Friday, December 24, 2010

Editorial: Mandate prevents health 'free riders' |

Editorial: Mandate prevents health 'free riders' | "- Sent using Google Toolbar"
This article on the mandate to buy insurance and the need to have such a mandate is based on a Robert Wood Johnson report. I understand the logic here but I wish we didn't use the term mandate and did not require us to buy insurance from private companies. Requiring us to pay into Medicare and Social Security is a type of mandate but it isn't requiring I pay a private company. Requiring that this health care reform be paid for by requiring me to pay a private company is not the way to go. Requiring me to pay a tax based on my income is the way to go. I bet it'd be cheaper for all of too.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Medical care: Is it a right? - PNHP's Official Blog

Medical care: Is it a right? - PNHP's Official Blog: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"
I found it surprising that so many would shout that medical care is not a right in the USA and that thee author of this article didn't react to that moral/ethical issue. Reminds me of Arizona's recent decision to deny transplants to poor people. We ration access to health care in this country based on income and/or your job. That is just plain wrong!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

GOP puts BadgerCare, federal health care law in the cross hairs

GOP puts BadgerCare, federal health care law in the cross hairs: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"
The battle is heating up in Wisconsin. Hope we don't have a race to the bottom between MN and WI.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kip Sullivan: Health care report card was flawed |

Kip Sullivan: Health care report card was flawed | "- Sent using Google Toolbar"
"Minnesotans should be alarmed by a report recently issued by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The Minnesota Health Care Quality Report claims to measure the quality of care delivered by Minnesota's clinics and hospitals, but its methodology is so crude that it is impossible to say what is being measured."
Click here for the rest of the LTE

Monday, November 8, 2010

Alex MacGillis: Prices remain the malady in health care |

Alex MacGillis: Prices remain the malady in health care
This article goes into the argument about value versus quantity in the health care cost debate. Is it the insurance companies, the providers or us patients that are the cause of the problem? Hmmmm.....I can't help but wonder about the trend not only for providers to consolidate but for insurance companies to get into the provider buisness -- directly and indirectly via selling business support services. Still might be just the big coporations playing us all to make as much money as possible with no regard for our real health care needs.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Health group may offer plan to trim costs |

Health group may offer plan to trim costs | "- Sent using Google Toolbar"
This calls the public programs that pay for medical care INSURANCE. Insurance is defined as "promise of reimbursement in the case of loss; paid to people or companies so concerned about hazards that they have made prepayments to an insurance company". Since Pre-paid Medical Assistance started in MN the managed care companies get a payment per person to cover them like any other managed care plan would. Going from the State paying for medical bills to paying MCOs to pay them costs more but the State will not provide a cost comparison to show how wasteful this is. But then the MCOs have paid a lot to the politicians and lobbyists to keep us all ignorant of the ugly truth.

Monday, October 4, 2010

How can a family with $50,000 in income pay $18,000 in medical expenses? | Physicians for a National Health Program

How can a family with $50,000 in income pay $18,000 in medical expenses? Physicians for a National Health Program
"The individual insurance market is highly dysfunctional, and was one of the primary motivators for the regulatory changes in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). About 30 percent of individuals who apply for individual plans are denied coverage. The private insurers will cover only individuals with an unblemished health record. Most health care costs for those individuals are very low and often below the deductible. This is why the insurers can sell an individual family policy for only $6,328 - these are healthy people who rarely file significant claims. In fact, when they do file larger claims, the private insurers routinely look to see if they could find an omission in the application such as a prior yeast infection not reported, and then they would reject all claims and rescind the coverage. Both of these practices are illegal for employer-sponsored group coverage, which is partly why group coverage is more expensive, but they were very effective in limiting claims losses in the individual market. The new law requires guaranteed issue (all applicants accepted) and prohibits rescission (retroactive revocation of insurance). These two changes will wipe out the individual insurance market as we know it, and will result in skyrocketing insurance premiums.

Another reason that individual plans are so cheap (if you call $6,328 cheap) is that they do not provide nearly as good coverage - both in benefits and cost sharing. Individual plans frequently omit pharmaceuticals, mental health services, maternity benefits, etc. Also they tend to have larger deductibles ($1,000 to $25,000) and high coinsurance (a percentage of fees which is usually much higher than co-pays would be). The bankruptcy studies have shown that medical debt contributes to about 60 percent of personal bankruptcies, and three-fourths of those with medical debt had health insurance. Individual plans have deteriorated to a degree that they don't keep people out of bankruptcy when they develop significant medical problems. The new law will establish a standard benefit package which will also drive premiums up, though it will still permit excessive cost sharing (at an actuarial value of 60 to 70 percent)."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Take health care into your own hands

Explore your coverage options

Find out which private insurance plans, public programs and community services are available to you.

