Slightly Skeptical View on Health insurance

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It's hard to find products, services and companies that provide honest health service, good monitoring devices and, in general, quality products. This is especially true about medical insurance. Everything (or almost everything is spoiled by obsessive, destructive marketing). Not only USA health system is drug obsessed and test driven to the extent that serious mistakes are possible, it is based of strange symbiosis between doctors and health insurance companies in which each party tries to fool the other. In addition, many doctors became more pharmacy salesmen then real health specialists.  This father complicates the picture. 

In fact, anybody with health problems need to participate in complex poker match between insurance and doctors where you just a minor card.  There are several dangers here

Distortions created by the US healthcare model

This is a very complex issue but some visible problems are as following:

None of these key issues is addressed by the new legislation, hence the support from the Pharmaceutical Companies and Insurers. Nothing will change and the US will continue to pay double the share of GDP with worse outcomes in comparison to other developed countries.


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[Dec 05, 2017] A coalescence and consolidation of insurers effectively being single-payer, expensive private sector paying monopoly. This by-and-large parasitic industry consumes add 35-40% tot he costs feeding whose executives and employees do not contribute constructively to the CARE equation

Notable quotes:
"... Taking jefemt's thinking further, imagine the health insurance provider was not only monopolistic (owned the entire market), but was also a GSE (government sponsored enterprise). Now take it one more step and imagine it was an actual part of the government and not merely a GSE. ..."
"... I was thinking of this too as a reponse to Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State" [Politico]. "Like the Death Star, the American Deep State does not, of course, exist. " ..."
"... Indeed, I think of the insurance industry as being part of the deep state already. It seems that congress's preference is that this part of the deep state is outsourced. So that's it not a GSE, and not even a monopoly, but maintained as an oligopoly. And then, well hey whatever surplus it can hoover up is fair game. After all free-hand of the market and all that. [And heaven knows, we don't want to crowd that out.] ..."
"... The CIA has a long history of drug trafficking. The FBI traffics in blackmail. The NSA in network surveillance. DIA, special ops. NRO, satelite throughput. 11 more in the US of A and countless more globally. They all have opaque resources outside of regular channels. ..."
"... Great documentary about the 80's cocaine business in Miami called "Cocaine Cowboys." It's real life Scarface. Guess who the Feds sent to get a handle on the cocaine smuggling? See-eye-aye man George H.W. Bush. Coincidence? ..."
Mar 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
djrichard, March 22, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Just a bit of a thought experiment, building on some thinking from a comment yesterday by jefemt

Paradoxically, we appear to be seeing a coalescence and consolidation of insurers, we will end up being delightfully exceptional, again -- effectively being single-payer, private sector, paying a monopoly an add-on cost of 35-40% to a parasitic industry whose executives and employees do not contribute to the CARE equation.

Taking jefemt's thinking further, imagine the health insurance provider was not only monopolistic (owned the entire market), but was also a GSE (government sponsored enterprise). Now take it one more step and imagine it was an actual part of the government and not merely a GSE.

Conceivably, it wouldn't even have to live off appropriations from congress, assuming it was equally as extractive from the private sector as it is now (i.e. revenue model is the same). Talk about good living. Who knows, maybe they pocket their proceeds into some kind of surplus in Treasury dept.

But let's assume they had to give up on revenue models. [Afterall, it's easier to find partners in congress when you have an appropriations process that binds you to them.] Then they would be exposed. Somebody would get the bright idea that this agency doesn't need as much staffing since they are no longer revenue oriented. That indeed, they could have the same staffing profile as the agency responsible for medicare. Indeed they could be folded into medicare.

I was thinking of this too as a reponse to Why Steve Bannon Wants You to Believe in the Deep State" [Politico]. "Like the Death Star, the American Deep State does not, of course, exist. "

Indeed, I think of the insurance industry as being part of the deep state already. It seems that congress's preference is that this part of the deep state is outsourced. So that's it not a GSE, and not even a monopoly, but maintained as an oligopoly. And then, well hey whatever surplus it can hoover up is fair game. After all free-hand of the market and all that. [And heaven knows, we don't want to crowd that out.]

In contrast to other parts of the deep state that don't really have a revenue model. In which case, those parts need to be insourced by the Fed Gov.

human , March 22, 2017 at 7:46 pm

The CIA has a long history of drug trafficking. The FBI traffics in blackmail. The NSA in network surveillance. DIA, special ops. NRO, satelite throughput. 11 more in the US of A and countless more globally. They all have opaque resources outside of regular channels.

Ernesto Lyon , March 23, 2017 at 12:09 am

Great documentary about the 80's cocaine business in Miami called "Cocaine Cowboys." It's real life Scarface. Guess who the Feds sent to get a handle on the cocaine smuggling? See-eye-aye man George H.W. Bush. Coincidence?

[Sep 17, 2017] Obamacare is a symptom of a bigger American health care cost problem. If How much larger portion of the US economy can healthcare take before the entire system collapses? Its currently 17% heading for 20%, while competitor nations spend half that. Obamacare, was a hail mary to continue the party for the health insurance and overall industry at tax payer expense, and it was so poorly conceived that as you note, it is falling apart.

Sep 17, 2017 | vascript:void 0

There are two real question facing the US as to what sort of president will Trump be.

1. Thus far he looks to me to be a man who will run a tight ship deciding major issues himself and will make deals with whomever has the power to enable him to reach his goals.

IMO that means that the Republicans in Congress will either go along with Trump's legislative proposals or see Trump go across the aisle to seek votes.

A good example would be whatever it is that Trump decides that he wants to do about the obvious failure that is the ACA, presently sinking under the weight of far higher costs than expected and smaller enrollments. Democrats understand that the law must be modified to survive and to preserve the increase in health care coverage that it has brought. The hardline Republicans in both Houses of Congress want to destroy Obamacare and they have no realistic alternative other than the usual blather about private health accounts. Trump will not want to alienate his working class followers. Why would Trump not make a deal with the Democrats to get what he wants and needs?

ISL said... Dear Colonel,

Obamacare is a symptom of a bigger American health care cost problem. If How much larger portion of the US economy can healthcare take before the entire system collapses? Its currently 17% heading for 20%, while competitor nations spend half that. Obamacare, was a hail mary to continue the party for the health insurance and overall industry at tax payer expense, and it was so poorly conceived that as you note, it is falling apart.

I am hopeful that Pres Trump, who is not beholden to the insurance industry, unlike Obama, will take the side of the US (non-health care) business community and pull our costs to be more in line with those of the rest of the world.

I predict twitter storms against recalcitrant Repubs and Dems that mobilize via social media Trump's constituency to =scare the bejeezus of them for the mid terms. Reply 10 November 2016 at 11:08 AM Pete Deer said... "Why would Trump not make a deal with the Democrats to get what he wants and needs?"

He doesn't care about health insurance for anyone other than himself or his family. He is on record as supporting repeal and replace. And he is an incompetent person who is not a very good negotiator. In fact, he won't do any negotiating at all, leaving that to his staff as that would imply doing the hard work of governing, which is something he is really not all that interested in doing. I say that after having watched him over the past 30 years as he has bankrupted several business, stiffed his contractors and investors and cheated on his various wives. Why should he be any different now?

Pete Reply 10 November 2016 at 11:13 AM Anna said... Medicare for all would solve the crushing ACA problem at once - and this would endear Trump to the working class, progressives, small-business owners... to the absolute majority of the US citizenry. A process of reorganization from the current mess of viciously-profiteering middlemen (insurance companies) toward the Medicare for all could be achieved in one year. The reorganization must be approached as a nationwide emergency that demands a swift, drastic solution. There can be no restoration of the middle class and its purchasing power without first solving the scandalous healthcare crisis. The current system of penalties for not buying a health insurance is in fact a clear case of taxation without representation. Moving to a Single-payer system is perhaps the most urgent task for the US government Reply 10 November 2016 at 12:40 PM shaun said in reply to Anna... we don't do solutions this is the USA./ Reply 10 November 2016 at 02:13 PM Edward Amame said in reply to Anna... Anna

Do you remember why there was no banking reform in the aftermath of the 2008 crash? A very frustrated Sen. Dick Durbin admitted on the radio, "And the banks, hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created, are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place."

Likewise with health insurance reform. HRC ran into an insurance industry/health care industry firestorm when she tried to reform the system in the early 1990s.

That's how we got Obamacare. Democrats had the full support of most of the base because the other side and the the insurance industry/healthcare industry were not willing to even entertain the idea of Medicare for all. We thought Obamacare was something that could get passed in a bi-partisan way because it was a "market-based" solution birthed in the Heritage Foundation that the insurance industry/healthcare industry got sort-of behind.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2011/10/20/how-a-conservative-think-tank-invented-the-individual-mandate/#7380f885621b

Obamacare got passed without the public option because the insurance industry, the GOP, and some Blue Dog Dems demanded it be gone and yet the final version of Obamacare did not get a single GOP vote.

Based on what do you think Trump and the GOP House/Senate would even consider a major new entitlement like Medicare for all? Reply 10 November 2016 at 02:49 PM Anna said in reply to Edward Amame... If the only sensible solution to the healthcare crisis - the Single payer system - were not implemented, then Trump's other important projects will be destined for failure. Reply 10 November 2016 at 05:51 PM FourthAndLong said in reply to Anna... That it is. But medical care has always been for the priveleged historically. Emergency care and first aid excepted. Believing politicians actually care about the public is sort of like thinking parents will be around forever to look out for you, or worse. Egotist desire for a legacy is the best bet. Reply 10 November 2016 at 08:52 PM r whitman said... The individuals speaking out against the ACA do not have insurance under that program. They are medically secure under Medicare, Tricare, Corporate care, etc. The 6 people I know personally that have ACA insurance are happy with it within limits compared to their choices if any before the program.

The excuse that the finances are out of whack is a nonstarter. Every government program that subsidizes an area loses money--Medicare, Medicaid, the Military commissary system, the Farm program, AFDC, food stamps. All these were supposed o be self sustaining but as usual politicians lied about them. The ACA deficit is just more of the same. I am sure that it will evolve into a better system in time. In the meantime 20 million US citizens have some health insurance, same as the rest of us. Reply 10 November 2016 at 02:16 PM ISL said in reply to r whitman... r whitman,

Oh come on, do you really think that poorly of Americans that we are incapable of doing as poorly as the vast majority of European countries (if not sabotaged by crony capitalism), which have better health outcomes that the US? If we could do as well as Belgium (forget Denmark) costs would be half and people would live years longer.

Its not rocket science. Its that Obama was the single largest receiver of donations of any senator by a factor of TWO from the health insurance industry. Deplorable USA sent a message - the pay to play corruption of the establishment sucks. Expect the same message again in two years if their voice is ignored.
Reply 10 November 2016 at 04:29 PM r whitman said in reply to ISL... You miss my point. These people have health insurance. They did not have it before. They are reasonably happy with it. Do not confuse it with the cost. The USA always has the highest cost of government programs, health care or otherwise. Reply 10 November 2016 at 05:20 PM Anna said in reply to r whitman... "The individuals speaking out against the ACA do not have insurance under that program. They are medically secure under Medicare, Tricare, Corporate care, etc."
Could you conceive an idea that the majority of people that are against the ACA are very unhappy with paying the racket money to insurance companions while, at the same time, having no real coverage because of the exorbitant deductibles? The ACA is going to be more expensive next year - up at least 25% and to the whooping 144% - with zero (0) improvement in the coverage. But the most insulting aspect of the program is the penalty for not buying an insurance from the national racketeers; in some states the federal penalty has an additional state penalty. Instead of imposing an honest tax and providing the citizenry with universal health care (at least on the basic level), the racketeering class managed to tax the populace without representation. This is an act of murder of small businesses in the US. Reply 10 November 2016 at 06:09 PM r whitman said in reply to Anna... Are you an ACA participant?? There you go with the cost again. Forget the crooked government costs. The ACA people have health care which they did not have before. Several small businesses that I know have sent their employees to the ACA for health insurance and subsidize their premiums instead of screwing with insurance companies.

You need to divorce actual health care from the cost of health care. Health care is beneficial and in some cases curative. The cost is a racket like most government subsidy programs Reply 11 November 2016 at 10:45 AM

[Jul 25, 2017] Congress is obviously determined to replace Obamacare this year, without a viable alternative, and I think lobbying from hedge funds may be one of their motivations

Notable quotes:
"... Congress is obviously determined to replace Obamacare this year, without a viable alternative, and I think lobbying from hedge funds may be one of their motivations. ..."
"... All this comes back to the mystifying need in congress to enact a new healthcare bill this year that basically just removes a few key components of Obamacare. One of those key components is the Net Investment Income Surtax, which is a 3.8% tax on investment income that is used to increase Medicaid's coverage of people with low incomes. Is it possible that the urgency to pass a new healthcare bill this year is primarily related to its removal of a tax which helps calculate the $25-$100 billion that hedge funds will owe the government next year? If so, my guess is this will also have some influence on any tax cuts included in next years budget. ..."
"... "When asked if they would feel safe using a self-driving car, just 34% said they would while 67% said they would not." Huh? ..."
"... in the form of an amendment to the Republican bill ..."
"... even Republicans ..."
"... unless you give them your personal information. ..."
"... a high-risk investment in undeveloped and unproven ..."
Jul 25, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

JimTan , , July 25, 2017 at 3:16 pm

"And a majority doubt that President Trump .has a clear plan to replace Obamacare if Congress manages to repeal it."

