Archive for the ‘Seniors’ Category

A MEDICARE EXPERIMENT WITH A GRIM PROGNOSIS

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

 

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

A Medicare Experiment With a Grim Prognosis

Congress should stop this venture in bad medicine and flawed economics.

Federal bureaucrats announced earlier this year that they plan to upend the way Medicare Part B pays for drugs. The goal? To save money by getting doctors to alter their treatment choices. That’s bad medicine, flawed economics and destructive public policy—and Congress should pass legislation to stop this ill-conceived experiment.

Medicare plays a crucial role in the lives of more than 55 million Americans. It is the only way some seniors can get access to the drugs that keep them alive. The new policy from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will jeopardize this access by inserting the government between doctors and patients in an unprecedented way.

ENLARGE
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The idea is to use financial incentives to push doctors to make “value-based care” decisions and prescribe cheaper treatments. Unfortunately, modern-day medicine isn’t as black and white as the administration seems to think. Take cancer care, my specialty. There are very few instances when the substitution of a less expensive cancer drug is appropriate or safe for patients. After all, there is a reason the newer, more advanced drugs—such as those that helped former President Jimmy Carter put his cancer into remission—are considered groundbreaking.

(more…)

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AN OBAMACARE REPORT CARD

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

 

An Obamacare Report Card

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THE END OF GOVERNMENT

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

 


The end of government

By , Published: February 9, 2014

Something strange is happening in Washington. We are slowly dismantling the federal government, even as its spending is growing larger. The paradox is that governmental competence is being systematically degraded while the government’s size, as measured by its budget, is increasing. We are spending more and getting less, and — unless present trends are reversed — this will continue for years. It threatens the end of government as we know it.

The cause is no mystery. An aging population and higher health spending automatically increase budget outlays, which induce the president and Congress to curb spending on almost everything else, from defense to food stamps. Over the next decade, all the government’s projected program growth stems from Social Security and health care, including the Affordable Care Act. By 2024, everything else will represent only 7.4 percent of national income (gross domestic product), the lowest share since at least 1940, says Douglas Elmendorf, head of the Congressional Budget Office.

This is the central budget story, and it’s largely missed — or ignored — by political leaders, the media, political scientists and the public. The welfare state is taking over government. It’s strangling government’s ability to respond to other national problems and priorities, because the constituencies for welfare benefits, led by Social Security’s 57 million, are more numerous and powerful than their competitors for federal support. Politicians of both parties are loath to challenge these large, expectant and generally sympathetic groups.

The United States, of course, is not the only advanced society grappling with aging, but it is extreme in its stubborn denial of the obvious. The Pew Research Center recently polled people in 21 countries about whether aging is a problem. The United States ranked 19th in its unconcern, ahead of only Indonesia and Egypt, whose populations are young. Only 26 percent of Americans thought aging was a problem. The share was 87 percent in Japan, 55 percent in Germany and 45 percent in France. (more…)

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MEDICAID IN NORTH CAROLINA

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

 

CAROLINA JOURNAL

Medicaid in North Carolina

| October 3, 2013 |

Becki Gray      by Becki Gray, Carolina Journal, October 3, 2013.

Before Obamacare, before individual mandates, before exchanges, there was Medicaid. Started in 1965 under President Johnson as part of his War on Poverty, Medicaid extended health insurance coverage to low-income Americans.

Today, Medicaid is the largest publicly funded insurance program in the country. It serves low-income families, the elderly, and disabled. One In five Americans is on Medicaid, more than one-third of the births in the United States are covered by Medicaid, and one-fourth of U.S. children get health care through Medicaid.

Medicaid covers one in nine North Carolinians — 1.6 million of us — and 51 percent of births are covered by Medicaid, the sixth-highest rate in the nation.

Medicaid is funded jointly by the state and federal governments. North Carolina’s share of the program is about $3 billion, while total Medicaid spending in N.C. is closer to $14 billion.

Medicaid spending has grown 90 percent over the last decade and is the fastest-growing part of our state budget, with spending rising by 15 percent in 2011-12; 16.8 percent in
2012-13; and a projected 17.2 percent in 2014-15.

North Carolina’s Medicaid costs are the highest in the South and among the highest in the nation. We have more people enrolled and spend more per patient than neighboring states. Twenty-five percent of the state’s primary care physicians aren’t accepting new Medicaid patients, limiting access, reducing health outcomes for patients, and driving up costs.