Your Health Care, Explained

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Maine Voices: New federal health care law falls far short of being a real reform | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Maine Voices: New federal health care law falls far short of being a real reform | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

"Now Washington sends us, by a narrow vote, new health care "reforms" touted as bipartisan solutions to our crippled health care system. Even a glance at these changes uncovers little more than a Ponzi scheme enriching some at the expense of others."

I found these comments from a doctor in Maine to be right on. The reason the 'big boys' in the health care industry are not trying to kill what has been touted as reform is because they wrote it and will get richer from it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Insurers Push Plans That Limit Health Choices -

Insurers Push Plans That Limit Health Choices - "- Sent using Google Toolbar"
And here's the other side of the story on what might be happening with small employers. They can get a tax credit but the insurance companies plan to offer cheap policies that put too much financial burden on the employee.

Tax credit to help small firms on health care |

Tax credit to help small firms on health care | "- Sent using Google Toolbar"
"These employers would qualify for a tax credit of up to 35 percent of health care costs starting in 2010, according to a report released Wednesday by Families USA, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that calculated the potential impact for small businesses in each state."
Interesting that current reform efforts can help small business but the naysayers keep touting that reform hurts them.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

AMA battles insurers over doctor ratings |

AMA battles insurers over doctor ratings
"A letter that the American Medical Association sent major insurers reflects doctors' concerns about a practice that is expected to spread as insurers compete to offer cheaper coverage to millions of Americans as health reform rolls out.

Insurers steer members by making them pay more to use doctors rated as less efficient, based on quality of care and cost. But the AMA says the ratings are often inaccurate."
Other articles show that the big insurance companies are now offering cheaper plans if you agree to use only a certain group of doctors.  Sounds like managed care on steroids.  HMOs failed because the incentive was to not provide care.  Looks like a repeat performance to me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Health care changes you may not know of -

Health care changes you may not know of -

"Several little-known provisions of the new health care overhaul law take effect in coming months that could have a lasting impact on the nation's health care system.

They include eliminating co-payments for certain preventive services such as mammograms, giving the government more power to review health insurers' premium increases and allowing states to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income adults without children."

See article for details.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

David Cameron: The new face of England - The Week

David Cameron: The new face of England - The Week

Very interesting quote on how the new Prime Minister in England changed his views on universal health care access.

"Did his child’s illness affect his politics?

Yes. Cameron was a very traditional Conservative in his youth, supporting Thatcher’s staunch free-market policies, including fierce opposition to the National Health Service, Britain’s single-payer medical system. But Cameron says his conversations with the families he met in waiting rooms during his son’s many hospitalizations changed his thinking. “My family is so often in the hands of the NHS, and I want them to be safe there,” Cameron told his party conference in 2006. “Tony Blair once explained his priority in three words: Education, education, education. I can do it in three letters—NHS.” No rising Conservative politician had ever dared make such a statement, and it quickly established him as a new kind of Tory."

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Health care tries to figure out what works best - JSOnline

Health care tries to figure out what works best - JSOnline

"In a health care system that spends $2.5 trillion a year, less than one-tenth of 1% is spent on research to determine what treatment options work best - and, in some cases, whether they work at all.

"We spend billions of dollars on developing new treatments and technologies, but we don't go back through and say, 'OK, how do they work?' " said Murray Ross, director of research at the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy.

The result is tens of billions of dollars - and maybe much more - spent each year on treatments that are of marginal or questionable value.

In recent years, doctors, economists, health plans, business groups and others have called for increased research on comparative effectiveness - research that compares different treatment options.

That's about to happen."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Book on How the New Insurance Mandate Will Work

Book Excerpt: How The Individual Health Insurance Mandate Will Work - Kaiser Health NewsClick above for more details - Here's an excerpt -"The mandate requires all citizens and legal immigrants to have "qualifying" health coverage. People eligible for employer coverage can satisfy the requirement by enrolling in their employer’s plan. Employer plans will need to meet certain standards—covering preventive care and disallowing lifetime limits—but will not need to have all of the minimum benefits that will be required of plans sold to individuals and small businesses. "

Friday, March 26, 2010

Medicare You Can Buy Into

Health care vote expands direct government.......

