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Stakeholder Mistrust

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Keeps Making The Same Mistakes

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If Something Works, Destroy It!

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

If a program is working well the Obama administration starts regulating the program out of existence. In a very quiet and deceptive way the Obama administration is destroying Health Savings Accounts.

The fastest growing health insurance plan in the private healthcare market is Health Saving Accounts (HSAs). HSAs are also available in Health Insurance Exchanges.

Consumers love HSA’s because the money not spent for their yearly deductible expenses go into a personal trust fund, which goes to pay future medical expenses. Consumers, employers or government can fund the deductible. Healthcare coverage starts after the deductible is reached. The trust fund can grow tax-free until funds are withdrawn.

HSAs are not ideal but they do act to provide a mild financial incentive to consumers to be responsible for their health and healthcare dollars. Consumers decrease their overuse of the healthcare system.

Health Savings Accounts are not as powerful as my ideal Medical Savings Accounts. Medical Savings Accounts provide greater financial incentive for consumers to be responsible for their healthcare and healthcare dollars.

Consumers seem to lack the desire to prevent obesity, which is responsible for many chronic diseases and their complications. These diseases are responsible for 80% of the healthcare dollars spent.

With my ideal Medical Savings Account consumers or the consumer’s sponsors (government or employers) pay a high deductible. The sponsor then buys first dollar reinsurance for healthcare coverage. The unspent deductible goes into a Medical Saving Account tax-free retirement fund. It does not stay in the healthcare system.

The Medical Saving Account provides greater financial incentive for consumers to become more responsible for their health care and healthcare dollars.

Why and how does Obamacare want to regulate Health Savings Accounts out of existence?

In case you missed it, final regulations published on March 8 will make it impossible to offer HSA-qualified plans in the future.

 The health insurance industry has been opposed to HSAs and MSAs because the premiums the healthcare insurance industry receives is lower than regular healthcare insurance premiums.

Once the premiums are put into a trust it does not belong to the healthcare insurance industry to invest.

The healthcare industry has tried to influence HHS to dissuade consumers from buying HSAs through Health Insurance Exchanges since the exchanges began.

However HSS has done nothing (a) to help consumers identify HSA-qualified plans on the exchanges or (b) provide information to individuals that choose HSA-qualified plans about where to get more information about opening and contributing to an HSA.”

Last year’s proposed standardization of healthcare plan design rule gave no hint that the proposal would eliminate the possibility of HSAs surviving.

This year’s rule change made it clear that this was President Obama’s goal.

1)” Plans must apply specific deductibles and out-of-pocket limits that are outside the requirements for HSA-qualified plans.”

2) “Plans must cover services below the deductible that are not considered “preventive care.”

“ Regarding the deductibles and out-of-pocket limits, no Bronze, Silver, or Gold plans adhering to the standardized benefit designs will likely be HSA-qualified for 2017.”

The first step was for HHS to change the definition of a qualified plan. The next step was to force the plan design to be incompatible with HSAs.

HHS and CMS have given the healthcare insurance industry another gift. Maybe it is a payback for CMS short changing the insurance industry on its reinsurance payback promise.

In any event HSAs look doomed. The Obama administration has succeeded in destroying the development of a viable healthcare system that the free market, not the central government controls.

John Dunn M.D.,J.D. wrote a wonderful summary of Obamacare’s failed attempts to control the healthcare system to his chat group followers.

He has summarized all the policies that have failed in the Obama administration’s goal to destroy the private healthcare market and eliminate the free market system.

 “ Subject: HSAs being eliminated?

Yep, Obamacare strikes again to accomplish the real goal, elimination of private capitalist free market healthcare.

 Now let’s tally up the failures of Obamacare in its attempt to destroy the healthcare system—

  1. more expensive, less accessible,
  2. restrictions on hospitals and care givers,
  3. promotion of mid level practitioners, extraordinary inefficiencies created by computer mandates,
  4. penalties for hospitals and physicians that are created by apparatchiks,
  5. no decline in the uninsured,
  6. in fact there might be an increase in the uninsured because of the cost of premiums and deductible,
  7. more movement of people to Medicaid where coverage is free,
  8. bankruptcies of COOP insurance programs,
  9. exchanges failing with insurers leaving the market for taking big economic hits from adverse selection,
  10. and most of all—the death spiral of private market insurance—with the goal being to destroy the private market ????  
  11. Why of course, Medicaid for all. 

