Monday, December 31, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

How Many Billions a Year Will the DSM-5 Cost? - Bloomberg

How Many Billions a Year Will the DSM-5 Cost? - Bloomberg:
Mental health is a black sheep of health care.  This article shows how the new DSM-5 could cause more problems for patients AND for cost of health care.  We do not need this when we are struggling to really reform how we pay for health care.  It will hurt mental health care as well as hurt health care payment reform.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Health care creates a new state jobs boom | StarTribune.com

Health care creates a new state jobs boom | StarTribune.com:
Not sure if this is a good thing or not for all of us but it sure seems like a good thing for unemployed folks who can be re-trained.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

UnitedHealth looks at doctors' pay for medical savings | StarTribune.com

UnitedHealth looks at doctors' pay for medical savings | StarTribune.com:
I am not sure if or how forcing docs to become managed care monitors is really going to save money and not adversely affect our quality of care and our rights as patients.  Also, this just may create more of a shortage of docs.  I think we do need to do something about access outside of big cities and to lower specialist pay as we raise GP's pay.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

State health plan faces new future | StarTribune.com

State health plan faces new future | StarTribune.com:
An example of how the ACA could be bad for low income people if the State is not careful.  This is how it could affect Minnesota Care.  Wonder how it will impact Badge Care.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

UnitedHealth forecasts 2013 earnings growth

UnitedHealth forecasts 2013 earnings growth

I sure wish our health care was not analyzed, etc. like all other parts of the stock market in terms of profits for shareholders as compared to affordable health care access for all citizens.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Our two states could work together...................

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Insurers head to the malls for customers | StarTribune.com

Insurers head to the malls for customers | StarTribune.com:
This is really going to be crazy.  I am in the middle of trying to figure out Medicare Part D choices on the official Medicare site.  It is not easy, for me anyway.  I can't imagine choosing among all the hype we will get on insurance policies.  They are not very experienced at competing for individuals - most has been for employer groups.  The coverage and cost usually are the same - kinda like the gas prices in a town.  I sure wish we can get to all having the same coverage, little or no paperwork and all pay our fair share.  I think that's called Single Payer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Insurer UnitedHealth’s 3rd-quarter profit jumps 23 percent, 2012 earnings outlook climbs - The Washington Post

Insurer UnitedHealth’s 3rd-quarter profit jumps 23 percent, 2012 earnings outlook climbs - The Washington Post:
Millions and millions of our tax dollars are going to feather the nest of the stock holders and the billionaire CEOs of these large insurance companies and our elected officials act like government is not involved in health care.
"UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s third-quarter earnings jumped 23 percent, thanks in part to Medicare and Medicaid business growth.....";  "UnitedHealth is the largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans, which are privately run versions of the government’s Medicare program for the elderly and disabled people."

'via Blog this'

Monday, October 15, 2012

Yes, Mr. Romney, Americans die for lack of health insurance - KansasCity.com

Yes, Mr. Romney, Americans die for lack of health insurance - KansasCity.com:
"What kind of a health policy encourages people to wait until they are in crisis, and then, as Romney explained, “you go to the hospital, you get treated … and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital”?
Oh wait. That’s the U.S. policy. Health care by default. The broken system that costs more and produces poorer results than most other industrialized nations."

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/10/11/3863048/yes-mr-romney-americans-die-for.html#storylink=misearch#storylink=cpy"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Reality Check: Americans For Prosperity Health Care Ad « CBS Minnesota

Reality Check: Americans For Prosperity Health Care Ad « CBS Minnesota:
Yet another example of finding a Canadian who will lie to make their health care payment system look bad and our expensive insurance company run one look good.
Video of the story.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Editorial: A call for a mutual non-aggression pact on spending and deficits : Stltoday

Editorial: A call for a mutual non-aggression pact on spending and deficits : Stltoday:
Debate over who is going to cut Medicare the most outlined in this opinion piece.
Sure wish the Dems/Obama hadn't folded on the single payer idea and on the pubic option.

