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Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA)

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

It looks like the Senate is making a mess out of its version (BCRA) of repeal and replace Obamacare.

My first reaction was that Better Care Reconciliation Act is a stupid name for a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

I have not heard a single specific criticism of BCRA by the Democratic leadership.

Nancy Pelosi said the bill will kill hundred of thousands of people. Hillary Clinton said it was a death bill. Chuck Schumer told the American people it is a terrible bill and leave millions uninsured. They all said it is going to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

The evidence for these statements has not been presented.

Democrats have used these scare tactics so often that no one believes them anymore.

Americans are smarter than that.

Republicans have not explained the strategy behind BCRA in making the healthcare system better than Obamacare either.

All I have heard from President Trump is that it is a beautiful bill. It will make our healthcare system great.

If no one understands BCRA how can a media driven public poll with a 17% approval rate have any meaning?

The survey of public opinion is meaningless.

At present Obamacare has left 26 million uninsured and rising. It has only insured less than ten million people in the individual market.

Obamacare is also unaffordable. The deductibles are as high as $6500 before any insurance kicks in. People who buy the insurance have no insurance until they spend more than $6500.

I don’t understand the Senate Republicans who want a perfect conservative bill. They are not going to get it. They will yield the floor to the minority Democrats.

The turkey buzzards are circling the corpse already. The corpse being Obamacare and the Republican replacement

Elizabeth Warren said we must go to the next steps which is a single party payer system now.

I believe Obamacare is going to self-destruct in 2018 if nothing is passed immediately.

The choice for the Republicans who are oppose compromise and the passing of BCRA is clear to me.

Either the Republicans pass this bill and have a chance for a free market healthcare system or reject it and end up with a failed Obamacare healthcare system.

Everyone knows the replacement for a failed Obamacare system is a single party payer system just like the VA Healthcare System.

A single party payer system will be an unaffordable disaster.

I will not comment on the specifics of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) except to say it is not perfect.

Let us see if it passes and what form takes. I will make some comments at that time.

President Trump needs BCRA to pass in order to make significant inroads in reforming the tax code.

I would be a pity if his fellow Republicans tied his hand on significant tax reform to simplify the tax code.

My hope is that Tom Price knows how to fix the healthcare system once the house and senate agree on specifics of the bill in conference.

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

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

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It Is All about How You Look At Things

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It Looks Like The Dice Are Loaded

Stanley Feld M.D., FACP, MACE

Everyone is probably familiar with Leonard Cohen’s song “Everybody Knows.” If you are not you should read the words and /or listen to it.

https://www.google.com/#q=leonard+cohen+song+everybody+knows

The first paragraph says it all.

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows”

Leonard Cohen nailed it.

That is what is going on with the repeal and replacement of Obamacare in the congress.

“Everybody knows” the Republicans have shown little enthusiasm in repealing and replacing Obamacare. House Republicans barely got it passed. They had seven years to develop a replacement plan.

I think Republicans do not want replace Obamacare. They have used repeal and replace as a calling card to get a majority in both the house and the senate.

It looks like the American public has been used as a pawn for Republican to gain control of congress.

The Republicans talked a good game for the seven years that Obamacare has been the law of the land.

Obamacare has been a disaster. The majority of people have seen large increases in their healthcare insurance premiums and deductibles along with poor access to care.

Obamacare has cost our treasury trillions of dollars because of it poor business model design and mismanagement.

Obamacare claims it has provided healthcare coverage for twenty million Americans. It is not true. Thirteen million of those twenty million have been added to the enrollees in Medicaid.

Medicaid is a single party payer system that does not provide effective insurance coverage. It does not provide easy access to care in most parts of the country. There is also built in rationing of care.

“Everybody knows”

The healthcare insurance industry insurers are dropping out of Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges. Almost all the state insurance exchanges have gone bankrupt and are out of business.

Americans heard over and over again from Republicans that Obamacare is going to die from it own weight. It is true.

There will continue to be insurance to coverage for the nine million insured with preexisting illness. The government mostly subsidizes these nine million patients. However they have unaffordable deductibles.

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded.”

This week both Mitch McConnell and other Republican senators were publicly pessimistic about their prospects of repealing and replacing Obamacare this year.

Senate Republicans remain publicly pessimistic about their prospects of repealing and replacing Obamacare this year with several raising concerns this week about the party’s central campaign promise even as one of their leaders vowed to pass such a bill this summer.”  

The fix is in. The dice are loaded! Everybody knows.

Russ Limbaugh blew his top when he heard this.

“Rush Limbaugh said during his show that Republicans are road blocking the President’s agenda to a greater extent than Democrats are.

Limbaugh specifically pointed to remarks by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), specifically about the Obamacare repeal bill.

