Articles of Interest Archives

These articles highlight many of the health care related stories in the news–ranging from single-payer op-eds by PNHP members to reports by newspapers on corporate health care.

  • Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    By Michael Lighty | Healthcare-Now
    Below is testimony from Michael Lighty, director of public policy for National Nurses United, to the California Assembly Health Committee regarding Ebola preparedness in a fragmented health care system with cost-barriers to care and declining investment in public health.

  • Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2014
    By Donald M. Berwick, M.D.
    The following is an unofficial transcript of the remarks delivered by Dr. Donald Berwick to the Annual Meeting of Physicians for a National Health Program on Nov. 15, 2014, in New Orleans. Dr. Berwick spoke to the assembly via live video.

  • Posted on Friday, November 21, 2014
    By Philip Caper, M.D. | Bangor (Maine) Daily News
    A new Harvard study has found that Americans’ trust in the medical profession has dropped dramatically in recent years and lags behind that in many other wealthy countries. At the same time, doctors are becoming increasingly unhappy with our profession. In his new memoir, “ Doctored,” Dr. Sandeep Jauhar eloquently explains why: More and more doctors are coming to view our profession as just another job.

  • Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2014
    By Neil H. Buchanan | Verdict,
    The two most recent attempts to reform the American health care system, in the early 1990s and early in this decade, were notable for what the would-be reformers refused even to consider: single-payer health care. Although nearly every major nation in the world uses a version of the single-payer system—and, as I will discuss below, even though the U.S. itself has had great success with a partial single-payer plan—both the Clinton and Obama Administrations ruled out universal single-payer reform even as one of the possible options.

  • Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2014
    By Steven Reinberg | HealthDay News
    Seniors in America have more chronic health problems and take more medications than seniors in 10 other industrialized countries do, according to a new global survey.

  • Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2014
    By Joan Brunwasser | OpEdNews
    My guest today is second-year medical student, Brad Zehr. Welcome to OpEdNews, Brad. Something very interesting happened at the AMA (American Medical Association) recently. What can you tell us about it?

  • Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    By Vijay Das | Salon
    Starting tomorrow, November 15, millions of Americans will go online to obtain or re-enroll in health coverage through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) insurance marketplaces. Working families once again will try to pick a health plan that works for them. Yet this year, the task will be particularly difficult.

  • Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2014
    By Adam Schrager | (WISC-TV, Madison, WI)
    MADISON, Wis. - Megan Rothbauer would rather be discussing an impending engagement, her future marriage and eventually, children. However, the 30-year-old Madison resident is instead scouring the Internet looking for solutions to stave off bankruptcy.

  • Posted on Tuesday, November 11, 2014
    By Anne Scheetz, M.D. | Common Dreams
    With the Affordable Care Act’s new enrollment period starting on Nov. 15, and then, for many, the activation of new insurance coverage on Jan. 1, we’ll be witnessing an intense period of “churn.”

  • Posted on Friday, November 7, 2014
    By Morgan True |
    MONTPELIER, Vt. -- For many observers, Rep. Mike Fisher's defeat in the Addison 4 district came as a surprise, and as a rebuke of Vermont's push for single-payer health care.

  • Posted on Friday, November 7, 2014
    By Trudy Lieberman | The Star Phoenix (Saskatoon, Sask.)
    As an American journalist sitting in a Toronto coffee bar, I began to chat with people about their healthcare system.

  • Posted on Thursday, November 6, 2014
    By Stephen B. Kemble, M.D. | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
    Recent studies have documented high administrative burdens for American doctors and hospitals. The average U.S. physician spends a sixth of their time on administrative tasks that are not integral to patient care, and this is worst for psychiatrists, internists, and family practitioners – the very specialties for which we have the worst shortages.

  • Posted on Wednesday, November 5, 2014
    Health Affairs
    The following letters appeared in the November issue of the journal Health Affairs in connection with a feature article in the September issue titled “A Comparison Of Hospital Administrative Costs In Eight Nations: US Costs Exceed All Others By Far,” by David U. Himmelstein, Miraya Jun, Reinhard Busse, Karine Chevreul, Alexander Geissler, Patrick Jeurissen, Sarah Thomson, Marie-Amelie Vinet, and Steffie Woolhandler.

