August 15, 2010 Recent News
In the People's Republic of Massachusetts many physicians are no longer accepting new patients of Medicaid since the new Republic health plan went into effect. If one can find a physician a routine appointment is now almost two months away. This may cost significantly more money to lure physicians into seeing the patients.
The Arizona Heart Institute has claimed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is selling the assets to Vanguard Health Systems. The physician owned entity cited decreased reimbursements as the reason for the bankruptcy. The combination with Vanguard will give more clout to the new entity vis a vis insurers. Vanguard has several hospitals in Arizona.
Modern Healthcare finds that about 65% of the physicians over age 55 have been sued for med mal. Over 20% have been sued at least twice. The frequency of the law suits increases with age. The most sued were OB/GYN and general surgeons. Psychiatrists were the least sued. The Illinois Medical Society reports that 65% of their physicians have stopped doing high risk procedures due to the probability of being sued. This went along with 89% ordering more tests than necessary due to med mal concerns.
Health Leaders has a story regarding physician salaries. They state that radiologists and anesthesiologists continue as the best paid specialists. The major changes are in internal medicine and surgery. There is a 6.6% increase in pay for internists and a mild decrease in surgeon salaries for 2009.
In one of the listservs I belong to an anonymous poster asked for help. His hospital did not think things through before acting. They hired hospitalists. The Family Practitioners on staff either quit the hospital or went to courtesy staff so they would not have to take hospital call. This left the Pediatricians as the ones to take care of all the peds patients of the FPs when they came to the ED. The Pediatricians are not happy campers. The hospital can not afford to hire full time pediatricians. The peds are refusing to see the patients of the FPs. The hospital will have to start paying the pediatricians to take call. One attorney who obviously did not understand hospital law or politics suggested the hospital change the bylaws to make the physicians on courtesy staff take call. This would have all leave the hospital and the only one that can change medical staff bylaws are the medical staff as a whole.
HealthLeaders has an article titled "Physicians: get Over Your Fear of Electronic Messaging." The writer does not understand that physicians are taught about confidentiality and unless there is a safe method of messaging it will not occur. Also there is the matter of being paid for time spent and the possibility of misinterpreting an email so giving wrong advise and this escalating to a med mal suit. The physician will not spend money on messaging when his/her payments are being cut.
The Office of Civil Rights, the agency in charge of HIPAA, has released the names of all the medical and insurance companies that leaked data. This includes small physician offices. Eleven private practices had breaches of 500 or more in the past year. Top
Hutchinson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, is in trouble. They had their only pulmonologists leave the hospital for a competitor and their one cardiologist no longer taking call in the ED 24/7/365. They are attempting to contract with a new pulmonary group to come in and take call and are working out a plan with the cardiologist so he will be off and possibly be paid. If the hospital does not come through with new physicians they may lose many of their referring family practitioners. This should be a death knell. Their census is already small. Top
The People's Republic of Massachusetts continues to get alot of press in this publication since it is in such turmoil and is the model for national healthcare. In the latest news small business in the Republic are beginning to understand what mandates mean. It means they will pay alot more money. There are now 37 healthcare mandates in place in the Republic. It appears that the large companies go with federal health law and not local law and therefore pay less.
In another story the Republic and the Blues have come to an agreement on rate increases. The Blues agreed since they had to only charge last year's rates until the dispute was solved. Now they can increase their fees less than what they originally wanted but still up to 12% depending on the policy.
Would you believe that four hospitals in the Republic put unshredded medical files in the public dump. The four hospitals and their pathology groups were Milford, Holyhoke, Carney and Milton. The records were dumped by a former billing company of the pathologists. The records had names and Social Security numbers as well as medical information. They all should expect a fine from the Republic and the feddies.
The false picture painted by the White House regarding how much money Obamacare will save is coming home to roost. The original figures intentionally left out any payments to physicians and did not take into effect how much money would be siphoned off to pay for another broke program, Social Security. That program is now officially head over heels and is paying out more than it is taking in. In the Medicare report, Mr. Foster, the chief Medicare actuary for the past 15 years, states that the report relies on things that are not reality. He mentioned the physician payments and the price controls on hospitals which is also unlikely to occur. The trustees somehow forgot to include those. Of course if they don't pay reasonable wages there will be few physicians and hospitals to take care of the patients. In view of those Mr. Foster does not believe ObamaCare will save more than the noted $6.2 Trillion reduction in Medicare's 75 year liability, not a small amount even by Washington standards. The Medicare Trustees are Geithner, Sebelius, Solis and Social Security Commissioner Astrue all Obama appointees. The two public representative seats are vacant.
Those wonderful high risk insurance pools not only will cost a fortune but will turn people off from going into the pool. This is in an article by the Richmond Times Dispatch. The other rules are also a turn off. You must have a pre-existing condition and have had no insurance for the preceding six months. Then you can pay between $500 and $1000 a month plus deductibles. Isn't that special? To make it even better it appears that there will not be enough money for those willing to take the insurance. The Obamacare does not kick in until 2014 and these are the temporary measures starting this year. It is expected that the $5 Billion allotted will run out well before Obamacare kicks in. The most any individual will be forced to pay is just shy of $6000 and a family just shy of $12,000. This for the most part will not cover the monthly premiums and then the taxpayers of the states stupid enough to agree to go along with this will have to pay, depleting the state reserves.
The San Francisco Chronicle has an article that state's employers and consumers may see a bump in next year's health insurance premiums due to the early requirements and lack of payments for them until later years. Mid size companies should expect a jump in premiums from 15-18%. Another seer expects to see a jump of 9.5%. Top
The AMA states the new EMR law poses a dilemma for physicians that are coming up on retirement. Those physicians contemplating retirement within 5-8 years have to wonder whether the high cost of purchase is worthwhile especially if they are in a one or two person practice. Should the physician pay out money or try to build a retirement account? Is it a good selling point when the physician goes to sell his practice? It depends. In a study reported in The Fiscal Times EHR may actually add to costs not decrease costs. They did a study in California hospitals and found this to be true. The researchers found that the Rand Study that said how much money could be saved was just alot of hot air. They are good for safety but not for saving money. Top
Normally I do not publish medical stories but this is too weird not to. Roy Sveden of Brewster, Massachusetts, went to surgery for a cancerous lung tumor. The pathology was a half inch long pea sprout. A legume expert stated that the warm moist environment likely triggered the pea to grow and the pea was never cooked. He now joins Russian Artyom Sidorkin who was found to have a five centimeter long pine tree growing in his lung. Top
DISCLAIMER: Although this
article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the
time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers
should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the