Boomers retiring to rural areas won't find doctors - Yahoo! News

Boomers retiring to rural areas won't find doctors - Yahoo! News:
We need Single Payer to solve this problem.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Not poor enough: In some states you can be below the poverty line and not qualify for Medicaid | StarTribune.com

Not poor enough: In some states you can be below the poverty line and not qualify for Medicaid | StarTribune.com:
Excerpt:

"The political rhetoric during a presidential campaign focuses on the middle class and leaves the uninsured working poor largely invisible, said Rand Corp. researcher Dr. Art Kellermann.
"We hear a lot of talk about unemployment and the aspirations of middle-class Americans. But we don't hear about the consequences of unemployment and the consequences of the collapsing middle class," Kellermann said. Losing health insurance is one of those consequences.
"It's like the public just doesn't want to believe anything else until it hits home," he said, "Until it's their own child, brother or parent that got laid off when they were 58, until then, it's not real.""

Monday, August 13, 2012

Medicaid Fight Reinvigorated With Political Light On Health Care | Minnesota Public Radio News

Medicaid Fight Reinvigorated With Political Light On Health Care | Minnesota Public Radio News: ""We found, in fact, that states that expanded Medicaid to that group of adults relative to states that didn't, had substantially lower mortality," she said, meaning people who got Medicaid coverage were less likely to die than people who didn't."
Well worth reading or listening to the whole story.  With Ryan now on the ticket getting a true, factual picture of what they want to do with Medicare (vouchers) and Medicaid (cut it by millions by capping $ to states) is critical.  I just can't get rid of the memory of the time recently when an excited group of Romney followers yelled in response to what to do about those who get Medicaid -- "Let them Die".

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Permission to Live: How I lost my fear of Universal Health Care

Permission to Live: How I lost my fear of Universal Health Care
Excerpt:
"When I moved to Canada in 2008, I was a die-hard conservative Republican. So when I found out that we were going to be covered by Canada’s Universal Health Care, I was somewhat disgusted. This meant we couldn’t choose our own health coverage, or even opt out if we wanted too. It also meant that abortion was covered by our taxes, something I had always believed was horrible. I believed based on my politics that government mandated health care was a violation of my freedom."

Employers shifting toward high-deductible healthcare plans - The Hill's Healthwatch

Employers shifting toward high-deductible healthcare plans - The Hill's Healthwatch

Too many see this as a good thing.  It isn't as it continues to limit people's access to health care and prevention and early intervention -- thus ending with increasing cost and decreasing results in terms of health care outcomes for this country.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Expansion of Medicaid may cut death rates | StarTribune.com

Expansion of Medicaid may cut death rates | StarTribune.com:
People say we have the best health care in the world and yet the statistics show we are well below other industrialized countries in many, if not most, key health indicators.  The US culture that has a history of treating the poor like they deserve it and do not deserve access to food, shelter and basic health care is behind those statistical results.  This article and the study it reports add evidence to this supposition.  Expanding coverage for poor people reduced death rates.  Sad thing is there are all too many in this country who see that as a bad thing. They believe those people deserved to die and they do not deserve to have tax payer money used to provide them with health care.  In countries with universal health care like Canada and Britain the man on the street responds to questions on using tax money for health care by saying "it's the right thing to do".  In this country all too often the response is "I don't want my hard earned money used to help those people..they made their bed let them sleep in it".

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WellPoint cuts outlook as 2Q profit falls 8.3 pct

WellPoint cuts outlook as 2Q profit falls 8.3 pct:
I long for the day when shareholder's earning per share is not the headline in articles concerning our health care system.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rational, accountable health care is the answer

Rational, accountable health care is the answer:
"As a palliative care physician, I was relieved by the Supreme Court’s ruling and hope Congress allows the law to stand. This is not a partisan reaction. Diseases know no politics. I’m relieved because this law may well unravel patterns of payment and practice that promote irrational care and make dying much harder than it has to be."


