September 1, 2013 Recent News




It is now against the law for federal employees to obtain coverage for abortions.  However, the illegal edict by Obama to allow Congress and some of their staffs to get federal assistance to buy Obamacare even though they earn too much money  will allow them to get abortion coverage paid for by taxpayer money.  This goes against the Smith Amendment in place since the 1980s.  Another in the line of unintended problems that has occurred with Obama's edicts.

In the bluest of blue states, California, a poll taken in showed the inconsistencies of the people polled.  Over 60% of the under 30 crowd were for Obamacare and only 47% of the over 65 group were for it.  This is spite of the responders saying by 57% that Medicare will cut back benefits ad 54% believed premiums will increase.  Just under 50% said Obamacare would have no effect on them and the remainder were equally divided as to Obamacare being helpful or detrimental to them.  Many of those responders said they were ignorant about the law.  Think how a similar poll would turn out in the majority of states.

Another poll by the same company showed half of California voters are paying more for their health insurance than they were a year ago.  This half say it is harder to pay for the insurance.  The majority of those are uninsured and/or poor.  California is planning to expand Medicaid at the same time it is decreasing payments retroactively by 10%.  This does not bode well for these folks.  

And a third poll showed that 75% of Californians under 65 have little or no knowledge about Obamacare's  state exchange.  This includes half of the people who qualify for federal assistance. 

In an unbelievable turn of events the Democratic Nevada AFL-CIO is condemning Obamacare due to the destruction of Union health plans.  They don't like that workers hours may be cut in order to get out of Obamacare.  In a recent speech to the organization Sen. Reid made no mention of Obamacare but talked only about other issues.  He is at odds with the union head on Obamacare.  Remember the Democrats (Pelosi) said after the bill is passed then you will find out what is in it.

UPS is doing just what Obama said would not happen.  They are ending the health benefits of spouses of employees that are working at other employers.  Those spouses can get health insurance via their employer of via an exchange.  This will cut over half of the spouse now covered under UPS.  The company said this is to decrease costs.  This is becoming more prevalent as companies wake up to the costs involved with Obamacare or having the employee pay a surcharge to keep the spouse on the plan.  Another reason for getting rid of the spousal health insurance is to avoid the "Cadillac" taxation under Obamacare.   Companies are also switching the over 65 crowd off their plans to Medicare.

Delta Air has stated that Obamacare will increase their healthcare costs by an astonishing $100 million next year alone.  This included not only the usual increase in medical costs but also $14 million to keep children age 26 or younger on their policy, $10 million for the $63 per employee tax that provides nothing for the employee and $14 million because the individual mandate will drive more people into the employer plan.

The Washington Post reports that "bare bones health insurance" may be making a comeback.  This is due to the wording of regs allowing companies to give policies tha exclude things like hospitalization and pay a small fine.  This can only be offered by large employers.  

The California Healthline reports that millions of Americans will need to upgrade their health insurance under the Obamacare exchanges.  This will cost them much more money that some but not all may get help with.

The LA Times reports that Blue Shield of California will stop paying for proton beam therapy for prostate cancer.  They have found no evidence to say it is any better than conventional radiation therapy.  A new proton beam center is about to open in Scripps San Diego to make 12 in the US and 2 in California.  The big selling point for proton is the sparing of normal tissue near the cancer.  There are some bona fide uses for proton therapy such as tumors near the eye or in the brain where precision is much more important.

California's Sutter Health put in EPIC EMR to the tune of about $1 Billion.  This is the same system that has caused problems with others including Kaiser who was the first big user.  Sutter's system crashed this week following a planned upgrade.  During this crash no patient records were available and no prescriptions were administered because nurses could not make sure of the correctness.  EHR is for the patients.  Like Hell it is.  It is for money and nothing else.

Meanwhile in New Jersey there will be 300,000 new Medicaid patients and over half of the primary care physicians in the state will not take any more Medicaid patients.  Medicaid pays a whopping $23.50 for an office visit.  Think there may be an access problem in this state?  The Medicaid will receive care where they always have in this state, the ED.        Top


The Union of American Physicians and Dentists has negotiated an increase in pay and benefits for the physicians who work as employees for the California Department of Human Resources.  These are physicians who work in the California Mental Institutions and the prisons.  Also included in the negotiations and raises were the medical consultants such as those to the state medical board and to all other non-UAPD employees.  Physicians who are employees of hospitals or HMOs should consider unionization.  This will become even more of an issue with ACOs and would be paramount if single payer ever became the law of the land.

CVS Pharmacy has denied access to prescriptions from physicians who are suspected of over prescribing opioids.  To date that is 36 physicians.  The crackdown came after the DEA revoked the controlled substances license of two CVS stores in Florida a year ago and Walgreen paid a fine of $80 million to resolve allegations of poor record keeping that allowed to be sold illegally.  CVS has not told the DEA who the physicians are. CVS had found just over 40 physicians in their database with questionable prescribing habits and sent them questionnaires.  Several were legitimate such as being the Medical Director of a hospice.  Those that did not respond or gave questionable answers were put on the list. 

The reliable HHS has stated that more physicians are accepting Medicare patients now (2011) than in 2007.  They are correct but do not state that more physicians have opted out of Medicare in the past several years and that many physicians have stopped taking new Medicare patients but have not opted out.

Physicians are waking up to the fallacy of the EHR.  A study in Massachusetts shows that independent practitioners are finding the costs of EHR are more than what they reap from the government for putting in the electronics.  Also only 31% percent had a favorable view of the EHR and an additional 38% had a somewhat favorable view of the EHR.  Every independent physician knows that it is only for the hospital to get more money and has nothing or very little to do with patient care.

Athenahealth has found the just over half of the physicians surveyed think that ACOs will benefit care.  The physicians believe that ACOs will hurt profitability, increase efforts required to get paid and cash flow.

The two neurosurgeons at UC Davis who experimented or did innovative treatment with patients by injecting bowel bacteria into the brains of terminal brain tumor patients have resigned.  They are Drs. J. Paul Muizelaar and Rudolph J. Schrot. They state they were attempting to help their terminal patients but allegedly went against University  protocol.          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.