Tag: "Medicare"

Doctors Push Back on Release of Data

doctor-xray-2Doctors reacted swiftly and indignantly to Wednesday’s release of government records revealing unprecedented details about Medicare payments to physicians…The top 10 doctors alone received a combined $121.4 million for Medicare Part B payments in 2012…In interviews, many of the doctors said they were just passing through the payment to drug companies. Some said they were unfairly singled out even though they were billing for an entire practice. And still others disputed the accuracy of Medicare data. (Washington Post)

Hits and Misses

Costdog-1 to clone a dog: $100,000.

More lawlessness: Medicare Advantage plans will get a 0.4% increase in premiums instead of the 1.9% cut the ACA seems to require.

Is Starbuck’s recycling your paper cup? Probably not.

Consumer driven health care: There are about 1,600 walk-in medical clinics across the country and the number is projected to double in the next three years.

It’s Zeke vs Me

In the Wall Street Journal. In recognition of ObamaCare’s 4th anniversary. Guess which one of us lacks a sense of humor?

I write:

money-burdenFor the past 40 years real, per capita health-care spending has been growing at twice the rate of growth of real, per capita income. That’s not only true in this country; it is about the average for the whole developed world.

Clearly, this trend cannot go on forever. So what does ObamaCare do about that? It limits the government’s share of the costs while doing nothing to protect individuals or their employers.

The law restricts the growth of total Medicare spending, the growth of Medicaid hospital spending and (after 2018) the growth of federal tax subsidies in the health-insurance exchanges to no more than the rate of growth of real GDP per capita plus about one half of 1%. This means that as health-care costs become more and more of a burden for the average family, people will get less and less help from government — to pay for insurance the government requires them to buy!

Zeke Emanuel with a somewhat different point of view.

Hits and Misses

Milton Friedman’s legacy.

Tom Miller is disappointed in the Coburn/Burr/Hatch health reform bill.

South Korea will not regulate Samsung’s Galaxy S5 (a smartphone with a heart-rate sensor) as a medical device. (See also previous blog entry)

Medicare Advantage cuts: Insurers’ advocacy campaign contradicts Wall Street analysts’ rosy outlook.

The TRICARE Quagmire

TRICARE, the health insurance program for active duty military and their families, has a well-deserved reputation for inadequate quality at an exorbitant public cost:

  • A 2008 survey found that 96 percent of physicians accepted new commercially insured patients, 86 percent accepted new patients on Medicare, and 72 accepted new patients on Medicaid. By contrast, between 2008 and 2011, only 58 percent of civilian providers accepted new TRICARE patients.
  • Premiums for enrollees have not risen in the 17 years since TRICARE’s inception in 1996. As a result, enrollment fees for TRICARE Prime recipients remain at $38 a month, about 12.5 percent of the average cost of comparable private insurance.
  • From 2001 to 2011, general military health care spending  grew twice as fast as the rise in the nation’s overall health care costs.  The TRICARE program has largely contributed to this growth, tripling over the last decade. TRICARE spending now accounts for about 10 percent of the baseline defense budget.

Here are some solutions, proposed by NCPA’s Jacob Casey.

Study: Drug Insurance Reduces the Cost of Other Therapies

Results indicate that obtaining prescription drug insurance through Medicare Part D was associated with an 8% decrease in the number of hospital admissions, a 7% decrease in Medicare expenditures, and a 12% decrease in total resource use. Gaining prescription drug insurance through Medicare Part D was not significantly associated with mortality. (NBER)

Headlines I Wish I Hadn’t Seen

One in five doctors may not be able to afford to continue vaccinating children on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program.

American Hospital Association wants Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to let hospitals use strong-arm debt-collection on patients with debts.

Florida Medicare Advantage Plan to pay for members’ fitness trackers (which means the plan seeks to enroll healthy, not chronically ill, seniors).

Huge privacy invasion: A management consultant uploaded England’s entire National Health Service patient database to Google servers outside the U.K.

Headlines I Wish I Hadn’t Seen

Nearly 1 in 5 had mental illness before enlisting in the Army.

Medicare Advantage cuts to cost seniors between $420 and $900 per year, even though 41% of beneficiaries have annual incomes below $20,000.

One in three say they have been personally hurt by ObamaCare; only 14% say they are better off.

Update on Doctor Pay Fix

  • CBO says a fix will cost $153 billion over the next ten years.
  • Rs and Ds have agreed on a fix, but they haven’t found a way to pay for it.
  • But if they don’t do something doctors are about to get a double digit pay cut under Medicare.
  • Under the deal, 9% of doctor fees will be based on conformance to quality indicators by 2021. But since we know that P4P doesn’t work, it’s not clear why they are going through the motions.

The plan. Sarah Kliff commentary.

Headlines I Wish I Hadn’t Seen

96244133-regulationsNew regulations threaten to hamstring a Medicare Part D program that is working very well.

Kids being denied specialty treatment because of health plans in an (ObamaCare) exchange.

Is the (ObamaCare) Innovation Center squandering its resources?

Detroit will give retirees money; they’ll get subsidized insurance in the exchange.