October 15, 2010 Recent News





Things are starting to happen.  3M Company has discontinued its company health insurance for retirees.  Instead they will give them money and let them buy their own insurance.  This will save the company a significant amount of money.  It will also allow the employees to become more aware of costs.  Other companies are soon to follow.

The People's Republic of Massachusetts has significant financial problems since they went to their health reform system.  Some of their hospitals with a large percentage of low income patients are going broke.  Obama to the rescue.  The feds are giving the Republic $435 million for two hospitals that can not be funded by the Republic.  I wonder who will bail out the hospitals when they are going broke under Obamacare. 

The US Institute of Health has issued a report stating that nurses should be able to practice medicine because of the increased numbers of people seeing physicians with Obamacare. The IOM has thrown a wet blanket on the idea since they believe nurses need more education and training before they can be pseudo physicians.   Nothing like another agency saying that Americans can not keep their physicians that Obama promised with forked tongue.

Still yet another Obamaism has been debunked by Medicare.  CMS has stated that Obamacare will increase costs to seniors in Medicare Advantage plans.  The cost will rise from $346 nest year up to $923 in 2017.

In the same Obama states you can keep your physician vein, a Iowa Medicare Advantage plan is placing 21,000 people needing new insurance.  

In Santa Cruz, California, another Medicare Advantage plan has left the area.  This affects about 2000 people in this small community.

Oregon private fee for service plans are leaving.  This effects about 25,000 people of the state.  A rule passed in 2008 requires these plans to meet the same requirements as HMOs and PPOs serving Medicare recipients.  This will disrupt care for the people and the insurance will cost more in the rural part of the state.  The companies leaving are Cigna, Humana and United's Secure Horizen.

California's Insurance Commissioner hopes that he gains more power due to Obamacare.  He will help set up the state programs that are part of the health care law.  

The Connecticut Mirror has an article regarding the possibility of physicians no longer seeing Medicare patients due to the SGR.  The Mansfield Family Practice has stopped accepting new Medicare patients and nationally about 20% of physicians are limiting in some way the number of Medicare patients they are seeing.  Most think that the lame duck Congress will pass another continuation, but it is not certain.  The Democrats purposely left out physicians when they priced Obamacare and the cost will be close to $300 Billion.  If there is not a permanent fix soon more will drop new Medicare patients at a time when the boomers are starting to come into the program.

The Wall Street Journal has an article about using effectiveness when considering reimbursement.  We were told that there would be no rationing.  Another Obamaism, like you may keep your own physician.  

Michigan has started its high risk insurance program. It will accept the first 3500 applicants.  The cost goes by age and ranges from $181 per month for the 19-24 year old to a high of $687 for those 60-65 years of age.  To date just under 200 had applied for the insurance.

Health insurance is expected to rise an additional 8% next year.  It is expected that employers will pay from the current 35% to about 45% of the premium.

Iowans are finding out too late that the six month without insurance requirement is hurting them.  Many had already signed up for the HIP Iowa which charges more than standard policies and does not allow them to join the lower premium state plan.  The new low price pool has room for almost 1000 patients but has all of 53 members with probably not many more eligible to join.  

The London Daily Mail has an article that NICE is denying lifesaving Mepact to children with osteosarcoma.  The drug has the potential to increase survival by almost one third.  The problem is cost.  The cost for a full 48 shot regime is 114,000 pounds.  This would save an additional 8-10 children in England.

Cigna and a 100 physician primary care group in Atlanta have set up an ACO.  It will be evaluated at the end of one year to see if it worked.        Top


Medscape has an article regarding the reduced payments to cardiologists as a forerunner to other specialists.  The cardiologists are laying off staff, reducing salaries and limiting services due to the decrease in payments.  This may happen to Orthopedics, Surgeons and Neurologists if the feds reduce fees for radiology by non radiologists.  As the cardiologists reduce their patient lode more need to be seen at hospitals which increase costs and wait times. 

Ten pediatricians pulled their privileges from Ft. Walton, Florida Medical Center.  They do not believe the Center can handle pediatric patients safely and will now only admit to Sacred Heart Children's Hospital. 

Non-physician medical workers who tested positive for drugs or alcohol are still working in California.  The reason is the contractor who did the testing used the wrong standard.  

Illinois has all of three people to monitor 7500 physicians who have committed some violations.  The same three are also in charge of making sure those with revoked licenses are not practicing.  It seems that in Illinois physicians and other medical workers are lumped with locksmiths.

The Wall Street Journal states that about 7% of physicians are using email to engage with patients.  The problem with using email is lack of privacy and lack of reimbursement. 

The AMA has come out with a product that analyzes physician charges to see how they are compared to like physicians across the country.  The product is called PATH and sells for only $199 until 12/31.     Top


Physicians are not alone in getting less compensation.  The same is true for hospitals.  Hennepin Hospital, the largest public hospital in Minnesota, is planning in 2011 to stop seeing elective patients from surrounding counties who are uninsured.  This will save the hospital over $600,000 per year.  They hope this sends a message that they need more money to care for patients.  The Board of Trustees discussed stopping care for illegals but came to the conclusion that this would not save money.   

The feds are starting a probe of Prime Health, a California company that owns several hospitals.  The reason is the hospitals have a very high percentage of life threatening infections in older patients.  They want to know if the diagnosis of septicemia is real or a fraud. The State has been investigating the same thing for a year and has come to no conclusion.  It must be noted that the fed investigation was asked for by Democrats Waxman and Stark at the behest of their bosses the union.   

UMass hospitals will lay off 350 people due to flat income and more expenses. The staff cut will affect managers as well as nurses.  UMass is a big carer for Medicaid patients.  The other hospitals in this category have earlier in the year stated they also will be cutting jobs.

Olive View Hospital in Los Angeles has been in the news before for poor patient treatment.  Now it is known that they put their neonates in some danger by not having the necessary specialists to care for them.  The neonate unit had been downgraded by the state but continued to practice as prior.  The hospital lied in its ads stating it had enough neonatologists when in fact it had none.        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.