Check it out:”

“I don’t understand how people don’t get that it’s not just the Democrats in Washington that are road blocking Trump. I mentioned it earlier.

 “Mitch McConnell says he can’t see a way to getting 50 votes for the House Obamacare repeal bill?

Now, stop and think here, folks. Back when the only element that we had was the House of Representatives and Republican voters were constantly saying, “Why aren’t you doing more to stop Obama? Why aren’t you trying to do something to stop Obamacare?”

The answer was always, “Well, all we’ve got is the House. W-w-we can’t get anything through the Senate because the Democrats own the Senate. Obama’s in the White House! He’ll veto anything if it did make it there.”

Limbaugh continued that prior to this year, Republicans always blamed failed policy attempts on a lack of majority in the Senate.

“Then, when we won the Senate, they blamed failed agendas on President Obama.”

So we’ve given Washington a Republican House, Republican Senate, and a Republican president in the White House, and it still feels as though nothing is getting done.”

How come?

“It’s the Republicans standing up and saying, “I just don’t see how we’re — there’s no room here.

“ I don’t know how we’re goanna lower rates when you have this exemption over here and you have this exemption there.”

 Mitch McConnell is giving hollow excuses. The Republican establishment’s motives and method are becoming very transparent.

Everybody knows the dice are loaded.

Rush Limbaugh continues,

“ And I just read this stuff and I shake my head. They don’t want to cut taxes.

  Either they don’t want to cut taxes institutionally, they don’t want to cut taxes economically, or they just don’t want to do the heavy lifting.”

The Republican and Democratic establishment has built a very successful swamp for themselves. It is both socially and economically rewarding. It is a strong powerbase that neither is willing to relinquish.

 “ I don’t know what it is. My guess is they don’t want to help Trump.”

President Trump has pledged to drain the swamp. He has pledged to put power back into the hands of the people. He represents a real threat to the power the establishment in both parties has over the people and their freedoms.

Neither party anticipated his victory and neither party understands his popularity. The Democrats are trying to hobble him directly with fake scandals. The mainstream media are trying to hobble him with fake news.

“They just don’t see how they can do it,” Limbaugh said, remarking how especially incredible it is:”

Because, of course, there’s a way.

 They just don’t want to do it.

I think it’s all establishment, all the time anti-Trump, throw the media in there as well.

 But even in the middle of this I can tell you almost assuredly that Trump is not off his game. He’s not despondent. He’s not sitting there worried about why all these people hate him.

 He’s not worried about all that. He’s just head down and moving ahead full speed as he can…

Rush Limbaugh should not be confused. Republicans are defending the swamp they built. These guys are not going to let President Trump disrupt the powerbase that is in the swamp.

While the Republican establishment is stonewalling President Trump, the Democratic establishment is rolling out a single party payer option again. The Democratic establishment is going to try to sneak it in.

The Democrats argue that it is obvious the Republican establishment does not have a plan. The Democrats proclaim they have a replacement for Obamacare. They claim that a single party payer is easy to understand. Their proclamation is, “Doesn’t Medicare work for seniors?”

“At rallies and in town hall meetings, and in a collection of blue-state legislatures, liberal Democrats have pressed lawmakers, with growing impatience, to support the creation of a single-payer system, in which the state or federal government would supplant private health insurance with a program of public coverage

Medicare does work for seniors. The problem is the premiums and co-payment is becoming higher each year. Supplemental insurance increases each year. Healthcare insurance coverage for seniors is unaffordable to many.

Medicare is also unsustainable for the federal government. The premiums do not cover the costs of coverage.

The Democrat-controlled California State Senate approved a preliminary plan for enacting single-payer system. 

This is a joke. California has a huge budget deficit presently. Where are they going to pay for its proposal?

When are Democrats going to realize the importance of fiscal responsibility?

They don’t now. The expansion of Obamacare to a Medicare model is unsustainable and will bankrupt the state.

This kind of thinking by liberals and Democrats is not going to repair the healthcare system. It will result in collapse of the healthcare system as politicians try to increase their power over the people.

 

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

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

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Democrats Still Think Americans Are Stupid

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

The House Republicans finally got their act together and passed their version of the Obamacare repeal and replace act. It seems that many representatives do not trust Paul Ryan, Tom Price and President Donald Trump.

The Republican house version of the bill does not repeal and replace Obamacare completely.

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) permitted Kathleen Sibelius, the Secretary of HHS, to issue regulations to administer the act at her discretion. Many of her regulations were destructive to the healthcare system.

Tom Price, the new Secretary of HSS can eliminate many of these destructive regulations. The goal of the Obama administration’s regulations was to cause the healthcare system to fail and be replaced not by free market principals but by a single party payer system.

Her regulations were designed to eliminate any modicum of free choice for patients and physicians.