Congress is obviously determined to replace Obamacare this year, without a viable alternative, and I think lobbying from hedge funds may be one of their motivations.

Hedge funds are compensated for their investment services using the standard 2 an 20 model, which means a management fee of 2% of all assets under management, and a performance fee of 20% of profits over a predetermined benchmark. Annual performance fees depend on how well the fund invests; low or no performance means no performance fee. This performance fee is classified by hedge funds as Carried Interest , which is a tax loophole that allows them to pay a low tax rate on these profits.

Annual management fees are independent of performance, and are always large numbers calculated as 2% of their multi-billion dollar assets under management. This management fee is commonly used to fund an offshore 'reinsurance company', because another tax loophole allows profits invested in these offshore insurance companies to be deferred indefinitely.

Apparently the 2008 bank bailout ( Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 ) closed this loophole and gave hedge funds until April 2018 to pay taxes on all these management fees they have been deferring in these offshore companies. On July 20th, the Wall Street Journal and CNBC estimated hedge fund managers collectively owe between $25-$100 billion in taxes on this money.

According to the article some hedge-fund managers face personal tax bills of over $100 million including Steven Cohen ( formerly SAC Capital ), David Einhorn ( Greenlight Capital ), and Daniel Loeb ( Third Point LLC ).

The article also says these deferred fees lower a hedge funds compensation costs, which suggests that many high level employees have past bonuses tied up in these offshore entities which are about to be taxed. To avoid some of these impending taxes, there is apparently an exodus of hedge funds moving to Florida which has no state income tax.

All this comes back to the mystifying need in congress to enact a new healthcare bill this year that basically just removes a few key components of Obamacare. One of those key components is the Net Investment Income Surtax, which is a 3.8% tax on investment income that is used to increase Medicaid's coverage of people with low incomes. Is it possible that the urgency to pass a new healthcare bill this year is primarily related to its removal of a tax which helps calculate the $25-$100 billion that hedge funds will owe the government next year? If so, my guess is this will also have some influence on any tax cuts included in next years budget.

IowanX , , July 25, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Hmmm. Tim Kaine was gushing on NPR yesterday about if the D's and R's worked together, what are the "fixes" and he's got a bill for "re-insurance"–but I don't know the details. Favorable tax treatment (I would guess) is almost certainly part of the bill.

Tim , , July 25, 2017 at 3:16 pm

"When asked if they would feel safe using a self-driving car, just 34% said they would while 67% said they would not." Huh?

Lambert, I think what is going on is driving used to be fun when there weren't very many cars on the road, now driving is so congested and commutes are so long that it is not only not fun, it is extremely stressful, so people are willing to take a hear no evil see no evil approach to driving just so they don't have the stress of doing the driving themselves.

The move to self driving cars is about safety at a society and government level, but at the individual level it is just about de-stressing and saving your concentration for other tasks.

I live 5 miles from work in a fully built out part of San Diego with good road infrastructure, so driving is still fun for me and I drive a stick shift, but I can see the guy stuck in LA traffic for 2-3 hours every day wanting to disconnect from that driving experience as soon as possible even if it may be less safe.

ChrisPacific , , July 25, 2017 at 7:30 pm

What's going on is that the poll is completely useless. I would like my next car to be autonomous. If it can fly, run without fuel, and transform into a magic fairy that cooks dinner and does the dishes, I'd like that too. Am I willing to entrust my safety to the current models on offer from the likes of Google and Uber (or their near term evolutions) knowing what I know about them and about their respective attitudes to regulatory and safety compliance? That's a totally different question.

What was the methodology for the survey? Who funded it? Where is the raw data? Providing disclosure on these points is standard surveying best practice. None of them are answered. The embedded links go to reportlinker.com which is a for-profit organization that produces business analytics. Who was their client in this case? I couldn't find that answer either.

I would file this one under advertising if I'm being kind, or propaganda otherwise.

River , , July 25, 2017 at 7:54 pm

If the car was like Ahmed from Count Zero , then sure I'd take one.

https://books.google.ca/books?id=dFX1xN7q-AgC&pg=PA113&lpg=PA113&dq=count+zero+ahmed&source=bl&ots=UwuJ_cxJpN&sig=Djqvols6Uu39bkQjnm2fOaocExY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwim1NK20KXVAhWBzIMKHQGyDe8Q6AEIOTAC#v=onepage&q=count%20zero%20ahmed&f=false

page 112-113.

Mo's Bike Shop , , July 25, 2017 at 8:46 pm

Will our self driving cars be powered by the hydrogen economy?

Is SDC all unicorn feed, or is there some real tech being spun? I find everything bewildering about SDC evaporates when, like a fortune cookie, you add "on a battlefield" to the end.

Lambert Strether Post author , , July 25, 2017 at 3:21 pm

And :

Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote, clearing the procedural motion and allowing the Senate to begin debating an ObamaCare repeal.

On to the skinny bill, and then to the conference? But wait! Under reconciliation, there's the vote-o-rama to come:e

Those rules, defined by law, include allowing only 20 hours for debate but it also includes a process called "vote-a-rama," in which amendments may be proposed and must be voted on before the final passage of the bill. That's where Levin's idea comes in: He proposed introducing tens of thousands of amendments that would need to be voted on before the Senate's bill could be passed. In theory, Levin figured, Democrats could introduce enough amendments to shut down the Senate for a year.

It would be hilarious if Sanders introduced his single payer bill in the form of an amendment to the Republican bill . I don't know if that's possible under the rules, but why putz around with 1000s of little amendments?

mary , , July 25, 2017 at 3:26 pm

It would even more hilarious if the Senate Dems then all voted for it.

IowanX , , July 25, 2017 at 7:12 pm

+++++++100! Perfect. I think such an amendment would entirely be "in order". Lambert, you are a genius, and also a funny, funny man.

Cujo359 , , July 25, 2017 at 8:14 pm

I don't know what the rules allow, either, but you'd think that re-writing the House Medicare for All bill (HR 676) to be an amendment wouldn't take long. Neither the OC Repeal bill nor M4All is all that complex..

MikeW_CA , , July 25, 2017 at 3:31 pm

"Why Republicans should keep doing nothing" is a brilliant recommendation as far as I'm concerned, but at some point, don't even Republicans have to do something to deliver the goods their clients are paying for? What's the point of holding out for 2018 when you already have what should be the power to do whatever you want?

jo6pac , , July 25, 2017 at 3:39 pm

http://start.att.net/news/read/article/the_associated_press-the_latest_trump_keeps_up_twitter_pressure_on_heal-ap

Done and now part 2

Jim Haygood , , July 25, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Record closes today for the S&P 500 (at 2,477) and Nasdaq Composite.

This puts the "round number strange attractor" into effect: 2,500 or bust.

Dead Dog , , July 25, 2017 at 4:12 pm

Thank you, Lambert. Haven't posted a comment for a few days. Timing thing

Lots of news and links, but it feels less suspenseful at the mo – ie after the last 18 months or so – elections (US, UK, France), Brexit, Trump, Sanders, Corbyn, North Korean, the Russians, Yemen, Qatar and on, and on

Probably a good thing, I get more things done.

My home town of Cairns ticks along, same as. Well, as long as those pesky tourists keep coming (damn you Barrier Reef).

And, at least in my pub, the locals pay no attention whatsoever to anything happening south of Gordonvale (about 20k away). No, we are sophisticated. No politics, geo, neo, or whatever, or you have no friends. So, we sit there and take the piss out of everyone and we focus on footy, golf, the price of beer, cars, bikes, boats, fishing, camping and gossip.

I mean, why be curious like me? Nothing they can do to change things. And, as my partner says, I just don't want to know about that stuff (eg climate change, politics).

!!

One of the hidden news stories here in Oz is that a growing number of politicians (two Greens Senators, incl the QLD leader) have had to resign because of dual citizenship. ie you must be an Australian, and only an Australian (in our Constitution). (For example, I never renounced my UK citizenship (Anfield Boy) and would need to if I were to nominate to enter an election (not gonna happen).

The latest is our Resources Minister, Matt Canavan – who has resigned from the Parliament, after being told by his mother he was Italian, as well as Australian. See https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2017/07/dual-citizenship-claims-canavan/

You can't make this up, eh? Hope they make him pay back the salary he has received during the years since he was elected.

To use the local venacular, Gold, pure Gold

6 am, still dark, cold, like about 17 degrees

Have a great day everyone

The Rev Kev , , July 25, 2017 at 7:11 pm

This story is hilarious. The ruling conservatives tore the Greens a new one last week over how they showed "extraordinary negligence" and "incredible sloppiness" over not checking that if their people had dual citizenship. Now it has come back to bite them hard and I heard that there may be about two dozen others from both major parties in the same boat.
Most people here say if you don't want to give up your other citizenship to serve another country in government, then don't bother putting your name in.The local 'intelligentsia'(?) are making noises that this is wrong and we should abolish that clause in our constitution. This clause does stop a country from flying in a bunch of carpetbaggers, err, technocrats and making them citizens on the spot to serve in government (I'm looking at you Ukraine).
Apparently countries like the US have no real problem with dual citizens serving in government ( http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/homeland-security/240572-when-dual-citizenship-becomes-conflict-of-interest ) but at the end of the day, you have to wonder who they are actually serving at time. Could you imagine how it would look if, on CNN, if the members of the Senate and House of Reps were asked to put their hands up in the air if they were also citizens of another country? Not a good look I would imagine.

Dead Dog , , July 25, 2017 at 7:19 pm

Thank you, Kev, as you say, hilarious.

Now that the LNP have been caught being as sloppy as the greens, they've tried to argue that Canavan knew nothing, it was a staffer's fault, so he should be fine.

If you are right and this is start of a few more, then the make up of the Senate and the power therein could change in a bielection. Australians unlikely to vote in a party's replacement candidate – just the way we see things.

I didn't know the law officer ha ha

And, pay the family blog money back. Have to sell a few IPs?

Too sad

The Rev Kev , , July 25, 2017 at 8:12 pm

Sounds like he tried the Sergeant Schultz defense ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmzsWxPLIOo )
Come to think of it, didn't Shane Warne blame his mother too when accused of performance-enhancing drug taking?

Synoia , , July 25, 2017 at 10:06 pm

So, we sit there and take the piss out of everyone and we focus on footy, golf, the price of beer, cars, bikes, boats, fishing, camping and gossip.

All male group? No discussion of women? Or by women?

clarky90 , , July 25, 2017 at 4:40 pm

"The Democrats' 'Better Deal' is a box-office dud"

The cute, sad eyed puppy (The Democrats), that we brought home has grown up to be a thuggish Pit Bull Terrier. If it would only stop mauling the local children! So embarrassing. We must stare intensely at this dog with love- using positive affirmations. Then our Pit Bull will magically turn into a Labrador? (I don't think so.)

IMO, the democrats are hopeless. It is better to start a new party, or join the Republicans and influence that party? (Can I say this?)

The Dems are no longer the party of FDR. The Dems were pro slavery in the 1800s. Lincoln's Party was the Republicans.

"Anitya, anitya, anitya" (Impermanence). Everything changes. IMO, the Democrats are "a dead horse". Horse whispering will not work. Whipping will not work. Stand back and let time turn the carcass back into soil.

diptherio , , July 25, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Venezuela Constituent Assembly YES! Interference NO!

The U.S. State Department, the oligarchy and the Venezuelan right, together with the regional and European right have not let up in their attempt to destroy the enormous achievements accomplished by the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela and the Government of Nicolas Maduro.

The main objective that drives them, constantly and permanently, is to put into practice various methods of war in order to take control of the vast natural resources of the country, especially oil. Since Chavez, all those resources have been put in the hands and stewardship of the Venezuelan people.

It is the first time in two hundred years of history that this has happened, thanks to the emancipatory and anti-imperialist efforts of Commander Hugo Chávez – a direction continued by the Government of Maduro. The oil income is now at the disposal of huge projects aimed at benefiting those who were always forgotten and humiliated; the people, workers, farmers, blacks and native people.

Also for the first time in the history of Venezuela, illiteracy has been eradicated; more than 1,500,000 affordable homes have been built, education, culture and sports now reaches every corner and mountain top of the country and is no longer just a privilege to be enjoyed by the rich. Women have recaptured their dignity and today they occupy important positions at all levels of the life of the country, including the armed forces. Social missions have been multiplied to give a roof, work and land to those who never had anything .

Imperialism just could not stand what was happening.
So they plotted and invented a humanitarian crisis, by urging the Venezuelan right and the oligarchy to hide and destroy food and medicine while the imperialists themselves prevented shipments of these vital items. They gave cover to the cowardly terrorist imperialist right who have systematically refused to engage in dialogue while failing to organize even one "peaceful demonstration" that even remotely matched the size that the legitimate government of Maduro has been able to bring together.
Instead they have resorted to the most inhumane extreme tactics by funding, providing and sponsoring mercenaries that kill in the most horrendous ways any young man who looks like they could be a supporter of Chavez. Many times the color of their skin is enough to be set on fire.

http://theinternationalcommittee.org/venezuela-constituent-assembly-yes-interference-no/

curlydan , , July 25, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Maybe I'm the old hag. Anytime I read a summary of a Twitter fight (e.g. Joan Walsh), I get nauseous.