  • Posted on Wednesday, November 5, 2014
    By Katie Wike | Health IT Outcomes
    Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein, who serve as professors of public health at the City University of New York and lecturers in medicine at Harvard Medical School, recently studied data from over 4,700 physicians. According to the International Journal of Health Services, this data came from the most recent 2008 Health Tracking Physician Survey.

  • Posted on Tuesday, November 4, 2014
    By Samuel Metz, M.D. | Portland (Ore.) Tribune
    What are the saddest parts of the Cover Oregon debacle?

  • Posted on Monday, November 3, 2014
    By Robert A. Milch, M.D. | The Buffalo News
    The News reported Oct. 25 that the national head of BlueCross BlueShield said the United States “spends too much” for health care, stakeholders need to “work” together and reimbursement must shift to one that “rewards best outcomes.”

  • Posted on Monday, November 3, 2014
    By Carol C. Nadelson and Howard Corwin | The New York Times
    The Ebola crisis could be a test case for health care management on a national scale. It may provide an extraordinary opportunity to improve the adequacy of our national health care.

  • Posted on Friday, October 31, 2014
    By Samuel Metz, M.D. | Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News
    Is the Affordable Care Act a failure? For some of us, the answer is simple: If you voted for President Obama, it must be a success. If you voted against the president, it must be a failure.

  • Posted on Tuesday, October 28, 2014
    By Emily Rappleye | Becker's Hospital Review
    EHRs increase time spent on non-patient-related paperwork, a burden that consumes 16.6 percent of the average American physician's working hours, according to a study published last week in the International Journal of Health Services.

  • Posted on Monday, October 27, 2014
    By Daphne C. Thompson | The Harvard Crimson
    Holding signs reading "Healthcare not warfare" and "Insurers deny, people die," more than 100 activists rallied at Boston Common Sunday to promote a single-payer healthcare system and an emergency global health fund.

  • Posted on Friday, October 24, 2014
    By Marie Benz, M.D. |
    Interview with Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Public Health and City University of New York, Lecturer (formerly Professor of Medicine) at Harvard Medical School, Primary Care Physician Practicing in the South Bronx.

  • Posted on Thursday, October 23, 2014
    By Dave Dvorak, M.D. | Duluth News Tribune
    "Not sustainable.” That was the way PreferredOne CEO Marcus Merz described the circumstances leading to his insurance company’s decision to withdraw from the MNsure exchange.

  • Posted on Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    UT School of Public Health, Oct. 22, 2014
    Robert Zarr, M.D., M.P.H., an alumnus of The University of Texas School of Public Health, was recently appointed president-elect of the organization Physicians for a National Program (PNHP). Zarr earned an M.P.H. at the School of Public Health, which is part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), and an M.D. at Baylor College of Medicine.

  • Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014
    By Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear | The New York Times
    While high-deductible plans cover most of the costs of severe illnesses and lengthy hospital stays, protecting against catastrophic debt, those plans may compel people to forgo routine care that could prevent bigger, longer-term health issues, according to experts and research.

  • Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014
    By Johnathon Ross, M.D. | The Blade
    This is a political fight as well as a moral one. We must insist that our elected officials understand that our lives are literally at stake, and that we will defend ourselves from their negligence.

  • Posted on Friday, October 17, 2014
    By Amitabh Pal | The Progressive
    Dr. Walter Tsou, past president of the American Public Health Association and the former health commissioner for Philadelphia, says that the Ebola crisis shows the skewed priorities of the U.S. health care system.

  • Posted on Friday, October 17, 2014
    By Josephus Weeks | The Dallas Morning News
    Thomas Eric Duncan was a victim of a broken system. The biggest unanswered question about my uncle’s death is why the hospital would send home a patient with a 103-degree fever and stomach pains who had recently been in Liberia — and he told them he had just returned from Liberia explicitly due to the Ebola threat. Some speculate that this was a failure of the internal communications systems. Others have speculated that antibiotics and Tylenol are the standard protocol for a patient without insurance.

  • Posted on Thursday, October 16, 2014
    By Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein | Common Dreams
    In some countries, bereaved families get condolence cards and flowers. In ours, the survivors are also deluged with hospital bills and insurance paperwork.

