February 15, 2009 Recent News




Health Affairs reports that "the first year of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit saw increased use of essential medications and reduced out-of-pocket spending for seniors, but it also led to the increased use of already overused medications. Moreover, medication usage went down for patients who had no coverage in the "doughnut hole," a coverage gap in the standard Part D benefit that in 2006, the first year of the benefit, occurred between $2,250 and $5,100 of total drug spending. Eliminating that gap could be financed by increasing initial co-payments for seniors under Part D."  They did not state what an overused medication might be and what harm and/or expense that might cause.  There are two schools of thought for the doughnut hole and their assertion that there should be an increase in the initial co-payment.  One is that this is insurance and the risk should be spread to all who join.  The other is why should the majority of seniors who never reach the doughnut whole have to pay more money.  There is no right answer, only policy.  

On the Left Coast, San Francisco is having problems with its city healthcare program.  There is a problem with the van doing screening mammograms breaking down and no qualified radiologist to read the studies at SF General Hospital.  They hope to have the problem fixed by September 2009, when the van is fixed and a new radiologist may be hired.

California Blue Cross wants to raise premiums for about 80% of its individual enrollees a whopping 30%.  They contend that its due to increased technology however, they also just settled a suit with the state that not only cost them a fine of about $1 million but they had to pay all the care they had denied to those they illegally rescinded the policy and take them back with no questions (see Recent Legal).  Almost all with the individual premiums are stuck with the carrier. 

There's one born every minute said Barnum.  The Parnell Medical Group in Edina, Minnesota, is planning on collecting them all.  The group has an impotency clinic that does not take insurance that would pay for the treatments at real physician's offices.  They also use penile injections but do not offer treatment for the complications of same.  They send the patient to the local EDs.

In Japan, a 69 year old man was injured in a traffic accident.  While he laid at the scene in an ambulance the ambulance could find no hospital willing to take him.  Finally one of the 14 hospitals called took him but he died.  This is becoming more common in the country due to a lack of physicians and full hospitals.  In 2007 over 14,000 emergency victims were denied entry to a hospital at least three times.  In one case a woman in her 70s with breathing problems was rejected 49 times in Tokyo. 

In an interesting case from Italy, a man who has fought for ten years to stop food and liquids from his wife who is a persistent vegetative state has finally pulled the plug.  The Italian court has gone against the Vatican and stated that it is allowable to die with dignity.  The Italian government is a dumb as the US government in the Schiavo case when they tried unsuccessfully to overrule the high court.  The Italian government also failed when the President refused to sign the law passed by their legislature.  The Cabinet overruled the President and nature overruled all.  While the debate raged on, the feeding tube had been removed and the patient died.  

The Palestinians had been paying Israel hospitals for the care given to their people.  Then they stopped paying and the hospitals began shipping the patients back to Gaza.  Hamas has also returned all the supplies they had stolen from the Red Cross on two occasions.  The Red Cross, which had stopped sending more supplies due to the theft, has now resumed sending supplies.       Top


Kaiser of Northern California has had confidential information on about 30,000 of its employees stolen and some have been already used illegally.  Kaiser knew nothing about the theft of information until they were informed by a police department who had raided a woman's apartment to seize her computer.  You can tell how safe Kaiser's information system is since the woman is not even a Kaiser employee.        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.