 The goal of government bureaucrats is control and power, achieved in this case by the growth of single payer government controlled medicine—Medicaid on steroids—

The result will be mediocrity as far as the eye can see, and destruction of innovative and creative health care,

but also the loss of the ethics and patient consideration that comes from physician guided health care,

 instead a trade for mandarins with frowns and red pencils,

 Checking the data banks that aren’t secure from hacking.

 It leaves one almost breathless, but it started a long time ago.

Good intentions and unanticipated results—Bastiat von Mises, Fredrick Hayek warned us about the fatal conceit and the problem of government actions to protect certain interests or promote a cause—ignorant of the realities of markets and the benefits of free markets. 

Socialism and statism will produce mediocre, expensive healthcare run by bureaucrats and apparatchiks who aren’t interested in good patient care,

They are only interested in control.

Looks like I am not the only one who has figured it out.

I do not understand why the political establishment cannot understand why Americans are getting ready to cast a protest vote against them.
 The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

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

 

 

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More ICD-10 Codes

Stanley Feld M.D., FACP, MACE

Everything the Obama administration’s healthcare administrators do, to increase their control over the healthcare system backfires.

The Obama administration has not admitted that the new coding system (ICD-10) has not worked out as well as it should have.

The fact that CMS has to add 5,500 codes in 2017 suggests that somehow the new system is being gamed.

The increase in codes from16,000 codes (in ICD-9) to 68,000 codes (in ICD-10) is a way to force providers to more fully document their diagnosis and treatment.

It is described as a way to improve patient care. I suspect it will be used as a weapon to decrease reimbursement.

The best way to improve patient care and decrease healthcare cost is to let the patients be responsible for their health and healthcare dollars.

A way needs to be developed to measure medical out as it relates to medical costs. These outcomes must be provided to patients.

The more codes there are the more the coding system can be gamed and abused by hospitals, physicians and other providers.

At this point the government is paying many other providers. These providers can also game the system. The increase in codes can result in a further increase in costs to the healthcare system.

Never the less the Obama administration seems to spin everything that backfires on it into a positive. The people are not accepting the spin anymore.

One example of the spin is the information paper CMS published about ICM-10.

One section is entitled;

How will my practice benefit from ICD-10?

ICD-10 provides an enhanced platform for physician practice. As of October 1, 2015, the ICD-10 coding classification became the new baseline for clinical data, clinical documentation, claims processing, and public health reporting.

The statement means physicians have to provide more documentation in order for the government and the healthcare insurance industry to have more control over physicians’ practices.

From proper observation and documentation to improved clinical documentation, progress notes, operative reports, and histories, the benefits of ICD-10 begin with enhanced clinical documentation enabling physicians to better capture patient visit details and lead to better care coordination and health outcomes.

It does not enable physicians to better capture patient visit details and lead to better care coordination and health outcome.

It enables government and the healthcare insurance industry to capture patient visit details. It does not necessarily lead to better care coordination and health outcomes.

Ultimately, better data paves the way for enhanced quality and greater effectiveness of patient care and safety. The benefits of ICD-10 will impact everything from patient care to each practice’s bottom line.

Better data might not lead to enhanced quality care or lead to better care coordination and health outcome. It can lead to more paperwork and more false data.

It also could conclude that the best physicians are the best documenters. It will not tell us which physicians have the best clinical judgment.

Reasons to prepare for ICD-10 can be broken down into four categories:

Clinical

  • Informs better clinical decisions as better data is documented, collected, and evaluated
  • Provides new insights into patients and clinical care due to greater specificity, laterality, and more detailed documentation of patient diseases
  • Enables patient segmentation to improve care for higher acuity patients
  • Improves design of protocols and clinical pathways for various health conditions
  • Improves tracking of illnesses and severity
  • Improves public health reporting and helps to track and evaluate the risk of adverse public health events
  • Drives greater opportunity for research, clinical trials, and epidemiological studies.
  • A lot of this is just word salad.

Operational

  • Enhances the definition of patient conditions, providing improved matching of professional resources and care teams and increasing communications between providers
  • Affords more targeted capital investment to meet practice needs through better specificity of patient conditions
  • Supports practice transition to risk-sharing models with more precise data for patients and populations.

