Friday, May 29, 2009

Money-Driven Medicine—N.Y. Premiere of Film, June 11

Many of you know Maggie Mahar who comments regularly on this blog and has one of her own.She is also the author of "Money Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much."Now here is something to be impressed by, Maggie's book has been made into a movie! Here is a recent post from her blog, Health Beat, with an open invitation from Maggie to all you health care wonks out there to

Thursday, May 28, 2009

When We Really Do Health Care Reform They'll Know It In McAllen Texas

In recent posts I have expressed my concern that the Congress has all but given up on real health care reform and seems more interested in entitlement expansion.I worry that the Democrats have found the path to paying for a health care bill (note that I did not say health care reform).I will suggest that path includes a little cost containment window dressing so they can spin that they have a way

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

UnitedHealth Knows How to Save $500 billion In the Medicare Program--So Why Do They Need the Extra Private Medicare Payments?

This from Erica Werner's AP story today:A major health insurer [United Health Group] says the government can save more than $500 billion in Medicare spending by sending patients to less expensive, more efficient doctors, reducing hospital visits by the elderly and cutting down on unnecessary care.So UnitedHealth knows how to save $500 billion in Medicare spending.Aside from the fact that all of

Sunday, May 24, 2009

An Open Letter to the New National Coordinator for Health IT: Part 4 -- Bringing Patients into the Conversation About "Meaningful Use" of Health IT

by DAVID C. KIBBE and BRIAN KLEPPERThe Obama health team at HHS and ONC are gradually establishing the rules that will determine how approximately $34 billion in ARRA/HITECH funds are spent on health IT over the next several years. But there is a "missing link" in these deliberations that, so far, has not been addressed by Congress or the Administration: how the patient's voice can be "

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The First "Harry and Louise" Ads!

To me a "Harry and Louise" ad is negative health care reform advertising meant to defend a special interest's self-interest in what we all pay for health care. Whether it actually has "Harry" or "Louise" in it is for me beside the point. To qualify it just has to be trying to scare people to protect a special interest.Yesterday, CQ's Drew Armstrong had a story with the headline, "Labor Unions'

We Are On Our Way To Confusing Entitlement Expansion With Health Care Reform

I generally find Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein levelheaded. But his column today has me shaking my head.Effectively, he is saying forget what it costs--health care reform needs to be done.His biggest problem is that he doesn't know the difference between entitlement expansion and health care reform.But the way things are looking neither does the U.S. Congress.From

Monday, May 18, 2009

Progress on Finding the $2 Trillion--Insurer Association Says Physician and Hospital Payment Changes "Won't All Be Voluntary"

Just how will the health care stakeholders who promised President Obama $2 trillion in savings last week achieve the reduction?This from a May 18th Bloomberg story:Standardized billing and forms would cut administrative expenses, said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a Washington-based trade group, in an interview today. Some likely measures, such as changing

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Health Care Leaders Say Obama Overstated Their Promise to Control Costs"

That was the headline in yesterday's New York Times regarding Monday's promise by health care stakeholders to reduce spending by $2 trillion.A couple of snipets from the Times article:Hospitals and insurance companies said Thursday that President Obama had substantially overstated their promise earlier this week to reduce the growth of health spending.“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding that

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Paying For a Big Part of Health Care Reform With New Taxes Would Be a Terrible Mistake!

How would you like a chunk of your income taxes tied to the top line in this graph?The top line represents the health insurance cost trend rate over the past 20-years.The two bottom lines represent the increase in worker earnings and overall inflation during the same period.This chart comes from the Kaiser Family Foundation.I have repeatedly reported here that the Congress is having trouble

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Halfway to Paying for Health Care Reform? A Growing Consensus for Taxing Health Insurance Benefits Produces Lots of Money

But do we want to pay for most of it with tax increases?This is a reprint of an April 22nd post.Yesterday in Senate Finance it was clear that changes to the tax treatment of employer-provided health insurance are on the table.I thought it important to revisit my earlier summary of just what such a tax change does toward raising the needed money for reform. Since I posted this, the most commonly

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The $2 Trillion Offer to Reduce Health Care Costs—Now They've Done It!

First it was great to see the press coverage of the $2 trillion offer come back down to reality as the day wore on yesterday. From gushing over the “unprecedented” commitment to reform by these key stakeholder groups the news reports and editorials finally, by days end, reflected the fact that nothing is really promised or enforceable yet.Now we hear that these groups have to deliver specifics on

Sunday, May 10, 2009

"Trust But Verify"--Health Care Stakeholders to Pledge $2 Trillion in Reductions

This from the Wall Street Journal on Sunday:Major health-care providers are planning to pledge Monday to President Barack Obama that they will work to reduce cost increases in the nation's health-care system by $2 trillion over the next decade, officials said…Groups representing hospitals, health-insurance companies, doctors, drug makers, medical-device makers and labor are joining in Monday's

Thursday, May 7, 2009

An Open Letter to the Men and Women Over at the CBO--Hang In There!

Last November I did a post: To the Congressional Budget Office: Please Keep Playing it Straight!In it I said:I hope the CBO doesn't cave to political pressure and keeps doing its non-partisan down-the-middle job.If I hear the politicians whining and the special interests squealing about CBO's conclusions about how these cost containment "lite" proposals...don't save much money I know the CBO pros

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"An Open Letter to the New National Coordinator for Health IT: Part 3 -- Certification As The Elephant in Health IT's Living Room"

by DAVID C. KIBBE and BRIAN KLEPPERIn the first and second parts of this series we talked about how and why there is no universal definition for the term "EHR." Instead there is a legitimate, growing debate about the features and functions that "EHR technologies" should offer physicians seeking to qualify for HITECH incentive payments. We explored the layers of network technology, suggesting that

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Side Deal on the Medicare Physician Fee Cuts? What Does That Say About the Chances for Health Care Reform?

John Reichard has dug deeper than anyone else into the Medicare physician payment problem in an important article in today's CQ HealthBeat.He reports that the Blue Dog Dems (about 50 House moderate and conservative deficit hawks) may be willing to give the docs a pass by not requiring offsets for a two-year patch for their upcoming fee cuts--including the 21% fee cut due on January 1st. They are

Saturday, May 2, 2009

CBO Proving to be an "Obstacle" to Health Care Reform--I Hope They Don't Cave!

Looks like it's "in season" for shooting the messenger up on Capitol Hill!Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus was heard to complain this week about that pesky Congressional Budget Office (CBO) saying that, "The slight challenge we have is getting numbers and estimates from CBO,“ he went on, "Otherwise, health care reform is in jeopardy. The learning curve for all of us is fairly steep."Well Senator,