PKMKII , , July 25, 2017 at 4:56 pm

And tweetstorms. If you have that much to say, take it to a blog or Facebook.

clarky90 , , July 25, 2017 at 4:58 pm

Did South Park invent the alt-right?
http://www.avclub.com/article/south-park-raised-generation-trolls-258253

"South Park turns 20 years old this summer .The show celebrated this existential crisis-inducing fact last year with a tongue-in-cheek ad, depicting South Park as a sort of benevolent guarantor keeping reliable watch over a girl from infancy until her first trip to college. It was a typically self-effacing joke, but it's true: Our world is now filled with people for whom South Park has always been there, a cultural influence that, in some cases, is completely foundational to their point of view. The ad doesn't end with the girl logging onto Twitter to complain that social justice warriors are ruining the world, but otherwise, spot on."

polecat , , July 25, 2017 at 5:19 pm

You could say the same for, say, SNL no?
.. comedy of a different face, but still

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , , July 25, 2017 at 5:48 pm

Should I not have quit watching TV?

The quoted passage sounds quite foreign to me.

Richard , , July 25, 2017 at 9:07 pm

I used to frequent AV Club religiously, until they lost most of their best, veteran writers in what seemed like a purge a few years ago. Whenever I peeked in in '16, it seemed like Team Blue Central, shoehorning every feature into a critique of Trump, stupid conservatives, ignorant deplorables, etc.
That said, Sean O'Neill (a holdover from that earlier period) is an awesome writer, who has always had a penchant for holding elites (mostly cultural elites) up to well deserved ridicule in his news updates. And this is a fine piece. I wouldn't go as far as the title suggests, and neither does O'Neill actually; he backs down a bit in his conclusion.
I have real respect for South Park. Its writers have always understood an essential component of satire that liberal darlings (on the same network!) like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report tended to miss: you have to be merciless, and you can't make nice afterwards. You need to keep your distance.
It's possible the South Park and NC are a match made in heaven even! Co-creator Matt Stone's comment, " I hate conservatives, but I really (family blogging) hate liberals!"

Daryl , , July 25, 2017 at 9:40 pm

I don't think South Park is foundational to anyone's world view.

ewmayer , , July 25, 2017 at 5:49 pm

"At its core, the Times's internal transformation focuses on upending the paper's copy desk blah blah blah" [Vanity Fair] -- VF writer expends much digital ink fretting over the Verwandlung of the NYT, somehow omits the "and it's *still* an elite establishment propaganda rag which for the good of humankind would best be taken out into the alley and shot" bit.

Pat , , July 25, 2017 at 6:09 pm

OMG, the comedy just writes itself. McCain gets up after the vote to proceed and announces he won't vote for the bill itself because it is a shell of a bill. And then begs his fellow senators to work together. While it isn't quite Hillary Clinton giving an impassioned speech noting all the reasons NOT to vote for AUMF before voting for it, it is still pretty high up on the 'have it both ways' thing. And the bargaining begins.

McConnell better have lots left in that slush fund.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/07/25/were-getting-nothing-done-john-mccains-no-holds-barred-lecture-to-the-senate-annotated/?utm_term=.30aa247203f5

Mad Pear , , July 25, 2017 at 6:25 pm

A better bad deal is still a bad deal. America doesn't need a better bad deal. America needs a good deal.

Steely Glint , , July 25, 2017 at 7:02 pm

2018, what is needed is a full throated roar of money is not speech, except in the "Market" and politics do NOT belong in the market sphere. That is why Bernie's message resonated, and why his list is so important! The 90 percent will be heard. And until the " little" people who are waiting for this to happen get a response, important matters like health insurance, demise of monopolies in agriculture "Red State" fly over country matter a great deal. Want to know why consumer spending on new cars are falling? Look no farther than the gig economy, where today's paycheck may be gone tomorrow, due to H1B visas, or what ever trade agreements have locked us into. Sorry, mic drop.

Oregoncharles , , July 25, 2017 at 7:18 pm

" an out-of-work auto mechanic whose nerve-damaged shoulder makes it impossible to lift his 11-month-old baby. " Or work.

Good luck to him. When my shoulder was damaged (admittedly, by doing something dumb), medical care was considerably worse than useless. Nerve damage? I know of nothing that will help that.

3.14e-9 , , July 25, 2017 at 7:18 pm

OT question for NC readers familiar with auto lending:

I recently got an auto loan from my credit union (awesome deal on a hybrid SUV on eBay, but that's another story). At the signing last month, I had to provide proof of insurance meeting minimum requirements, standard for auto loans: comprehensive and collision, max $1,000 deductible, with credit union listed as lienholder. I had it all set up beforehand, the loan officer approved it, so far, so good.

Then, in yesterday's mail, I received a letter saying that the credit union had received "evidence of insurance," but was "unable to fully accept this policy," because it didn't include comprehensive or collision coverage. I'm like, WTF? My policy actually exceeds the requirements, with $500 deductible C&C, plus an added premium for the balance to be paid to the lender in case something happens to the car before the loan is paid off.

I emailed the loan officer, and here's where it gets interesting. She apologized for the inconvenience and said it likely was because the credit union recently partnered with a third party for their insurance paperwork. She called it Allied Insurance, but a quick search showed that it's actually Allied Solutions LLC, which is a subsidiary of Securian. I'm not exactly sure what they do or why the credit union partnered with them, but alarm bells are going off in my head, starting with what they're doing with my private information.

After a few exchanges with the loan officer, I'm told that the proof-of-insurance form I signed authorized the credit union to provide its "Insurance Service Center" with the necessary information to verify coverage. Why they would need verification when they had the policy right in front of them is beyond me. More to the point, though, it doesn't say "third-party" insurance center. The average borrower/CU member could be excused for thinking this was an internal department.

I looked back over the letter I received last night. Nowhere does it identify the sender as Allied Solutions – not even on the outside of the envelope – and in fact it has my credit union's logo in the upper left-hand corner. It is signed simply, "Insurance Service Center." Further, it said I could have my insurance company forward a copy of my policy or, "for [my] convenience," I could verify the information online by accessing "my account" on myinsuranceinfo.com, or my insurance company could do it. Deafening alarm bell.

The letter not only was threatening ("You don't have the proper insurance on your car!"), but it essentially was accusing me of changing my insurance policy after the fact, since the loan officer had already approved it. Meanwhile, the loan officer is telling me I gave the credit union permission to share my insurance information with this company, even though they aren't named on the insurance paperwork or even identified as a generic "third party," and didn't identify themselves as such on their correspondence. Does this just "border on" fraud, or is it outright fraud?

The loan officer also sent me a copy of the CU's privacy policy saying they can legally share personal information for "everyday business purposes." Is the average bank/CU customer supposed to somehow just assume this means their auto insurance policy can be shared with third parties? And that they don't have to be notified about how that third party will use their private information?

In fact, the "terms of service" page on myinsuranceinfo.com says that any information you give them in feedback, comments, and the like, becomes theirs to use as they please. They collect personal information about visitors to the site only for statistical purposes, blahblah, unless you give them your personal information. Here's the exact language:

Allied Solutions will not obtain personally-identifying information about you when you visit our site, unless you choose to provide such information to us, nor will such information be sold or otherwise transferred to unaffiliated third parties without the approval of the user at the time of collection.

Well, now, how do you sign into "your account" and verify your insurance without providing them your personal information? I don't know, because I didn't even consider signing in.

I did a little more research and found a few credit union sites that link to myinsuranceinfo as a "service" to their members. From what I can tell, Allied offers the same service to banks.

In addition to the above questions, can any NC readers in financial services explain what's really going on here? Or maybe this is normal, and I should hop back on the turnip truck? Of course, that's not all Allied does. It looks to me like maybe they buy and sell auto loans, but I concede that I never understood that whole process, so I could be mistaken. What I do know – well, from what I've read in comments on NC – is that there's some weird activity going on lately with auto loans. Does the situation I describe fit into that in any way?

THANKS!!!

Jean , , July 25, 2017 at 9:17 pm

I wish I could help. Commiseration count? It's almost like a sci-fi plot – the mind-fuck of it.

Altandmain , , July 25, 2017 at 8:04 pm

Chlorinated chicken? Yes, we really can have too much trade
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/25/chlorinated-chicken-trade-britain-us-food-standards-globalisation

Quite alarming if you think about US food standards.

Democrats Don't Know the First Thing About "Chasing" Rural Voters
http://progressivearmy.com/2017/07/25/democrats-dont-know-first-thing-chasing-rural-voters/

More policing, less spent on social programs
https://blavity.com/center-popular-democracy-policing-budget-study

alex morfesis , , July 25, 2017 at 8:30 pm

This day which will live in infamy lost behind the Trumpcare kabuki of john mccain & the declaration of war against russia, iran & 1dumbsun (419-3 ww3 here we come ) as the queen bee has previously pointed out litigation futures of darkoynz bit and ether and lite et al

sec comes out with report suggesting ico nonsense is actionable

https://www.sec.gov/litigation/investreport/34-81207.pdf

although "no action" for some reason on this german firm they go beyond just the indiviual
coynz themselves and insist the "exchanges" must also register as a National Securities Exchange

wow know a handful of securities attorneys who could probably clean up and fix the ico messes

but how many firms have actually worked on the being registered as an exchange side of things heck how many tall building law firms can even suggest they can do it

https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2017-131

and in all the risk factors suspect not even one ICO had the sec favored language of:

a high-risk investment in undeveloped and unproven

although this could get somewhat interesting if the sec allows a flood of these ico national security exchanges, it will possibly open up the scenario of local stock exchanges or "angel" exchanges much like in the days prior to the "big bang"

but the queen bee was spot on

most of these ico things will probably need to do roll ups and merge just to sustain the costs involved even if they go ahead and have a nice healthy carl icahn "end of the world" 2 inch thick litigation proof set of potential risk disclosures it will be interesting

sorry about the bold here .tried to cut and paste and redo and could not figure out how to make it go away..

[Jul 25, 2017] Dont underestimate how personally piqued McCain is over President Obama, taking McCains turn, when it comes time for a vote. McCain is a nasty man

Notable quotes:
"... One of my neighbors has this to say about McCain: "I worked for American Continental. So I know what kind of a crook he is!" Said neighbor is also of the "McCain was a traitor while in North Vietnamese custody!" school. ..."
"... As to your neighbor's opinion of McCain as a collaborator, this post from Ron Unz of the Unz Review is rather eye-opening . ..."
"... McCain comes back from getting health care to help make sure others don't get health care. That's nice. ..."
"... One would have though McCain's incessant pounding on the war drums would have been enough to turn people off. I can't understand how he is so eager to send people off to repeat what happened to him. ..."
"... It probably doesn't matter whether Arizonans notice or not. McCain isn't up for reelection until 2022, so even if he survives longer than the average person with his type of cancer, in 2022 he'll still probably be dead or too weak to campaign for another term. ..."
Jul 25, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

NotTimothyGeithner , July 25, 2017 at 2:31 pm

Don't underestimate how personally piqued McCain is over President Obama, taking McCain's turn, when it comes time for a vote. McCain is a nasty man. Now that Herr Trump beat Hillary, even McCain might have done it.

Pat , July 25, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Which only proves that McCain truly is an idiot, or doesn't expect to live for another two or so years. Having a signature 'achievement' fail outright to be far more embarrassing than repealing it and having your version of healthcare, whatever it is, fail as badly or worse than ACA would, Especially since delusional folk will still think we would be in the best shape ever if only the big bad Republicans hadn't repealed Barack Obama's health reform plan. There is no such glittery unicorn if ACA continues and dies of its own weight.

(I should note that for those us not under the media induced delusion of McCain as mavericky upstanding moral leader McCain being a vindicative idiot is very old news.)

Arizona Slim , July 25, 2017 at 6:19 pm

One of my neighbors has this to say about McCain: "I worked for American Continental. So I know what kind of a crook he is!" Said neighbor is also of the "McCain was a traitor while in North Vietnamese custody!" school.

JerseyJeffersonian , July 25, 2017 at 6:51 pm

As to your neighbor's opinion of McCain as a collaborator, this post from Ron Unz of the Unz Review is rather eye-opening .

Worthy of a read, particularly for the links to researchers' posts on the matter.

JohnnyGL , July 25, 2017 at 3:09 pm

McCain comes back from getting health care to help make sure others don't get health care. That's nice.

Tim , July 25, 2017 at 3:21 pm

I noticed that irony too, I don't see how anybody in the public would NOT notice that irony, since it is a well known fact that congress gets their own health care guaranteed.

Roger Smith , July 25, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Maybe if they have brain cancer they wouldn't notice . oh.

One would have though McCain's incessant pounding on the war drums would have been enough to turn people off. I can't understand how he is so eager to send people off to repeat what happened to him.

Vatch , July 25, 2017 at 5:33 pm

It probably doesn't matter whether Arizonans notice or not. McCain isn't up for reelection until 2022, so even if he survives longer than the average person with his type of cancer, in 2022 he'll still probably be dead or too weak to campaign for another term.

Arizona Slim , July 25, 2017 at 6:22 pm

And he keeps getting weak opponents on the D side of the ballot. In 2016, it was Ann Kirkpatrick. To this day, I can't figure out why she was so compelling to the Arizona Democratic Party establishment. Oh, in 2010, you're gonna love this: Rodney Glassman. Guy didn't even complete a single term on the Tucson City Council, but he thinks he can go up against one of the best-known names in American politics. Epic fail.