Tom Price’s actions and regulation eliminations should complete the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

President Obama ignored the fact that a single party payer system would be destined to bankrupt the country. His plan was to get the health care insurance industry out of the healthcare picture.

The defect in his logic was that the government would have to continue to outsource the administrative services to the healthcare insurance industry. The government now outsources the administrative services for Medicare and Medicaid.

The government then lies to the public declaring that its overhead is only 2.5% while the healthcare insurance industry takes 30% for services that are charged as direct patient care.

The healthcare insurance industry would continue to rip off the healthcare system in a single party payer system for all.

The completion of the repeal and replace act will be done as promised by Ryan, Price and Trump in three stages.

As soon as the house bill is passed the House Democrats came out with their talking points criticizing the act. These talking points had little substance and no compelling evidence. They only declared that the legislation was terrible without any explanation of why it was terrible.

They just said 20 million people are going to lose their insurance coverage. The Republican health care act is going to kill people.

The talking points are mostly lies.

A recent study had reported that Obamacare has cost 80,000 people to die.

“Democrat’s immediately made the accusation that the GOP “repeal and replace” bill will kill Americans.  It seems that Obamacare has already done that.” 

In a previous blog I pointed out that more people have lost insurance in the individual market that have gained insurance from Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges.

Fourteen million lost insurance in the individual market in 2009 and at most 8 million gained insurance through Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges.

The 20 million new insured comes from the 12 million new people receiving healthcare insurance through Medicaid.

“Quoting Oren Cass over at National Review, it turns out that fewer people – not more people – had health insurance after Obamacare.  The only increase in “coverage” was Medicaid, but, sadly, it turns out that Medicaid kills people.  It’s better to have no medical insurance at all.” 

 Researchers have found that in 2015 Medicaid patients experienced worse outcomes than similar uninsured Medicaid eligible patients.

Public-health data from the Centers for Disease Control confirm… [that had mortality continued to decline during ACA implementation in 2014 and 2015 at the same rate as during the 2000-13 period, 80,000 fewer Americans would have died in 2015 alone.”

The Democrats are using the typical progressive tactic of creating a lie. Many people died because of Obamacare but the Democrats threaten that the Republican bill will cost many lives. It diverts attention from the Democrats’ failure with Obamacare.

This is fear mongering for the progressives’ political gain.

This is one of Sol Alinsky’s favorite tactics. One should do everything to marginalize opponents even if it needs to be done by lying.

“Democrats are hurting real people with their scary shrieking about death by Republican.”

The Democrats criticize without facts. The Democrats will lie about the effects of the bill without evidence. I would guess that many have not even read it.

One should expect nothing less from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

The Democrats have even rolled out Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor of economics and co-author of Obamacare, who infamously said, “the stupidity of the American voter” helped get the measure to become law.

This week Gruber blamed President Trump for Obamacare’s failure on one of the Sunday news programs.

“Whose fault is this (rising premium costs)?” Gruber asked on “Fox News Sunday.” “Since President Trump has been elected … premiums are going up and insurers are exiting.”

This is total nonsense.

Jonathan Gruber still thinks Americans are stupid. However he has no credibility with the American public. Therefore his opinion has no impact on the discussion about the new bill.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s lack of credibility with the American public does not seem to bother them.

Every lie they tell decreases their credibility even further.

Nancy Pelosi said, “the new Obamacare repeal bill is a ‘a very sad, deadly joke’

This is the same woman who said we will not know what is in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) until it is passed.

What is so deadly about it? She does not explain her statement. She figures the media is the message. The media will carry the message for her.

Chuck Schumer’s quote was even worse. He said, “Senate GOP should toss House healthcare bill ‘out the window’”

He called on Senate Republicans,

“To avoid following the lead of their colleagues in the House and to work on a bipartisan basis on healthcare reform rather than pushing for repeal of the Affordable Care Act.”

He is trying to save President Obama’s legacy Obamacare. Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster. It is beyond saving.

It was a poorly constructed healthcare bill aimed at giving big government total control of the healthcare system. President Obama totally ignores the fact that Americans did not want it, have not joined it. He felt he clearly know what is best for America.

He goal was to get it passed by the partisan vote. President Obama lied to Americans and lied to his party members.

Obamacare is unsustainable economically to America and is in the process of destroying the economy.

Chuck Schumer said, “Trumpcare is a giant, broken promise to working people, the hard-working people of this great country of ours.

It would be valid if Chuck Schumer could prove his statement.

President Obama broke his promise to the working people, the hard working people of this great country of ours, when he said, “ If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor and if you like your insurance you can keep your insurance.”

Chuck Schumer did not see it then and he does not see Obamacare’s failure now.

I suggest that Chuck Schumer read the Republican bill carefully before he makes his false statements.

