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Counter Point: Happy Birthday Health Reform

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*

State Of Healthcare In The Union

Short and sweet. That’s how President Obama addressed healthcare reform in his State of the Union address [Tuesday] night. In less than 700 words, he outlined how he’d improve but not retreat on what’s been enacted into law.

He’s willing to work on changes, he said, naming malpractice reform and reducing onerous paperwork burdens for small businesses. But, he cautioned, “What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition.”

President Obama had invited two real people to his address to highlight the law’s successes. One is a brain cancer survivor who can access health insurance through high-risk pools created by the law. The other is a small business owner who lowered health insurance costs by $10,000 for his nine employees, a probable jab at the “job-killing” title of an attempted yet futile repeal vote last week.

The President’s remarks come at a time when the public is of two minds on healthcare reform. While many state they don’t like the entire package, they also love individual aspects of it. The individual mandate remains widely unpopular, but allowing those with pre-existing conditions to access insurance is widely popular, as does Medicare and Social Security.

The Republican response by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Chairman of the House Budget Committee, responded that, “The President mentioned the need for regulatory reform to ease the burden on American businesses. We agree — and we think his healthcare law would be a great place to start.” The House has voted for a repeal and Senate Republicans are preparing legislation and promising to ask for a vote. (Los Angeles Times, Politico, Kaiser Health News, Greenville [South Carolina] Online)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Healthcare Reform Law Is Gaining Public Support

GOP hardliners soon to be in control of the House have made repeal of the detested healthcare reform law a cornerstone of their agenda, despite the impossibility of actually being able to repeal it, politically, at least until an election or two has passed, and despite the fact that their ascent to power had more to do with the terrible economy and high unemployment than any mandate to repeal the law.

It seems that, finally, there may be movement towards increased public support for the law. A new McClatchy poll shows a majority of Americans now in favor of the law:

A majority of Americans want the Congress to keep the new health care law or actually expand it, despite Republican claims that they have a mandate from the people to kill it, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

The post-election survey showed that 51 percent of registered voters want to keep the law or change it to do more, while 44 percent want to change it to do less or repeal it altogether.

Driving support for the law: Voters by margins of 2-1 or greater want to keep some of its best-known benefits, such as barring insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. One thing they don’t like: the mandate that everyone must buy insurance.

Of course, it is the mandate that makes the whole thing hang together. And it’s hardly news that people like the individual provisions and protections found within the law. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Medicaid Thieves And The Future Of Healthcare

Are you wondering about a glaring unintended consequence of  healthcare reform? Read on to learn how everyone becomes a criminal.

By now you’ve all heard of the government reports of Medicare fraud being three times higher than 17 billion dollars a year  previously thought. How you ask? Because an illegible doctor signature is considered fraud and Obama is out to make things right and transparent and accurate. You can pretty much count on every physician in this country being a fraudster.

But what about Medicaid? Does the same fraud problem exist with the Medicaid system? Probably, but you also have to worry about the patient abuse aspect as well. Here’s an angle of  unintended consequences you may not have considered with healthcare reform by making pre-existing conditions a thing of the past.

I have been told Happy’s hospital has a handful of repeat offenders using their family member’s Medicaid card to get free healthcare services in the ER. Why is that possible and why would anyone let their family member use their insurance card? The question you should ask is not “why,” but “why not?” Why wouldn’t every family with Medicaid share their card? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

The Timeline Of Healthcare Reform

As the dust settles on the Great Healthcare Reform Bill of 2010 passage in Congress, it’s time to ask what we got for the effort. No matter what people thought of the bill before, like it or not, it’s here.

Still, few people really understand what the bill contains and when the benefits and costs for the measure will be incurred on a year-by-year basis. Given the bill’s complexity and tortuous path though Social Security and IRS tax codes, this really isn’t a surprise, I suppose.

So here’s my simplified broad-brush overview, broken down by year, culled from several sources as referenced. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

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