We don’t need government-run healthcare to get affordable, universal coverage – Washington Post

A very interesting opinion piece (that dovetails with the last post of mine discussing that a large amount of lobbyists are out to kill the idea of Medicare for All). I don’t think that Third Way is a lobbying arm of the healthcare industry, but I would love to get some feedback by my readers as to what they think of this proposal. It does merit a good debate, I believe. It might even be possible to get a great many Americans on board with this, since they get to keep their doctor, it doesn’t put every medical professional into having to accept the uneconomic reimbursal rates of Medicare/medicaid, it eliminates medical bankruptcies, and it covers everyone in a way that is easy to implement. Thoughts? Am I missing something here?

From the article:

America can insure everyone without changing anyone’s existing health coverage. It won’t require replacing Obamacare with a single-payer, government-run system. Instead, we can build upon Obamacare with two simple, game-changing features: a universal cap on premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, and an automatic coverage system that places the uninsured in a plan they can depend on and afford.

UPDATE: After thinking about it, here’s my, and a medical friend’s thoughts:

A missing element in this is that it doesn’t change the issue that not everyone with insurance gets the coverage they need. Some providers don’t take more than one or two of the ACA options. Some don’t take any. Many things docs want to do arent covered by Obamacare, Medicare or independent insurers. If your doc says you need an MRI, and the ACA people say no, what then? Why is an insurance bureaucrat more knowledgeable about your care than your doctor? The devil is in the details in the current ACA & in this one too. In Canada, everyone who walks in the clinics or hospitals gets the same care. This proposal at least in the article, does not achieve that. Reimbursements in the ACA often barely cover the cost of treatment. That’s why some docs won’t take them. What about the caps? Meaning some programs only allow you to see a doc 4 or 5 times a year, then you are out of luck and out of pocket. Will it cover all needed coverage? So much missing in this article. Would love to have the authors point us to more indepth overviews of this. Interesting to read some of the comments, which seem to say that Third Way is a tool of the Right, some say it’s a tool of the Left. Wonder what the reality is? 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/02/19/we-dont-need-government-run-health-care-get-affordable-universal-coverage/

Health Care and Insurance Industries Mobilize to Kill ‘Medicare for All’ – NY Times

The knives are out. This is what we are up against in order to get real change in healthcare. But in one area I find myself in agreement with an argument against Medicare for All. The crux of one major issue is buried deep in the story.

Some members of the coalition have financial as well as philosophical reasons for resisting the push to expand Medicare. Doctors and hospitals say Medicare generally pays less than private insurance, and hospitals say the payments frequently do not cover the costs of providing care to Medicare patients.

“Chronic underpayment to providers creates access issues for seniors, particularly with physicians, who may limit the number of Medicare patients they see,” said Richard J. Pollack, the president of the American Hospital Association. Congress, he said, often makes changes in Medicare for reasons that have nothing to do with sound health policy — to offset the costs of tax cuts, for example.

This is a real issue, one that I hear from providers as a substantial problem for them. It has contributed to a decreasing base of providers that are willing to take Medicaid and Medicare patients. If we put everyone on Medicare without fixing the reimbursement problems, it will simply have the unintended consequence of driving more primary care doctors out of business, or into the hospitals. Today 40% of doctors work for hospitals which is up dramatically over the last few decades. Hospital care is more expensive than independent physicians.

Also, as I have pointed out elsewhere, not all doctors take Medicare! Even the ACA has numerous plans and many doctors, because the administrative cost is so high to take lots of programs, only take a couple of the various plans. So patients don’t have the flexibility that Medicare for All seems to promise. Add to that that Medicare doesn’t cover everything, it leads to wealthier patients getting better care and Medicare only patients sometimes getting none at all. Yes. That is one of the reasons why Medicare supplemental coverage exists.

So while politicians like Bernie and Warren use this as a campaign slogan, the critics of it will be beating the drum as we go into the election, using tens of millions of dollars to counter it and this issue could be the deciding factor in States that swung the election last time! It’s time we stopped just shouting campaign slogans and came up with something that could provide everyone decent healthcare as Canada does, while fixing issues like provider reimbursal rates and the shortage of physicians in this country in general.

NY Times today.

Health Care and Insurance Industries Mobilize to Kill ‘Medicare for All’

FDA goes after bogus Alzheimer’s healthcare marketing – Consumer’s Health Digest

CHD is reporting on the FDA’s actions against a wide array of companies using unsubstantiated marketing to sell their products. As most know, the “natural” healthcare industry has been virtually unregulated, allowing almost any company to claim that they have some kind of cure or natural compound that will reverse the effects of diseases. It is gratifying to see the FDA actually continuing to crack down on these companies rather than just talk about doing something.