Health care vote expands direct government
Single Payer passed in the new health care bill! Amazing -- they will save billions by creating a single payer system.

Too bad it isn't in the health care payment system. We will now have a government run single payer system for student loans. How ironic.............

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Obamacare shows off country's can-do spirit

Jerome Column: Obamacare shows off country's can-do spirit

A positive spin from a small town editor. Click on the link to read the column.
An excerpt: "There's been a lot of manufactured drama over the past few months. Folks dressing up in frock coats and tricorn hats have been kicking up a fuss, doing their best to scare the people into believing that making sure everybody can take their kids to the doctor is an idea Joe Stalin cooked up in the bowels of the Kremlin and that any attempt to guarantee basic medical care is as good as a ticket to the Gulag.

For month's we've heard the "No We Can't" crowd tell us that the United States of America wasn't able to do what Germany, Great Britain, France, Canada and Iceland can do. They told us we're not as resourceful as Spain, as prosperous as Cuba, as self-disciplined as Italy. Well, they're wrong, and it's about time for the costume party patriots to quit selling our country short. First of all, to the all those angry, frustrated folks demanding "I want my country back!" - it's not your country ... it's our country. Each of us has equal claim. For that matter, I'm not sure what country it is you want back or why it is you feel you've lost it."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Letter from one caught in the middle

More and more people are caught in the ever growing middle between having good insurance and being on welfare. This is an actual letter and a great message:

"Self-Employed and Farmers Need Health Care Too

My husband and I are hard working self employed farmers and have a home woodworking business which keeps us fully employed. We do not have an outside job that provides medical insurance.

Given the recent rate increases in our medical insurance premiums, paying for our own insurance is no longer an option we can afford. Here is the letter we had to send to Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN.

Customer service department,

Due to economic circumstances in our household and your two most recent rate increases we can no longer afford to or justify holding medical insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota.

From our perspective the rate increase is unfounded and further depletes our monthly budget to the extent that a visit to the doctor is nearly impossible.

I am not comfortable with being under insured and still paying $539.00 per month for that privilege. Our current policy looks like a very big waste of money, of which we have so little.

I am hoping these explanations help your company to find a better way, and not just a better marketing strategy.

Please cancel my insurance policy numbered XXXX effective April 1, 2010.


xxxxxxx xxxxxxx

I have heard in the media that the insurance rates are going up so much because of all the lay offs and employers dropping coverage. So, we have to pay more because more and more people don't have coverage. All I know for sure is that the rates on our insurance policy have increased every year in the time we have had it, both in good times and bad.

We need a different way to do this. A way so hard working people don't get left out.

We applaud the effort to extend health care to low income people, but self employed farmers, and others who are self employed and small businesses need affordable health care coverage also. We have always considered the United States to be a great country to live and work in, but now many of who fall in the middle are being forced to take the gamble that we won't get drastically sick and save the dollars that were spending on medical insurance to use to actually go see a doctor if we need to. The policy we were in had a deductible so high that a visit to the doctor’s office would result us making monthly payments to the provider on top of the premiums to the insurance company, what is also known as being "underinsured".

America’s current health care system means people pay more and get less – until they can’t even afford it any more. That weakens our economy, undermines families, concentrates wealth in fewer and fewer hands, and puts people’s long-term health at risk. It’s clear to me that America would be stronger with a decent health care system.

In my mind, we in our state of Minnesota can and should do much better on health care, and can help lead the nation on real reform that works and fits average people's budgets. We can’t afford to keep letting this slide."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reinventing care for poor means relying less on ER |

Reinventing care for poor means relying less on ER |
Minnesota politicians say they have a wonderful solution to the Governor's threat to stop the medical payment program for the poorest of the poor - GAMC. I love this quote from the article in the Trib.

"First, create a new system to provide comprehensive medical care for 32,000 adults, many of them homeless and chronically ill, add social work and psychological counseling, do it on a budget slashed from $219 million to $91 million -- and roll it out in 12 weeks.

Second, convince Samuel Matoke and other skeptical users of General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC) -- living on $203 a month and preoccupied with getting a meal and a bed -- that the best care starts in a low-cost medical clinic, not an expensive hospital emergency room.

"The emergency room, that's where you can go anytime," Matoke said last week during an interview at St. Stephen's shelter near downtown Minneapolis. "Maybe they don't like you too much, but they fix you up when you get really sick or you break your arm.""

