Tag Archive for 'Reform'

Texas House Unanimously Passes Medical Board Reform Bill

9 May - The Texas House passed HB 1013 today by a vote of 147-0, endorsing crucial reforms necessary to make the actions of the Texas Medical Board (TMB ) transparent.  This action sends a message that the TMB’s unconstitutional actions will no longer be tolerated by the Texas House. Continue reading ‘Texas House Unanimously Passes Medical Board Reform Bill’

AAPS Reports 93% of Doctors Oppose ObamaCare

The headline says it all… Obama invited physicians to discuss reform and then used their presence to give credibility to his plan. (video)  More information is posted at AAPS.

A View from the Exam Room

I learned a lot about the cost of health care when I had a hybrid general surgery practice in California ‘s rural San Joaquin Valley.  My practice consisted of uninsured women with breast cancer combined with a smaller percentage of cosmetic patients whose cash payments for “vanity care” subsidized the treatment of women unable to pay for needed medical treatment.
Although patients seeking cosmetic services tend to be healthy, I evaluated them like any other patient.  I asked about medical history, allergies, medications and genetic disorders.
Upon questioning Sherry S., a pretty 46-year-old seeking wrinkle relief, I learned that four of her immediate family members had been diagnosed with breast or colon cancer before the age of 50.  Alarmed, I asked why she had not had the recommended screening mammogram for more than four years.
She said that she knew already that her risk for developing breast cancer was likely higher than that of most women.
“But I don’t have insurance,” she replied.
A screening mammogram could be obtained for about $90 and was discounted or free at local facilities every October for “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”
She smiled when I proposed a deal: if she were to get a screening mammogram within sixty days of her treatment, I would offer a discount on what she paid me for cosmetic services.
“I’ll think about it,” she said, then shelled out over $400 for BotoxTM injections that took me ten minutes to administer.
Five months later, when she returned for her next wrinkle treatment, she reported that she still had not obtained a mammogram.
I encountered patients who gladly paid upwards of $1000 in cash for laser hair removal treatments.  The paperwork filled out during their initial consultation asked them to indicate whether or not they had health insurance.
 
Several hair removal patients reported being covered by Medi-Cal, the government funded health coverage for California ‘s low-income population.
 
A friend of mine sells private health insurance plans.  He told me of the 39-year-old father of two whose family was quoted a monthly insurance premium of $250.
“Are you kidding?” he said, refusing the coverage. “That’s almost as much as my boat payment!”
When serving in the Rural Health Center in my community, my colleagues and I offered free or discounted care for a large number of patients.  Many were covered by Medi-Cal or one of dozens of state programs paid for by the taxpayers of California.
The following items were commonly seen on patients or carried by their dependent children, who were also covered by subsidized programs:
• Cell phones and “BlackBerry” PDAs, including just-released models with a price tag of $400, plus an ongoing monthly service fee of $65-$150
• iPods and portable DVD players
• GameBoys and handheld electronic games
• Artificial fingernails requiring maintenance every two weeks at a cost of $40-$60 per salon visit
• Elaborate braided hair weaves, $300 per session plus frequent maintenance
• Custom-designed body art, including tattoos covering the entire torso, neck and arms, as well as body jewelry piercing every skin surface imaginable-and a few unimaginable ones.  Custom tattoo work, particularly the “portrait-type” and “half sleeve” art popular in this area, runs from $100-$300 per hour and can require up to 20 hours of work, depending on the complexity of the design. 
[Author’s note: in three years, I performed over a dozen operations as the result of complications related to infected or abnormally healed body piercings.  Breast abscesses were the most common pathology, followed by cauliflower-shaped keloid scars that interfered with function.  Blood-borne diseases can be contracted during amateur and prison tattoos and piercings, and patients self-reported Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV infections.  Treatment of the complications of body art among my patients was largely covered by Medi-Cal or left unpaid.]
 