[Jun 28, 2017] Follow the Money: Non-Profit Hospital CEOs Quietly Collect Their Millions While US Health Care Reform Battle Rages by Roy M. Poses MD

Jun 28, 2017 | hcrenewal.blogspot.com
June 22, 2017 In Washington, DC the health care policy wars continue, with a few Republican senators working behind closed doors on a bill to "repeal and replace" Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act, and Democrats decrying their secrecy. Just as during the era in which Obamacare was enacted, there is constant discusison of how US health care costs continually rise, driving up insurance premiums, and how access to health insurance is continually in peril.

However, while the current Republican process to write new legislation seems strikingly opaque, in neither era has there been a frank discussion of why US health care costs are so amazingly high, and disproportionate to our mediocre health care outcomes. In particular, there has hardly been any discussion of just who benefits from the rising costs, and how their growing wealth may impede any real cost-cutting measures.

An obvious example is the gravity defying pay given to top health care managers, particularly the top managers of non-profit hospital systems.

Such systems provide much of the hospital care to Americans, and most have declared their missions to be providing the best possible care to all patients, or words to that effect. Many explicitly include care of the poor, unfortunate and vulnerable as a major part of their missions. As non-profit organizations, their devotion of mission provides some rationale to their freedom from responsibility for federal taxes.

As we last discussed in detail in May, 2016 , we have suggested that the ability of top managers to command ever increasing pay uncorrelated with their organizations' contributions to patients' or the public's health, and often despite major organizational shortcomings indicates fundamental structural problems with US health, and provides perverse incentives for these managers to defend the current system, no matter how bad its dysfunction.

In particular, we have written a series of posts about the lack of logical justification for huge executive compensation by non-profit hospitals and hospital systems. When journalists inquire why the pay of a particular leader is so high, the leader, his or her public relations spokespeople, or hospital trustees can be relied on to cite the same now hackneyed talking points.

As I wrote in 2015, and in May, 2016 ,

It seems nearly every attempt made to defend the outsize compensation given hospital and health system executives involves the same arguments, thus suggesting they are talking points, possibly crafted as a public relations ploy. We first listed the talking points here, and then provided additional examples of their use. here , here here, here , here, and here , here and here .

They are:

Yet as we discussed recently , these talking points are easily debunked. Additionally, rarely do those who mouth the talking points in support of a particular leader provide any evidence to support their applicability to that leader.

Boston, Massachusetts area, August, 2016 ( Per the Boston Business Journal )

West New York State, August, 2016 ( Per the Buffalo News

New Jersey, September, 2016 NJ Advance Media)

Top 10 hospital CEOs received total compensation from $1.94 million to $4.7 million

New Orleans, Lousisiana, September, 2016 (Per the Times-Picayune)

Gastonia, North Carolina, February, 2017 (Per the Gaston Gazette )

York County, Pennsylvania, April, 2017 (Per the York Daily Record)

Tri-Cities region, Tennessee and Virginia, June, 2017 (Per WJHL )

Connecticut, June, 2017 ( Per the Connecticut Post)

Summary and Conclusions

The current inflamed discussion of "Obamacare" and Republican attempts to "repeal and replace" it focuses on the costs of care and how they affect individual patients. Examples include concerns about health insurance premiums that are or could be unaffordable for the typical person; insurance that fails to cover many costs, and thus may leave patients at risk of bankruptcy due to severe illness; poor people unable to or who might become unable to obtain any insurance, and perhaps any health care. Yet there is little discussion of what really drives high and ever increasing health care costs (while quality of health care remains mediocre).

That may be because those who are benefiting the most from the status quo want to prevent discussion of their role. There are many such people, but top management of non-profit hospitals provide a ready example. Their institutions' mission is to provide care to sick patients. Many such hospitals specifically pledge to provide care to the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged. Non-profit hospitals have no owners or stockholders to whom they owe revenue.

Yet these days the top executives of non-profit hospitals receive enough money to become rich.

See the examples above.

The justification for such compensation is pretty thin. Consider the talking points above. Apparently hospitals are extremely concerned about paying top management enough to recruit and retain them. Yet there is much less evident concern about paying a lot of money to recruit and retain the health care professionals who actually take care of patients to fulfil the hospitals' mission. Hospital CEOs are frequently proclaimed to be brilliant, visionaries, or at least incredibly hard workers with very complex jobs. I wonder if those who make such proclamations have any idea what it takes to be a good physician or a good nurse. Yet such health care professionals' hard work, long training, devotion to duty, and ability to deal with trying situations and make hard decisions rarely inspire hospitals to shower them with money.

Furthermore, hospital CEO compensation is almost never justified in terms of their ability to uphold and advance the fundamental hospital mission, taking care of sick people. The articles above do not contain any justifications of generous CEO compensation based on hospitals' clinical performance or health care outcomes. At best, hospital executive pay seems to be justified by the hospitals' financial, not clinical performance.

As we discussed here , there is a strong argument that huge executive compensation is more a function of executives' political influence within the organization than their brilliance or the likelihood they are likely to be fickle and jump ship for even bigger pay. This influence is partially generated by their control over their institutions' marketers, public relations flacks, and lawyers. It is partially generated by their control over the make up of the boards of trustees who are supposed to exert governance, especially when these boards are subject to conflicts of interest and are stacked with hired managers of other organizations.

Furthermore, such pay may provide perverse incentives to grow hospital systems to achieve market domination, raise charges, and increase administrative bloat. As an op-ed

Outrageous pay gives top executives an incentive to behave outrageously. To hit the pay jackpot, they'll do most anything. They'll outsource and downsize and make all sorts of reckless decisions that pump up the short-term corporate bottom line at the expense of long-term prosperity and stability.

So I get to recycle my conclusions from many previous posts....

We will not make any progress reducing current health care dysfunction if we cannot have an honest conversation about what causes it and who profits from it. In a democracy, we depend on journalists and the news media to provide the information needed to inform such a discussion. When the news media becomes an outlet for propaganda in support of the status quo, the anechoic effect is magnified, honest discussion is inhibited, and out democracy is further damaged.

True health care reform requires publicizing who benefits most from the current dysfunction, and how and why. But it is painfully obvious that the people who have gotten so rich from the current status quo will use every tool at their disposal, paying for them with the money they have extracted from patients and taxpayers, to defend their position. It will take grit, persistence, and courage to persevere in the cause of better health for patients and the public.

And for our musical interlude, the beginning of "For the Love of Money," sung by the O'Jays, used in the official intro of season 2 of guess what show?

https://www.youtube.com/embed/rgr6EuG6zBw

[Jun 28, 2017] Trump betrayed all three his election time promises about changes to Obamacare: everybody got to be covered, no cuts to Medicaid, and Every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare

Jun 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

im1dc June 25, 2017 at 09:27 AM

Here is a 5 day old article on Trump deregulating Big Pharma that directly impacts the skyrocketing costs of American Health Care to go with the above posts re the Republican Party's AHCA cutting of coverage and transfer of wealth to the wealthiest in America

Trump is the #1 problem with American Health Care today, he works for the interests of the corporations not the people's

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/health/draft-order-on-drug-prices-proposes-easing-regulations.html

"Draft Order on Drug Prices Proposes Easing Regulations"

By SHEILA KAPLAN and KATIE THOMAS...JUNE 20, 2017

"In the early days of his administration, President Trump did not hesitate to bash the drug industry. But a draft of an executive order on drug prices appears to give the pharmaceutical industry much of what it has asked for - and no guarantee that costs to consumers will drop.

The draft, which The New York Times obtained on Tuesday, is light on specifics but clear on philosophy: Easing regulatory hurdles for the drug industry is the best way to get prices down.

The proposals identify some issues that have stoked public outrage - such as the high out-of-pocket costs for medicines - but it largely leaves the drug industry unscathed. In fact, the four-page document contains several proposals that have long been championed by the industry, including strengthening drugmakers' monopoly power overseas and scaling back a federal program that requires pharmaceutical companies to give discounts to hospitals and clinics that serve low-income patients.

Mr. Trump has often excoriated the drug industry for high prices, seizing on an issue that stirs the anger of Republicans and Democrats alike. He has accused the industry of "getting away with murder," and said that he wanted to allow the federal government to negotiate directly with drug companies over the price of drugs covered by Medicare.

But the proposed order does little to specifically call out the drug industry and instead focuses on rolling back regulations, a favorite target of the administration..."

im1dc -> im1dc... , June 25, 2017 at 09:37 AM
Additional evidence of Trump lying about his and the Republican AHCA repeal of Obamacare

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/06/24/promises-trump-made-health-care-repeal-plans/426089001/

"3 promises Trump made about health care that repeal plans haven't kept"

Eliza Collins , USA TODAY ...June 24, 2017

"...Here are three promises Trump made that will not come true under the current bills moving through Congress:

  1. 'Everybody's got to be covered.'...
  2. 'No cuts' to Medicaid"...
  3. 'Every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.'...
im1dc -> pgl... , June 25, 2017 at 11:53 AM
Cuts, cuts, and more cuts to reimbursement that's the Trump Republican AHCA in a nutshell.

All it will accomplish is to transfer $Billions to 'Trump's People', his fellow $Billionaires and MegaMillionaires.

It will not deliver on any Promise Trump made on Health Care and when he and the Republicans say it does they are lying, pure and simple.

More care does not come from far less money spent especially as the need increases due to population and need.

im1dc -> im1dc... , June 25, 2017 at 09:45 AM
I don't know the reason for persistence at attempts to understand the Economics of Trump's and the Republican various remake of the American Economy from an academic Economics perspective by this blog.

It is not possible to do any such rational analysis, b/c as Paul Krugman has pointed out recently and pointedly, there is no rhythm or reason to what they are doing except to obtain the sole single outcome of a major transfer of wealth to the wealthiest Americans in the form of a huge tax cut for most of America's Billionaires and Mega-Millionaires by eliminating as much as possible of the American Safety Net and other protections from the 99%.

[Jun 28, 2017] We can spend endless amounts of money on the NSA, wars overseas, political campaigns and bailing out banks, tha we canaffort single payer helathcare system

Jun 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Christopher H. , June 28, 2017 at 08:10 AM

We can spend endless amounts of money on the NSA, wars overseas, political campaigns and bailing out banks, but PGL and the weak tea centrists demand "how are we going to pay for it???" now that single-payer is becoming a real possibility. Every other advanced nation does it better with massive savings for their taxpayers.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-pollin-single-payer-healthcare-healthy-california-20170621-story.html

Op-Ed Single-payer healthcare for California is, in fact, very doable

by Robert Pollin

June 21, 2017

The California Senate recently voted to pass a bill that would establish a single-payer healthcare system for the entire state. The proposal, called the Healthy California Act, will now be taken up by the state Assembly. [not]

The plan enjoys widespread support - a recent poll commissioned by the California Nurses Assn. found that 70% of all Californians are in favor of a single-payer plan - and with good reason. Under Healthy California, all residents would be entitled to decent healthcare without having to pay premiums, deductibles or copays.

But as critics of the bill have pointed out, a crucial question remains: Is Healthy California economically viable? According to research I conducted with three colleagues at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the answer is yes.

Enacting Healthy California would entail an overhaul of the state's existing healthcare system, which now constitutes about 14% of California's GDP. In particular, it would mean replacing the state's private health insurance industry with government-managed insurance. Our study - which was also commissioned by the California Nurses Assn. - concludes not only that the proposal is financially sound, but that it will produce greater equity in the healthcare sector for families and businesses of all sizes.

California will spend about $370 billion on healthcare in 2017. Assuming the state's existing system stayed intact, the cost of extending coverage to all California residents, including the nearly 15 million people who are currently uninsured or underinsured, would increase healthcare spending by about 10%, to roughly $400 billion.

That's not the full story, though. Enacting a single-payer system would yield considerable savings overall by lowering administrative costs, controlling the prices of pharmaceuticals and fees for physicians and hospitals, reducing unnecessary treatments and expanding preventive care. We found that Healthy California could ultimately result in savings of about 18%, bringing healthcare spending to about $331 billion, or 8% less than the current $370 billion.

How would California cover this $331-billion bill? For the most part, much the same way it covers healthcare spending right now. Roughly 70% of the state's current spending is paid for through public programs, including Medicare and MediCal. This funding - totaling about $225 billion - would continue, as is required by law. It would simply flow through Healthy California rather than existing programs.

The state would still need to raise about $106 billion a year to cover the cost of replacing private insurance. This could be done with two new taxes.

First, California could impose a gross receipts tax of 2.3% on businesses, but with an exemption for the first $2 million of revenue. Through such an exemption, about 80% of all businesses in California - small firms - would pay nothing in gross receipts tax, and medium-sized businesses would pay an effective tax rate of less than 1%.

Second, the state could institute a sales tax increase of 2.3%. The tax would not apply to housing, utilities, food purchased for the home or a range of services, and it could be offset for low-income families with a 2% income tax credit.

Relative to their current healthcare costs, most Californian families will end up spending less, even with these new taxes, and some will even enjoy large gains. Net healthcare spending for middle-income families would fall by between 2.6% and 9.1% of income. Most businesses would also see a drop in spending. Small firms that have been providing health insurance for their workers will see costs fall by 22% as a share of payroll. For medium-sized firms, costs will fall by an average of between 6.8% and 13.4% as a share of payroll. Even most large firms will see costs fall, by an average of between 0.6% and 5% of payroll.