Clearly, he was dead wrong in his judgment about Obamacare

If he read the Obamacare law carefully and voted for doing the right thing, America’s healthcare system might not be in the mess it is in.

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

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

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Those Indecipherable Medical Bills? Part 2 CPT Coding Is One Reason Health Care Costs So Much

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

After Ms. Wanda Wickizer was discharged from the University of Virginia Healthcare System (Part 1) the catastrophe caused by the healthcare system’s coding process began.

“The acronym HCPCS originally stood for HCFA Common Procedure Coding System, a medical billing process used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).”

“Prior to 2001, CMS was known as the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA).”

HCPCS was established in 1978 to provide a standardized coding system for describing the specific items and services provided in the delivery of health care.

The cost of Medicare and Medicaid became so high that the government decided to start knowing what it was paying for and standardizing the payments.

Such coding is necessary for Medicare, Medicaid, and other health insurance programs to ensure that insurance claims are processed in an orderly and consistent manner.”

This coding system has been dysfunctional since the government developed it for Medicare and Medicaid in 1978.

The unspoken goal was to decrease reimbursement for services provided for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

The government wanted to commoditize can reduce reimbursement by the evaluation of physician and hospital usage of procedure and services.

Initially, use of the codes was voluntary, but with the implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) use of the HCPCS for transactions involving health care information became mandatory.[2]

Ms. Rosenthal’s story is about how this poor woman, Wanda Wickizer, got trapped in the dysfunction of the healthcare system’s coding system.

Wanda Wickizer should have been insured through Obamacare. However, through the inefficiencies of the government or Ms. Wickizer lack of understanding of Obamacare she did not have insurance.

The healthcare system makes no provisions for billing the uninsured.

There are multiple prices charged for treatments and procedures. Hospital systems and physician groups have their own individual retail prices for services and procedures.

These providers negotiate prices with the government and the healthcare insurance industry.

There are many different prices negotiated by many different providers with the healthcare insurance industry. A healthcare insurance company negotiates many of the government’s final prices. The healthcare insurance company acts as the surrogate for the government.

None of these prices are transparent.

There is no one that negotiates price for the uninsured. The uninsured are responsible for the retail price of the services rendered unless they can negotiate a better price.

“And so in early 2014, without an insurer or employer or government agency to run interference between her and the hospital, she began receiving bills:

  • $16,000 from Sentara Norfolk (not including the scan or the E.R. doctor), $50,000 for the air ambulance.
  • Her local hospital
  • By the end of January, there was also one for $24,000 from the University of Virginia Physicians’ Group: charges for some of the doctors at the medical center. “I thought, O.K., that’s not so bad,” Wickizer recalls.
  • A month later, a bill for $54,000 arrived from the same physicians’ group, which included further charges and late fees.
  • Then a separate bill came just for the hospital’s charges, containing a demand for $356,884.42 but little in the way of comprehensible explanation.”

The uninsured are the only people who are responsible for the original retail prices. All the rest of the payment providers, namely the government and various members of the healthcare insurance industry pay their negotiated fees.

Shouldn’t the government pass a law requiring hospitals and doctors to charge only Medicare prices to the uninsured? It would eliminate Ms. Wickizer bill, a bill that reflects retail prices for services rendered.

The big mistake the University of Virginia made was that it did not provide her with a line item bill identifying the price of each service and procedure.

The University of Virginia subsequently refused to provide a line item bill to the patient. It was as if the university was hiding something.

Any thoughtful hospital administrator would have solved the problem in a minute.

It must be remembered that each provider has a different retail price per procedure and service. The reasoning is that they are trying to collect the highest amount they can.

There is something called a “chargemaster price.” It could help the uninsured figure out the wholesale price for services and procedures if they knew what the line item services and procedures they were charged for were.

The patient could then figure out what Medicare pays for those services and procedures.

However none of these line item charges are in the patients (EOB) Explanation Of Benefits. The EOB is impossible to interpret.

A simple rule should be passed by congress or issued by CMS saying a clear explanation of charges is required for payment of the bill.

The Obama administration knew about this uninsured billing problem. It did nothing about it because it wanted to force patients into buying Obamacare insurance even if they couldn’t afford it or didn’t need it.

I believe Tom Price M.D. (President Trump’s head of CMS) is aware of the problem. He also understands this simple way of solving it.

The healthcare insurance industry and the government get a detailed EOB for services rendered through the CPT coding system first established in 1978.

The Obama administration added 74,000 new codes to the CPT coding system. The government and the insurance companies wanted to know what they were paying for in detail.

This led to the requirement for Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and then meaningful use EMRs. Physicians and hospital systems will not get paid if they do not have a meaningful use EMR this year.

This led to a very expensive EMR development industry. EMRs were expensive. They did not function as meaningful use EMRs. They had to undergo extensive upgrades.

