December 1, 2018 Recent News





The US has in 2016 over 63,000 deaths from opioids, more than double the amount from any other country.  The US also came in second in the increase in drug overdose deaths, second to Estonia.  The US had a triple epidemic waves with prescription opioid in the 1990s, heroin in 2010 and now synthetic opioids.  Other countries decreased their deaths dramatically by getting rid of the prescribing restrictions on buprenophine (Narcan).  We are now starting to do this.

Great Britain is looking at a potential shortage of medical personnel by 350,000 by 2030 due to restrictive immigration policies.  They can not get their own citizens to do the work for the pay.

California's Anthem is planning to give free to Medicaid patients in the state telehealth.  They do not say how the physician will be paid.

California is finding out what choice is.  The state is projecting a growth in the uninsured by 800,000 in 2023 due to patients now having choice as to buy or not buy the expensive Ocare insurance.        Top


Kaiser's net income dropped 32% but don't feel sorry for them.  They had continued higher operating revenue on stable plan membership.  The net income was still $884 million.  Not too shabby.

Partners Healthcare is aching for a law suit.  For the first time they are requiring all, even those who do not work with patients, to get flu shots unless they have a valid excuse as determined by Partners.  To date, 99% have either gotten the vaccine or had a valid excuse.

Grand Rapids, Michigan, Spectrum Health got some very bad publicity.  They turned down a heart transplant and sent a letter to the patient telling the 60 year old that she lacked financial stability to purchase post surgical immunosuppressive drugs.  They recommended she raise $10,000.  The son started a gofundme page and raised over $15,000 in a short time.  The hospital's letter was shared on social medical and now in the press.

A Washington state mother took her son to Oregon's PeaceHealth in Vancouver, Washington.  He was diagnosed with a heart infection and had an emergency transport over the bridge to Oregon's Randall Children's Hospital.  Prior to transport she inquired regarding insurance and was told it would be covered since it is an emergency.  The child spent one week at the hospital and was discharged.  The bill came to $112,000 and insurance paid 14% or $15,396.  she was billed for the remainder.  The hospital says they are surprised the insurer LifeWise Health did not pay more.   Right!!  The hospital has reduced the patient portion from $96,000 to $24,000.  The state insurance commissioner has asked LifeWise to re-calculate the bill and the amount they pay.

An article in the Boston Globe talks about the continued use by hospitals of facility fees.  These are fees charged by hospitals for using their facilities either on or off campus.  They increase the cost of care without adding benefit.  In Boston Partners had to pay a fine of $175,000 to settle for not telling patients of the fee beforehand.  I have no idea why insurers allow this practice.        Top


The felonious physicians of Georgia.  About 1100 of the state's doctors have not yet signed up for the the state's Prescribing Drug Monitoring Program and the dastardly Medical Board has not acted.  That would require building a case against each one, a huge monetary drain on the state attorney general office.  Over 24,000 physicians have signed up.

United Health has purchased Seattle based Polyclinic consisting of both primary care and specialists into their fold.  They also own DaVita Medical Group and a dozen other clinics over 10 states.        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 information presented.