From the office I shared with another doctor at the clinic, I had a clear view of the patient parking lot.  It was not unusual for me to see clinic patients drive away in late model SUVs or cars customized in the style popular in my area.   I was given an education about the after-market accessories I saw daily, including “mag” wheels, chrome trim, spinning hubcaps and fancy custom paint jobs.  Gasoline prices were particularly high in central California at that time.
I overheard patients and their children chatting as I wrote in their charts.  Many had an excellent command of the plotlines of cable television shows aired only on premium channels.  Basic cable in my area cost over $50 per month, with premium channels extra.
I also overheard the front desk clinic staff members explain politely to angry patients that they did, in fact, have to make $5 co-pays for an office visit or meet their $20 “Share of Cost” on a $600 bill as required by Medi-Cal.
Like many of my colleagues in rural communities with few resources, I did care for patients who actually lived in poverty.  For them, luxury meant keeping the utilities on and having clean clothes for a rare visit to the doctor.  In California ‘s Central Valley , “dirt poor” is not just a phrase.  But these patients, who rewarded me in ways that don’t fit in the lines on any tax return, were outnumbered by others who considered health care a lower budget priority than decorated skin and expensive toys.
Individuals in this country have a right to decide how — and how not — to spend their money.
But that right does not include accepting entitlements without sharing responsibility.  Doing so contributes to the high cost of care that burdens every unsubsidized patient.
If individuals prefer to buy luxury items rather than pay for their healthcare needs, that preference should not be rewarded while taxpayers struggle to foot their own bills.
Dr. Linda Halderman was a Breast Cancer Surgeon in rural central California until unsustainable Medicaid payment practices contributed to her practice’s closure. She now serves as the healthcare policy advisor for California’s Senator Sam Aanestad while continuing to provide trauma and emergency services in rural communitieswww.americanthinker.com

ObamaCare Mythology

Clifford Asness debunks many healthcare mythologies and explains why they exist in this report:

Lots of people are scared and misinformed by their politicians and the media or else they would understand the whitewash that is going on here and reject socialist “solutions” to a problem best solved for their families by freedom…

The rush to pass a huge expansion of government now, and limit debate and discussion, is indicative of a group that knows it is wrong, and if people have time to think they will refuse to go along, but is attempting an exercise of naked power, to impose dictatorship before the people wake up.

Actually the media is often just plain intellectually lazy, repeating tired leftist dogmas and looking down on anyone who believes in freedom as just a red state moron (trust me, they think that). How else do you explain free infomercials for Obama’s socialized medicine without rebuttal?

Some politicians may indeed just be idealistic dupes who actually want to help people but don’t realize they will harm them. I have sympathy for these people but they still should not win the day. Some just want to feel important. But let’s leave Ms. Pelosi out of this for now. Let’s talk about the smart ones who understand these issues. I do not think true confusion among the political and intellectual class is most of their problem. I do not think they believe for a second that socialized medicine will make people better off. How could they?

Lots of politicians understand that the simple free system leaves them out in the cold. No power for them. No committees to sit on to decide people’s lives. No lies to tell their constituents how they (the government) brought them the health care they so desperately need. No fat checks from lobbyists as the crony capitalists pay dearly to make the only profits possible under this system, those bestowed by the government.

Libertarians are often accused wrongly of loving “big business,” but we don’t, particularly when corporate executives predictably turn themselves into crony capitalists who try to succeed by wheedling from the government. On the other hand the socialists love cronies of all sorts, ones who command large enterprises all the better. Liberals are far closer than libertarians to building and countenancing the all-powerful corporate state they claim to fear.

Odd I know!

That an array of crony capitalists are lining up from Wal-Mart to hospitals to medical insurers (bringing back Harry and Louise – this time for socialism) hoping to cut the best deals for themselves before the iron curtain falls is sad. That they are being lauded by the administration as a sign its health care position is right is simply propaganda. Yep, when someone agrees to pay Al Capone protection, it’s a clear sign Al Capone was right to begin with….

We further see this predicted abuse of power as the health care proposals are already filled with freebies to the President’s friends – including exempting unions from onerous features. Gee, the same unions in whose favor he has re-written the bankruptcy rules and wants to exempt from the most American of ideas, the secret ballot. It’s good to be a friend of “the most ethical administration ever.”