A County hospital can't say no to this since a dime is better than nothing even if it means losing a dollar. But our system has such a history of driving the poor and sickest to ERs (which we all pay for in premiums, co-pays and taxes) that changing patient behavior will be very hard. And don't forget that often those arriving at the ER were taken there by others after hours.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist - Health Reform Myths -

Op-Ed Columnist - Health Reform Myths -
Good summary of what the major myths are. Appreciate that Krugman says it would be better to have Medicare for All but let's get what we can right now.

One Payer - One Plan - One Pool

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bill George: Time to transform state's health care |

Bill George: Time to transform state's health care | "Many great ideas here - except the ideas for using private for profit health insurance as a part of the system. HMO's managed care model has failed. High deductibles are failing and will fail as they cream the healthy off the top and hurt the old, poor and sick. The only way we can afford the team based, high quality model is to rid ourselves of the 30% of our money going into insurance company profits and CEO salaries and shareholders. One Payer, One Plan -- that is the only way we can afford change. Minnesota was the birthplace of HMOs. Let's be the birthplace of a better system -- enact the Minnesota Health Plan. []"

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lori Sturdevant: Marty looks to future with singer-payer bill |

Lori Sturdevant: Marty looks to future with singer-payer bill |

A candidate for Minnesota Governor has the guts to keep pushing for the eventual adoption of a one payer health care payment system. We can all have renewed hope of eventual change and find motivation to keep fighting the good fight.

If you want to learn more about the proposal: If you want to learn facts about a one payer system concept, check out: If you want to hear unfounded rantings, you can always go to: or

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Op-Ed Columnist - The Narcissus Society -

Op-Ed Columnist - The Narcissus Society -
"Which brings me to health care: Crunch time has come on a question central to the nation’s future, where an acknowledgment is needed that, when it comes to health, we’re all in this together. Pooling the risk among everybody is the most efficient way to forge a healthier society. That’s what other developed societies do. And they don’t have 30 million plus uninsured.

Now, as I understand it, the Tea Party movement is angry about waste, bail-outs for the rich and spiraling debt. They detest big government. But if waste and debt are really what’s bothering them, how about the waste in the more than 1,800 daily health-care related personal bankruptcies, the 25 to 30 percent of some corporate insurers’ costs going on administration (versus 6 percent for Medicare), the sky-rocketing health premiums that are undermining U.S. corporations (and so taking jobs), the endless paperwork of private reimbursement procedures, and the needless deaths?"

Monday, February 22, 2010

Paul Krugman: Inconvenient: Health care premiums rise |

Paul Krugman: Inconvenient: Health care premiums rise |
I think this column by Krugman is important but I'm not sure how much it will impact on what Congress is willing to do. Facts never seem to matter. But it does cause me to wonder -- are not the big insurance companies already working across state borders? Seems to me they do - even if it is via various corporate legal maneuverings. United Health in Minnesota seems to be doing business directly or indirectly in every state. We get Medicare supplement policies where we live in WI via Blue Cross Anthem and the envelopes all come from California. BTW -- our premiums only went up 8.9% - guess we are lucky.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quit Feeding Stray Animals

Leonard Pitts; GOP candidate breeds contempt for the poor

Many of you probably saw this Leaonard Pitts column. A politician comparing helping the poor to feeding stray animals gets your juices flowing.
Sounds way too much like the Tea Party rantings about single payer health care doesn't it?
I thought I would send this out suggesting that this is a real attitude issue and highlight that he suggests that those most in need can be the most vocal in this seemingly irrational position. The same thing happens when it comes to health care payment reform - those who need it the most can be up front yelling the loudest in opposition. I still think this is a uniquely American phenomena that we need to learn how to address. I think the recent BBC article helps us see ourselves. We need to learn from those outside views Our responses can be our own worst enemies in efforts to help others learn and make informed decisions. There is resentment of what is seen as elitist know it alls telling them what to do, how to think and that they are too dumb to see the light.
In his recent book "Whats the Matter with Kansas" Thomas Frank suggests "the Republicans have learned how to stoke up resentment against the patronizing liberal elite, all those do-gooders who assume they know what poor people ought to be thinking". We need to learn how to listen and try to start where they are coming from. If we are on the right track, they will come to the same basic conclusions as we do. We need to avoid talking down, etc. and try harder to communicate with them and to work to create an atmosphere where they feel listened to and understood.
BTW -- I don't think this will work with very many of the rich, greedy power brokers like those in control of for profit insurance companies because they are too likely to really want to see all those funny looking, strange acting, bothersome poor and sick people die. Maybe some of you could help me with that terrible, personal, prejudice problem. I need to find a book a a column about that I guess.