Uncontrolled expenses result in consistent budget overruns. Just this year, legislators faced a $400 million shortfall. Since Medicaid is a federal entitlement program, it has to be funded before anything else. Medicaid is the biggest driver of state budget decisions, crowding out other priorities. (more…)

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SHABBY TREATMENT OF VETERANS – LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

 

 


Letters to the editor

Oct. 07, 2013 

Shabby treatment of veterans

Soldiers who were 17 at the end of World War II (1945) would now be 85, and would be the youngest veterans of that war.  Other survivors are now older, often sick, and with a short life expectancy. Veterans have been traveling to D.C. as part of Honor Flights, a program that enables WW2 veterans to have an expense-paid trip to the World War II memorial that they themselves made possible.  The memorial is outdoors and stunningly beautiful.

National parks were closed for the 10/1 shutdown.  The House Republicans, who are honoring campaign commitments to voters to delay and defund Obamacare, had passed a bill funding national parks, which the Senate refused.  Expecting Honor Flights from their districts, Congressman Palazzo and others requested repeatedly, including to the President, that the WW2 Memorial be made available,. Requests were refused, and the entrance blocked.

The House has passed over five bills to fund specific components of the government including NIH cancer programs for children.  The House has passed three bills fully to fund all aspects of the government with the exception of Obamacare, also all refused.  The Democrat Senate is preferring to inflict maximal pain on our citizens, including elderly veterans of the Greatest Generation, rather than allow the government to function.

The Senate is trying to protect an unpopular bill so dysfunctional that the sign-up site has been withdrawn.  It is using shabby treatment of veterans as a tool.  I urge readers to express support for our veterans despite Senate manipulations.

Laura Gutman

Durham

 

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‘GESTAPO’ TACTICS MEET SENIOR CITIZENS AT YELLOWSTONE

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

 

– See more at: www.newburyportnews.com/local/x1442580373/Gestapo-tactics-meet-senior-citizens-at-Yellowstone#sthash.3C8EB2AV.dpuf

October 8, 2013

‘Gestapo’ tactics meet senior citizens at Yellowstone

NEWBURYPORT — Pat Vaillancourt went on a trip last week that was intended to showcase some of America’s greatest treasures.
Instead, the Salisbury resident said she and others on her tour bus witnessed an ugly spectacle that made her embarrassed, angry and heartbroken for her country.
Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1. For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.
The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.
When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.
“We’ve become a country of fear, guns and control,” said Vaillancourt, who grew up in Lawrence. “It was like they brought out the armed forces. Nobody was saying, ‘we’re sorry,’ it was all like — ” as she clenched her fist and banged it against her forearm.
Vaillancourt took part in a nine-day tour of western parks and sites along with about four dozen senior citizen tourists. One of the highlights of the tour was to be Yellowstone, where they arrived just as the shutdown went into effect.
Rangers systematically sent visitors out of the park, though some groups that had hotel reservations — such as Vaillancourt’s — were allowed to stay for two days. Those two days started out on a sour note, she said.
The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.
“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.
The seniors quickly filed back onboard and the bus went to the Old Faithful Inn, the park’s premier lodge located adjacent to the park’s most famous site, Old Faithful geyser. That was as close as they could get to the famous site — barricades were erected around Old Faithful, and the seniors were locked inside the hotel, where armed rangers stayed at the door. (more…)
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END OF LIFE RULES & REGS – BUREAUCRACY LIVES !

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

 

Bureaucracy Lives!

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HOSPITALS PRESCRIBE BIG DATA TO TRACK DOCTORS AT WORK

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

 

The Wall Street Journal

Hospitals Prescribe Big Data to Track Doctors at Work

Marnie Baker, a pediatrician at California’s MemorialCare Health System, has an easy manner and ready smile. Now, though, her job is to be the bearer of a serious and, for some of her colleagues, unwelcome message.

She’s the voice of a program that digitally tracks their performance, informs them when they don’t measure up—and cajoles them to improve.

MemorialCare is part of a movement by hospitals around the U.S. to change how doctors practice by monitoring their progress toward goals, such as giving recommended mammograms. It isn’t always an easy sell. At one clinic earlier this year, physicians grilled Dr. Baker, who is director of performance improvement at a MemorialCare-affiliated physician group.

