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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, September 18, 2014
    Integrating health care delivery services with the goal of improving the quality and price efficiency of health care services for the community at large is an admirable goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The merger mania taking place is being marketed as a means of achieving that integration. Yet the monkey wrench in the model is the supposed dependency on market competition instead of government oversight as a means of providing higher quality at a lower cost.

  • Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2014
    Why are the insurers establishing tiers of generic drugs with different levels of cost sharing? Cost sharing does shift some of the responsibility of paying for care from the insurer to the patient, but this goes far beyond that.

  • Posted on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
    Did this paper really say what it seems like it said? Wow! It is important because it seems to be a highly credible challenge to the principle that much of the waste in health care spending is due to variation in practice styles, as allegedly demonstrated by the Dartmouth group.

  • Posted on Monday, September 15, 2014
    It’s in their blood. Private insurers will always find a way to cheat others under the guise of good business practices. Now private insurers are using the scam of “virtual credit cards” in order to keep 3 to 5 percent of agreed upon payments made to physicians under their network contracts, while loading more administrative work onto the backs of the physicians’ staff members.

  • Posted on Friday, September 12, 2014
    At the beginning of the health care reform process, we complained that the various factors in the proposed multi-payer model that would determine what health care coverage a person would have would be highly variable and would result in instability of health care coverage. The current experience in California provides an inkling of the extent of this problem.

  • Posted on Thursday, September 11, 2014
    The recovery of the economy has left behind everyone except the wealthy. Most individuals and families are less able to afford housing, education, retirement, vacations, college expenses, and, of especial concern to us, health care. Many economists believe that this may represent the new normal.

  • Posted on Wednesday, September 10, 2014
    The most important finding in this study is that enrollment of chronically ill patients in narrow networks results in a strong shift in care from specialists to primary care physicians. That reduces costs, but does it change outcomes? According to the authors, “we are unable to demonstrate health effects with any certainty.”

  • Posted on Monday, September 8, 2014
    This international comparison of hospital administrative costs further documents the profound administrative waste that characterizes U.S. health care financing. This study is particularly important because it clarifies the two major factors resulting in this waste: 1) the administrative complexity of interacting with a multitude of insurers, and 2) “the entrepreneurial imperative for hospitals to amass profits or surpluses” in a system with market-driven pricing.

  • Posted on Friday, September 5, 2014
    These two surveys are of people who have employer-sponsored health insurance - the very large market of health plans that was protected by the Affordable Care Act (“you can keep the insurance you have”). The most significant change in employer-sponsored plans is in the increased use of high deductibles as a means of slowing premium growth for the employers.

  • Posted on Thursday, September 4, 2014
    When people ask how much the United States is spending on health care, it is the numbers from this report that are usually cited. So how much are we spending now, and what will that spending grow to a decade from now?

  • Posted on Wednesday, September 3, 2014
    Although today’s message deals with only one minor provision of the Affordable Care Act - the instructions for tax forms used to report ACA tax information to individuals and to the IRS - the administrative detail required is mind-boggling. Extrapolate that to all aspects of ACA and it becomes obvious that, instead of gaining administrative simplicity, ACA greatly increased administrative complexity - on top of the most administratively complex health financing system in the world. What a waste!

  • Posted on Tuesday, September 2, 2014
    Avik Roy presents his model of health care reform as a plan that does not require the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but rather represents a reform of the ACA insurance exchanges along with the eventual elimination of Medicaid and Medicare. His proposed system is not yet fleshed out, but to achieve his stated ends, tremendous administrative complexity would have to be introduced.

  • Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2014
    There are a great many reasons that health care reform activists believe that private, investor-owned insurers should be eliminated from our health care financing, but one reason that is particularly offensive is the outrageous compensation packages for their executives. For that reason, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) included a provision prohibiting insurers from writing off for tax purposes more than $500,000 per executive, as a means to discourage the excessive executive pay.

  • Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
    When you are faced with advanced illness, perhaps nearing the end of life, where would you want to turn for medical advice on how to get through this difficult time? Your personal physician and health care team? Private health insurers, always looking for more administrative innovations to sell us, are now using high pressure tactics to force “advanced illness counselors” into the management of your care.

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2014
    The public reaction to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is very instructive as far as understanding public attitudes toward single payer reform.

  • Posted on Monday, August 25, 2014
    This weekend numerous organizations dedicated to single payer reform assembled in Oakland, California for the 2014 National Strategy Conference. Participating organizations included Healthcare NOW!, Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Healthcare, One Payer States, National Nurses United, Physicians for a National Health Program, Progressive Democrats of America, and many others. So what was accomplished?

  • Posted on Friday, August 22, 2014
    Another creation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) - an entity established to test innovations in payment and service delivery models designed to reduce costs and improve quality. How is it doing?

  • Posted on Friday, August 22, 2014
    The private Medicare Advantage plans promised higher quality at lower cost. They clearly have failed on the promise of lower costs, but are they actually providing improved quality that is worth the extra cost?

  • Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2014
    One of the major problems with the Affordable Care Act is that it has established underinsurance as a new standard. It was bad enough when the decision was made to allow insurers to offer products that covered an average of only 60 percent of estimated health care costs, but now there is a serious proposal to reduce that to 50 percent. What does this do?

  • Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2014
    It is believed that consolidation of the health care delivery system through the formation of larger groups of physicians and through hospital ownership of physician practices is anti-competitive and drives up health care spending, especially through non-competitive pricing. Nevertheless this consolidation is being encouraged under the assumption that closer integration of the health care delivery system will improve processes and outcomes, one rapidly expanding model being accountable care organizations. This important study casts doubt on this concept.