  • Posted on Thursday, October 16, 2014
    By Philip Caper, M.D. | Bangor (Maine) Daily News
    Elections matter. And when it comes to health care, the upcoming election on Nov. 4 will matter a lot. This seems an appropriate time to take stock of where we stand.

  • Posted on Tuesday, October 14, 2014
    By RoseAnn DeMoro | The Washington Post
    With reports that a nurse who treated Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas has been infected, one thing urgently needs to be made clear: Our hospitals are not prepared to confront the deadly virus.

  • Posted on Tuesday, October 14, 2014
    PNHP note: This Associated Press wire story, dated March 26, 1966, contains the first known published reference to Dr. King's famous quotation regarding injustice in health care, namely, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman."

  • Posted on Monday, October 13, 2014
    By Mandi Woodruff | Yahoo Finance
    When Deanne Overvold’s husband, Lee, started complaining of back pain late last year, she thought the painkillers his doctor prescribed would be the end of it. Five months later, a round of lab tests would reveal that Lee, 60, wasn’t just suffering from a backache — he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a fast-moving bone marrow cancer.

  • Posted on Monday, October 13, 2014
    By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldiver and Jennifer Agiesta | The Associated Press
    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Having health insurance is no panacea for high medical costs. Overall, 1 in 4 privately insured U.S. adults say they don't have much confidence in their ability to pay for a major, unexpected medical expense.

  • Posted on Thursday, October 9, 2014
    By Randall White, M.D. | Canadian Healthcare Network (Toronto)
    Obtaining orthopedic services in British Columbia is harder than it needs to be. People sometimes wait for months, but successful programs to expedite access exist, such as the Osteoarthritis Service Integration System, operated by Vancouver Coastal Health. Although the government should create more such programs, such efforts are diverted in the defence of our single-payer, not-for-profit universal healthcare system from a group that hopes to break the “government monopoly” on healthcare funding in Canada.

  • Posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2014
    By Olga Khazan | The Atlantic
    After his recent herniated-disk surgery, Peter Drier was ready for the $56,000 hospital charge, the $4,300 anesthesiologist bill, and the $133,000 fee for orthopedist. All were either in-network under his insurance or had been previously negotiated. But as Elisabeth Rosenthal recently explained in her greatNew York Times piece, he wasn't quite prepared for a $117,000 bill from an “assistant surgeon"—an out-of-network doctor that the hospital tacked on at the last minute.

  • Posted on Monday, October 6, 2014
    By the Editorial Board | The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette
    A Republican hospital consultant and university teacher wrote a Sunday Gazette-Mail analysis saying President Obama’s Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of Americans without medical insurance from 18 percent to 13 percent, so far.

  • Posted on Friday, October 3, 2014
    By Laurie Garrett | The Chicago Tribune
    Fear of Ebola has been climbing steadily in the United States since Tuesday's announcement that a Liberian traveler in Dallas, Thomas Eric Duncan, was diagnosed with the disease after having been in Texas for eight days.

  • Posted on Wednesday, October 1, 2014
    Office of Sen. Bernie Sanders
    One year after health insurance markets were opened to the public, Politico asked “some of the country's smartest health-care thinkers” what Obamacare hasn't fixed in the American health care system and what we can do now. Sen. Bernie Sanders shared his idea for a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system:

  • Posted on Tuesday, September 30, 2014
    By Jonathan D. Walker, M.D. | The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
    I was at a restaurant in Boston, sitting next to some high-powered business professionals. I heard words like “hospital network,” “insurance” and “pay structure” coming from their table, so I had to eavesdrop.

  • Posted on Wednesday, September 24, 2014
    By Laura Kiesel | MainStreet
    Hospitals in the U.S. spend exorbitant amounts on overhead compared to those of other countries, and that's causing financial ills for the average American patient.

  • Posted on Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    “Democracy Now,” Sept. 21, 2014
    The following is an unofficial transcript of an interview that Dr. Oliver Fein, chair of the New York Metro chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, and Katie Robbins, executive director of the chapter, gave to Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now” at the huge Climate Justice March in New York City on Sept. 21, 2014. The video of this interview begins at the 54-minute mark at this link. Other PNHP activists, including Dr. Steffie Woolhandler and Dr. Steve Auerbach, were also interviewed at the march.