Cardiologist Venkat Warren said he worried that “some bean-counter will decide what performance is.” He wondered whether doctors would be pushed to avoid older and sicker patients who might drag down their numbers.

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“If it isn’t cost-cutting, what is it?” Dr. Warren asked.

“It’s providing better value,” Dr. Baker responded.

Encounters like these are one result of the changes sweeping American health care. Technology is making it easier to monitor doctors’ work as patients’ details are compiled electronically instead of on paper charts. Software makers are selling new tools to crunch the data. Software called Crimson offered by the Advisory Board Co. ABCO -1.54%now includes information on more than a half-million doctors, up from fewer than 50,000 in 2009.

At the same time, more physicians are going to work for hospital systems, which are under pressure to hit quality goals and cut costs. Many are striking deals with insurers that pull them away from traditional “fee-for-service” reimbursement, which pays for medical procedures individually.

Insurers—which themselves increasingly track physician results—are moving toward providing a set payment for the overall care of a patient. This system means that doctors who provide costlier-than-average care could break the budget.

The federal health law is speeding these trends. Under the law, hospital payments and penalties from the federal Medicare program will be linked to their performance on quality gauges, particularly rehospitalizations, which are costly. The law also created a new Medicare initiative for “accountable care organizations,” providers that get extra rewards for efficiency and quality performance.

To succeed under the new health-care economics, hospital executives say, they must lean on doctors, who make nearly all the key decisions on what treatments, tests and drugs patients get. “The last frontier is the physicians,” says Thomas Heleotis, vice president of clinical effectiveness at Monmouth Medical Center, part of New Jersey’s seven-hospital Barnabas Health system. (more…)

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KATHLEEN SEBELIUS STRIKES AGAIN !

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

 

Klein: Obamacare’s empress strikes again

May 15, 2013 | 

http://washingtonexaminer.com/photo/pid/2645823
According to the Washington Post, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “has made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law.”

In 2010, shortly after President Obama’s health care legislation was signed into law, I dubbed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the “Empress of Obamacare” for the vast new powers she inherited. Reading through the text of the law, I counted more than 2,500 references to the secretary of HHS, of which more than 700 referred to instances in which she “shall” do something and more than 200 cases in which she “may” take regulatory action.

Back then, it was scary enough that any individual would have so many arbitrary powers — from determining what type of insurance every American must purchase to deciding which insurers could sell policies on new government-run exchanges at what price. But in the intervening three years, it’s become even more alarming, because Sebelius has demonstrated a continued pattern of intimidation and abuse of her office.

In the midst of these stories, the Washington Post reported that Sebelius “has made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law.” (more…)

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EUTHANASIA FOR OBAMACARE

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

 

 

 

 

Published on The Weekly Standard (www.weeklystandard.com)

Euthanasia for Obama­care

Jeffrey H. Anderson

October 8, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 04
EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE:  Obama-care is making it illegal for anyone in America (with the narrow exception of houses of worship) to freely sell or buy an insurance plan that fails to offer free birth control and sterilization. But this ban is nowhere to be found in the 2,700 pages of the law itself. Rather, it came as a decree from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, exercising her newfound power. If Obama-care isn’t repealed, examples of such rule by fiat will proliferate.

At a rally in Ohio last week, Mitt Romney said, “Obama-care is really Exhibit No. 1 of the president’s political philosophy, and that is that government knows better than people how to run your lives.” The GOP nominee added, “I don’t believe in a bigger and bigger government. .  .  . I believe in free people pursuing their dreams. I believe in freedom.”

This is a welcome and winning pitch from Romney. It puts the focus on Obama’s centerpiece legislation, which he spearheaded and signed into law against the clear will of the American people. In so doing, it highlights Obama’s big-government liberalism. And it sets up the key contrasts in this race—decentralized decision-making versus centralized power, prosperity versus profligacy, liberty versus coercion.

James Madison argued in Federalist 51 that our Constitution provides a “double security” to “the rights of the people.” One half of that security is the separation of powers among the three branches of government. The other half is federalism, the separation of powers between the federal government and the states. Madison argued that both of these checks on the concentration of power were essential to securing our rights. (more…)

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