In an earlier post, DrRich offered several potential strategies for doctors and patients to consider should healthcare reformers ultimately succeed in their efforts to make it illegal for Americans to seek medical care outside the auspices of Obamacare. To those readers who persist in thinking that DrRich is particularly paranoid in worrying about such a thing, he refers you to his prior work carefully documenting the efforts the Central Authority has already made in limiting the prerogatives of individual Americans within the healthcare system, and reminds you that in any society where social justice is the overriding concern, individual prerogatives such as these must be criminalized. Indeed, whether individuals will retain the right to spend their own money on their own healthcare is ultimately the real battle. The outcome of this battle will determine much more than merely what kind of healthcare system we will end up with.
DrRich, despite his paranoia on the matter, is a long-term optimist, and believes that the American spirit will ultimately prevail. So, to advance this happy result DrRich (in the previously mentioned post) graciously offered several creative options that could be employed to establish a useful Black Market in healthcare, which will allow individuals to exercise their healthcare-autonomy against the day when such autonomy again becomes legal. His suggestions included offshore, state-of-the-art medical centers on old aircraft carriers; combination Casino/Hospitals on the sovereign soil of Native American reservations; and cutting-edge medical centers just south of the border (which would have the the added benefit of encouraging our government to finally close the borders to illegal crossings once and for all).
As entertaining as it might be to imagine such solutions, a readily available, though much more mundane, option exists today, which is to say, medical tourism. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at The Covert Rationing Blog*
Who would have thought when we first looked upon you a year ago, barely formed, still somewhat embryonic, that you would have grown so much in just a year, and created so much, well, trouble? Yes, I’m talking about you, health reform. After all, aren’t you the reason for the sea change in Washington? Aren’t you behind several pending appeals that will get to the Supreme Court? Aren’t you the reason that the country is going to hell in a handbasket?
But wait. Let’s look at some other major milestones of the past year.
– You sent $250 checks to Medicare beneficiaries to help cover the “donut hole” in their drug coverage.
– You created special insurance pools designed to provide health care NOW to people with preexisting conditions who can’t get coverage.
– You allowed parents to keep their kids on their health insurance until the children turn 26, providing a major safety net.
– You did away with lifetime caps, enabling those with some serious medical conditions to continue receiving health insurance.
And that’s just in a year. Imagine what the next year and the year after that will bring. So I’ll say it again, Happy Birthday, Healthcare Reform. May you live to a ripe old age and only get better.
*This blog post was originally published at A Medical Writer's Musings on Medicine, Health Care, and the Writing Life*
Last year’s “Doctor Fix” was passed the last week congress was in session in 2010. This was after the medical profession was held in suspense for 9 months.
The “Doctor Fix” was supposedly the result of President Obama making a deal with the AMA for the AMA’s support. He was going to pass a real “Doctor Fix” in 2011 by repairing the defective sustainable growth rate formula (SGR). Nothing has been done about this by President Obama in 2011. The cumulative physician reimbursement reduction of 25% was suspended until January 2012.
Physicians face a 29.5% Medicare Pay Cut in January 2012. Four and one half percent was added to last year’s cumulative physicians reimbursement reduction. The reduction was calculated into the CBO’s cost score for President Obama’s Healthcare Reform Act.
Last week an official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services unveiled the 29.5% rate reduction for 2012 in a recent letter to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. This will become another distraction for physicians and the media as President Obama stalls for time. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*
It’s heart wrenching when young athletes die of sudden cardiac death (SCD). Last week the death of Wes Leonard, a Michigan high school star athlete, was especially poignant since he collapsed right after making the game-winning shot. This sort of tragedy occurs about one hundred times each year in America. That’s a lot of sadness. The obvious question is: Could these deaths be prevented? Let’s start with what actually happens.
Most cases of sudden death in young people occur as a result of either hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), an abnormal thickening of heart muscle, or long QT syndrome (LQTS), a mostly inherited disease of the heart’s electrical system. Both HCM and LQTS predispose the heart to ventricular fibrillation — electrical chaos of the pumping chamber of the heart. The adrenaline surges of athletic competition increase the odds of this chaos. Unfortunately, like heart disease often does, both these ailments can strike without warning.
Sudden death is sad enough by itself, but what makes it even worse is that both these ailments are mostly detectable with two simple painless tests: The ECG and echocardiogram (heart ultrasound). Let’s get these kids ECGs and echos then. “Git ‘er dun,” you might say.
On the surface the solution seems simple: Implement universal cardiac screening of all young athletes. And you wouldn’t be alone in thinking this way. You could even boast the support of Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News and the entire country of Italy, where all athletes get ECGs and echos before competing. But America isn’t Italy, and things aren’t as simple as Fox News likes to suggest. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*
[Recently] a short article in the New York Times, New Kidney Transplant Policy Would Favor Younger Patients, [drew] my attention to a very basic problem in medical ethics: Rationing.
According to the Washington Post coverage, the proposal comes from the United Network for Organ Sharing, a Richmond-based private non-profit group the federal government contracts for allocation of donated organs. From the Times piece:
Under the proposal, patients and kidneys would each be graded, and the healthiest and youngest 20 percent of patients and kidneys would be segregated into a separate pool so that the best kidneys would be given to patients with the longest life expectancies.
This all follows [the recent] front-page business story on the monetary value of life.
I have to admit, I’m glad to see these stories in the media. Any reasoned discussion of policy and reform requires frank talk on healthcare resources which, even in the best of economic times, are limited.
*This blog post was originally published at Medical Lessons*