An EMR function should really be a teaching tool, teaching physicians how to upgrade their services to the best evidence based medicine practices.

Instead it has become a tool for the government and the healthcare insurance industry to punish patients.

The EMRs are unaffordable to many physicians. It has force them to sign up to become hospital system employees.

The government should have built a universal EMR in the cloud and charged physicians by the click.

The increase in codes led to an expensive coding industry. People are trained to teach physicians and hospital systems how to use the new 88,00 codes correctly.

The industry essentially teaches those providers how to how to game the healthcare system so that they can collect the most money for their services from the government and the healthcare insurance industry.

The goal of the government is to reduce reimbursement to providers.

Where is the consideration for patients in all of these maneuvers?

Where is the consideration for the uninsured patients?

Ms. Rosenthal’s main point is that CPT gaming by the medical professions and hospital systems are driving up healthcare costs.

However, missing from her argument is who developed the dysfunction CPT system.

Why was it developed?

Why was coding made so complex that it drives users of the coding system to game the system?

Ms. Rosenthat gives a few examples of coding driving the costs up.

  1. The diagnosis code for “heart failure” (ICD-9-CM Code 428) instead of the one for “acute systolic heart failure” (Code 428.21), the difference could mean thousands of dollars.

“In order to code for the more lucrative code, you have to know how it is defined and make sure the care described in the chart meets the criterion, the definition, for that higher number.”

In order to code for “acute systolic heart failure,” the patient’s chart (EMR) ought to include supporting documentation, for example, that the heart was pumping out less than 25 percent of its blood with each beat and that he was given an echocardiogram and a diuretic to lower blood pressure. Submitting a bill using the higher code without meeting criteria could constitute fraud.”

“Each billing, then, can be seen as a battle of provider coder versus payor coder.

The coders who work for hospitals and doctors strive to bring in as much revenue as possible from each service, while coders employed by insurers try to deny claims as overreaching.”

Hospital based physicians are taught how to up-code to generate the most income. They have little say in the coding process. Patients have no way of knowing if a procedure or service is coded.

  1. In a doctor’s office, a Level 3 visit (paid, say, at $175) might be legally transformed into a Level 4 (say, $225) by performing one extra maneuver, like weighing the patient or listening to the lungs, whether the patient’s illness required that or not.
  2. E.R. doctors have been taught that insurers might accept a higher-reimbursed code for the examination and treatment of a patient with a finger fracture (usually 99282) if — in addition to needed interventions — a narcotic painkiller was also prescribed (a plausible bump up to 99283), indicating a more serious condition.

The actual cost and expertize that might go into these services are never discussed or considered by bureaucrats decision and policy makers.

Price transparency for the patients would make a world of difference to costs. It would drive the cost of care and healthcare premiums down.

It might even result in the development of competitive pricing and a free market system.

I am sure the Trump administration is aware of this defect in the dysfunctional healthcare system.

President Obama ignored the problem as he tried to control hospital systems and physicians. He simply down coded services.

He probably figured that a single payer system would make everything much easier.

All I can say is look at the government run Veteran Administration Healthcare System.

Why most politicians ignore the coding defect in coding is beyond me?

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

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

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Profoundly Disappointed

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

I am profoundly disappointed in Paul Ryan, the Republican caucus and the RINO establishment for introducing the Paul Ryan bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

It doesn’t completely repeal Obamacare or completely replace it.

In fact the supposed anti- entitlement party (Republicans) are adding another entitlement.

They are even leaving the healthcare insurance industry in charge of the money and the access to care.

It doesn’t even fulfill the five principles President Trump listed in his address to congress.

Those five principles alone would not Repair the Healthcare System.

The bill does nothing to encourage consumers to be responsible for their health and their healthcare dollars.

Consumers must be involved in driving the healthcare system in order for the healthcare system to be viable.

The bill continues to allow the government and the healthcare insurance companies to drive the cost and the healthcare system.

The Republican bill does not provide incentives for consumers to use their healthcare dollars wisely.

It does not include malpractice reform.

If President Trump buys the nonsense Republicans are calling a repeal and replacement for Obamacare, then the RINO’s have pulled the wool over his eyes.

It would be a gigantic mistake to push this bill in its present form. You would be producing political capital for the politically bankrupt Democrats.

This bill is a typical bait and switch. Rand Paul is correct. It is Obamacare lite.

It does not put consumers in charge. It keeps the healthcare insurance industry in full control of medicine, healthcare and the government.

Rather than discontinuing an entitlement it creates another one.

Refundable tax credit is another term for redistribution of wealth. You give money to everyone. You then take it back from some and let the others have it.

It does not repeal most of the Obamacare regulations.

It extends many of the programs past 2019.

