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Obamacare Saved By The Health Insurance Industry

Why Big Health Insurance Supported Obamacare, Part IV

In the past few posts (in particular, here and here), DrRich has shown why the health insurance industry embraced Obamacare, and indeed, took extraordinary steps to assure that Obamacare became the law of the land. This, of course, is especially interesting in light of the common perception that Obamacare constitutes a major defeat for the greedy health insurance industry.

But the fact that big health insurance gave critical support to Obamacare is far more than merely interesting. It has major implications both to supporters of Obamacare, especially the ones who hope for an eventual single-payer outcome, and to opponents of Obamacare, many of whom hope to repeal it after the 2010 mid-term elections.

For the health insurance industry to have supported Obamacare, especially in the manner that it did, leads us to three conclusions. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Covert Rationing Blog*

Despite Medicare, Primary Care Doctors Were Paid More In 2009

The Senate has further tweaked its doc fix legislation to restore the extension to six months (from June 1 through Nov. 30) and the pay raise to 2.2 percent, reports a Senate Finance Committee Republican advisor. In Northern Michigan, the doc fix can’t come soon enough, as yet more physicians contemplate not accepting any more Medicare patients. The legislation continues to see revisions in the Senate, following the U.S. House refusal to consider the doc fix as a stand-alone bill. (TwitDoc, WWTV/WWUP-TV News)

But primary care physicians saw a 2.8 percent median compensation increase in 2009, according to a Medical Group Management Association survey. MGMA attributed the rise to employers’ and payers’ increased commitment to primary care, but noted threats to Medicare payments still exist. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

“Whoop-De-Do!” To The Medicare Physician Pay Cut Problem

After months of dithering, delaying, denying, and defaulting on a decision, Congress ended up…doing as little as possible to address the Medicare physician pay cut problem.

Thursday night the House of Representatives acceded to the Senate’s bill to provide physicians with a 2.2 percent update retroactive to June 1. This respite, though, lasts only through the end of November, when physicians and patients will again face another double-digit cut. And if the past is prologue, a lame-duck Congress then will wait until the very last minute to enact another short-term patch, or worse yet, allow the cut to go into effect on December 1 and then pass some kind of retroactive adjustment.

You know that the situation has gotten ridiculously bad when the President says this about the bill he just signed into law:

“Kicking these cuts down the road just isn’t an adequate solution.”

And when Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) calls it “inadequate” and a “great disappointment” and the best that any had to say about it was this from SFC ranking member Charles Grassley (R-IA):

“This action was critically needed so there’s no disruption in services for anyone.”

But it’s too late. Read more »

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

SGR: Tired Of Congress Hitting The 6-Month “Snooze” Button

I have not a single thing I want to write about today. I am weary of the obvious topic: the “passage” of the 6-month extension on the SGR, but do feel I need to comment.

I am tired of this. I am tired of being jerked around by congress. I am tired of congress hitting the 6-month snooze button and somehow feeling that they are doing something good. This is procrastination, not a solution. Reassurances that something will be done are starting to be irrelevant. The problem is becoming the frustration, anger, and exhaustion that congress is thrusting upon doctors and patients, not the pay cut itself. The idea of no longer having to deal with the passive-aggressive tactics of congress is becoming increasingly appealing –- and if it’s this way for me, I’m sure it’s the same for PCPs across the country. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

Medicaid In A Squeeze

New reports peg Medicaid’s future as dismal and unsustainable, as states struggle for ways to pay for the rising costs of caring for their poorest residents. The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions study, “Medicaid Long-Term Care: The Ticking Time Bomb,” estimates Medicaid costs will nearly double as a percentage of state budgets by 2030, or perhaps nearly triple.

Meanwhile, the Urban Institute for the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured estimates Medicaid expansion will cost $464.7 billion by 2019. The federal government will cover $443.5 billion (95.4 percent) and the states will cover the remaining $21.2 billion. Minnesota won’t expand its Medicaid program until 2014 because of budget fears. Connecticut will. (The Fiscal Times, MedPage Today, Reuters, U.S. House Rep. John B. Larson)

U.S. Senators, meanwhile, are looking to phase out federal subsidies Medicaid as a way of pushing through stalled legislation — the same package that had included the “doc fix.” Speaking of that, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate may soon turn its attention away from that toward other issues. (Wall Street Journal, The Hill, ABC News)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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