At the moment, about 2.7 million of California's residents, or about 8% of the population, have no health insurance. Another 12 million residents, or about 33% of the population, are underinsured. A large proportion of the remaining 60% of the population who are adequately insured still face high costs, as well as anxiety over President Trump's proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Healthy California is capable of generating substantial savings for families at most income levels and businesses of most sizes. These savings are in addition to the benefits that the residents of California will gain through universal access to healthcare.

[Jun 28, 2017] how many people know, understand or even care what an "individual mandate" is

Jun 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

JohnH , June 28, 2017 at 08:17 AM

The message matters...something that eludes comprehension by Democrats... Question is are they really this stupid, or are they paid to be this stupid?

"How did [the healthcare debate] get to this point? A point where Harvard researchers are warning of 217,000 additional deaths over the next decade from a loss of health coverage? Part of the blame has to lie with the Democrats, who failed to heed Luntz's advice to the Republicans...

First, in defending Obamacare, they lacked "words that work." For instance, how many people know, understand or even care what an "individual mandate" is? How about insurance "exchanges"? Or the "public option"? These technical terms and phrases have obscured more than they have clarified. They have also played into the hands of the Republicans, who have worked hard to ensure that the public view health care only through a partisan lens.

Remember: around one in three Americans is unaware of the fact that there is no difference between Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) - they are one and the same. Many of these people tell pollsters that they like the ACA but dislike Obamacare. (Isn't it odd how so many Americans' view of a health care system changes when you put the foreign-sounding name of a black man in front of it?)

Second, Democrats have turned down opportunity after opportunity to offer a comprehensive health care alternative that guarantees coverage to all Americans (unlike Obamacare, which leaves around 27 million Americans uninsured.) During the Democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton said a single-payer "health care for all" system would "never, ever come to pass." Inspiring, huh?

As for those on the left like Bernie Sanders and - belatedly - Elizabeth Warren, who are keen to offer a progressive alternative to both Trumpcare and Obamacare in the form of guaranteed, government-funded health care for all, they may have a clear and inspiring policy alternative but whether they have a clear and inspiring message for it remains to be seen. For example, according to a February 2016 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, "nearly two thirds (64%) of Americans say they have a positive reaction to the term 'Medicare-for-all,' and most (57%) say the same about 'guaranteed universal health coverage.' Fewer have a positive reaction to 'single payer health insurance system' (44%) or 'socialized medicine' (38%)."

The words don't work and, as a result, ignorance abounds.
"About half (53%) of Democrats say they have a very positive reaction to 'Medicare-for-all' compared with 21 percent who say the same for 'single payer health insurance system,'" according to the Kaiser poll. But to be clear: "Medicare-for-all" and "single payer" refer to the same exact thing.
So then "Medicare-for-all" must be the way to go, right? Rather than the bureaucratic-sounding and yawn-inducing "single payer"? Perhaps. Invoking Medicare to make the case for a system in which the government covers the cost of all health care claims, however, may not be the silver bullet that some on the left seem to think it is. Not everyone associates Medicare with the government. Remember the anti-Obamacare town halls in the summer of 2009, where attendees carried placards that read "Keep government out of my Medicare"? An August 2009 poll found that 39% of Americans said they wanted government to "stay out of Medicare" - which is, of course, impossible.

Why don't progressives go with the simpler option of calling their single-payer proposal "universal health care"? Or "health care for all"? In San Francisco, a single payer system called "Healthy San Francisco" was launched a decade ago and has had very high approval ratings. How about Sanders, Warren et al push for a federal version called "Healthy America"?"
https://theintercept.com/2017/06/28/memo-to-democrats-you-need-a-clear-message-for-universal-healthcare/

[Jun 25, 2017] Obama basically decided against marketing his healthcare plan.

www.unz.com

JohnH -> kurt... , June 23, 2017 at 07:05 PM

Jun 25, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Obama basically decided against marketing his healthcare plan. In February, 2009 the Obama campaign contacted campaign workers and asked them to convene neighborhood groups to make suggestions for the plan. My wife and eye convened such a group. We believed it was to be part of a national grass roots push to overwhelm the naysayers.

We sent in the neighborhood's suggestions. We were told they would get back to us. They never did. Grassroots organizing was eliminated. There was no grassroots push. Obama hardly marketed his plan, letting Republicans define it for him.

That was when I began to smell a rat...

JohnH -> sanjait... , June 23, 2017 at 07:48 PM
"It's the Message, Stupid"
http://inthesetimes.com/article/5030/its_the_message_stupid

Back in 2009, Greenberg, Carville and Bauman developed a strategy for selling healthcare reform to the public...most of which Democrats just ignored. http://www.democracycorps.com/wp-content/files/dcorps-healthcare-062509.pdf

Much of it still applies today, but Democrats are clueless...they fear their big donors would revolt if they actually stated what the American people want and need.

JohnH -> mulp ... , June 23, 2017 at 08:06 PM
"actually works" is in the eye of the beholder.

Numbers of economists defended Bernie's proposals...but establishment ones linked with the Democratic Party did not.
http://observer.com/2016/02/liberal-economists-defend-bernie-sanders-against-a-chorus-of-critics/

Bill Black and Jaimie Galbraith were among the most prominent...but you never heard about their push-back because the liberal media blocked it out.

pgl , June 23, 2017 at 12:04 PM
Steve Beshear who was the Democratic Kentucky Governor who did a great job of implementing Obamacare for his state was asked about the stances of his state's two Senators. He really laid in McConnell which was no surprise. His comment re Rand Paul? Senator Paul wants to take our nation back to the 18th century.
jonny bakho -> Lee A. Arnold ... , June 23, 2017 at 05:12 PM
Please... Susan Collins is just as bad as the rest of them. Her carefully crafted public image is all show.

GOP moderates always cave because they are not moderates, they just play to the tastes of their purple states

The GOP will throw a few crumbs, make a big show about the "moderates" improving the bill and then they will be free to vote for it.
Trump, ever the con artist will sell it as Trump steak

JohnH -> kurt... , June 23, 2017 at 04:05 PM
Oh, BS. That the party is corrupt was made evident to anyone who watched Bubba sign away Glass-Steagall, just in time for Hillary to announce her run for Senator from New York/Wall Street. Of course, Bubba insists that there was no quid quo pro. Those who believe him would be good customers for buying the Brooklyn Bridge...

Since then, it's only gotten worse.

[Jun 24, 2017] The Secret Republican Plan to Unravel Medicaid by Robert Reich

Jun 24, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Christopher H, June 23, 2017 at 01:23 PM

http://robertreich.org/post/162168911075

The Secret Republican Plan to Unravel Medicaid

by Robert Reich

FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 2017

Bad enough that the Republican Senate bill would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act.

Even worse, it unravels the Medicaid Act of 1965 – which, even before Obamacare, provided health insurance to millions of poor households and elderly.

It's done with a sleight-of-hand intended to elude not only the public but also the Congressional Budget Office.

Here's how the Senate Republican bill does it. The bill sets a per-person cap on Medicaid spending in each state. That cap looks innocent enough because it rises every year with inflation.

But there's a catch. Starting 8 years from now, in 2025, the Senate bill switches its measure of inflation – from how rapidly medical costs are rising, to how rapidly overall costs in the economy are rising.

Yet medical costs are rising faster than overall costs. They'll almost surely continue to do so – as America's elderly population grows, and as new medical devices, technologies, and drugs prolong life.

Which means that after 2025, Medicaid will cover less and less of the costs of health care for the poor and elderly.

Over time, that gap becomes huge. The nonpartisan Urban Institute estimates that just between 2025 and 2035, about $467 billion less will be spent on Medicaid than would be spent than if Medicaid funding were to keep up with the expected rise in medical costs.

So millions of Americans will lose the Medicaid coverage they would have received under the 1965 Medicaid act. Over the long term, Medicaid will unravel.

Will anyone in future years know Medicaid's unraveling began with this Senate Republican bill ostensibly designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? Probably not. The unraveling will occur gradually.

Will future voters hold Republicans responsible? Again, unlikely. The effects of the unraveling won't become noticeable until most current Republican senators are long past reelection.

Does anyone now know this time bomb is buried in this bill?

It doesn't seem so. McConnell won't even hold hearings on it.

Next week the Congressional Budget Office will publish its analysis of the bill. CBO reports on major bills like this are widely disseminated in the media. The CBO's belated conclusion that the House's bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would cause 23 million Americans to lose their health care prompted even Donald Trump to call it "mean, mean, mean."

But because the CBO's estimates of the consequences of bills are typically limited to 10 years (in this case, 2018 to 2028), the CBO's analysis of the Senate Republican bill will dramatically underestimate how many people will be knocked off Medicaid over the long term.

Which is exactly what Mitch McConnell has planned. This way, the public won't be tipped off to the Medicaid unraveling hidden inside the bill.

For years, Republicans have been looking for ways to undermine America's three core social insurance programs – Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. The three constitute the major legacies of the Democrats, of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. All continue to be immensely popular.

Now, McConnell and his Senate Republican colleagues think they've found a way to unravel Medicaid without anyone noticing.

Don't be fooled. Spread the word.

[Jun 19, 2017] Republicans are embarrassing Democrats by showing them how legislation gets passed with a bare majority, when Democrats failed with a filibuster proof majority

Jun 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

JohnH, June 19, 2017 at 06:48 AM

Republicans are embarrassing Democrats by showing them how legislation gets passed with a bare majority...when Democrats could barely get anything done with a filibuster proof majority!

Moral of the story? Democrats under Obama didn't really want to get much done. Rather, they preferred to do nothing and blame Republicans instead. Worse, now that Republicans want to destroy what precious little Democrats managed to accomplish, Democrats are just standing around, frozen like deer in the headlights, clueless as to how to use their 48 votes.

How pathetic can Democrats get?

libezkova, June 19, 2017 at 06:40 PM
"Republicans are embarrassing Democrats by showing them how legislation gets passed with a bare majority...when Democrats could barely get anything done with a filibuster proof majority!"

Not only that.

Neoliberal stooges like Krugman now shed crocodile tears after pushing Sanders under the bus.

They essentially gave us Trump and now have an audacity to complain. What a miserable hypocritical twerp this Nobel laureate is!

Where is the DemoRats "Resistance" now? Are they fighting against the war in Syria on behave of Israel and Gulf states? Protesting sanctions against Cuba? Complaining about the record arms sale with Saudi Arabia (with its possible 9/11 links ?)

No, they are all on MSNBC or CNN dragging out a stupid investigation all the while pushing Russia to war. And congratulating themselves with the latest Russian sanctions designed to block supplies of Russian gas to Western Europe...

I want to repeat this again: Neoliberal Democrats created Trump and brought him to the victory in the recent Presidential elections.

[May 22, 2017] Medical insurance coverage is measure of social security for nearly everyone amd as such is close to Four Freedoms that were articulated by FDR

Notable quotes:
"... Being able to access care is an important freedom as well ..."
"... Trump as candidate promised no cuts to Medicaid. But then he had to get the Paul Ryan seal of approval so it is a massive cut that will leave 10 million people uninsured: ..."
"... Republicans have been using free lunch economic theory to make increasingly bigger promises leading to Trump promising universal health care with no taxes or mandates that will give everyone many more choices on getting far more health care with it costing much less. Trump won by being more extreme and explicit in the free lunch promises the Republican started making with Reagan. ..."
"... It's just standard Reaganomics... the same propaganda (trickle-down & rising tides) & standard tax cuts for the rich based on supply side b.s. ..."
May 22, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Sanjait, May 22, 2017 at 11:36 AM

This is an important concept that has been fought for but hasn't been well articulated by Dems since Four Freedoms.

ACA is an example. It provides insurance coverage for many and a measure of security for nearly everyone. It reduces the risk of living as an American, nominally limiting the "freedom" to benuninsurednor buy crappy insurance in exchange for giving everyone enhanced ability to access preventative and major medical care, even if low income or stricken with a pre-ex medical condition.

Being able to access care is an important freedom as well .

Dems really face planted politically trying to sell this notion, but now that it is under threat of being taken away, Americans suddenly realized they like it and think it is right that people should have this access.

pgl - , May 22, 2017 at 11:50 AM
Exactly. I wonder if the folks have this captured in their little freedom indices.
ilsm - , May 22, 2017 at 03:32 PM
my freedom index has nothing to do with hospital insurance, or NCA. DNC (as good as Cato's) freedom index very far right of Thoreau!
DrDick , May 22, 2017 at 03:32 PM
For conservatives, freedom means the freedom of the rich and corporations from taxes and restrictions on their actions and nothing else.
pgl , May 22, 2017 at 11:53 AM
Trump as candidate promised no cuts to Medicaid. But then he had to get the Paul Ryan seal of approval so it is a massive cut that will leave 10 million people uninsured:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/trump-to-propose-big-cuts-to-safety-net-in-new-budget-this-week/2017/05/21/62c01f44-3e34-11e7-adba-394ee67a7582_story.html?utm_term=.01d130c2f913

More tax cuts for the rich! That is their entire agenda.

mulp - , May 22, 2017 at 12:44 PM
Progressives see conservatives as winning by hijacking the Republican Party and being more and more radical, making Congress totally incapable of doing anything and increasingly popular, and getting Trump elected with a minority of the vote to an environment where he can accomplish even less that very moderate Obama and a Democratic majority, and they want Democrats to become more like Republicans:

able to win power, but unable to deliver on anything.