President Trump, it does not help drain the swamp as you promised. It makes the swamp worse.

The insurance companies are not returned to a free market. It is a clever way to support the insurance companies by switching from a mandate and penalty to a tax credit (giving the money away to everyone).

This is another entitlement to further enrich the healthcare insurance industry.

Americans elected these Republican politicians to drain the swamp. This bill is no different than Obamacare.

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons said:

Refundable” tax credits – for those who don’t owe taxes – are still a subsidy. It is still redistribution of wealth, with winners (those who get the subsidy) and losers (those who pay for it). And the chief winner is the “health plan.” It gets money; the supposed beneficiary may get nothing, or only rationed care from a narrow network.

“The problem is comprehensive third-party payment,” Orient adds. “The bill perpetuates this disastrous concept. A true free-market bill – “there shall be a free market in health insurance” – would remove all federal mandates, subsidies, barriers to competition, or protections or advantages for cartels.”

“Instead of returning the insurance market to the vigor of a free market, the government will be supporting it with tax credits – the flip side of the ACA insurance penalty.”

Americans are not stupid. The Republican bill will expose all the Republicans who are for the bill. They are not working for the good of the people

Democrats have already demonstrated they do not work for the people.

An group like the tea party can put up candidates against these guys and elect people who are for the people.

Where are the plans for consumer driven healthcare, patient centered healthcare, malpractice reform and the physician patient relationship?

Where are incentives for consumers to focus on their health, to help cure the obesity problem in order to decrease the incidence of diabetes and other chronic diseases?

Where is a free insurance market?

Paul Ryan’s plan is the road to failure.

The next step would be replacement of the Republican’s failure with a government controlled single party payer system.

It will fail as it is in so many countries.

President Trump. Wake up!!! Keep your promise to the American people.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” is, mine and mine alone.
All Rights Reserved © 2006 – 2017 “Repairing The Healthcare System” Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
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President-elect Trump: Part 6

Stanley Feld M.D.FACP, MACE

There has been no mention of the importance of tort reform in your proposal to replace Obamacare. President Obama made no mention of tort reform either.

Without medical malpractice reform your administration will not be able to reduce the cost of healthcare and increase the quality of medical care.

It is very difficult to institute malpractice reform. It is in direct opposition to the vested interest of plaintiffs’ malpractice attorneys and malpractice insurance companies. These two group have very powerful lobbies.

I have estimated that there is at least one trillion dollars of waste in our healthcare system because of over-testing, over-treating and over diagnosing as a result of the threat of malpractice lawsuits.

Malpractice insurance and the time and money spent in litigation has to be include in the one trillion dollar estimate. Ezekiel Emanual M.D., Obamacare architect, proposed an artificial threshold of significant cost savings in order to form a policy.

“ A useful threshold for savings is 1 percent of costs of healthcare, which comes to $26 billion a year. Anything less is simply not meaningful.”

One percent is arbitrary. It permits Dr. Emanuel to dismiss problems that cost the healthcare system less than $26 billion a year.

The validity of the data collection is of no concern to Dr. Emanuel. He says only $1.3 billion results in malpractice costs. He ignores over testing, and lawsuit costs.

He said,

“Health care spending in the United States typically increases by about $100 billion per year. Cutting a billion here or there from something that large is undetectable and meaningless.

 In health care, you have to be talking about tens of billions of dollars before you are talking about real money.

Dr. Emanuel has no difficulty in producing fake data to make his point to the unknowing.

 A study, closer to truth than just an opinion, disclosed:

The truth is a full accounting reveals that more than 10 percent of America’s health expenditures per year are spend on tort liability and defensive medicine.

This study concludes that $242 billion a year extra is spent because of the lack of tort reform.

The $242 billion is well above Dr. Emanuel’s fictitious threshold.

“Much of this waste is generated or justified by the fear of legal consequences that infects almost every health care encounter. The legal system terrorizes doctors. Fear of possible claims leads medical professionals to squander billions in unnecessary tests and procedures.

Physicians and nurses are afraid to speak candidly to patients about errors. They try to explain the risk reward ratio of treatments for fear of assuming legal liability. The result is the practice of defensive medicine and over testing to cover every possible contingency.

This legal anxiety is also corrosive to the therapeutic magic of the physician patient relationship.

It would be relatively easy to create new rules that would provide a reliable system of justice for patients harmed by medical treatments and procedures without encouraging costly litigation.

A new and effective tort reform system would decrease the costs of defensive medicine significantly. It would encourage physicians to use of clinical judgment rather than expensive tests. It would improve physician/patient relationships.

“ The good news is that it would be relatively easy to create a new system of reliable justice, one that could support broader reforms to contain costs.”