This opinion piece is thought provoking - especially for us old folks.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Insurers sending out rebate checks | StarTribune.com

Insurers sending out rebate checks | StarTribune.com:
"The nation's health insurers will pay out more than $1 billion in rebates over the coming days after many of them fell short of new standards that require them to spend a certain share of premiums on patient treatment."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

United Health's 2Q profit rises 5.5 percent as Health care spending slows in Minnesota

As people are getting less health care because they lost insurance and/or had their out of pocket share greatly increased we see the managed care companies  making more and more profits, mostly off the tax payer, to pay even more to the top managers and share holders.  These two articles below appearing on the same day paint the whole picture.  I don't need to tell you what's wrong with this picture.

*********************************************
United Health's 2Q profit rises 5.5 percent
UnitedHealth Group says its second-quarter net income rose 5.5 percent, trumping Wall Street expectations, as the health insurer reported double-digit enrollment growth in its Medicare plan offerings.
The Minnetonka, Minnesota, insurer says it earned $1.34 billion, or $1.27 per share, in the three months that ended June 30. That's up from $1.27 billion, or $1.16 per share, in the same quarter last year.
Revenue rose 8.3 percent to $27.3 billion.
Analysts forecast earnings of $1.18 per share on $27.34 billion in revenue.
The company raised its full-year earnings estimate to between $4.90 and $5.00 per share.
UnitedHealth is the largest health insurer based on revenue and the first to report earnings every quarter. Many see the company as a bellwether for managed care companies.

Health care spending slows in Minnesota
The state Health Department says the rate of health care spending in Minnesota has slowed to its lowest point since 1997, and the recession is a big reason why.
The department says health care costs are still rising, but at a much slower pace _ 2.2 percent between 2009 and 2010.
State Health Economist Stefan Gildemeister tells Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/NzWO69) the recession was a major reason why Minnesotans spent less on health care. He said many lost their insurance when they lost their jobs and others who kept their jobs were more cautious.
Gildemeister said another reason why health care spending may be slowing is that consumers are increasingly paying more of out-of-pocket costs.
Health care spending accounts for nearly 14 percent of Minnesota's economy at $37.7 billion.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Republicans' really, really big lie

The Republicans' really, really big lie:

'via Blog this'

Minn. case probes public data in outsourced work | Minnesota Public Radio News

Minn. case probes public data in outsourced work | Minnesota Public Radio News:
Worth watching what happens in this case.  Could allow access to all that 'secret' data the manged care companies will not release concerning the real cost of their running the MN public health care programs.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

WellPoint deal adds strength in Medicaid | StarTribune.com

WellPoint deal adds strength in Medicaid | StarTribune.com:
"Health insurer WellPoint Inc. said on Monday that it is buying Amerigroup Corp. for $4.9 billion in a deal that signals sharp competition in the Medicaid market now that the Supreme Court has upheld the bulk of President Obama's health care law.
The acquisition will make Indianapolis-based WellPoint the largest provider of Medicaid, with 4.5 million enrollees, overtaking Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group, which has 3.5 million members."
Too bad so much of our hard earned money is going to these big corporations for high exec salaries and stock dividends.  All that money it takes out of actually providing health care could fund a single payer universal access system in this country.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What would replacing Obamacare look like?

What would replacing Obamacare look like?:
I found this opinion piece raised a lot of issues.  Finding things to disagree with is easy but trying to find common ground to build on is harder.  I won't go into detail here but do suggest reading it to get the thought juices flowing.  Removing coverage from the job is a major place that agreement might come.  Making public programs like Medicaid more palatable to providers makes good sense if we really want to equalize access.  Focusing on the "market" approach and suggesting Part D is good give me much concern.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

UnitedHealth's $20.5 billion Pentagon contract upheld | StarTribune.com

UnitedHealth's $20.5 billion Pentagon contract upheld | StarTribune.com:

We need to keep learning how this really works.  We don't want single payer to end up meaning all of our health care money will be funneled through United Health.  Those billions to execs and stockholders would better be used to fund our health care.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Doug Hill: The Mandate: How does it work?

