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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*

Hope For Healthcare: Few Patients See It In The Election Results

“So, what do you think about the election?”

“So, what do you think about Obamacare?”

“What do you think about this healthcare situation?”

I get these questions throughout my day. My patients are mostly suburban and white, so their view is overall on the conservative side. Yet I have found that few see the results of the election as a hopeful sign for healthcare. I don’t either.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I am a “flaming moderate” when it comes to politics. I don’t have much faith in anyone who identifies too strongly with one party of the other. I am really angry with congress and their lack of gonads to work on really coming up with solutions. Interestingly, my patients, regardless of their political leaning, agree with much of what I say. Here are the things they all seem to agree with:

1. Congressional politics is hurting us. Members of congress (both sides are equally guilty) are more focused on what is good for their party than what is good for those who they represent. If a democrat is elected to this district, I expect him/her to represent all of the people in that district, not just the democrats (the same is obviously true for republicans). This doesn’t mean they must lose all of their ideology, but ideology should be a means, not an end. The reason to hold an ideology is to come to solutions to problems with that ideology as a vehicle. The goal is to help the people you represent through your ideology, not bang them over the head with it. Read more »

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

Do The Elderly Benefit From The “Fury Of American Medicine?”

I don’t consider myself a right-wing healthcare fear monger, but if I were this study would be worthy of amplification. As reported concisely in the New York Times, from the journal Demography (not previously known to me), population researchers reported that even though elderly Americans have more medical problems than their peers in Britain, older Americans live longer once they make it to 70. Why would this be?

Is it because Americans who reach 70 are “heartier” than Britons, as Columbia University PhD (but now on leave and working at HHS) Sherry Giled says. Or is better survival of the American elderly one of the benefits of the “fury of American medicine?” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Fix Healthcare Soon Or The Patient Will Be Beyond Saving

The top vote-getting answer on my poll about what people feel about the election: Different lunatics, same asylum. We are getting jaded by our system. Being the “flaming moderate” that I am, I find it hard to hear the substance of the rhetoric on either side, just the shrillness and rancor of the voices.

From the physician’s perspective, it is very hard to know who to favor in this election. The democrats seem to love lawyers and hate tort reform, and they also favor an expansion of government. The republicans love big businesses and “free market,” accepting the bad behavior of insurance and drug companies as “the market working itself out.” They both seem hell-bent on sticking it to the other party at the expense of getting anything done — and this in a time of crisis for our industry.

The results of this playground brawl between the two gangs of bullies is that all of us wimpy kids (the ones without power) end up lying bloody in the dirt. Here are the facts as I see them about healthcare in our country:

1. It costs far too much. The top item on the agenda needs to be cost control. The only way to control cost is to stop paying for things that are unnecessary or for which there is a cheaper alternative. I know that’s not simple as it sounds, but so much of the discussion is about coverage and how things are paid, while the real issue is not who pays, it’s what and how much gets paid. Read more »

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

Is Looking At “Long Term” Impossible In Our Healthcare System?

I spent last week in Gothenburg, Sweden covering the European Committee for the Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) meeting. Lots of good science, lots of excitement over the new oral and targeted therapies coming on the market to treat this awful disease. But what I want to write about isn’t the science, but about how it will play out in the brave new world of healthcare in which we all live in today.

For instance, consider the first oral therapy to hit the market: Gilenya (fingolimod), which the FDA approved in September. Last month Novartis announced the price: $48,000 a year.

This is not a rant against the high cost of drugs, however. It is a rant against the inability of our healthcare system to take the long view of the impact of such drugs, a view that is particularly important with a chronic disease like MS that strikes healthy young adults in their early 20s and 30s. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at A Medical Writer's Musings on Medicine, Health Care, and the Writing Life*

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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