June 15, 2012 Recent News





When Obamacare was first being considered the administration got by-ins from the AMA, insurance and Pharma.  The Washington Times now has the story of how Obama got Pharma.  We already know he lied to the AMA.  To get Pharma on board he cut a deal with them by promising better rates if they went along and threatening them with steeper taxes if they resisted.  This is from documents just released by the House.  He dropped his support for allowing cheaper foreign drugs to come into the country, he had Messina and DeParle threaten Pharma that he would demand a 15% rebate on Medicare drugs and push to remove the tax deduction for direct consumer advertising ($100Billion).  He allowed Pharma to set their own drug prices and have them get direct input on new policies.  Pharma agreed to raise $80 Billion for the program and run positive ads.  The administration states it was the Senate Democrats who brokered the deal but the released emails show differently.  This blows up Obama's transparency promises and shows him to be as two faced as the rest of both parties in the Congress and Senate.

Obama has issued a edict to put on a great face and push hard on the Supreme Court to state his healthcare bill is constitutional.  However behind the scenes he is plotting what to do when it is declared unconstitutional.  He wants events to be staged to show public outrage or support depending on the vote.  He has stated he wants a second term to fix Obamacare.  He has not said how he would fix it by leaning more to the progressive total universal healthcare or by compromising more with the Republicans.  A lot of that will determined by the makeup of the House and Senate and of course if he gets re-elected.

The American Action Forum has come out with a report stating HHS has had 42 statutory deadlines in the past two years and missed 20 of them.  I would think that is pretty good for the government.  The only program deadline that was missed on purpose was CLASS since the program was so bad it was dropped.  HHS defended itself by subterfuge.  It did not deny their ineptitude but instead stated what it did do, which was not he point.

The rate of registrations for EHR incentive payments continues to decline.  April marked the second straight month of this decline.  It dropped 12% from March.

It's another week and right on schedule Sebelius has come out with another see how good we are news report.  This time it was for IT.  (See article above)

The next Tuesday Sebelius, right on cue, said how Medicare is much stronger due to Obmacare.  Republicans stated the same day that the status quo in Medicare is a threat to senior's care.

A large survey of physicians by a locum tenens company showed the physicians giving Obamacare a D grade.  Over 2/3 thought the law would not have a positive impact on the physician patient relationship.  Only 12% though any reform was needed.  Over 2/3 thought that the IPAB would have a negative imput on the relationship and would hinder the physician control of treatment.  Over 70% believed that law would not cut costs.  The study consisted of 2694 physicians, a higher amount than most studies.

An article by Stephen Greer, the past chair of a CMMI committee to recommend to CMS who should get grants, tells of the incompetence and cronyism used in the selections.  They gave money to institutions that would save the same amount of money as they received.  They gave money to the University of Chicago, Mrs. Obama's old employer when she was an attorney, to create jobs.  This is not a function of CMS.  A large grant went to Berwick's old place of employment and where he still consults and has an office.  Nobody is minding the store.

Some of the larger insurers will continue with some of the Obamacare changes even if the law is unconstitutional.  These include keeping children on parents health plan until 26 years old, preventative care for free and no lifetime benefit restriction with higher premiums for each.

CMS is slightly schizophrenic.  They released a report showing health care spending will rise more with Obamacare than if it was never passed.  At the same time Sebelius in one of her blogs states that people will spend less out of pocket.  That may be true but where does the money come from to pay the government's share of the bill.  The answer is the same people who will pay less out of pocket will pay more in taxes to support the plan.  There is no free lunch, in spite of Sebelius.

California health insurers will be raising rates about 10% for small groups.  The inept state will wail about it but has no power to challenge the raises.

Illinois is cutting $1.6 Billion from the state's Medicaid program and 200,000 people got letters saying they were removed from Medicaid plan to help pay for prescription drugs.

The People's Republic of Massachusetts has some problems with it's MassCare population.  They are not treated the same as people with real insurance.  They don't pay as well as real insurance either.  The patients with the Republic's version of Medicaid have to wait longer and get shorter appointments than others.  They may or may not see their assigned physician or one of the others who may be free at the time.  They feel like second class citizens.  They have access but less so.        Top


The ABMS has stated that the length of time one can be board eligible is seven years.  If physicians use the term Board Eligible after that time limit the ABMS will consider it an ethical violation of practice standards and will level sanctions on the physician.  Military deployment will not count in the seven years.

A recent survey of 690 physicians by the Doctor Patient Medical Association showed the majority of respondents felt medicine was headed in the wrong direction and the only ones to salvage it were the physicians.  They blamed government for the decline in the physician patient relations.  They also said that with less payments for Medicaid they would decline to see Medicaid patients.  If Medicare payments declined (SGR) they would also stop taking those patients.

Doctor's Insurance in California will roll back rates about 10% in the state.  The other insurers have already done so.  Are there many other states that have done the same thing or is the med mal rates less in California due to the 1975 legislation?

The entire trauma surgery team at Lewiston, Maine, Central Maine Medical Center has left.  The four surgeons are going to work at Augusta's MaineGeneral Medical Center where there is currently no trauma center.  The Lewiston hospital is attempting to have an affiliation with Boston's Mass General with a trauma head that will have credentials at both institutions.  Currently Lewiston will attempt to keep their trauma center open with rotating surgeons, hopefully with some trauma experience.  No one will comment on why the surgeons left en masse but possibly the prior sentences may explain it.      Top  


Via Christi Health in Wichita, Kansas, has voluntarily stopped its renal transplant program due to a high mortality rate.  They have asked an outside consultant from out of state to do an independent investigation. 

Everybody has heard about Banner Hospitals in Arizona and their hard ball tactics.  This time they had to turn soft due to adverse publicity.  A woman gave birth to a stillborn and got a bill for $900 for care for the stillborn.  They even tried to justify the bill for no care.  The woman went to the media and the hospital immediately backed down.  The CEO even wrote a letter to the woman saying the charges were justified (they weren't) but they would in this instance reduce her bill to zero.

Two weeks ago I wrote the following regarding Fairview Hospital:
"Fairview Hospital is Minnesota has lost it's CEO.  The CEO's contract will not be renewed and the decision come one month after the hospital stopped it's contract with Accretive Health, the company that used strong arm tactics to collect debt.  This included placing people in the ED to collect past debt prior to being seen for non emergent conditions."
What I did not know but a reader sent to me was that the CEO and CMO of Fairview both had sons that worked for Accretive and the Fairview Board knew about it when they agreed to the hire of Accretive.  Not a true conflict of interest since the Board knew and approved but not quite kosher either.

Prime Health, the maligned California hospital owner, has bought two hospitals in Texas.  Prime has been accused of several shady deals but has not been convicted on any.  They do have a hate relationship with the unions who have been the accusers for the most part.

All know Leapfrog as the organization that started the patient safety program.  They just came out with hospital safety scores.  These scores were questionable at best but those hospitals that got good scores want to promote them.  However, Leapfrog has said if you want to use the scores in your advertising you have to pay us a fee.  Many hospitals believe this is a conflict of interest but it should be noted that other organizations such as HealthLeaders does the same thing.        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.