  • Posted on Monday, September 22, 2014
    By Jack Bernard | The Ledger-Inquirer (Columbus, Ga.)
    Ever since Medicare (universal health insurance for old people and the disabled) came out in 1965, congressional efforts to expand it to cover the rest of us have been thwarted.

  • Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2014
    By Philip Caper, M.D. | Bangor (Maine) Daily News
    A study published in the current issue of Health Affairs found that hospitals in the U.S. spend about twice as much per capita on administration as the seven other countries studied. If spending on administrative costs were reduced to the average level of spending in the other countries, we could reduce by about $150 billion the $750 billion a year we waste in health care.

  • Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
    By Paul Song, M.D. | Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare
    The Labor Campaign for Single Payer held its largest ever strategy conference August 22-24 in Oakland, CA. Over 300 attendees packed the joint session at the historic ILWU Local 6 Hall, which was co-sponsored by Healthcare-NOW! and One-Payer States. Dr. Paul Song gave the keynote address for the workshop on "One-Payer States." The following are his notes from his talk.

  • Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
    By Jim Landers | Dallas Morning News
    WASHINGTON — Americans spend more than $9,000 apiece on health care every year. Ouch, you say. But how does it feel to know that more than $1,000 of that sum goes to administrative costs? Or that Americans spend more than $210 billion a year on the health insurance claims system?

  • Posted on Monday, September 15, 2014
    By Douglas Martin | The New York Times
    Rashi Fein, an influential economist who strove to bring ethical and humanitarian perspectives to the nation’s health care system and helped lay the intellectual groundwork for Medicare in the 1960s, died on Monday in Boston. He was 88.

  • Posted on Monday, September 15, 2014
    By Sarah Kliff | Vox
    America spends a lot of money on the paperwork that makes hospitals run— $218 billion per year, to be exact. That works out to 1.43 percent of the entire American economy is spent on hospitals' administrative costs. Of every $100 spent in America, that means $1.43 is going toward the billing specialists and schedulers that make hospitals here work.

  • Posted on Monday, September 15, 2014
    By Ed Weisbart, M.D. | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    If public policy decisions were driven by good business sense, the United States would long ago have stopped wasting so much of our health care dollar on the preservation of an irrational insurance industry. With millions remaining uninsured despite 17.6 percent of our gross domestic product being devoted to health care, we must restructure our economically unsustainable system.

  • Posted on Monday, September 15, 2014
    By William Ulwelling, M.D. | Albuquerque Journal
    How affordable is the American health care system? And are matters getting better or worse? One factor is the cost-effectiveness of our hospitals. A major study published recently in Health Affairs revealed a big problem, and proposed an answer.

  • Posted on Monday, September 15, 2014
    By Dr. Steffie Woolhandler | Modern Healthcare
    When I was a kid in Shreveport, La., my father was chief of radiology at the local hospital. He also ran the hospital and supervised the cafeteria. Today he'd be the COO.

  • Posted on Friday, September 12, 2014
    By Ralph Nader | The Nader Page
    It is remarkable what very profitable drug companies—as they merge into fewer giant multinationals—continue to get away with by way of crony capitalism. Despite frequent exposure of misdeeds, the army of drug company lobbyists in Washington continues to gain political influence and rake in corporate welfare at the expense of taxpayers.

  • Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2014
    By Carey Goldberg | WBUR's CommonHealth blog
    Note to politicians: Backing “Medicare for all” is looking less and less like electoral poison. If, deep in your heart, you believe American health care would be better off with a Canadian-style, single-payer system, you might now consider coming out of the closet. (In Democratic primaries in blue states, at least.)

  • Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2014
    By John Nichols | The Nation
    Don Berwick is making a vital point about the need for progressives to expand the discussion about healthcare reform.

  • Posted on Tuesday, September 9, 2014
    By Markus Mannheim | The Canberra Times (Australia)
    United States hospitals spend a quarter of their budgets on administration, more than twice as much as some other countries, an international study has found.