Read and support the Consumer Healthcare Digest at http://www.quackwatch.org/00AboutQuackwatch/chd.html

Warnings issued against illegally marketing products for Alzheimer’s disease

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has posted 12 warning letters and 5 online advisory letters issued to foreign and domestic companies that are illegally selling products with unsubstantiated claims that they prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s disease and, in some cases, other serious health problems. [FDA takes action against 17 companies for illegally selling products claiming to treat Alzheimer’s disease. FDA News Release. Feb 11, 2019] Three other warnings were send jointly by the FDA and FTC. [FTC and FDA send warning letters to companies selling dietary supplements claiming to treat Alzheimer’s disease and remediate or cure other serious illnesses such as Parkinson’s, heart disease, and cancer FTC Press Release. Feb 11, 2019] Although most of the products were marketed as dietary supplements, the disease-related claims subjected them to regulation as misbranded and/or unapproved new drugs.

Warning letters went to: Gold Crown Natural Products, Peak Nootropics LLC (aka Advanced Nootropics), DK Vitamins, Sovereign Laboratories LLC Blue Ridge Silver, Nutrition Coalition Inc, John Gray’s Mars Venus LLC, TEK Naturals, Earth Turns LLC, Emmbros Overseas Lifestyle PVT LTD, Pure Nootropics LLC, and Capris Associates Inc. / BR Naturals.

Advisory letters went to:Alzheimer’s Corporation (ALZcorp), Alzheimer’s Organization, Dr. Fitt Intelligent Designs LLC, Healthcare Products LLC d/b/a The Alzheimer’s Store d/b/a MindCare Store, and This Wonderful Life New Age Shop.

The joint warnings went to Gold Crown Natural ProductsTEK Naturals, and Pure Nootropics, LLC.

The FDA’s total for the past five years includes more than 40 companies that promoted more that 80 products with illegal Alzheimer’s disease claims on Web sites, on social media, and in stores.

Hospital Lobbying in 2018 By the Numbers

It’s always interesting to review where the big money is spent on lobbying. Today’s article in the Healthcare Dive (link at bottom of page) covered the an overview of hospital lobbying efforts highlight a few interesting issues (facts?):

  • The last lines point out that political rhetoric for “Medicare for All” seems to die after elections. Gavin Newsome in CA and the Illinois legislature has had a bill under study for two years without movement. The Medicare for All sounds like it’s not much more than a political ploy to help get politicians elected. We’ll have to see what becomes of the bills in the Washingon State legislature before putting the final nails in the coffin of this idea of Bernie Sanders. A question could be asked that if it’s that’s important to Sanders, is he involved in lobbying these states to implement it?
  • The 340B program, which has been a political hot potato, continues to be lobbied for by hospitals. There is much to criticize in this program, which supposedly provides direct subsidies to low income patients, but has been manipulated by both big Pharma (which wants to kill it) and hospitals (which has found ways to use it to make money for their bottom line). Yes, low income patients are getting drugs at a lower cost through this program but it leads one wondering if they could get even lower prices if the money was actually given to them directly, which was the original intent of the bill. We’re a long ways from that original intent, and even our hospital is profiting from the program, and finding further ways to incorporate it into future hospital planning.
  • It’s not all cynical lobbying though, as the hospital lobby fought hard against efforts to kill the ACA, helped support more funds for mental health care and much more.
  • Read the whole story at the following link.

https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/hospital-lobbying-in-2018-by-the-numbers/548262/

Democrats prepare to introduce “Medicare 50” – Washington Examiner

Whether or not this bill will get anywhere other than through the House, remains to be seen, but it will certainly help them heading into the elections next year. I’m sure it will be very popular with the base, while it angers and brings out the big guns of the AMA. Most physicians are not happy with Medicare reimbursement rates. I have been told by a number of providers that they cannot run an independent business on Medicare reimbursals. That’s one of the reasons the hospital has taken over almost all of our local providers. Not clear yet whether this will help those who can’t afford Obamacare, but are above Medicaid eligibility. But look for a program like this to reduce independent providers and force you into larger and larger hospital run facilities, for better or worse.

Read more here: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/daily-on-healthcare-democrats-prepare-to-introduce-medicare-50

Democrats are set a noon today to unveil a bill that would allow people to buy into Medicare beginning at age 50, even as the majority of the caucus in the House is onboard with rolling everyone into a government-run system. The bill signals that Democratic leaders are prepared to move forward more gradually on extending the government’s role in healthcare. Under the proposal, people would have the option of buying into Medicare instead of having private health insurance. The Medicare Buy In and Health Care Stabilization Act is being introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn. View livestream.