Doug Hill: The Mandate: How does it work?: "Know Your Care Wisconsin"
Good summary of the changes, now and in '14.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Associated Press: Mentally ill inmates sue to get out of solitary

The Associated Press: Mentally ill inmates sue to get out of solitary:

"But prisoners' rights advocates around the nation say putting mentally ill inmates in long-term solitary confinement amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. In some states, activists are pushing court challenges to get convicts out of isolation."
We have way too many people doing things to get put in jail in order to get needed medical care because they can not afford to get it on their own.  Now we also have to face the fact that for persons suffering from mental illness we send them to jail in order to avoid paying for needed mental health treatment.  Jails have become a hidden part of our health care system.  One we need to address as part of reform.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Modernize medical payment systems | StarTribune.com

Modernize medical payment systems | StarTribune.com:
This guy gives the one of the best arguments ever for single payer.  I know he is selling his company's service but we shouldn't need it if we'd just see the light and enact single payer.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Attorney general: Fairview put squeeze on patients | StarTribune.com

Attorney general: Fairview put squeeze on patients | StarTribune.com
A story for those who tell us that people can get care at hospitals even if they don't have insurance or the money to pay the high deductibles/co-pays.  Hard nose collection agent's efforts in the ER of a hospital -- now that is not a pretty picture.  Story also on TV @ http://cbsloc.al/J8ZOlS

Monday, April 16, 2012

America's Superficial Health Care Debate Silences Single-Payer Supporters

America's Superficial Health Care Debate Silences Single-Payer Supporters
Excerpt:
" "We have the solution, we have the resources and we have the money to provide lifelong, comprehensive, high-quality health care to every person," Dr. Flowers said when we spoke a few days ago in Washington, D.C. Many Americans have not accepted the single payer approach "because people get confused by the politics," she said. "People accept the Democratic argument that this [Obamacare] is all we can have or this is something we can build on."
"If you are trying to meet the goal of universal health coverage and the only way to meet that goal is to force people to purchase private insurance, then you might consider that it is constitutional," Flowers said. "

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Conservative Reports Aims To Undermine Obamacare And Medicare At The Same Time | TPMDC

New Conservative Reports Aims To Undermine Obamacare And Medicare At The Same Time | TPMDC

“The trust fund notion is bound up with the notion of creating a system in which people are considered to have earned the right to their benefits by paying in taxes, whether it be Social Security or part A of Medicare,” Van de Water said. “Opponents of these programs don’t like that notion. It makes the programs too hard to change, and since they think they should be changed, they find that result unfortunate."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The case for universal care at the state level | StarTribune.com

The case for universal care at the state level | StarTribune.com:
Excerpt:
"Here's what we found: If Minnesota adopted a unified system with a statewide risk pool, continuous coverage, a common benefit set, and uniform payment rates and reimbursement rules, the annual administrative savings would approach $5 billion. The negotiating clout of a single buyer could save Minnesotans nearly $1 billion on prescription drugs and medical equipment. And with a single claims administrator and the subpoena powers of a state program, we could reduce fraud and realize another $200 million in savings. Paying for the system with a progressive tax structure, rather than increasingly expensive premiums, would reduce average health care costs for all households, except for those in the very highest income brackets."
The full report [Beyond the Affordable Care Act: An Economic Analysis of a Unified System of Health Care for Minnesota] mentioned in the article is available at this link.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Can Health Care Win by Losing at Highest Court?