Republicans have been using free lunch economic theory to make increasingly bigger promises leading to Trump promising universal health care with no taxes or mandates that will give everyone many more choices on getting far more health care with it costing much less. Trump won by being more extreme and explicit in the free lunch promises the Republican started making with Reagan.

Progressives want a Bernie elected making big free lunch promises.

It's not about delivering, but about winning.

TANSTAAFL

Longtooth , May 22, 2017 at 03:38 PM
It's just standard Reaganomics... the same propaganda (trickle-down & rising tides) & standard tax cuts for the rich based on supply side b.s.

[May 08, 2017] Can we rescue the individuals with no exchange choices by allowing them to buy into MediCare

Notable quotes:
"... We have more good cop/bad cop. We are supposed to forget that the DNC democrats gave us deregulation, killed Glass-Steagall, refused to prosecute banksters, gave us a hokey republican health insurance plan, tried to give us TPP, continued more ME wars, screw with Russia, etc. ..."
May 08, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
paine , May 08, 2017 at 05:47 AM
Pk instead of keening away over
her lead role in the latest

FED borg folly

Trumpcare is a nasty

paine -> EMichael... , May 08, 2017 at 06:47 AM
A simple side swipe at trumpcare
to wield against yellen and the fed borg

Now is the moment to

RC AKA Darryl, Ron -> paine... , May 08, 2017 at 06:47 AM
The Fed Borg has not done anything unexpected whether we are basing that on Krugman's expectations or the expectations that you and I shared of her way back when she lead the Fed to liftoff. Now, we might have had different hopes and maybe even Krugman as well had different hopes, but none of us ever expected anything different than what the Fed actually did from then to now. We all know that we have a bankers' Fed and not a people's Fed.

OTOH, Krugman had very different expectations about the 2016 POTUS election than what actually happened in November. Krugman is just dealing with his disappointment in the best way that he can. It at least creates the illusion that he is making a difference and perception is at least 90% of reality for intellectual elites.

RGC , May 08, 2017 at 06:06 AM
"This is an act of deliberate betrayal":

PK knows whereof he speaks.

We have more good cop/bad cop. We are supposed to forget that the DNC democrats gave us deregulation, killed Glass-Steagall, refused to prosecute banksters, gave us a hokey republican health insurance plan, tried to give us TPP, continued more ME wars, screw with Russia, etc.

The bad cop tells us he is going to have some guys beat us up and then he has some guys beat us up. The good cop tells us he is going to take care of us and then he has some guys beat us up.

How long do people fall for that game?

RGC -> RGC... , May 08, 2017 at 06:24 AM
Pelosi Refuses to Back Single Payer, Despite GOP Deathmongering Suddenly Taking Center Stage

"No, I don't," Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promptly said, when asked by a reporter if she thinks single payer should be in Democrats' 2018 party platform.

"I was carrying single payer signs probably around before you born, so I understand that aspiration," the House Minority Leader told Vice's Evan McMorris-Santoro. She then claimed that "the comfort level with a broader base of the American people is not there yet," with single payer.

"So I say to people: if you want it, do it in your states. States are laboratories," the Dem leader added. "States are a good place to start," she also said.

Pelosi's assertions about single payer's popularity, however, are called into question by public polling.

http://rinf.com/alt-news/newswire/pelosi-refuses-to-back-single-payer-despite-gop-deathmongering-suddenly-taking-center-stage/

RGC -> RGC... , May 08, 2017 at 06:35 AM
Nancy Pelosi Feels the Bern, Faces Pro-Sanders Primary Challenger

House Minority Leader is 'really out of touch'

http://observer.com/2017/04/nancy-pelosi-pro-sanders-primary-challenger-stephen-jaffe/

DeDude -> pgl... , May 08, 2017 at 09:14 AM
Yes and you can cherry pick pools (that have deliberate or unintended flaws) such that you can get one answer or the other. So you have to get consistency of pooling on an issue before you even consider trusting them. The good news is that Pelosi does not write the Democratic platform, the delegates do. If a majority of democratic party actives believe we are ready to include a national health care plan in the platform, then it will become the dems policy and I will support them. If they refuse to get it in there then we are not ready and I will support that position.
paine -> RGC... , May 08, 2017 at 06:49 AM
Rescue the exchanges
with a pub op

That is all dems should push

DeDude -> paine... , May 08, 2017 at 09:19 AM
Or we could rescue the individuals with no exchange choices at all - by allowing them to buy into MediCare. That way we would not need to "build" a public option (that could be attacked). We could also claim to have given the private sector the opportunity - and only let the government step in when private sector solutions fail. Most importantly the GOP would suddenly start doing everything they could to help the exchanges rather than trying to sabotage them.
paine -> DeDude... , May 08, 2017 at 12:45 PM
Excellent
libezkova -> DeDude... , May 08, 2017 at 07:10 PM
The costs are not going away in your solution.

I understand that we spend much more on bombing brown people, but still uncontrolled expansion of Medicare is somewhat problematic solution.

Simple question to you -- treatment of opiates epidemics victims -- who should pay for their treatment and multiple conditions they already have? Normally private insurers avoid those people as a plague.

Alaska model ( compensating private insurers for most complex and expensive cases -- outliers in costs) also can work. On state level more in known about those people and some measures can be legislated to cut the costs of most egregious cases connected with neoliberalism as a very cruel social system.

For example, homeless people are periodically taken to the hospital and then released to the streets to get in to hospital again and again until they die; some have dangerous for public infections (such a tuberculosis).

RGC -> RGC... , May 08, 2017 at 06:51 AM
Three More Join HR 676 Single Payer Bill in House

Three more members of the House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of HR 676, the single payer bill in the House.

Carolyn Maloney (New York), Adriano Espaillat (New York) and Nanette Barragan (California) - signed onto HR 676 yesterday, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 72.

https://www.singlepayeraction.org/2017/03/23/three-more-join-hr-676-single-payer-bill-in-house/

JohnH -> pgl... , May 08, 2017 at 08:57 AM
Who's talking about giving up? The Washington Generals always made it a good show against the Harlem Globetrotters...and lost by design...kind of like corrupt, sclerotic Democrats...

[May 08, 2017] How Alaska fixed Obamacare

Notable quotes:
"... That's when Wing-Heier and other Alaska officials had an idea. The state already had a tax on insurance plans (not just health but also life and property insurance). Usually the money goes to a general Alaska budget fund, but the state decided to divert $55 million of the tax revenue into a reinsurance program. ..."
"... The new reinsurance program convinced Premera to only raise rates 7 percent in 2017. Alaska suddenly went from having one of the highest rate increases in the nation to one of the lowest. ..."
"... This didn't just save customers money. The federal government subsidizes premium costs for 86 percent of Alaska's Obamacare enrollees. With cheaper premiums, the federal government didn't have to spend as much money. The cost of these subsidies fell by $56 million when Alaska created the reinsurance fund. ..."
"... If the waiver does go through - and Wing-Heier says she is "confident" the Trump administration will approve it - Alaska expects that Obamacare rates might actually do something unheard of in 2018: They might decrease. The state estimates that an additional 1,650 people will join the marketplace due to the lower premiums. ..."
Apr 17, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
im1dc , April 16, 2017 at 09:39 AM
"How Alaska fixed Obamacare"

A potential model that could save and expand Obamacare that the Trump Administration apparently agrees with

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/how-alaska-fixed-obamacare/ar-BBzNr7p

"How Alaska fixed Obamacare"

by Sarah Kliff...Vox.com...4-16-2017...4 hrs ago

"Last year, Alaska's Obamacare marketplaces seemed on the verge of implosion. Premiums for individual health insurance plans were set to rise 42 percent. State officials worried that they were on the verge of a "death spiral," where only the sickest people buy coverage and cause rates to skyrocket year after year.

So the state tried something new and different - and it worked. Lori Wing-Heier, Alaska's insurance commissioner, put together a plan that had the state pay back insurers for especially high medical claims submitted to Obamacare plans. This lowered premiums for everyone. In the end, the premium increase was a mere 7 percent.

"We knew we were facing a death spiral," says Wing-Heier. "We knew even though it was a federal law, we had to do something."

Now other states are interested in trying Alaska's idea, especially because Wing-Heier is working with the Trump administration to have the federal government, not the state, cover those costs.

There are rampant concerns about the future of Obamacare right now. We don't know whether its marketplaces will remain stable in 2018 or, as the president has predicted, explode as premiums rise and insurers drop out. But Alaska's experiment is a reminder that the future of Obamacare isn't entirely up to Republicans in Washington. The work happening 3,000 miles away in Alaska shows that states have the ability to fix Obamacare too - and that the Trump administration might even support those policies.

How Alaska prevented an Obamacare horror story - and is trying to make the federal government pay for it

Premiums in the individual market went up a lot last year. The national average was a 25 percent hike. Alaska was bracing for an even higher 42 percent increase from its one remaining Obamacare insurer, Premera Blue Cross.

That's when Wing-Heier and other Alaska officials had an idea. The state already had a tax on insurance plans (not just health but also life and property insurance). Usually the money goes to a general Alaska budget fund, but the state decided to divert $55 million of the tax revenue into a reinsurance program.

This would give Obamacare insurers - at this point, just Premera - extra money if they had some especially large medical claims. Reinsurance essentially backstops insurers' losses; it guarantees they won't be on the hook for the bills of a handful of exceptionally sick patients.

The new reinsurance program convinced Premera to only raise rates 7 percent in 2017. Alaska suddenly went from having one of the highest rate increases in the nation to one of the lowest.

This didn't just save customers money. The federal government subsidizes premium costs for 86 percent of Alaska's Obamacare enrollees. With cheaper premiums, the federal government didn't have to spend as much money. The cost of these subsidies fell by $56 million when Alaska created the reinsurance fund.

This got Wing-Heier thinking: Why shouldn't we get that money back?

"Why shouldn't the money come back to us to fund the reinsurance program?" she recalls thinking. "It was that simple."

Alaska applied for a waiver in late December, asking the federal government to refund its spending. The state got conditional approval in mid-January from former Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. Current HHS Secretary Tom Price has spoken favorably of the Alaska approach too.

In a letter last month to governors, he described their idea as an example for other states to follow. It was, he said, an "opportunity for states to lower premiums for consumers, improve market stability, and increase consumer choice."

Alaska officials say the Trump administration has so far been easy to work with, helping them make sure the application looks right and moves quickly toward review.

If the waiver does go through - and Wing-Heier says she is "confident" the Trump administration will approve it - Alaska expects that Obamacare rates might actually do something unheard of in 2018: They might decrease. The state estimates that an additional 1,650 people will join the marketplace due to the lower premiums.

Other states want to get that same kind of funding too

Alaska's marketplace is far from perfect. The state only has one insurance plan selling coverage on its Obamacare marketplace, and doesn't project any more to join in 2018. Premiums are high in Alaska; the state is large and rural, which means it can be expensive to get patients to a hospital or a specialty doctor. A midlevel plan on the Obamacare marketplace there cost, on average, $904 in 2017.

But even with those problems, Wing-Heier says, it's still a whole lot better than where the state would have been without this policy change.

"Do I think it's a perfect solution? No, but it works for us," she says. "It's working in the right direction. It did what it was intended. It brought stability to our market, and the waiver is going to bring funding to us."

Alaska's approach has inspired other states. Minnesota is looking into building a reinsurance fund. At the insurance conference I went to last weekend, regulators from New York were asking lots of questions about Alaska's approach.

It's easy to see why this is appealing to other states, given the combination of additional federal money and lower Obamacare premiums. Most interesting, though, is that Alaska's approach is something the Trump and Obama administrations apparently agree on. There aren't many examples of that right now - so the ones that exist are certainly worth watching."

EMichael -> im1dc... , April 16, 2017 at 10:09 AM
Strange for Kliff not to mention in her piece the effects of the GOP destruction of the risk corridor program on premiums, amount of insurance companies participating, and co-ops.

Alaska's actions are why the risk corridor program was in the ACA.

"The risk corridors were intended to help some insurance companies if they ended up with too many new sick people on their rolls and too little cash from premiums to cover their medical bills in the first three years under the health law. But because of Mr. Rubio's efforts, the administration says it will pay only 13 percent of what insurance companies were expecting to receive this year. The payments were supposed to help insurers cope with the risks they assumed when they decided to participate in the law's new insurance marketplaces.

Mr. Rubio's talking point is bumper-sticker ready. The payments, he says, are "a taxpayer-funded bailout for insurance companies." But without them, insurers say, many consumers will face higher premiums and may have to scramble for other coverage. Already, some insurers have shut down over the unexpected shortfall.

"Risk corridors have become a political football," said Dawn H. Bonder, the president and chief executive of Health Republic of Oregon, an insurance co-op that announced in October it would close its doors after learning that it would receive only $995,000 of the $7.9 million it had expected from the government. "We were stable, had a growing membership and could have been successful if we had received those payments. We relied on the payments in pricing our plans, but the government reneged on its promise. I am disgusted."

Blue Cross and Blue Shield executives have warned the administration and Congress that eliminating the federal payments could have a devastating impact on insurance markets.

Twelve of the 23 nonprofit insurance cooperatives created under the law have failed, disrupting coverage for more than 700,000 people, and co-op executives like Ms. Bonder have angrily cited the sharp reduction in federal payments as a factor in their demise."

