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, July 31, 2014
    Highly respected Stanford economist Victor Fuchs has long supported private solutions to universal coverage, such as Alain Enthoven’s managed competition. Although there is much to be said for establishing integrated health care delivery systems within the community, the logistics of providing all care through competing integrated delivery systems have proven to be insurmountable, as witness the managed care revolution that reduced this concept to competition between inefficient, expensive and intrusive third party insurer money managers.

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
    California’s aggressive efforts to implement the provisions of the Affordable Care Act resulted in 58 percent of the previously uninsured now having coverage - about 3.4 million individuals. While this certainly gives cause for celebration, it must be tempered by the knowledge that 42 percent of the previously uninsured are still uninsured. Who are these people and why are they not insured?

  • Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
    This blog entry by David Dranove and Craig Garthwaite is another example, like yesterday’s, where economists from “the other side” clearly understand the policy issues, but are guided by an ideological preference for market solutions as opposed to more effective government solutions.

  • Posted on Monday, July 28, 2014
    This is an important article. The topic is important because it represents one of the more serious flaws in recent trends of health care financing reform - a flaw which results in greater financial burdens being imposed on people with serious medical disorders. It is also important because it represents the views of two authorities in the health policy community who come from the “other side,” generally holding views at odds with the health care justice positions of PNHP. This time they are right.

  • Posted on Friday, July 25, 2014
    Socialist Kshama Sawant, a member of the Seattle City Council, came to national attention by leading her fellow council members in passing a $15/hour minimum wage for their city. Having shown that political activism can still be effective, she has important advice for us in our efforts to enact single payer reform.

  • Posted on Thursday, July 24, 2014
    Arkansas is demonstrating to us the irrationality of basing reform on ideological concepts divorced from health policy science. Let’s look closer at this proposal for “Health Independence Accounts,” their version of consumer directed health care for very low income individuals, using the concept of health savings accounts.

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 23, 2014
    This report describes the paradox of the “new normal” in which increases in health care costs have been slowing as payer/employers and providers adjust their business models to the marketplace, while the financial burden for health care on patient/consumers continues to increase. As this report states, “this trend of growth in out-of-pocket spending combined with increases in health insurance premiums that outpace increases in wages is not sustainable.”

  • Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
    This KFF update on the financial burden placed on Medicare beneficiaries shows that average out-of-pocket costs are $4,734 when half of all people on Medicare have incomes of less than $23,500. Although Medicaid supplements Medicare for some low income beneficiaries, destitution is a prerequisite for qualifying for Medicaid. The wealthy should have no problems, but should affordable access to health care be granted only to those with modest or low incomes who must give up what little fungible assets they have been able to accumulate through life?

  • Posted on Monday, July 21, 2014
    As A. W. Gaffney points out in this article, underinsurance or “malinsurance” may drive us to demand single payer as we mobilize against the politics of inequality. The entire article is well worth downloading and reading when you have a free moment.

  • Posted on Friday, July 18, 2014
    This is yet one more study that shows that insurance alone will not achieve equitable access to care, particularly for minority racial and ethnic groups. Let’s provide a little bit more perspective.

  • Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2014
    Need we say, single payer?

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2014
    Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, serves as an example of the consequences of using Medicaid to expand coverage for the exceptionally poor. After the backlog of applications are processed, over 11 million people will be enrolled in Medi-Cal - about 29 percent of the state’s population.

  • Posted on Tuesday, July 15, 2014
    The majority of Americans obtain their insurance through their employment. Business has a vital concern in the financing of health care. This report adds to the plethora of evidence that business owners would be better off if they were relieved of their responsibilities of providing health benefit programs for their employees. So why is there not an outcry to switch to a proven financing system that would serve their employees well? Is it ideology?

  • Posted on Monday, July 14, 2014
    The supposedly inevitable trade-offs between access, quality and cost ignore one important intervention regarding cost. The health care financing system in the United States is unique in its profound, costly administrative waste due to the highly inefficient, fragmented financing through a multitude private insurers and public programs (and no programs at all for the uninsured).

  • Posted on Friday, July 11, 2014
    The growing popularity of urgent care centers is understandable. Patients can receive timely care with shorter waits, at a cost well below that of hospital emergency departments. These centers are working well for patients, for the health professionals who staff them, and for… yes, passive investors who have learned how to divert to their own coffers some of the $3 trillion that we are spending on health care.

  • Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2014
    Micah Weinberg, a health-policy analyst at the Bay Area Council, an employer-backed group, says, “The problem (with exclusive provider organizations - EPOs) has been the transparency and reliability of the networks. That's the problem that we need to fix. If we focus on narrowness we will be focusing on the wrong thing.” Really? Narrow networks are not the problem?

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 9, 2014
    It does not take much intellect to understand that hospitals should be located where they are needed and that they should be financed by a system that would ensure that adequate funds would be available to pay for appropriate health care services for the community. Based on our current methods of hospital planning and financing, it may be intellect that is in short supply.

  • Posted on Tuesday, July 8, 2014
    This OECD study comparing health care spending and health policy in the United States with five other high-spending OECD nations confirms that health care financing systems undergo continual revision. Yet the United States is unique in that our policy changes have not moved us from first position on per capita spending nor from last position on the proportion of the population that is covered.

  • Posted on Monday, July 7, 2014
    Maintaining the integrity of the traditional Medicare program is important because it serves as an example of the capabilities of the government in managing a public insurance program. If the reputation of Medicare is trashed it would provide powerful rhetoric for the opponents of single payer.

  • Posted on Thursday, July 3, 2014
    These two GAO reports explain prices that the federal government pays for drugs and the mechanisms for pricing of those drugs within the Department of Veterans Affairs, Medicaid, Department of Defense, and Medicare Part D programs. The mechanisms are complex, and you have to read the full reports to fully understand them.