the end.

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When Is Congress Going to Learn?

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

When is congress going to learn that punitive action is not a wise course to pursue against a vital workforce? Real incentives work. Bogus incentives always fail. My e-prescription plan would provide physicians incentive to use the software because it would be free and driven by their patients demand.

The U.S. Senate on July 9 passed legislation to revise several Medicare provisions and authorize incentive payments for use of electronic prescribing technology.”

Please notice the complexity of the schedule. Physicians have learned that anything incomprehensible is a trick. Therefore they do not participate. If they do not participate the incentive fails. It is similar to the art of war. You simply do not show up to fight.

The bill calls for Medicare incentive payments for e-prescribing of 2% in fiscal 2009 and 2010, 1% in 2011 and 2012, and 0.5% in 2013. Sec. 132. Incentives for electronic prescribing.


The initial question is 2% of what? Will it cover my cost of installing an E-prescription system? What is the trick? Does the government want to develop an easy way of following my prescribing habits so they can reduce reimbursement?

Provides positive incentives for practitioners who use a qualified e-prescribing systems in 2009 through 2013. Requires practitioners to use qualified e-prescribing system in 2011 and beyond. Enforcement of the mandate achieved through a reduction in payments of up to 2% to providers who fail to e-prescribe. Prohibits application of financial incentives and penalties to those who write prescriptions infrequently, and permits the Secretary to establish a hardship exception to providers who are unable to use a qualified e-prescribing system.

Note the legislation also requires more reporting by physicians. The increased reporting consists of any e-prescribing quality measures established under Medicare’s physician reporting system. Beginning in 2012, payments to physicians not electronically prescribing would be reduced by 1%, then 1.5% in 2013 and 2% in subsequent years. I believe congress is mistaken if they think this will work. It will be costly to the healthcare system and someone other than physicians will make some money. The plan will only generate more mistrust among physicians for the government.

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

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