Can Health Care Win by Losing at Highest Court?:
Excerpt:
"One early exchange between Verrilli and the chief justice featured John Roberts following a similar line of logic related to a single-payer system. The solicitor made the argument that “people cannot generally control when they enter that market or what they need when they enter that market,” prompting this response from Roberts:
Well, the same, it seems to me, would be true say for the market in emergency services: police, fire, ambulance, roadside assistance, whatever. You don’t know when you’re going to need it; you’re not sure that you will. … So can the government require you to buy a cell phone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services? You can just dial 911 no matter where you are?
In that analogy, health care is to police, fire, and ambulance what health insurance is to a cell phone. It’s an interesting counter for Verrilli to have to parry, since his boss Barack Obama and many on the left initially opposed the mandate, and many on left in another day and age might have agreed with Roberts that health care is analogous to police and fire—a public good that is best provided by the government, since it’s a service everyone requires."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Insurers say reform will flop without a mandate | StarTribune.com

Insurers say reform will flop without a mandate | StarTribune.com:
Since everything else nowadays seems to be decided based on what's best for big business and the richest this request by the insurance industry should guarantee a Supreme Court "all or nothing" decision.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

UnitedHealth Wins $21 Billion U.S. Military Health Contract - Bloomberg

UnitedHealth Wins $21 Billion U.S. Military Health Contract - Bloomberg:
Last week there was news on how UnitedHealth is going international getting into health insurance business in many foreign countries.  Now they are getting into making money off of the health care insurance program for Veterans.  The private insurance industry involvement in Medicare and Medicaid has driven up costs while reducing coverage for patients.  Now it is going on for Veterans care.  What's next - privatizing the Vet's Hospitals?

Zakaria: Health insurance is for everyone – Global Public Square - CNN.com Blogs

Zakaria: Health insurance is for everyone – Global Public Square - CNN.com Blogs:
Interesting article.  Shows coverage for all saves money whether single payer or non-employer insurance coverage for all.
TV show on this tomorrow night: "...be sure to watch my CNN special, Global Lessons: The GPS Road Map for Saving Health Care, Sunday, March 18, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. E.T. and P.T. "

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Small companies working to make health pay | StarTribune.com

Small companies working to make health pay | StarTribune.com:
A good health story about staying healthy as being good for business and a story about how health coverage is good for business too. I just wish the coverage was there, was 100% and was not tied to the job. Then the benefit mentioned by Sartell in this article could apply nationwide.

Uninsured rate for young Minn. adults drops to 17% | StarTribune.com

Uninsured rate for young Minn. adults drops to 17% | StarTribune.com:
The affordable care act is doing some good things. Covering kids to age 26 is one of them and the one that caused the improvment in unisured rates for adults. As we move toward full implementation of the ACA two things need to be emphasized for MN -
Let the exchange be created by MN instead of waiting for the Feds to do it, and
Do NOT allow insurance company reps to be on the Board that decides how the exchanges will operate. It needs to be consumers and some providers but not insurance companies.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book Review on Starr's "Struggle Over Health Care Reform"

Print - A Spoonful of Sugar_ On the Affordable Care Act.pdf

This long review appeared in The Nation. An interesting analysis of the history and the value of standardized administration.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Editorial: Is state overpaying health plans? | StarTribune.com

The variation among states is amazing!

Editorial: Is state overpaying health plans? | StarTribune.com:
Excerpt: "In 2010, Minnesota paid an average of $441 per month, per Medicaid managed-care enrollee, to the state's four big nonprofit health plans: Medica, Blue Plus, HealthPartners and UCare. In Michigan, the average monthly amount paid to four big plans was $283. In Wisconsin, where Baumgarten had analyzed only 2009 data, the amount was $298."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Battle over how health insurance is sold in Minnesota begins | StarTribune.com

Battle over how health insurance is sold in Minnesota begins | StarTribune.com:

And the battle continues.

Timeline:

Jan. 1, 2013: States must demonstrate that exchanges can be operational by Jan. 1, 2014.

First half of 2013: Exchanges undergo testing.

October 2013: Open enrollment begins.

