The Supreme Court temporarily have saved hundreds of hospitals from losing substantial benefits to help Medicaid and uninsured patients. Justice Neil Gorsuch,writing for the majority, ordered Health and Human Services to go back and get written comment from the public.
This is the outcome of voters electing a Republican Congress and President who are only out to slash costs regardless of the outcome to hospitals and patients. If this goes through, look for even more critical care hospitals to shutdown.
I’ve heard this very refrain from single parents, especially moms. We have to make it clear that lower income people can come to our hospital without fearing being made bankrupt by a bill.
“I was sitting there thinking, am I a bad person?” Clark says. “I’m weighing my daughter’s life against how much the bill is going to cost.”
With a growing number of people being sent to collections here in Jefferson County by JHC, this article points out a very interesting issue of whether the “contract” between a patient (especially one coming into an E.R.) and the hospital is a legal and binding contract for billing purposes. Can you have a binding agreement if the client/consumer doesn’t know the price they are paying when they sign the consent agreement?
UPDATE:THANKS TO YOUR EFFORTS
THIS HAS BEEN FUNDED!
The cause: Jefferson’s Public Health clinics have an opportunity to replace ancient equipment with refurbished items at a bargain basement rate, for which they have no budget.
When students need counseling or help with family planning products, human papillomava virus (HPV) vaccinations, testing for sexually transmitted disease (STDs), and other more routine health problems, these services are provided discreetly and with great care by specially trained Public Health (PH) nurses. No other state high schools on the Olympic Peninsula provide these essential services. Jefferson County PH runs on a shoestring budget, always a little short of their needs.
You can help, now.
Our new project is local, but critical to getting appropriate health care to un-insured or under-insured Public Health patients, especially those in the high school clinics.
The goal is to raise $3k so they can acquire a new exam table (the current one is still in use but is dangerous and uncomfortable for large people) and replace a very old autoclave that is used to sterilize IUD insertion packs and reusable speculums. Normally, these items would cost many thousands of dollars, but PH connected with a company that refurbishes equipment so that it sells for a more reasonable price. These deals are only available this summer.
The best part is – you can donate to this cause through Public Health directly. (see below) and your contribution is tax-deductible.
Generous local donors have already raised $10k for the Greater Northwest Planned Parenthood last fall. Now, let’s help our local family planning providers. Send your donation to:
School-based clinic supplies
J.C.P.H. – 615 Sheridan, PT, WA 98368
Thank you for supporting Port Townsend’s family planning services for women and girls.
Please send your check as soon as possible.
Jefferson Healthcare and many other rural hospitals, take advantage of a Federal program called 340B.
As the article states:
This little-known federal program was created to help uninsured or vulnerable patients get access valuable medications regardless of their abilities to pay. This was done by providing certain participating hospitals or safety net clinics with discounted medicines. The 340B program has become an extremely important program for patients in need in this era of unaffordable and unsustainable drug prices.
The article lays out the problems with the 340B program and how some hospitals are abusing it to help themselves remain profitable.
While the point of sharing this article is not to infer that Jefferson Healthcare is in any way one of the ‘bad actors’ in the 340B debate, this article gives the average person a very good quick overview of the controversy. The battle over 340B is playing out in Congress, and it’s outcome will affect JHC. JHC does a great deal charity care, including use of 340B funds, and the program to offer charity care has been recently reformatted to allow people who do not have the means to afford to get needed care. (More on that can be found at the JHC website, JHC Charity Care overview )
I will be looking into the local ramifications of this issue in upcoming months, and should have a more comprehensive overview on them later.
But for now. Here’s a good quote:
For too many hospitals, the 340B program has become a road to profits, not a safety net and not a way to expand charity care for uninsured, indigent patients. For too many patients, particularly those with cancer, the 340B program has not reduced their cost of care 1 cent.
Read the whole opinion piece here:
There have been questions raised here in Jefferson County about the issues that are covered in this article. A good example is the following statement:
A study in the journal Health Services Research examined the impact of the 340B program on the cost of cancer care. It found that hospital participation in the program is associated with a shift of patients’ care from more affordable physician offices to more expensive hospital outpatient care centers, contributing to market-wide increases in per-patient spending.
Just when we think the American healthcare system can’t get any worse, hospitals and banks figure out a way to take us further into debt. Just what a person who is brought into the ER wants to see, a banker show up. It’s like a sick joke.
Here’s a very telling stat from this article: In 2016, the federal government estimates, consumers spent $352.5 billion out-of-pocket on health care.
We *think* we have it good. We could have paid for universal healthcare with that amount. You are essentially being taxed on that money, but it accrues to the sickest of us and the bulk of that money is spent in the last 6 months of life. To put it in perspective the US spent $584 B on defense, $588B on Medicare and $368B on Medicaid.
With the failure of Prop 1 to find supporters in Jefferson County, including some within the board of Hospital Commissioners and medical society who can’t seem to make the connection between homelessness and health, the question remains: “How are we going to address the growing issue of homelessness in our county before it overwhelms us?”
Yesterday I talked to one of the local leaders helping run our Food Banks. He said that they are feeding about 250 people a week. Some of these are homeless, some are on the verge of homelessness, perhaps a paycheck away from the streets. I’ve personally talked to a waitress in town with four children who had to choose between feeding them or paying for medical support when they had ear infections. She couldn’t afford to take her sick children to the hospital ER. She was embarrassed about accepting Medicaid. So putting food on the table won out and the children cried for days fighting the infection. This is our town.
I’ve stayed in a hotel in San Francisco, listening to the cries of homeless mentally ill people on the streets below throughout the night. It was like being in Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell. This is our country.
Somehow, we as a society have to help address this issue and find a way to give these people shelter. They can’t help themselves. They have been trying . If Prop 1 isn’t the answer, then those that voted against it have to come to the table and help us all figure out what the answer really is.
Today, the Seattle Times looked at the problem. It’s immense.
The headline says it all. And the tie in to our local Hospital District is that this is likely to push us financially from black ink to red. And what were our local physician’s medical society doing about such a looming crisis, with more to come in the Medicare and Medicaid cuts? Were they coming out and deciding they were going to sound the clarion call and warn the population of the looming crisis? Ask them to call their legislators to ‘save the children’? Nope. They were getting together to vote to endorse a man with no significant health care experience over a woman with a lifetime of policy and medical background. Just like the voters last year that voted for Trump, who is putting the local hospital in jeopardy by endorsing these cuts. Did these same physicians feel compelled to get together last year in the run up to the election to warn the population of the impending disaster that Trump likely would bring to healthcare at both the national and local scene? Nope. Have they ever endorsed a candidate before? Apparently not. But I digress, I’ll cover that tale of our local petty politics in another post at a later date. Here’s our latest medical fiasco on the national level.
Last Saturday, Congress failed to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), jeopardizing systems that provide low-cost insurance for almost 9 million kids and hundreds of thousands of pregnant women in families that make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but still need assistance. Legislators failed to renew other safety net programs as well. But missing the window on CHIP was a particularly egregious fumble, and one of the clearest signals to date of how desperate this Republican-led Congress is.
This was sent out by the Jefferson Healthcare on their concerns to changes to the 340B program. This program has been used to theoretically fund low cost prescriptions. There are a variety of points of view about what the program has actually achieved, but the hospital is adamantly opposed to the cuts to it. We likely can discuss this more at the next Citizen’s Healthcare Access group meeting in September in Port Townsend.
340b letter PDF file. Here’s the first page so you can decide if you want to read the whole PDF.