Professional

  • Provides clear objective data for credentialing and privileges.
  • Captures more specific and objective data to support professional Maintenance of Certification reporting across specialties.
  • Improves specificity of measures for quality and efficiency reporting
  • Aids in the prevention and detection of healthcare fraud and abuse
  • Provides more specific data to support physician advocacy of health and public health policy

This section clearly defines the intention of the expanded ICD-10. It is an attempt to define physicians’ quality of care by computer and award or penalize physicians based on a potentially faulty definition of quality care. It could lead to quality care being defined by documentation, not by clinical judgment.

Financial

  • Allows better documentation of patient complexity and level of care, supporting reimbursement for care provided
  • Provides objective data for peer comparison and utilization benchmarking
  • May reduce audit risk exposure by encouraging the use of diagnosis codes with a greater degree of specificity as supported by the clinical documentation

Physicians can interpret this category as a threat to their reimbursement and their clinical judgment.

Physicians might conclude that they should do what the government tells them to do or they will lose their livelihood.

The government’s healthcare policy wonks. They are not practicing physicians. They do not understand physicians’ potential reactions. They do not consider the unintended consequences of this policy.

Once physicians understand the goal is let the government control physicians’ medical judgment there is no telling what will happen to the quality of medical care.

Quality medical care is not a science or a social science that can be managed by computer. It is a learned process by physicians integrating scientific knowledge an art of personal relationships.

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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Obamacare Co-Op Folly

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The Obamacare Spin Goes On

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Social Engineering

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Obamacare Is Failing

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

The problems the Obama administration is having with Obamacare have not been in the news lately. They appear in government publications as minor policy changes or in press releases. They also appear in minor trade magazines. Little that is new has appeared in the mainstream media.

Readers of the New York Times are under the impression that Obamacare is working and is successful. The readers’ impression is that President Obama has done a great thing for the nation by getting Obamacare passed into law.

If a lie is told enough times it becomes the truth. The media is the message. All one has to do is lie to the media and the message gets through whether it is true or not.

The public’s perception of reality is not more complicated than the information fed to it whether it is true or false.

A key element in getting the message through is trust. It is my opinion, President Obama and his administration have lied to the public so much that there is a lack of trust in him and his judgment. The Republican and Democratic parties have lied to the public so much that there is a lack of trust in both parties.

It has been shown over and over again that Hillary Clinton as lied to the public. Yet, she is gathering millions of votes in her primary contests while others who have told the same lies have ended up in prison.

Black people are figuring out that the Democratic party has lied to them. The war on poverty started in 1965 and little progress has been made to eradicate poverty since then.

Why is there so much poverty and unemployment in the black community?

Why can’t black kids have a choice of public schools or charter schools in New York City? Why can’t education be a top priority?

As Leonard Cohen says, “the deck is rigged.”

I think the reason Donald Trump is running the table on votes in the Republican primaries is people do not trust politicians.

He promises to unrig the deck and make America great again. The politicians, pundits and traditional media are confused about why the public is listening to him.

The public does not trust or believe them. The public trusts Donald Trump and his promises without having objective reason.

Two significant events have occurred in the Obamacare world in recent weeks which are contributing to Obamacares further failure.

  1. President Obama caving in on the “Cadillac tax”

As part of the budget deal President Obama agreed to sign another delay in the Cadillac tax until 2020.

An Obamacare law provision levies a hefty 40 percent tax on the most expensive employer-provided insurance plans: those costing above $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families.

The Obama administration predicts it will generate $87 million per year in new taxes.

“If a plan cost $11,200, it would face a $400 tax — 40 percent of the amount above the threshold.”

The Cadillac insurance premium was a 100% tax-deductible expense to an employer providing a high cost healthcare insurance policy to employees.

High paid executives and some unions or union executives enjoy this high cost insurance. President Obama’s goal has been to provide a disincentive to employers from providing this type insurance.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates 26 percent of current plans could get hit with the tax in 2018; Towers Watson pegs it at 42 percent. This is the result of healthcare insurance rate increases.

I think it is a trick by President Obama to discourage corporation from providing healthcare insurance for their employees. The Obama administration would like to force corporate employees to buy healthcare insurance from the federal health exchanges. When the federal health exchanges fail the government could take over everyone’s healthcare insurance and dictate the terms of that insurance.

The “Cadillac tax” was suppose to go into effect in 2017 but has been previously delayed until 2018.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed to delay Cadillac tax implementation even longer now until 2020. Some sort of political pressure has forced President Obama to sign the amendment to Obamacare. This new law will decrease the funding for Obamacare.

The traditional media has not emphasized this event leading to Obamacare’s demise.