Friday, February 5, 2010

BBC News - Why do people vote against their own interests?

BBC News - Why do people vote against their own interests?
"Political scientist Dr David Runciman gives his view on why there is often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.

Last year, in a series of "town-hall meetings" across the country, Americans got the chance to debate President Obama's proposed healthcare reforms.

What happened was an explosion of rage and barely suppressed violence."

We need to tell more stories and avoid talking down to people. Some lessons to be learned here.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Katherine Kersten: Bipartisan health care? Yes, we can. |

Katherine Kersten: Bipartisan health care? Yes, we can. |
Kersten suggests there are ways to create a bipartisan solution. I agree but I do not agree with her suggestions as to how to do so. The suggestions miss the primary areas causing our health care payment system to fail. Sounds like a party line but the party isn't Republican. The party being followed hook, line and sinker is the big insurance company line. They have bought too many politicians and they have way too many lobbyists in D.C. Health care payment needs to be changed and it must be done first by terminating the failed experiment of for-profit health insurance as the way it is paid. The laws and rules they have gotten government to enact only protect them. We pretend the red tape is somehow done to them by bureaucrats. It is done by them to protect themselves. We need a hybrid of how we provide utilities and how we provide fire, police, roads and education. We need the docs to stay private and not become employed by government (except where it makes sense like Vets and County Hospitals). We need hospitals to all be non-profit and to be put on a budget instead of those expensive itemized bills. We do NOT need to continue the escalating ownership of provider clinics and hospitals by insurance companies. If we must have insurance in health care (which is the single biggest problem causing cost overruns), we MUST legally separate and outlaw ownership of a provider by an insurance company. They who pay for the care shall not be allowed to own the care provider. Our own United Health (with their 15 million per year CEO) runs huge insurance industries, providers and has their hands in administrative pieces of many providers and supposedly non-profit insurance companies in Minnesota. Kick out the Middle Man!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hospital chain, UnitedHealth in standoff over costs, rules |

Hospital chain, UnitedHealth in standoff over costs, rules |"Minnetonka-based UnitedHealthcare says the proposed rule is meant to improve the quality of care and cut costs by allowing insurance case managers to jump in right away. The hospitals say that having their reimbursement cut in half is too much to pay for a clerical error, and that the drain on their revenues would ultimately hurt their patients."
It is not OK to even hint that government is invovled in health care payment decisions but not enough people seem to care that a for profit company paying their CEO over 15 million can start to dictate what hospitals and doctors and patients can and can not do. Keep it up Unidted Health Care -- maybe enough people will get fed up and we can actually overcome all that money you throw at our elected officials.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

George F. Will: Health care, afoul of the Constitution |

George F. Will: Health care, afoul of the Constitution |
This argument against making insurance mandatory is interesting. A State can make car insurance mandatory but then we can choose to not drive. Is getting health care like buying a car or like buying car insurance? Actually I think it is not like either and I sure hope the Judges see it that way. It is in the public's best interest for sick and injured to get care. It is not a public issue whether or not I buy a car or get a driver's license. If you determine that in this great Country health care is a right and not some privegige for those with money, then don't you have to open up access to all? If you remove the whole concept of insurance from the mix, isn't a single payer system the best way to provide universal access?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why markets can’t cure healthcare - Paul Krugman Blog -

Why markets can’t cure healthcare - Paul Krugman Blog -
We can forget these basic facts so well spelled out by Krugman. We always hear about how the free market will solve it and that if we just shopped for health care the way we do for a car, everything would take care of itself. Well, it won't. As Krugman says there are " examples of successful health care based on the principles of the free market, for one simple reason: in health care, the free market just doesn’t work. And people who say that the market is the answer are flying in the face of both theory and overwhelming evidence." This link to his July '09 article should be re-read often.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Some foes of health-care bill hope courts will stop legislation -

Some foes of health-care bill hope courts will stop legislation -

not sure if this would be good or bad. If the focus was on guaranteeing access to health care for all, as we have for education, I am guessing the constitutional issue would not apply.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Wii helps the cause in bidding war for patients |

Wii helps the cause in bidding war for patients |

What's Wrong With This Picture? Handing out video games! Electronic records making it harder to switch clinics?? Marketing health care like used cars??