Harvard Policy Researcher Says Obamacare Will Inadvertently Break Fee-For-Service Model

In Washington, Amitabh Chandra stood before a roomful of economists, policy makers and health care experts earlier this month. As director of Health Policy Research at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, he closed a presentation about the slowdown in health care spending over the last decade by citing an article in The New York Times.

“Changes in the way doctors and hospitals are paid — how much and by whom — have begun to curb the steady rise of health care costs in the New York region,” the article declared. “Costs are still going up faster than overall inflation, but the annual rate of increase is the lowest in 21 years.”

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Fee-For-Service Private Practices Face Dark Times.

Dr. Tracy Ragland, 46, an independent primary care physician, is anxious about the future of her small practice. The law is bringing new regulations and payment rates that she says squeeze self-employed doctors out of even practicing medicine. She cherishes the autonomy of private practice and speaks darkly of the rush of independent physicians into hospital networks, which she sees as growing monopolies.

“The possibility of not being able to survive in a private practice, especially primary care, is very real,” she said.

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White House Delays ACA’s Red Tape (With More Red Tape)

We love the smell of Red Tape in the morning. In Washington, The New York Times is reporting that the Obama administration announced on Monday that it would “postpone enforcement of a federal requirement for medium-size employers to provide health insurance to employees and allow larger employers more flexibility in how they provide coverage.” Wow, that’s such mouthful we couldn’t bring ourselves to paraphrase it. Let’s break it into smaller parts.

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LINKS: Rage Against The Healthcare Machine

h gilbert welchIn case you needed any more reasons to get incensed with healthcare’s exorbitant costs, The New York Times has you covered. First, you’ll want to read their piece about how ridiculously overpriced it is to have a baby in this country (“American Way Of Birth, Costliest In The World” via The New York Times).

According to the article, “Women with insurance pay out of pocket an average of $3,400, according to a survey by Childbirth Connection, one of the groups behind the maternity costs report. Two decades ago, women typically paid nothing other than a small fee if they opted for a private hospital room or television.”

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LINKS: Oh No, Everyone’s Worried About Doctor Shortages

First we came across an article in The Atlantic that discussed how doctor shortage could be the result of burnout caused by a lack of training in how to “deal with work pressures.” It was a stretch in our opinion, but we’re keeping an open mind. Unfortunately, we were not mentioned in the article as a force KEEPING doctors from retiring or getting out of practicing medicine altogether. Included within the article were some helpful links to leading publishers writing about doctor shortages. Thanks to the author Maureen Miller for directing us to this premium content.

Sunday Dialogue: Will Training More Doctors Improve Health Care? | The New York Times
One med student is one hundred percent behind insuring more Americans. Still, he asks, what’s the point if you can’t find a doctor. READ MORE

“How some states are addressing doctor shortages” | Yahoo News
An informative article comprised of blurbs about projected doctor requirements, current funding for programs, and other relevant info. It spans more than ten states including California, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, The Dakotas and more. READ MORE

The New York Times Launches Ongoing Series Following Obamacare in Action

The New York Times Launches Ongoing Series Following Obamacare in Action

Check out the first part in a series about the new health care law in action. It’s superb journalism from The New York Times painting a wide-sweeping picture of how different clinics are ramping up to the new legislation. This first story is set in Louisville, an interesting city in that it’s set some incredible medical precedents (first hand transplant, first successful transplant of a self-contained artificial heart) but also has the highest rate of death from preventable conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. The story follows a low-income clinic, revealing the abysmal salaries of the practitioners, two patients in dire conditions unwilling to get prescribed treatment, and an educator trying to help these clinics ramp up to the expected patient increase.

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Writer Contributes Op/Ed Piece To Heal Overwhelmed Physicians

Jerry Avorn is a professor of medicine at Harvard and an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He’s also the author of “Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs.” He wrote an eccentric and slightly polemic opinion piece in The New York Times that connects Marie-Henri Beyle, pseudonym Stendahl, with the current state of primary care treatment techniques.

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Insurance Companies Are Not Fighting Fair

Check out this May 8 article by The New York Times. They present government data suggesting that hospitals are charging upwards of 400% of actual costs for non-optional procedures.

It’s a complex issue but the worrisome fact is that competing hospitals are charging wildly different rates for similar procedures based on whether a patient is using Medicare, private insurance or isn’t insured. The worst news is that hospitals might be charging the highest rates to uninsured people to cover their bottom line.

Here’s where hospitals are taking a hit:

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