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Quote of the Day

PNHP's Senior Health Policy Fellow Don McCanne, M.D. writes a daily health policy update, taking an excerpt or quote from a health care news story or analysis on the Internet and commenting on its significance to the single-payer health care reform movement. PNHP posts Dr. McCanne's listserv here; to subscribe to the listserv, please visit the Quote of the Day the mailing list website.

  • Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2016
    This JAMA article provides a comprehensive explanation as to why pharmaceutical prices are so high in the United States, and they even provide a few suggestions as to what might be done about it. The major error they make is that they assume that the problem should be addressed by US-style quasi-market solutions but not through a government solution that they say “would have major marketplace ramifications and is not at present politically feasible, in part because of the power of the pharmaceutical lobby in Washington, DC.”

  • Posted on Wednesday, August 24, 2016
    Much is being written about Mylan’s price gouging of its life-saving injectable epinephrine - EpiPen - charging over $600 for a product that costs less than a dollar to make, so rather than discussing the background, comments will be limited to the ethical underpinnings of this decision to gouge us.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 23, 2016
    There is much discussion today about moving forward with reform by introducing a public option - a competing government insurance plan - into the ACA insurance exchanges. Yet that would leave in place the current health care financing system, including the multitude of private insurers. As this editorial explains, the government “should not rely on private companies to deliver health insurance to Americans” as “this is a costly, dangerous and unsustainable idea.”

  • Posted on Monday, August 22, 2016
    An important measure of the success of the Affordable Care Act is how well it is working for middle and upper middle income working families who are not eligible for employer-sponsored health plans. The experience of the two-income couple described in this AP article demonstrates that it is not working so well for some.

  • Posted on Friday, August 19, 2016
    In a previous message we described how some dialysis centers were steering patients away from Medicare and Medicaid and into private plans which have much higher payment rates. CMS is now assessing this problem and considering various measures to address it.

  • Posted on Thursday, August 18, 2016
    The pro-market authors of this study have shown that the private Medicare Advantage plans pay hospitals less than traditional Medicare pays, concluding that the private plans “get a better deal for the Medicare program.” But that conclusion is not true if you look at the whole picture.

  • Posted on Wednesday, August 17, 2016
    Since the Clinton Camp was successful in keeping single payer out of the Democratic Party platform, much of the media seems to believe that it has completely gone away as an issue. The good news is that Bernie Sanders assures us that it hasn’t. We need to do our part to be sure that the nation knows that.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 16, 2016
    Three of the nation’s largest insurers - Aetna, UnitedHealth and Humana - are pulling out of the ACA insurance exchanges because they have been unable to use their business model to make a profit. Although over fourth-fifths of enrollees are receiving government subsidies for these plans, that is not enough for the insurers. They also want the government to pay for those who need significant amounts of care (reinsurance). They want to abandon covering risk while they sell us wasteful administrative services.

  • Posted on Monday, August 15, 2016
    The Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) has raised concerns about giving private sector industries too much control over the public affairs of participating nations. In health care we are particularly concerned about the benefits that the agreement would provide to the pharmaceutical sector at a cost to the citizens of participating nations.

  • Posted on Monday, August 15, 2016
    These two new studies demonstrate that we still have far to go in reducing racial and ethnic disparities as they relate to health and health care. Particularly shocking is the study that shows that “youthful transgressions that might result in referral for treatment among non-minority children more often incur criminal sanctions for minorities,” especially for young, black males. Behavioral problems in white kids get treated whereas black and Hispanic kids are thrown in jail.

  • Posted on Thursday, August 11, 2016
    Everyone should master understanding the concept presented here. Should the distributive ethic in health care represent a social good for all or an individual responsibility for each of us?

  • Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2016
    The story of using Medicare to rapidly integrate our nation’s hospitals is inspiring. It should give us hope that an Improved Medicare for All could be used to leverage corrections of other health care injustices.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 9, 2016
    Although elections can be unpredictable, this time we can make a couple of predictions that are a near certainty. Donald Trump will not be able to change his image as a dangerous incompetent before the election, and Hillary Clinton will be elected by default, even though she will remain unpopular.

  • Posted on Monday, August 8, 2016
    The 3Rs - reinsurance, risk corridors, and risk adjustment - were designed to stabilize the ACA insurance exchanges, but we’re seeing market instability instead. Next year, only risk adjustment remains, and the insurers have demonstrated to us that they know how to game the system.

  • Posted on Friday, August 5, 2016
    We’ve been concerned for some time about the privatization of England’s National Health Service. The process is now underway. The Tory government is threatening the conversion of their delivery system into US style accountable care organizations, ignoring the fact that they have failed to improve quality or control costs.

  • Posted on Thursday, August 4, 2016
    One of the great successes of the Affordable Care Act is the expansion of Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals. But how do you define success? Let’s look at California.

  • Posted on Thursday, August 4, 2016
    Physicians for a National Health Program not only supports coverage of all essential health benefits for everyone, but we also support regional planning and separate budgeting of capital improvements within a non-profit health care delivery system. Texas shows us why.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 2, 2016
    The Affordable Care Act included provisions to prohibit discrimination against women in health insurance plans. However it is in the DNA of private insurers to work around regulations in order to serve their own interests, and this is what they have done regarding discriminatory policies against women, as this study shows.

  • Posted on Monday, August 1, 2016
    Underinsurance - excessive out-of-pocket expenses for health care - results in financial hardship not only in the United States but also in other developed nations as well. Of the nine nations in this study, only France has insurance that is adequate to prevent financial burdens from out-of-pocket spending.

  • Posted on Friday, July 29, 2016
    Individuals vary in their preference for insurance and willingness to pay for it. Michael Geruso explains that insurance pricing that takes preference into consideration is welfare-improving and thus efficient. Yet efforts to improve equity by compensating for price discrimination result in a tradeoff between equity and efficiency. Do we care?