Everyone makes mistakes in every walk of life. The medical legal liability threat could result in further unnecessary errors. Physicians, nurses and hospitals are advised not to offer explanations about mistakes. Sometimes errors are concealed to avoid a legal ordeal. The hidden error could be compounded by additional mistakes.

“Even in ordinary daily encounters, an invisible wall separates doctors from their patients. As one pediatrician told me, “You wouldn’t want to say something off the cuff that might be used against you.”

There are cost multipliers created as mistrust accelerates between the patients and physicians. You would like physicians to adopt electronic medical records. Some physicians avoid using EMRs because the information could be misinterpreted and used against them.

The Electronic Medical Record available through hospitals systems or standalone physician practices is used by the government and the insurance industry to verify the treatment in order to guarantee treatment is best practice treatment.

Physicians are producing cut and paste reports to cover best practice observation by a third party rather than the actual encounter with the patient in order to avoid reimbursement penalty or possible liability.

There is an increasing use of second opinions. Every medical problem is requiring multiple unnecessary laboratory tests to rule out something that might have been missed in the evaluation of patients in order to avoid malpractice suits.

An example is a CAT scan done in Emergency Rooms for the slightest head trauma.

“Medical cases are now decided jury by jury, without consistent application of medical standards.

 According to a 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, around 25 percent of cases where there was no identifiable error resulted in malpractice payments.

 The malpractice insurance companies want to settle the malpractice claims before the court charges mount.

“Nor is the system effective for injured patients — according to the same studies, 54 cents of every dollar paid in malpractice cases goes to administrative expenses like lawyers, experts and courts.”

These are some of the major tort reform issues that must be addressed in effectively.

They must be addressed to decrease wasteful expenditures in the healthcare system.

Malpractice lawsuits have been a growth industry for defense attorneys. The malpractice suits have also been a tremendous psychological and economic burden for physicians who have to defend themselves.

Politically is has been a tremendous economical burden to the healthcare system. In the past politicians have refused to acknowledge the economic burden to the healthcare system.

Malpractice reform is a threat to the vested interests of the defense attorneys and malpractice insurance companies.

Malpractice reform is essential to any meaningful healthcare reform.

President-elect Trump the big question is.

“Do you have the will and the courage to take on the plaintiff attorneys and the malpractice insurance industry in order to correct the medical tort reform system?”

 Effective Malpractice reform must treat both injured patients and physicians fairly.

 

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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Dear President-elect Trump Part 3

 

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If You Tell A Lie

Stanley Feld M.D., FACP, MACE

If you tell a lie enough times it becomes the truth. President Obama and Hillary and Bill Clinton keep telling the American public that there are 20 million new Obamacare enrollees.

Obamacare advocates believe that Obamacare provided healthcare insurance for 20 million people who did not have healthcare insurance before Obamacare.

These Obamacare advocates have little understanding of the details of this lie. They usually react negatively when I tell them the 20 million new enrollee figure is a lie.

Republicans do not pick this up and call Democrats out about this lie. Perhaps they have no understanding of what is going on.

The lie then becomes the truth.

I follow Charles Gabbe at http://acasignups.net. Charles Gabbe is pro Obamacare. He publishes daily and weekly statistics as well as news in general about Obamacare’s progress and enrollment.

His numbers come from government sources. His numbers are very different than the numbers President Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton are announcing.

The Obama administration continually manipulates the enrollment figures in order to give the impression that Obamacare has been successful.

President Obama continuously lies about the enrollment figures.

Obamacare has been a total failure because of its structure.

On December 9, 2015 ACAsignups.net published these enrollment numbers for 2016.

ACAsignups.net publishes government release enrollment numbers weekly. These are the December 9th numbers.

Confirmed 2016 Exchange QHPs: 3,260,356 as of 12/09/15

Estimated 2016 Exchange QHPs: 4.73M as of 12/09/15 (3.60M via HCgov)

Projected Exchange QHPs: 5.76M by 12/12/15 (4.34M via HC.Gov)

Projected #OE3 QHP Selections: 14.70M nationally (11.23M via HC.gov)

Projected #OE3 QHP Selections by State

http://acasignups.net

Maybe 9 million signed up for Obamacare last year. (2015)

What were the 12/09/14 enrollee numbers with 3 weeks to go until January 1, 2015?

Christmas to New Years consumes one week of enrollment. Holiday shopping will consume the other two weeks.

Why did the government reduce the expected enrollment to 5 million when enrollment was 9 million last year (2016)?

Does the Obama administration expect 4 million people to drop out of Obamacare because it is too expensive?

How did the Obama administration’s data given to the CBO cause the CBO to predict an enrollment of 21 million enrollees for 2016?

The 2016 Obamacare enrollment figures barely touch 10 million, not 20 million.

What is enrollment going to be when most of the major insurance companies have dropped out of the health insurance exchanges?