  • Posted on Tuesday, September 9, 2014
    By F. Douglas Stephenson | Health News Florida
    One reliable indicator of health care quality in any nation is life expectancy. Unfortunately, life expectancy in the United States ranks in the bottom quartile of a list of 229 industrialized nations, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

  • Posted on Monday, September 8, 2014
    By Helen Adamopoulos | Becker's Hospital Review
    An analysis of eight countries with various types of healthcare systems has found the U.S. has the highest hospital administrative costs, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

  • Posted on Monday, September 8, 2014
    By Alan Bavley | The Kansas City Star
    If U.S. hospitals could cut administrative spending to Canadian levels, they’d save more than $150 billion, the researchers estimated.

  • Posted on Monday, September 8, 2014
    By Alvin Tran | WBUR CommonHealth blog
    When it comes to hospital administrative costs, a new Health Affairs study finds, our country is No. 1 and we’re way ahead of the curve — unfortunately.

  • Posted on Monday, September 8, 2014
    By David Cay Johnston | Al Jazeera America
    American hospitals spend a huge and growing share of their revenue on overhead, a study published today in Health Affairs shows. Getting those costs down should be a national priority.

  • Posted on Wednesday, September 3, 2014
    By Tara Siegel Bernard | The New York Times
    Anita Maina was working on an arts and crafts project she found on Pinterest — creating a table out of wood and cork — when she ripped off a fingernail while removing staples from a piece of wood.

  • Posted on Wednesday, September 3, 2014
    By Sarah Kliff | Vox
    Health care in the United States is expensive. Insanely, outlandishly expensive.

  • Posted on Tuesday, September 2, 2014
    By Gordon D. Fiedler Jr. | The Salina (Kan.) Journal
    Affordable, accessible health care for all is not a dream but can be a reality, according to David Kingsley, who represents Physicians for a National Health Plan.

  • Posted on Tuesday, September 2, 2014
    By Bill Briggs | NBC News
    The price to remove a gall bladder or replace a hip has spiked more than 20 percent during the past five years, according to an analysis of data collected for NBC News.

  • Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    By Inge De Becker, M.D. | The Chronicle Herald (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
    As a Canadian physician who now lives south of the 49th parallel, I’m alarmed that Canada’s publicly financed national health-care system is once again under attack

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    By Jessica Schorr Saxe, M.D. | Vancouver Sun
    The middle-aged woman came to my family medicine practice for a routine visit to check her high blood pressure. It was the highest I’ve ever seen in the office: 280/180. I told her to go to the emergency department for probable admission to the hospital.

  • Posted on Monday, August 25, 2014
    By Thomas Meisenhelder | San Bernardino County (Calif.) Sun
    On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the nation’s most successful medical care program, Medicare. This year marks the 49th anniversary of our commitment to provide good, accessible health care to those over 65. This program has been hugely successful and now covers 98 percent of the country’s senior citizens. Medicare costs rise more slowly than other health care costs and seniors with Medicare are more satisfied with their health care than those with private insurance.

  • Posted on Monday, August 25, 2014
    By C.V. Allen | The Modesto (Calif.) Bee
    The following is part myth (the government doesn’t sell auto insurance) and part reality – an example of how an insurance program can be gamed for private benefit to the detriment of the public – which is very much the issue.

  • Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2014
    The following is an unofficial transcript of parts of an interview that Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, gave to Ed “Flash” Ferenc, host of the labor-oriented, Cleveland-based America’s Work Force Radio, on Aug. 15, 2014. In addition to the points he makes below, Dr. Nissen also spoke about pharmaceutical drug safety and other issues.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014
    By Brian Steele |
    Decades have passed, but on Wednesday, Aug. 20, members of a group called Physicians for a National Health Program plan to rally before a gubernatorial health care forum at The Dimock Center in Roxbury, calling on all the candidates to agree to push for a new single-payer system if they're elected.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014
    By John Tozzi | Bloomberg Businessweek
    Sovaldi, a highly effective treatment for the liver disease hepatitis C, has faced backlash in the U.S. over its price tag: $84,000 for a three-month course of treatment, or about $1,000 a pill. The private insurance industry has pushed back hard on the price. State Medicaid directors have said they are concerned about the cost, and paying for the drug is also problematic for prison systems, which must provide health for a lot of inmates who acquired hepatitis C by sharing needles.

  • Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014
    By Kay Tillow | Firedoglake
    Despite passage of the 2010 health care reform bill, employers continue to push for cuts in benefits and to shift costs to workers in higher monthly payments, co-pays, and deductibles.

  • Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014
    By the editors | Managed Care
    At a time when the Affordable Care Act is widely reviled and even liberals are lukewarm in their support, Ray E. Drasga, MD, is an outlier. Based partly on his experience at a free clinic in a middle-class town, he says the nation needs a single-payer system, that the ACA doesn’t go nearly far enough in covering the uninsured. And he’s not shy about it.

  • Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014
    By Margaret Flowers, M.D.
    The TPP will raise the cost of health care, particularly of medications, by extending the length of patents, placing barriers to generics and giving the pharmaceutical and medical device industries greater legal standing to challenge reimbursements.

  • Posted on Friday, August 15, 2014
    By Jen Gunter, M.D. | Dr. Jen Gunter's 'Wielding the lasso of truth' blog
    You know it’s going to be one of those days when one of the first tweets on vacation inquires about the closest hospital.

  • Posted on Friday, August 15, 2014
    By Public Citizen | Press release
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued draft guidance that would let the pharmaceutical industry essentially circumvent drug labeling rules and tell doctors that its products have fewer risks than those described in the FDA-approved labeling. This issue is discussed by Dr. Sidney Wolfe, founder and senior adviser of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, in an article published in JAMA Internal Medicine today.

  • Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2014
    By Philip Caper, M.D. | Bangor (Maine) Daily News
    As I’ve written before, the costs of unnecessary complexity in healthcare reform are very high, and they are rising. There are at least three recent examples.

  • Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2014
    By Sandra F. Penn, M.D. | Albuquerque Journal
    Remember when Sen. Domenici became an advocate for mental health parity? It came as no surprise to some of us that he had a “close relative” with mental health challenges.

  • Posted on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
    By Morolake Amole | AMSA 'On Call' blog
    The problem with health care in the United States is not that we suffer from inadequate medical resources. Quite the contrary.

  • Posted on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
    By Paola Totaro | The Guardian (U.K.)
    I found the lump a fortnight ago while on a work assignment in Vilnius, Lithuania. It was a hot, sunny day in the landlocked capital but as my fingers discovered what felt like a ping pong ball sized growth, ice went through my veins. I am not a catastrophist by nature but within seconds, I had envisaged the worst and by the time I was in the air homeward bound for Heathrow a few days later, I was writing my will in my head.

  • Posted on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
    By Sydney M. Wolfe, M.D. | The BMJ
    In 1992, because of widespread concern that the US Food and Drug Administration was taking too long to approve drugs, the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) was enacted, authorizing the FDA to collect user fees from drug companies to expedite the approval process. Besides providing funding for an increased FDA staff, the act established performance goals during the approval process to ensure more rapid review.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 12, 2014
    By Burkely Hermann | Citizen Vox blog (Public Citizen)
    Lobbying usually gets a bad rap, and sometimes for good reason: it can be part of corporate special interest money’s current corruption of the political system. But during the first-ever national Single-Payer Lobby Day events in May, real people lobbied for a good cause that benefited the general public, not just a wealthy few.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 12, 2014
    By Lois A. Bowers | Long-Term Living
    Should for-profit home health agencies continue to receive Medicare reimbursement for the services they provide? That's the question authors of a new study published in Health Affairs are asking after they found that the entities scored slightly but statistically significantly worse on some quality indicators compared with their nonprofit counterparts.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 12, 2014
    By Ann Troy, M.D. | Pacific Sun (San Rafael, Calif.)
    Congress created Medicare 49 years ago to provide seniors with health care, protection against financial ruin and peace of mind. All you needed was proof of age, citizenship (or legal residency) and you were covered. It was so simple and straightforward that all seniors were enrolled in six months, in the pre-computer era—using index cards!

  • Posted on Thursday, August 7, 2014
    By Michael Ollove | Stateline, The Pew Charitable Trusts
    BERLIN, Vt. – Dr. Marvin Malek has been yearning and advocating for a publicly financed, single-payer health care system for at least two decades. Now, as Vermont stands on the threshold of being the first state to launch such a plan, he’s confessing to trepidation.

