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The Government’s Involvement In New Primary Care Models

Government healthcare reform efforts are picking up the pace to roll out new reimbursement and practice models for primary care.

Medicare is giving out $10 billion for pilot projects encouraging new models of primary care, including the patient-centered medical home. New Jersey just passed legislation to explore the patient-centered medical home. Now, Massachusetts, the early adopter of mandatory health insurance, is now ambitiously planning how to take on the fee-for-service reimbursement system and moving toward accountable care organizations. Under discussion are the scope of power for state regulators, what rules will apply to accountable care organizations, and how to get rid of the existing fee-for-service system.

Blogger and pediatrician Jay Parkinson, MD, MPH, comments about the “bureaucrats in Washington” that, “they’ve decided for doctors that we’ll get paid for strictly office visits and procedures when, in fact, being a good doctor is much, much more about good communication and solid relationships than the maximum volume of patients you can see in a given day.”

Now, it’s those same bureaucrats who are changing the system, trying to find a model that will accomplish just those goals. (CMS Web site, NJ Today, Boston Globe, KevinMD)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

The Medicare Reform Act: Smoke And Mirrors For Patients And Physicians

An interesting debate occurred in the Washington Post between Michael Leavitt, former secretary of Health and Human Services and a member of the Medicare Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2009, and Dr. Don Berwick, the director of CMS.

Michael Leavitt wrote a scathing article criticizing President Obama’s Medicare Reform Act calling it an illusion. Don Berwick wrote a rebuttal to Michael Leavitt’s article.

Michael Leavitt starts off his article by stating: “Despite the report from Medicare’s trustees this month that the hospital insurance trust fund will not be depleted until 2029, 12 years later than was predicted just last year, Medicare is no better off than it was a year ago. “

The Medicare Trustees Report was strange. Nothing was done to change anything and all of a sudden, the hospital insurance fund was extended 12 years. I thought it was funny arithmetic.

Medicare Trustees is supposed to be an organization independent of the administration. Shortly afterward, Richard Foster, Chief Actuary for Medicare, who is independent of both the Medicare Trustees and the administration, wrote an “Alternative Report.” His report received little coverage in the traditional media. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

Large Healthcare Systems: Are They Gouging Patients?

With patients having to pay more of what’s charged for their healthcare, comparisons between medical systems like this one in Pennsylvania make us wonder if bigger necessarily means better. From the Times-Tribune:

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council study looked at four regional hospitals that offer cardiac surgery: Geisinger Wyoming Valley, Plains Twp.; Community Medical Center and Mercy Hospital, Scranton; and Pocono Medical Center, East Stroudsburg.

Among the four, Geisinger Wyoming Valley carries the biggest price tag. In 2008, the average hospital charge for a coronary artery bypass graft surgery was $108,029 and the average hospital charge for valve surgery was $132,740, according to information in the report. Read more »

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

The 10 (Not 100) “Most Powerful People In (Your) Health Care”

In case you haven’t seen it, a list of the 100 Most Powerful People in Health Care was [recently] published. In thinking about this list I realized that, in reality, these people had little to do with my patients’ health care delivery. So how did they became the most powerful people in health care?

Quite simply, they are not the 100 most powerful people in health care, but rather they are the 100 most powerful people overseeing the funding of health care — at least for the moment. In as little as 11 months, many of the people on this list will be gone or have moved on to their next money-making venture.

So who are the most powerful people in health care? Read more »

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

Security Of Patient Records: The Weakest Link

The Queen of Soul famously wailed about being a link in a “chain of fools.” The lead story in the August 13th Boston Globe tells us about another sort of link in the chain — the weakest link in the chain of custody of patient records.

In brief, a pathology billing service bought out by another service apparently dumped all records more than a year old in a town dump. A Globe photographer taking out his own trash noticed that the paper records (which he was looking at because he thought they ought to be recycled rather than dumped) had identifiable patient data and represented at least four hospitals from across Eastern Massachusetts. Clearly, these records ought to have been shredded or otherwise destroyed before disposal. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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