  1. President Obama backs away from new Obamacare rules for 2017.

The execution of Obamacare by the Obama administration has not stabilized the healthcare insurance industry market as promised. In fact the federal exchange markets have become more chaotic. This is partly because of the inefficient bureaucratic structure and the lack of attraction to non-sick people, who would fund the federal health insurance plans. The healthcare insurance plans dictated by the federal government do not fit the needs of the people who would buy them. Instead, even though the health insurance plans are too expensive they attract people with pre-existing illnesses. These people have no choice.

The Obama administration’s typical response to fix unintended consequences is to create more rules and regulations. The new rules and regulations will lead to more unintended consequences.

The Obama administration just backed off of two big new. The Obama administration proposed tight physician and hospital network adequacy provisions and new standardized health plan options provisions.

The previous Obamacare rules and regulations resulted in the healthcare insurance industry’s adjusting to their loss of income by creating narrower networks of physicians and hospitals. Many of the healthcare exchange plans use HMOs only and narrow networks of hospitals and doctors as a way to keep premiums lower.

The result was a decrease patients’ access to care. CMS basically backed off of the strict network options it wanted to dictate. The Obama administration once again proved that it depends on the healthcare insurance industry to function. The healthcare industry is dictating the rules.

The goal of the Obama administration to standardize options was to make it easier for consumers to compare the various levels of healthcare plans offered in the health exchanges. The Obama administration also felt it was necessary to define the levels of basic benefits to make shopping for the most affordable plan easier.

The winner is the healthcare insurance industry. The loser is the Obama administration. The biggest losers are patients both in Obamacare and those who have private insurance.

As time goes on it is becoming clearer to everyone that Obamacare is not the success that President Obama and Paul Krugman are talking about.

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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President Obama Somehow Finds The Money

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Thought You Could Win?

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

There are lots of healthcare systems that think they can win by supporting Obamacare.

It has always been clear to me that hospital systems cannot win by participating in the present rules of the Affordable Care Act.

Major hospital systems are finding that fact out slowly but surely.

“HealthSpan is the insurance arm of Catholic hospital system (Mercy Health).”

The Catholic Healthcare System is one of the top ten rapidly growing hospital systems with a network of 387 acute care hospitals.

The governance of the Catholic Healthcare System thought it could profit from Obamacare, its federal Health Insurance Exchanges and the formation of an Accountable Care Organization.

Mercy Health believed it could profit by setting up an insurance arm for its network and selling insurance in the Obamacare Health Insurance Exchanges.

In order to form an ACO it bought an existing integrated physicians group.

Mercy Health, a 23-hospital system, formerly known as Catholic Health Partners, bought Kaiser’s Ohio business in 2013.

Mercy Health tried hard to make the strategy work for its financially.

I have stated previously that it is very difficult to set up ACOs. The business model is destined to fail because of faulty premises and inadequate cultural and financial incentives.

Patients should be responsible for their healthcare dollars. Healthcare insurance companies should be responsible for financial risk and financial reward by providing the insurance coverage.

“HealthSpan, the insurance arm of Catholic Healthcare System Mercy Health, is getting rid of its medical group (Kaiser) and halting sales of Affordable Care Act policies just two years after acquiring Kaiser Permanente’s Ohio subsidiary.”

The move represents a failure of one health system trying to replicate the much-heralded Kaiser model of healthcare which integrates the payment and delivery sides.

HealthSpan has been a failure financially. Mercy Health’s managers realized that the two new programs became a financial disaster for the entire healthcare system.

The reality is in contrast to the optimistic statement made by CEO Michael Connelly two years ago. His announcement was not dissimilar for the many other statements by hospital systems that are on the road to failure. It almost sounds like they had the same consultant.

In announcing its agreement with Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Health Partners president and CEO Michael D. Connelly said in the joint release, “This opportunity interests us because it preserves a values-based, patient-centered care model that we can expand throughout the region. Additionally, it enables us to focus on enhancing quality, improving access to health care, and effectively managing costs.”

No one ever asks practicing physicians what system will work to Repairing the Healthcare System.

No one every talks about the patients’ responsibility in preventing chronic diseases or once a chronic disease occurs, what is their responsibility in managing the disease.

Until a healthcare system is built around patients’ responsibility along with ways to prevent insurance company, hospital system and physician abuse, a healthcare system will not be built that is cost efficient with increased quality of care.

 

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

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