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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 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?

  • Posted on Friday, July 29, 2016
    For her doctorate dissertation at Pardee RAND Graduate School, Jodi Liu has produced a superb paper on single payer reform. Single payer supporters will want to download this paper, and I’ll explain why.

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    We have provided numerous examples wherein CMS has provided the private Medicare Advantage plans with an unfair advantage over the traditional Medicare program, at a considerable cost to taxpayers. This is yet one more example. In a secretive process, CMS is allowing private insurers to automatically enroll their current clients in their Medicare Advantage plans without requiring them to opt in. Patients must understand what is happening and then take specific action to opt out if they would prefer to be enrolled in the traditional Medicare program.

  • Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2016
    The bureaucrats are fixated on the meme that we can reduce spending by paying for the value of health care rather than the volume. They have been disappointed with models such as accountable care organizations, and they are now turning to MACRA and its alternative payment models (APMs), with a renewed surge of interest in bundled payments.

  • Posted on Monday, July 25, 2016
    When the Medicare Part D program covering drugs was designed, conservatives were in control of the government. As a result it was decided that the ideology of competition in the marketplace should be used to improve value rather than using government administered pricing. Today’s message demonstrates once again that markets do not work in health care.

  • Posted on Friday, July 22, 2016
    Celebrations of the success of the Affordable Care Act have to be tempered by the knowledge that it leaves too many uninsured, that health care is still not affordable for far too many, and that the benefits of tighter insurance regulation were largely offset by the insurance design changes of excessive cost sharing and restrictive narrow networks. One other goal was to improve payment systems so that patients would receive greater quality at lower costs. So what do physicians think about the implementation and effectiveness of the design changes in the payment system?

  • Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2016
    The majority of Americans believe that everyone should have the health care that they need when they need it, and that we need a financing system that will pay for it. Others believe that they should take care of their own health care needs and not be required to pay into a risk pool that covers the health care of others. So should the health insurance system provide comprehensive coverage for all, or should it allow individuals to purchase coverage for only those benefits they perceive they might need?

  • Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2016
    California has been a leader in establishing and implementing the health insurance exchanges authorized by the Affordable Care Act. Although they did hold down premium rate increases in the first two years to 4 percent (still above the rate of inflation), the higher costs of health care have caught up with them. That requires an average of a 13.2 percent premium increase for the next year (though other regulatory and market factors cause greater year to year fluctuation in the premiums). What does this mean for those enrolled in those plans and for the rest of us who obtain our health care coverage elsewhere?

  • Posted on Monday, July 18, 2016
    The phased privatization of England’s National Health Service is taking a toll in undermining “the cohesive public ethos of the NHS.” This brief description by Dr. Alex Scott-Samuel will give you a hint of the disaster that is taking place. Their political leaders apparently have learned nothing from the dysfunction that characterizes our system in the U.S., nor are we learning anything from them.

  • Posted on Friday, July 15, 2016
    Physicians celebrated the passage of MACRA because it brought the end to the despised SGR method of making adjustments to Medicare payment rates. The legislation was not simply a repeal of SGR, but it was repeal and replace legislation. Most physicians are not “even somewhat familiar with the pending reimbursement changes.”

  • Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2016
    The Great Recession has contributed to slowing of the growth in health care spending in recent years, but the future changes are predicted to be more closely related to various demographic related coverage changes plus certain payment trends including the increase in cost sharing in private insurance plans. Also the increase in the government contribution to our national health expenditures deserves special mention.

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 13, 2016
    There are many injustices inherent in our dysfunctional, fragmented system of financing health care, and surprise medical bills from out-of-network physicians is one of them. Patients who have health insurance should not have to face these bills that otherwise would have been covered by their insurance. So what is the solution?

  • Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2016
    In this JAMA article, President Obama understandably touts the benefits of his Affordable Care Act (ACA) and describes some of the problems that remain that need to be addressed. Two serious deficiencies of his article are that he fails to acknowledge the fact that some of the changes taking place are actually detrimental, and his proposals for the way forward are grossly inadequate when considering the need.

  • Posted on Monday, July 11, 2016
    Covered California is one of the best functioning health insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), yet 70 percent of patients enrolled were not able to schedule an appointment with an initially selected physician from the provider list. This was not a problem unique to the ACA exchanges since the same was essentially true for individual insurance plans offered outside of the exchanges.

  • Posted on Friday, July 8, 2016
    Although a tremendous amount of data has been generated explaining why the advances of the Affordable Care Act are grossly inadequate and why we need a single payer system, this Point/Counterpoint is useful because the counter argument is presented by an advocate of free markets.

  • Posted on Thursday, July 7, 2016
    The simple conclusion of this highly technical paper is that fragmentation of health insurance - using the example of Medicare Part D drug benefits - results in differences in plan design and incentives that allow insurers to engage in adverse or advantageous selection. The insurers use this to attract the healthy and avoid the sick. This results in reduced efficiency and in increases in total costs.

  • Posted on Wednesday, July 6, 2016
    Today’s important message is well stated in the Conclusion of the article: “Increasing income inequality has drawn much attention in recent years. Our findings suggest that inequality in health care spending is also on the rise: Expenditures for the poorest (and sickest) segment of the population are actually falling, while those for the wealthy are growing rapidly and now exceed those for other Americans. This pattern, which has not been seen since before Medicare and Medicaid were introduced, could portend a widening of disparities in health outcomes.”

  • Posted on Tuesday, July 5, 2016
    In this scheme a dialysis chain was able to increase Medicare payments twenty fold for dialysis treatments, thus cheating the taxpayers who fund Medicare. The scheme was made possible because Congress continues to push us toward privatization of Medicare by overpaying the private Medicare Advantage plans designed to displace our traditional Medicare program.

  • Posted on Friday, July 1, 2016
    Pharmaceutical companies, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers each conspire, with each other and independently, to get the maximum financial gain that prescription drug market dynamics will allow. Health care funds pour into these industries, and patients end up the losers.

  • Posted on Thursday, June 30, 2016
    We have some serious problems in health care that need our immediate attention such as administrative excesses, wasteful spending, impaired access, maldistribution of health care resources, and financial barriers to care. But the health policy community is entrenched in efforts to expand the administrative oversight of our system as somehow being the solution to problems they seem not to have defined. They are adding to the problem of administrative excesses while ignoring what really needs to be done.