  • Posted on Wednesday, August 6, 2014
    Partnership for a New American Economy, August 5, 2014
    The Partnership for a New American Economy’s new report, Staying Covered: How Immigrants Have Prolonged the Solvency of One of Medicare’s Key Trust Funds and Subsidized Care for U.S. Seniors, shows that immigrants are key contributors to Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, a pool of money covering hospital and home health care for 50 million Americans.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 5, 2014
    By Steven Ross Johnson | Modern Healthcare
    For-profit home health agencies had higher Medicare costs per patient while scoring lower in quality performance when compared with not-for-profit firms, a new analysis finds.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 5, 2014
    By Public Citizen
    What’s safer: a newly approved drug or one that has been on the market much longer? Newer drugs have a one in three chance of acquiring a black box warning or being withdrawn for safety reasons within 25 years of their approval, according to a new study in the journal Health Affairs.

  • Posted on Monday, August 4, 2014
    By Danielle Ofri, M.D. | The New York Times
    “Dear Doctor,” the letter from the insurance company began. “We are writing to inform you that a prior authorization is required for the medication you prescribed.”

  • Posted on Monday, August 4, 2014
    By Anne Scheetz, M.D. | State Journal-Register (Springfield, Ill.)
    Forty-nine years ago, on July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law. ... The contrast between the ways in which people become eligible for Medicare and Medicaid is instructive for the next transformation that American health care needs so urgently: expanded and improved Medicare for all.

  • Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2014
    By Erica Heiman, M.D. | The Sacramento Bee
    Lately, I have been diagnosing a lot of high blood pressure and diabetes. Patients who have never received medical care are now pouring into the county-funded Sacramento Primary Care Clinic, which provides care to low-income and other underserved patients.

  • Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2014
    By Peter Conn | Santa Barbara (Calif.) Independent
    Happy birthday, Medicare, which celebrates 49 years of service today. In a 1995 essay in the journal Health Affairs, Robert Ball wrote that those who helped develop Medicare saw it as a first step toward universal national health insurance. Covering only seniors was a fallback position because that is all that could be expected to pass Congress at the time. Sound familiar?

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    By Danny Ash, M4 |
    At a crowded townhall meeting in 1959, an elderly woman stepped up to the microphone and spoke to a panel of senators. “I am not worried for my son’s time,” she began. “He is 35, and I am sure he will face a better future when his time comes to retire. But what is to be done for those of us who need help right now?”

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    By Jessica Schorr Saxe, M.D. | The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer
    On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law, making 19 million Americans aged 65 and over eligible for health care coverage.

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    By Ed Weisbart, MD | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    Medicare is today entering its 50th year, and the need to expand it to all Americans has never been greater.

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    By David Ball, RN, MHA | The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
    Today is Medicare's 49th anniversary, having become law in 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson. Before 1965, as many elderly became sick but too old to work, they simply became impoverished and died.

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    By Vijay Das | CNN
    On this date, July 30, nearly a half-century ago, the United States achieved a major victory. Medicare, the nation's first national health insurance program, was born. As part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, Medicare extended health coverage to seniors who inevitably needed care. It's been a well-accepted success and highlights the benefits of improving health care access.

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    By Aaron E. Carroll, M.D. | The New York Times
    “Pay for performance” is one of those slogans that seem to upset no one. To most people it’s a no-brainer that we should pay for quality and not quantity. We all know that paying doctors based on the amount of care they provide, as we do with a traditional fee-for-service setup, creates incentives for them to give more care. It leads to increased health care spending. Changing the payment structure to pay them for achieving goals instead should reduce wasteful spending.

  • Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    By Karen Garloch | The Charlotte Observer
    As a primary care physician, now retired and volunteering at free clinics, Dr. Ed Weisbart sees plenty of evidence that the U.S. health care system isn’t working.

  • Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    By Richard Propp, M.D. | Times Union (Albany, N.Y.)
    Happy 49th birthday, Medicare. What a bargain — what simplicity — and what a benefit, when compared to the cost and availability of health care to those under 65.

  • Posted on Monday, July 28, 2014
    By Donna Smith | Common Dreams
    Remember Liz Fowler? She was the WellPoint executive who took a brief sabbatical from her direct paychecks from the private health insurance industry to write the Affordable Care Act while working for Senator Max Baucus. Once that project was wrapped up, Liz went to work briefly for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as she transitioned her way back to work as a lobbyist for health industry giant Johnson & Johnson.