Stanley Feld M.D., FACP, MACE Menu


Fantasy vs. Facts

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

President Obama is continues to mock the critics of Obamacare who predict failure even as Obamacare is obviously failing.

He knows the media is the message even if his message has nothing to do with the facts.


President Obam's first victory lap.

 There had been three failures at the time he declared Obamacare a success this month.

1. The Obama administration announced that accountable care organizations (ACOs) in the Pioneer ACO model and Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) have generated more than $372 million in total program savings for Medicare ACOs over the program’s two-year span.

The details of the Pioneer ACO models’ savings are difficult to follow.

  • An estimated total model savings of over $96 million and at the same time qualified for shared savings payments of $68 million
  • Eleven Pioneer ACOs earned shared savings, 3 generated shared losses, and 3 elected to defer reconciliation until after the completion of performance year three.
  • The organizations showed improvements in 28 of the 33 quality measures and experienced average improvements of 14.8 percent across all quality measures.
  • The mean quality score among Pioneer ACOs increased by 19 percent, from 71.8 percent in 2012 to 85.2 percent in 2013.


Can anyone make any sense out of this word salad?

One week later three of the 22 remaining Pioneer ACOs dropped out of the program. The program originally had 32 members. 

The Franciscan Alliance, Genesys PHO and Renaissance Health Network have exited the Pioneer ACO program, which is now in its third year.

Only 19 of the original 32 ACOs remain.

Sharp Healthcare, a San Diego-based health system, dropped out August 2014, saying that the ACO model was “financially detrimental.”

The Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic were invited to be in the Pioneer ACO program but rejected the offer. It was clear to them that ACO’s meant taking on too much uncontrollable financial risk.

The ACOs were supposed to deliver a higher quality of care through their integrated hospital systems. The hospital system would also experience greater profits.

At the onset of the program some hospital systems and integrated medical practices recognized they would lose money and possibly be penalized.

The thirteen integrated systems that quit the Pioneer ACO model recognized their losses after they started the program.

I predicted ACOs would fail and provided detailed reasons. I predicted that ACOs would fail because of the financial risks to the ACO. The job of risk is an insurance issue. A healthcare provider cannot control the confounding variables influencing risk.

“Genesys PHO received a $2.5 million penalty in the program's first year and a $1.9 million penalty in the program's second year (Evans, Modern Healthcare, 9/25; Leventhal/Hagland, Healthcare Informatics, 9/25; Beck, Wall Street Journal, 9/25).”

One could conclude that Genesys’ ACO was becoming an improved integrated better because it experienced a smaller loss the second year. It was not Genesys’ conclusion. It withdrew from the program.

2. Last week President Obama predicted that enrollment in Obamacare increase this year. The web site is fixed and enrollment will be easier.

At the same time at least 300,000 people in last years group of enrollees lost their subsidies or coverage because they did not offer proof of their eligibility by September 30th.

There has been little media coverage of this event. This is not the definition of success.

3. In addition, the insurance industry announced that thousands will lose health insurance their current insurance policy with their employer by the end of 2014.

They will have to apply for which will probably be more expensive through the health insurance exchanges. Insurers are cancelling the private healthcare insurance policies because they no longer make business sense.

Of course, it makes no business sense when the insurance company can make more money from the federal health insurance exchange plans. The Obama administration is guaranteeing the healthcare insurance company’s profit and eliminating its risks.

All this appeared at the time President Obama called Obamacare a success and mocked his critics who predicted failure.

The media is the message. If President Obama can manipulate the media enough he can help the Democrats maintain a majority in the Senate with two more years of Harry Reid control.

I do not think the American public is going to fall for President Obama’s disinformation campaign once again.

I hope not.

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

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