What is enrollment going to be when 18 of the 22 Obama administration created State Co-Ops have gone bankrupt?

President Obama and his administration have mislead Americans about the exact number of enrollees since the very beginning of the first enrollment period starting October 1, 2013. The first enrollment was delayed until November 1, 2013 and extended 6 months.

The American public has been mislead about:

  • The disastrous website development, reason for website crashes and cost of website development.
  • The exact number of enrollees the first year. (9.5 million corrected to 8 million and then re-corrected to 6.8 million)
  • An additional correction that resulted in another decrease of an additional 800,000 enrollees losing Obamacare insurance. The government belatedly discovered these 800,000 were ineligible for subsidies.
  • Decreasing the original predicted enrollees for 2015 from 13.5 million to 9.5 million.
  • The change in the start of enrollment from October 1, 2014 to November 15th to avoid discussion of enrollment around the time of the November 2014 elections.
  • Extending the 2014 enrollment 6 months.
  • Extending enrollment for 2015 for one to three months.
  • Finally, in 2015 announcing the back end of the website’s ability to send information to the IRS was still not complete.
  • Rehiring CGI, the same Canadian company that built the disastrous healthcare.gov, to fix the back end of the website. A company’s employee is a friend of Michelle Obama.
  • Discovering that 1.2 million enrollees were counted that should not have been because they got dental insurance instead of healthcare insurance bringing the number of enrollees down from a recalculated 8 million to 6.8 million enrollees for 2014.
  • Announcing that 11.5 million people have enrolled for 2015 (these numbers seemed shaking at the time of enrollment. It seemed to be closer to 9.5 million or less.)
  • Announcing that the group market Obamacare insurance enrollment is being delayed a year or two while the mandate penalty for employers was to start January 1,2015.

Along the way I got the feeling that none of the enrollment numbers could be trusted. HHS and CMS kept modifying and lowering them.

The Obama administration keeps telling American how great the enrollment is and that Obamacare is a success.

However, we are told only ten million enrollees had Obamacare insurance in 2016.

Eighty five percent of those on Obamacare are receiving subsidies so the premiums are affordable. These subsidized recipients still cannot afford the deductibles.

The remaining 15% enrollees have a pre-existing illness. They cannot find private insurance to buy.

What about the 330 million people who might have subpar healthcare insurance? How many employers might discontinue employee insurance?

After five years with all the new Obamacare taxes, I would not call Obamacare a successful healthcare reform program.

All of these enrollees are in the individual insurance market. These numbers do not include the group insurance market.

14 million people in the individual market lost their healthcare insurance pre Obamacare.

10 million gained insurance on the healthcare insurance exchanges in 2016. There is a net decrease of 4 million individuals that is not discussed by the Obama administration or the traditional mass media.

Many of the state healthcare insurance exchanges have failed.

Eighteen of the 22 state insurance co-ops have failed so far.

An unknown number of enrollees in 2014 did not re-enroll in 2015 because of the loss of the subsidy.

Other enrollees did not sign up again because they could not afford the high deductible.

At the end of 2015 enrollment the Obama administration announced that 11.5 million people were enrolled.

On March 16, 2015 the administration said about 16.4 million people have gained health insurance coverage since the Affordable Care Act became law nearly five years ago.

Please notice the tricky wording. The Obama administration is counting children under 26 that now can be included in their parents’ group insurance plans and the additional Medicaid recipients added by some states.

The count is not only the people who enrolled in Obamacare through the healthcare insurance exchanges.

The discussion should be about the success of the healthcare insurance exchanges not the increase in Medicaid coverage.

The 2014 enrollment figures as of March 18, 2015 were also inflated. It is noteworthy than the Medicaid/CHIP estimate was 14.1 M. It is down to 10 million in 2016.

Confirmed Exchange QHPs: 11,699,473 as of 3/18/15

Estimated: 11.95M (9.06M via HCgov) as of 3/18/15

Estimated ACA Policy Enrollment: 33.1M
(10.46M Exchange QHPs, 8.20M OFF-Exchange QHPs, 330K SHOP, 14.1M Medicaid/CHIP)

 http://acasignups.net

Written into the law is that only state healthcare exchanges can provide subsidies not the federal health exchanges.

President Obama has not asked congress to rewrite the law’s provision.

This was another example of executive overreach of power by President Obama.

It looks as if President Obama cannot help himself from trying to manipulate the American public.

Republicans have not pointed out all this manipulation to the voting public.

I believe the public has figured out the manipulation.

Hillary Clinton has promised she will expand Obamacare. Why expand a failed program?

Her unspoken goal is to institute a single party payer system. A single party payer system will also be unsustainable.

There is a better way!

It is a consumer driven healthcare system with my ideal medical saving account.

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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