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/10/us/politics/marco-rubio-obamacare-affordable-care-act.html?_r=0

trump is continuing the attack.

im1dc -> EMichael... , April 16, 2017 at 11:18 AM
Not so strange imo b/c Rubio's undermining of the Obamacare subsidies happened years ago and the Alaska Obamacare subsidies are today and forward looking not back looking.
EMichael -> im1dc... , April 16, 2017 at 11:42 AM
To a point, but what happened this year in Alaska would not have happened if the risk corridors were not unfunded.

Moving forward, once the insurance companies had a realistic basis for the respective markets, they would stabilize. That was the plan at the very beginning.

Everyone knew that new markets would be incredibly risky for insurance companies. But that given a couple of years, they would figure out the price levels. They also knew that the first year or two would be really rough, as people who had gone without insurance put off healthcare for decades.

According to the CBO (who has been pretty accurate throughout) premiums are stabilizing. If Rubio and the GOP's attack had not happened, Alaska would not have to have done this.

Course, no one can figure out what other attacks will happen, but if they stopped with the risk corridors Alaska will have no need to do such in the future.

I will not bet that the GOP will not make it even worse, so they can just say the ACA collapsed upon itself.

im1dc -> EMichael... , April 16, 2017 at 06:06 PM
Agreed but the point is that the Obamacare Risk Corridors did not work as hoped but this Alaska workaround appears to be working in its place.

I am sure you and I don't care how we get there as long as we get there, saving Obamacare for 30,000,000 Americans.

I don't trust Trump or the Conservative Tea Baggers in Congress either. If they can they will pull defeat from the jaws of victory and call themselves saviors.

They are not nice or caring or smart, just ideologues without a clue to what they are doing.

cm -> im1dc... , April 16, 2017 at 07:05 PM
TLDR: The fedgov pays a significant part of this reinsurance scheme. (According to the article funds that come out of "saved" premium subsidies? - not clear.)

But one can argue this is how it is supposed to work. It doesn't really matter at what "level" the subsidizing happens.

im1dc -> cm... , April 17, 2017 at 04:42 AM
Agreed.

[May 08, 2017] Under the most recent version of the GOP repeal bill, states would be allowed to opt out of requiring insurers to cover everyone at the same price and to offer all 10 essential health benefits in all policies

May 04, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
MyLessThanPrimeBeef , May 4, 2017 at 4:27 pm

From the CNN article in the Links:

Prior to the health reform law, consumers who have or who previously had medical issues - even if it were years earlier and completely resolved - could be denied coverage or charged much more in premiums. Obamacare remedies that by requiring insurers to cover everyone and charge them the same amount, regardless of their health history. Also, it mandates all policies cover 10 essential health benefits, including prescription drugs, hospitalization and doctors' visits , so the sick could be assured their treatments are covered.

"The rules under Obamacare were comprehensive," said Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

This expansive coverage, however, comes with a high price tag. It bumps up the cost of premiums for everyone. That's why the conservative Freedom Caucus set its sights on getting rid of these popular provisions.

Related: Key GOP lawmakers flip on health care after Trump meeting
Under the most recent version of the GOP repeal bill, states would be allowed to opt out of requiring insurers to cover everyone at the same price and to offer all 10 essential health benefits in all policies. This would likely lead insurers to jack up rates for those with pre-existing conditions who didn't maintain continuous coverage and to offer skimpy plans that don't pay for the treatments the sick need.

---

1. Is it still a plan if it doesn't offer 'doctors visits?'

That is scary. And I have to ask, is it me not reading it correctly, or is it on the writer?

2. It bumps up the cost of premiums for everyone those popular provisions.

Probably the situation is more complex. Intuitively, more costly for everyone is not often associated with being popular.

3. jack up rates for those with pre-existing conditions who didn't maintain continuous coverage.

Those with pre-existing conditions are today covered for those who are not paying a penalty. They are in 'continuous' coverage, are they not? And the risk is jacked up rates – that is, a money issue.

The difference between Medicare for All, and Free Medicare for All is also a money issue.

Ian , May 4, 2017 at 4:30 pm

This is a gift to the corporate democrats as it provides cover for and shifts blame to the GOP in regards to a system that was well on its way to painfully dying. The people that keep focus on single payer will be blamed even more as well for worsening the situation. A lot more revisionism is coming our way as the terrible reality that was Obama will be made out to look like Trump is the root cause of what is going on. As stated earlier, if Trump wanted to destroy the Dems all he'd have to do is let ACA be run by the Dems and let that run it's natural course, now the GOP own it. As shown by the first commenter. Political Kabuki.

[May 08, 2017] There are three general types of universal health care systems: socialized medicine, single-payer, all payer

Apr 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
RGC , April 20, 2017 at 05:00 AM
Different Universal Health Care Systems
17 Apr 2017

Jon Walker

There are three general types of universal health care systems. Each system, which other industrialized democracies rely upon, has its quirks.

Socialized medicine
Examples: United Kingdom, Norway, and Denmark
Closest American analogy: Veterans Health Administration


Single-payer
Example: Canada
Closest American analogy: Medicare


All-payer
Examples: Belgium, Japan, Germany, Switzerland
Closest American analogy: Federal Employer Health Benefits, ACA exchanges
.....................
https://shadowproof.com/2017/04/17/road-single-payer-understanding-different-universal-health-care-systems/

Fred C. Dobbs -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 05:25 AM
FWIW,

Should there be 'bare counties' (no insurance
plans offered) under ObamaCare in the coming
year it *might* be possible that a Medicaid
Buy-in plan would be offered.

NYT: Katherine Hempstead, who studies health insurance markets at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was more confident than former Obama administration officials that a motivated executive branch could devise new policies to help people in bare counties, such as letting them buy a Medicaid plan, or including them in the state employee benefit pool. "I do think there will be solutions," she said. ...

Bare Market: What Happens if Places Have No
Obamacare Insurers? https://nyti.ms/2pxTTEY
via @UpshotNYT - Margot Sanger-Katz - APRIL 18

RGC -> Fred C. Dobbs... , April 20, 2017 at 05:40 AM
How about a Medicare plan, instead of Medicaid?
Fred C. Dobbs -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 06:05 AM
Personally, I'm guessing that
the latter is more likely, but
not much more so, than the former.
paine -> RGC... , April 20, 2017 at 06:17 AM
Yes the public option
at least in counties under provided
By corporate insurers

[May 07, 2017] The Unspeakable

Notable quotes:
"... The Donald did not care what bill was passed, as long as he ended up with something that would allow him to say he kept his promise and could claim as an accomplishment. He is all appearance over substance. ..."
May 07, 2017 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, and fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death."

Chris Hedges


"In this way people are thrown aside as if they were trash."

Francis I


"Those who are at present so eager to be reconciled with the world at any price must take care not to be reconciled with it under this particular aspect: as the nest of The Unspeakable. This is what too few are willing to see."

Thomas Merton, The Unspeakable

The French elections will be this weekend, with market pricing in a win by the Europhile businessman Macron over the nationalist right with Le Pen.

The SP and Nasdaq closed at all time highs today. Gold and silver continued to move sideways. The dollar also moved lower. Must have been a 'risk on' day for the one percent and their financiers.

The Health-scare Bill (sic) passed by the House is widely being disregarded by the more astute observers as a cynical exercise in political flimflammery. It is so outrageously bad that the Senate is unlikely to pass it at anything like its current form. It is yet another of their symbolic repeals of a healthcare system formulated by the conservative Heritage Foundation and embraced by the Wall Street wing of the Democrats under Obama and Clinton. The Donald did not care what bill was passed, as long as he ended up with something that would allow him to say he kept his promise and could claim as an accomplishment. He is all appearance over substance.

No matter if this legislation would devastate members of the woeful working class who carried him into office. He and the Congressmen cared so little for the consequences of this law to the public that they did not even wait for the impact analysis that is customary for major legislation.

The House GOP took advantage of Donald's egomania by passing a bill which would deny affordable healthcare insurance to millions of Americans, the weak, the poor, and the elderly, in order to finance a $600 billion tax cut over the next ten years for the richest of the one percent. And afterwards they all celebrated with a beer party in the Rose Garden.

It would have been better for them if they had never been born.

[May 05, 2017] William Binney - The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

Very interesting discussion of how the project of mass surveillance of internet traffic started and what were the major challenges. that's probably where the idea of collecting "envelopes" and correlating them to create social network. Similar to what was done in civil War.
The idea to prevent corruption of medical establishment to prevent Medicare fraud is very interesting.
Notable quotes:
"... I suspect that it's hopelessly unlikely for honest people to complete the Police Academy; somewhere early on the good cops are weeded out and cannot complete training unless they compromise their integrity. ..."
"... 500 Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent It's Never to Protect Us From Bad Guys No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they're doing it. ..."
"... People are so worried about NSA don't be fooled that private companies are doing the same thing. ..."
"... In communism the people learned quick they were being watched. The reaction was not to go to protest. ..."
"... Just not be productive and work the system and not listen to their crap. this is all that was required to bring them down. watching people, arresting does not do shit for their cause ..."
Apr 20, 2017 | www.youtube.com
Chad 2 years ago

"People who believe in these rights very much are forced into compromising their integrity"

I suspect that it's hopelessly unlikely for honest people to complete the Police Academy; somewhere early on the good cops are weeded out and cannot complete training unless they compromise their integrity.

Agent76 1 year ago (edited)
January 9, 2014

500 Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent It's Never to Protect Us From Bad Guys No matter which government conducts mass surveillance, they also do it to crush dissent, and then give a false rationale for why they're doing it.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/01/government-spying-citizens-always-focuses-crushing-dissent-keeping-us-safe.html

Homa Monfared 7 months ago

I am wondering how much damage your spying did to the Foreign Countries, I am wondering how you changed regimes around the world, how many refugees you helped to create around the world.

Don Kantner, 2 weeks ago

People are so worried about NSA don't be fooled that private companies are doing the same thing. Plus, the truth is if the NSA wasn't watching any fool with a computer could potentially cause an worldwide economic crisis.

Bettor in Vegas 1 year ago

In communism the people learned quick they were being watched. The reaction was not to go to protest.

Just not be productive and work the system and not listen to their crap. this is all that was required to bring them down. watching people, arresting does not do shit for their cause......

[Mar 22, 2017] The Men Who Stole the World

Notable quotes:
"... History will look back at us with the same wonder that we look back on the mad excesses of certain nations founded in devotion to extreme, almost other-worldly, ideologies of the last century. ..."
"... Apparently the slashing of health benefits for the unfortunate is not severe enough in the proposed Trump/Ryan plan. Our GOP house neo-liberals are enthusiastic to unleash the wonders of the cure-all deregulated market on the American public, again. Like a dog returns to its vomit. ..."
Mar 22, 2017 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com
"The problem of the last three decades is not the 'vicissitudes of the marketplace,' but rather deliberate actions by the government to redistribute income from the rest of us to the one percent. This pattern of government action shows up in all areas of government policy."

Dean Baker

"When the modern corporation acquires power over markets, power in the community, power over the state and power over belief, it is a political instrument, different in degree but not in kind from the state itself. To hold otherwise - to deny the political character of the modern corporation - is not merely to avoid the reality.

It is to disguise the reality. The victims of that disguise are those we instruct in error."

John Kenneth Galbraith

And unfortunately the working class victims of that disguise are going to be receiving the consequences of their folly, and then some.

Secure in their monopolies and key positions with regard to reform and the law, the corporations are further acquiring access to the protections of the rights of individuals as well, it appears, at least according to Citizens United .

Maybe our leaders and their self-proclaimed technocrats will finally do the right thing. I personally doubt it, except that if they do it will probably be by accident.

More likely, the right thing will eventually come about the old-fashioned way- under the duress of a crisis, and the growing protests of the much neglected and long suffering.

History will look back at us with the same wonder that we look back on the mad excesses of certain nations founded in devotion to extreme, almost other-worldly, ideologies of the last century.

... ... ...

Apparently the slashing of health benefits for the unfortunate is not severe enough in the proposed Trump/Ryan plan. Our GOP house neo-liberals are enthusiastic to unleash the wonders of the cure-all deregulated market on the American public, again. Like a dog returns to its vomit.

Better if they start breaking up corporate health monopolies and embrace real reform at the sources of the soaring costs. The US pays far, far too much for drugs and healthcare, and deregulating the markets is not the solution. We do have the example of the rest of the developed world for what to do about this. It is called 'single payer.'

But players keep on playing. And politicians and their enablers in the professions will not see what their big money donors do not wish them to see. And that is one of their few bipartisan efforts.

Might one suggest that our political animals stop trying to do all the reforming and cost controls bottom up, while applying the stimulus top down? That approach they have been flogging to no avail for about thirty years is a recipe for a dying middle class.

Here is a short video from the Bernie Sanders WV town hall that shows The Face of American Desperation. By the way, the governor of West Virginia is a Democrat. He wasn't there.

...

[Mar 21, 2017] Why No One Is Taking Robert Samuelson's Medicaid Deal Seriously

Mar 21, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne : March 20, 2017 at 05:50 AM , 2017 at 05:50 AM
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/why-no-one-is-taking-robert-samuelson-s-medicaid-deal-seriously

March 20, 2017

Why No One Is Taking Robert Samuelson's Medicaid Deal Seriously

Robert Samuelson put forward what would ordinarily be a very reasonable proposal on Medicaid and Medicare in his column * today. He suggested that the federal government take over the portion of Medicaid that deals with low-income elderly and fold it into the Medicare program, while leaving states with full responsibility for dealing with the part of Medicaid that deals with low-income families below retirement age.

