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Why Is There So Much Less Paperwork In Canadian Health Care?

If you ask internists and their patients what makes them bonkers about the U.S. health care system, paperwork will top the list. Many will point to the federal government as the culprit, citing the many forms, RAC audits, pre-and post-payment reviews, documentation and coding guidelines, HIPAA privacy rules, quality measurement and reporting, Part D drug formularies, and HIT meaningful use requirements imposed by Medicare and other federal programs. (Some put more of the blame on private insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.)

But if paperwork is associated with the degree of government involvement in health care, then Canada–a single payer system–should have more of it than the United States, right? Think again.

A new Health Affairs survey of U.S. physicians and practice administrators found that U.S. physicians spend Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

Healthcare Spending: Slowest Growth Since The Great Depression

Healthcare spending grew in 2009 at its slowest rate since 1938, according to a report published in Health Affairs.

The last time America saw such a slow growth rate on health spending it was still emerging from the Great Depression and hadn’t yet entered World War II. The most recent recession is also the cause for the health spending figures, according to the annual report, released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The report shows that the recession left a deeper impact than previous ones.

Healthcare spending grew 4 percent to $2.5 trillion, outpacing the rest of the still recovering economy. Authors wrote that the recession contributed to slower growth in private health insurance spending and out-of-pocket spending by consumers, as well as a reduction in capital investments by health care providers. Enrollment in private health insurance fell by 6.3 million people.

That’s still 17.6 percent of the U.S. economy in 2009, which reflects the effects of the recession on the economy and the effects of more Medicaid spending, which rose nearly 22 percent last year as part of the economic stimulus and to cover state deficits. (Health Affairs, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Judge Rules Healthcare Reform “Unconstitutional”

A federal judge in Virginia has ruled that healthcare reform is unconstitutional and expects the Obama administration to honor that ruling while it’s being appealed. But states and private companies are continuing to plan and budget for it nonetheless.

The court ruled that Congress exceeded its constitutional powers in compelling Americans to buy health insurance. Judges elsewhere have ruled the law is valid or dismissed the cases on procedural grounds, while a judge in Florida will hear another case later this week.

In the meantime, though, employers and healthcare companies have to continue adjusting to the reform law’s many provisions. States will continue to set up their health insurance exchanges, and they’ve already budgeted for the additional 16 million people who will qualify for Medicaid under the law. And the Obama administration is unlikely to stop what it’s doing, since many of the provisions won’t take effect until 2014.

A key of the lawsuit is “economic inactivity.” The ruling says that while Congress can regulate interstate commerce, it can’t regulate…well, non-commerce, in this case the decision not to buy health insurance. The judge’s decision is online. (Politico, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, MSNBC)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Healthcare Reform Law: State Courts Pose A Threat

Busted 300x200 State Courts Pose Threat to Health Reform LawFlush from their big win in the midterms, the Boehners are vowing to repeal and replace the Big O’s health reform law. They pose a legitimate threat, but an even larger one lies in the courts, where suits challenging the constitutionality of the law have been popping up like fireflies on a late August night.

In Virginia for example, Republican-appointed Federal District Court Judge Henry Hudson has indicated that the Individual Mandate — a key provision of the law that has been challenged in a suit filed in his court by the state’s Republican Attorney General — might not pass his sniff test.

Hudson said he’d rule on the matter this month. If he deems the provision to be unconstitutional, he might (it’s unlikely, but he might) enjoin the law altogether until higher courts rule on the matter. Holy Kazakhstan, Batman!

An official at Camp Obama, who spoke with the New York Times under the condition that his name not be WikiLeaked, acknowledged that Hudson’s thumbs appear to be pointing downward, indeed. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*

Where’s My Government-Provided Healthcare?

Freshman Republican Congressman Andy Harris, who was elected on a promise to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), is outraged that he’s going to go a whole month before his government-provided health insurance kicks in. From Politico:

A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.

Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1st –- 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.

“He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care,” said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. The benefits session, held behind closed doors, drew about 250 freshman members, staffers and family members to the Capitol Visitors Center auditorium late Monday morning.”

All the more embarassing because he’s a doctor, for Pete’s sake. You’d think he’d have a better idea of how insurance works. Guess the dude’s never heard of COBRA. Also, it’s pretty standard that this is how enrollment happens. And it’s idiots like this that want to repeal the PPACA. Read more »

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

Latest Interviews

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

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