Jan. 1, 2014: States begin to offer coverage over the exchanges.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tough talk for Minnesota's medical community | StarTribune.com

Tough talk for Minnesota's medical community | StarTribune.com:
Some issues to consider here -- we do need to focus on inefficiencies and not just new fancy technologies. The article critical of Mayo (which some reports say is one of the most cost effective providers in the country) is available by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Editorial: Finding a cure for 'charity care' ills | StarTribune.com

Editorial: Finding a cure for 'charity care' ills | StarTribune.com:
Charity care does cost us all a lot of money in what hospitals charge and in what we pay for insurance and in what we pay via income and property taxes. This gets into how much 'charity care' goes on but does not really give a true picture of how much it really costs all of us.

Eliminating the Individual Mandate - RWJF

Eliminating the Individual Mandate - RWJF:

A study on the ACA's requirement to have insurance. Good to follow as this is a stepping stone toward single payer but it is really too bad that so much of our money will still go to finance such an expensive insurance system that really should just be shut down.

Health care changes: Will state of MN remain gridlocked? | StarTribune.com

Health care changes: Will state remain gridlocked? | StarTribune.com

The exchanges are needed as the best we can do for now.  Another link to a column on the need for teamwork needed to accomplish this is here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cracking Down on Insurance Companies, Protecting Consumers | HealthCare.gov

Cracking Down on Insurance Companies, Protecting Consumers | HealthCare.gov
An excerpt: "The health care law gives us new tools to protect consumers who are looking for health insurance. One of those tools is “rate review”. For the first time ever, in every State, insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more. "

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tip/Wag - Irresponsible Dead People & Insensitive Papa John's - The Colbert Report - 2012-10-01 - Video Clip | Comedy Central

Tip/Wag - Irresponsible Dead People & Insensitive Papa John's - The Colbert Report - 2012-10-01 - Video Clip Comedy Central

This video by Colbert has great stuff on people without health insurance.

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/405668/january-10-2012/tip-wag---irresponsible-dead-people---insensitive-papa-john-s
Per PNHP Jan. 12th post: "On Tuesday night, television comedian Stephen Colbert did a two-and-a-half minute segment based on GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s refusal to accept an Iowa student’s remark that 50,000 people die annually in America from lack of health insurance, a finding based on a PNHP study by Dr. Andrew Wilper, et al. The “Colbert Report” segment, which starts at the very beginning of this clip, is must watching!"

Uncompassionate Conservatism - NYTimes.com

Uncompassionate Conservatism - NYTimes.com
Talks about Romney but speaks to health care:
Excerpt:
"But most of all, we don’t see the health insurance company as providing us a service. We see ourselves, rather, as indentured supplicants forced to pay exorbitant monthly rates for a basic need that responsible people with means can’t get out of paying for if we can help it. We don’t see ourselves as in control of the relationship with them. They are in control of us–and no more so than when we get sick and need the insurance most."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Annual growth in US health care spending at historic lows; experts debate if relief will last | StarTribune.com

Annual growth in US health care spending at historic lows; experts debate if relief will last | StarTribune.com
Postponing or just plain skipping medical care is likely to cost more in the long run - both in dollars for treating more advanced illness and in pain, suffering and death.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Instead of tweaking system at patients’ expense, opt for single payer - Letters - The Boston Globe

Instead of tweaking system at patients’ expense, opt for single payer - Letters - The Boston Globe
Great little letter from a Boston doc:

Tiered coverage limits choice for patients who may prefer doctors or hospitals outside their network, and unfairly penalizes patients who can’t afford extra fees to go to providers of their choice. The SaveOn initiative that pays patients to go to less expensive service facilities, even though their doctor may not recommend them, strains the important doctor-patient relationship and raises doubt about the quality of cheaper services.

The real solution to the health care crisis should be focused on eliminating the huge administrative waste generated by the health insurance industry, the unacceptable number of uninsured, the growing number of underinsured, and the Rube-Goldberg-like systemic complexity that makes patients fall through the cracks.

Patients should be the center of a strong health care system that makes high-quality health care available to everyone regardless of ability to pay. We need a single payer system that covers everyone, provides continuous care, and is affordable and sustainable.