For another example how this is about government power and the suppression of private liberty, and not about helping people, look no further than the fact that their proposed massive tax increase on the “rich” (which by leftist definition are never paying their “fair share” if they have enough left over to remain rich) is on pre-deduction income.

That means if you give all your money to charity you still owe Caesar his 5+ percent on money you did not keep and do not have, but gave away to a good cause. This might raise some revenue, but it is largely about the destruction of private charity. Barack and Harry and Charlie and Nancy and the other gang of four (yes our gang of four is much bigger than four) are about the people having to crawl on their knees to government (them) instead of anyone else, including private charity, not about helping people.

BTW, Congressman Rangel, the House’s chief tax writer and current tax cheat investigatee, said lawmakers targeted high earners because it “causes the least amount of pain on the least amount of people.” So does, in the short-run, imprisoning the rich and harvesting their organs for better health care for everyone else. Charlie, any thoughts on where you stop? When is enough enough?

The rush to pass a huge expansion of government now, and limit debate and discussion, is indicative of a group that knows it is wrong, and if people have time to think they will refuse to go along, but is attempting an exercise of naked power, to impose dictatorship before the people wake up.

Paraphrasing Mark Twain, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. They are counting on this, and they don’t want to give the truth time to be shod.  (More here)

Medical Care Confusion

Thomas Sowell writes:

The confusion of “health care” with medical care is the crucial confusion. Years ago, a study showed that Mormons live a decade longer than other Americans. Are doctors who treat Mormons so much better than the doctors who treat the rest of us? Or do Mormons avoid doing a lot of things that shorten people’s lives?

The point is that health care is largely in your hands. Medical care is in the hands of doctors. Things that depend on what doctors do – cancer survival rates, for example– are already better here than in countries with government-run medical systems…

Mileikowsky Named as Healthcare Leader

The founder and president of the Alliance for Patient Safety and dedicated SSI member was showcased this week for his work in healthcare reform.  Healthcare Leaders Media is “dedicated to meeting the business information needs of healthcare executives and professionals.” 
Whistleblowers often pay a high price for exposing flaws in the healthcare system. Like a lot of physicians who have been in his situation, Gil Mileikowsky, MD, essentially lost his livelihood. It started in 2000 when he was approached by a lawyer representing a patient whose Fallopian tubes were removed without consent. He hadn’t heard of the case, even though it happened in his own department, and he began to suspect that other patient safety incidents weren’t being reviewed through the proper channels. He agreed to serve as an expert witness against Tarzana Regional Medical Center, a joint venture of HCA and Tenet HealthSystem, and four days later the hospital CEO informed him that he would be escorted by security while on hospital grounds. A few months later he was suspended.
That was just the beginning of a long legal battle that is still ongoing. The American Medical Association, the California Medical Association, and other physician and consumer organizations—including a partnership between doctors and trial lawyers spearheaded by attorney Alan Dershowitz—filed amicus briefs on Mileikowsky’s behalf. For many of his supporters, the central issue is peer review and whether hospitals should have authority to remove a physician without due process. His case recently led to a new California law that extends whistleblower protection to all physicians, and he has campaigned for similar protections on the federal level.
But in Mileikowsky’s eyes, he is locked in a much grander struggle to improve the quality of the healthcare system. He founded the Alliance for Patient Safety to document his case and push for safety reforms, and he has developed what he believes is a solution to poor quality control—a “black box” for physicians. Hospital errors should be reviewed in double-blind studies by randomly selected specialists to remove bias or potential conflict of interest, he argues. Although he never intended to become a whistleblower, he says his goal is now to expose flaws in the entire system, not just one hospital.
Whistleblowers like Mileikowsky play an important role in an industry that is often unsuccessful at policing itself; they now initiate nine out of 10 fraud cases for the Department of Justice. Although in some situations they stand to receive up to 25% of any amount recovered, that wasn’t the case for Mileikowsky. “I didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘I want to become a whistleblower,’” he says. “A whistleblower is just someone who tries to sound the alarm about a wrong situation.

(more here)