While he is right that this sort of consolidation could likely reduce costs and prevent seniors from falling between the cracks in the two systems, there is a basic problem with turning Medicaid over to the states. There are a number of states controlled by Republicans where there is little or no interest in providing health care for low income families.

This means that if Medicaid were turned completely over to the states, millions of low income families would lose access to health care. For this reason, people who want to see low income families get health care, which is the purpose of Medicaid, want to see the program remain partly under the federal government's control.

* https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/medicaid-is-out-of-control-heres-how-to-fix-it/2017/03/19/05167e9e-0b2e-11e7-a15f-a58d4a988474_story.html

-- Dean Baker

pgl -> anne... , March 20, 2017 at 06:04 AM
"There are a number of states controlled by Republicans where there is little or no interest in providing health care for low income families. This means that if Medicaid were turned completely over to the states, millions of low income families would lose access to health care."

Dean Baker is right to go after this idea from Robert (no relationship to Paul) Samuelson but two additional comments.

(1) This is really the Paul Ryan agenda.

(2) For states like mine that will take care of these low income families, this Ryan agenda does not mean less in taxes. It means less in income taxes on the rich and more in sales taxes for the rest of us. The ultimate Paul Ryan agenda.

Anachronism said in reply to pgl... , March 20, 2017 at 06:56 AM
There are 2 theories about how to argue with a republican. Neither one works.

What they care about is "lessez faire", which means low income families should die off from lack of healthcare. If they deserved healthcare, they should have been able to afford it themselves.

RC AKA Darryl, Ron said in reply to Anachronism ... , March 20, 2017 at 07:16 AM
If God had wanted poor people to have healthcare then he would have made them be born rich :<)
pgl -> Anachronism ... , March 20, 2017 at 09:43 AM
I might ask what those two theories are but I suspect you are right about neither one of them working.

[Mar 14, 2017] No wonder the unemployed increasingly kill themselves, or others. The whole economy tells them, indirectly but unmistakably, that their human value does not exist.

Mar 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Noni Mausa : March 13, 2017 at 04:13 PM

What the wealthy right wing has decided in the past 40 years is that they don't need citizens. At least, not as many citizens as are actually citizens. What they are comfortable with is a large population of free range people, like the longhorn cattle of the old west, who care for themselves as best they can, and are convenient to be used when the "ranchers" want them.

Of course, this is their approach to foreign workers, also, but for the purpose of maintaining a domestic society within which the domestic rich can comfortably live, only native born Americans really suit.

With the development of high productivity production, farming, and hands-off war technology the need for a large number of citizens is reduced. The wealthy can sit in their towers and arrange the world as suits them, and use the rest of the world as a "farm team" to supply skills and labour as needed.

Proof of this is the fact that they talk about the economy's need for certain skills, training, services and so on, but never about the inherent value of citizens independent of their utility to someone else.

No wonder the unemployed increasingly kill themselves, or others. The whole economy tells them, indirectly but unmistakably, that their human value does not exist. ken melvin : , March 13, 2017 at 04:48 PM

Can someone get me from $300 billion tax cut for the rich to getting the markets work for health care?
ken melvin : , March 13, 2017 at 04:54 PM
It isn't about 'markets', never is. It is about extraction of as much profit as possible using whatever means necessary. This is what the CEOs of insurance companies get payed to do. Insurance policies they don't pay out, the ones Ryan is referring to, are as good as any for scoring.
libezkova : , March 13, 2017 at 07:09 PM
"It isn't about 'markets', never is. It is about extraction of as much profit as possible using whatever means necessary. This is what the CEOs of insurance companies get payed to do."

What surprises me most in this discussion is how Obamacare suddenly changed from a dismal and expensive failure enriching private insurers to a "good deal".

Lesseevilism in action ;-)

ilsm : , March 13, 2017 at 01:41 PM
When the PPACA band-aid is pulled off the US health care mess the gusher will be blamed on "the Russians running the White House".

Cuba does better than the US despite being economically sanctioned for 55 years. Distribution of artificially scarce health care resources is utterly broken. This failed market is financed by a mix of 'for profit' insurance and medicare (which sublets a big part to 'for profit' insurance).

Coverage!!! PPACA added taxpayers' money to finance a bigger failed market. It did nothing to address the market fail!

Single payer would not address the market failure. Single payer would put the government financing most of the failed market.

Democrats have put band-aids on severe bleeds since Truman made the cold war more important than Americans.

At least we know what Trump stands for!

jeff fisher said in reply to ilsm... , March 13, 2017 at 01:58 PM
Cuba is the shining example of how doing the first 20% of healthcare well for everyone gets you 80% of the benefit cheap.

The US is the shining example of how refusing to do the first 20% of healthcare well for everyone only gets you 80% of the benefit no matter how much you spend.

jonny bakho : , March 13, 2017 at 12:09 PM
Mark's very nice argument does nothing to address The Official Trump Counter Argument:

[Shorter version: Obamacare is doomed, going to blow up. Any replacement is therefore better than Obamacare; Facts seldom win arguments against beliefs]

"During a listening session on healthcare at the White House on Monday, President Donald Trump said Republicans "are putting themselves in a very bad position by repealing Obamacare."

Trump said that his administration is "committed to repealing and replacing" Obamacare and that the House Obamacare replacement will lead to more choice at a lower cost. He further stated, "[T]he press is making Obamacare look so good all, of a sudden. I'm watching the news. It looks so good. They're showing these reports about this one gets so much, and this one gets so much. First of all, it covers very few people, and it's imploding. And '17 will be the worst year. And I said it once; I'll say it again: because Obama's gone."

He continued, "And the Republicans, frankly, are putting themselves in a very bad position - I tell this to Tom Price all the time - by repealing Obamacare. Because people aren't gonna see the truly devastating effects of Obamacare. They're not gonna see the devastation. In '17 and '18 and '19, it'll be gone by then. It'll - whether we do it or not, it'll be imploded off the map."

He added, "So, the press is making it look so wonderful, so that if we end it, everyone's going to say, 'Oh, remember how great Obamacare used to be? Remember how wonderful it used to be? It was so great.' It's a little bit like President Obama. When he left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn't like him so much. That's the way life goes. That's human nature."

Trump further stated that while letting Obamacare collapse on its own was the best thing to do politically, it wasn't the right thing to do for the country.

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2017/03/13/trump-republicans-putting-bad-position-repealing-obamacare/

[Feb 26, 2017] Clowbacks to benefits manager is like crack cocaine

This is racket. Plain and simple.
Notable quotes:
"... Pusey's contracts with drug-benefit managers at his Medicap Pharmacy in Olyphant, Pennsylvania, bar him from volunteering the fact that for many cheap, generic medicines, co-pays sometimes are more expensive than if patients simply pay out of pocket and bypass insurance. The extra money -- what the industry calls a clawback -- ends up with the benefit companies. Pusey tells customers only if they ask. ..."
"... "Some of them get fired up," he said. "Some of them get angry at the whole system. Some of them don't even believe that what we're telling them is accurate." ..."
"... Clawbacks, which can be as little as $2 a prescription or as much as $30, may boost profits by hundreds of millions for benefit managers and have prompted at least 16 lawsuits since October. The legal cases as well dozens of receipts obtained by Bloomberg and interviews with more than a dozen pharmacists and industry consultants show the growing importance of the clawbacks. ..."
"... The cases arrive at a critical juncture in the quarter-century debate over how to make health care more affordable in America. President Donald Trump is promising to lower drug costs, saying the government should get better prices and the pharmaceutical industry is "getting away with murder." The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, a benefits-manager trade group, says it expects greater scrutiny over its role in the price of medicine and wants to make its case "vocally and effectively." ..."
"... Suits have been filed against insurers UnitedHealth Group Inc., which owns manager OptumRx; Cigna Corp., which contracts with that manager; and Humana Inc., which runs its own. Among the accusations are defrauding patients through racketeering, breach of contract and violating insurance laws. ..."
"... Benefit managers are obscure but influential middlemen. They process prescriptions for insurers and large employers that back their own plans, determine which drugs are covered and negotiate with manufacturers on one end and pharmacies on the other. They have said their work keeps prices low, in part by pitting rival drugmakers against one other to get better deals. ..."
"... The clawbacks work like this: A patient goes to a pharmacy and pays a co-pay amount -- perhaps $10 -- agreed to by the pharmacy benefits manager, or PBM, and the insurers who hire it. The pharmacist gets reimbursed for the price of the drug, say $2, and possibly a small profit. Then the benefits manager "claws back" the remainder. Most patients never realize there's a cheaper cash price. ..."
Feb 26, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
im1dc: February 24, 2017 at 05:26 PM
Real World Economics

"You're Overpaying for Drugs and Your Pharmacist Can't Tell You"

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-24/sworn-to-secrecy-drugstores-stay-silent-as-customers-overpay

"You're Overpaying for Drugs and Your Pharmacist Can't Tell You"

by Jared S Hopkins...February 24, 2017...9:52 AM EST

> Gag clauses stop pharmacists from pointing out a cheaper way

> Cigna, UnitedHealth and Humana face at least 16 lawsuits

"Eric Pusey has to bite his tongue when customers at his pharmacy cough up co-payments far higher than the cost of their low-cost generic drugs, thinking their insurance is getting them a good deal.

Pusey's contracts with drug-benefit managers at his Medicap Pharmacy in Olyphant, Pennsylvania, bar him from volunteering the fact that for many cheap, generic medicines, co-pays sometimes are more expensive than if patients simply pay out of pocket and bypass insurance. The extra money -- what the industry calls a clawback -- ends up with the benefit companies. Pusey tells customers only if they ask.

"Some of them get fired up," he said. "Some of them get angry at the whole system. Some of them don't even believe that what we're telling them is accurate."

Graphic

Clawbacks, which can be as little as $2 a prescription or as much as $30, may boost profits by hundreds of millions for benefit managers and have prompted at least 16 lawsuits since October. The legal cases as well dozens of receipts obtained by Bloomberg and interviews with more than a dozen pharmacists and industry consultants show the growing importance of the clawbacks.

"It's like crack cocaine," said Susan Hayes, a consultant with Pharmacy Outcomes Specialists in Lake Zurich, Illinois. "They just can't get enough."

The cases arrive at a critical juncture in the quarter-century debate over how to make health care more affordable in America. President Donald Trump is promising to lower drug costs, saying the government should get better prices and the pharmaceutical industry is "getting away with murder." The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, a benefits-manager trade group, says it expects greater scrutiny over its role in the price of medicine and wants to make its case "vocally and effectively."

Racketeering Accusations

Suits have been filed against insurers UnitedHealth Group Inc., which owns manager OptumRx; Cigna Corp., which contracts with that manager; and Humana Inc., which runs its own. Among the accusations are defrauding patients through racketeering, breach of contract and violating insurance laws.

"Pharmacies should always charge our members the lowest amount outlined under their plan when filling prescriptions," UnitedHealthcare spokesman Matthew Wiggin said in a statement. "We believe these lawsuits are without merit and will vigorously defend ourselves."

Mark Mathis, a Humana spokesman, declined to comment. Matt Asensio, a Cigna spokesman, said the company doesn't comment on litigation.

"Patients should not have to pay more than a network drugstore's submitted charges to the health plan," Charles Cote, a spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, said in a statement.

Read more: Escalating U.S. drug prices -- a QuickTake explainer

Benefit managers are obscure but influential middlemen. They process prescriptions for insurers and large employers that back their own plans, determine which drugs are covered and negotiate with manufacturers on one end and pharmacies on the other. They have said their work keeps prices low, in part by pitting rival drugmakers against one other to get better deals.

The clawbacks work like this: A patient goes to a pharmacy and pays a co-pay amount -- perhaps $10 -- agreed to by the pharmacy benefits manager, or PBM, and the insurers who hire it. The pharmacist gets reimbursed for the price of the drug, say $2, and possibly a small profit. Then the benefits manager "claws back" the remainder. Most patients never realize there's a cheaper cash price.

"There's this whole industry that most people don't know about," said Connecticut lawyer Craig Raabe, who represents people accusing the companies of defrauding them. "The customers see that they go in, they are paying a $10 co-pay for amoxicillin, having no idea that the PBM and the pharmacy have agreed that the actual cost is less than a dollar, and they're still paying the $10 co-pay."

On Feb. 10, a customer at an Ohio pharmacy paid a $15 co-pay for 15 milligrams of generic stomach medicine pantoprazole that the pharmacist bought for $2.05, according to receipts obtained by Bloomberg. The pharmacist was repaid $7.22, giving him a profit of $5.17. The remaining $7.78 went back to the benefits manager.
Opaque Market

Clawbacks are possible because benefit managers take advantage of an opaque market, said Hayes, the Illinois consultant. Only they know who pays what.

In interviews, some pharmacists estimate clawbacks happen in 10 percent of their transactions. A survey by the more than 22,000-member National Community Pharmacists Association found 83 percent of 640 independent pharmacists had at least 10 a month.

"I've got three drugstores, so I see a lot of it," David Spence, a Houston pharmacist, said in an interview. "We look at it as theft -- another way for the PBMs to steal."

Lawsuits began in October in multiple states, and some have since been consolidated. Most cite an investigation by New Orleans television station Fox 8, which featured interviews with Louisiana pharmacists whose faces and voices were obscured.
Tight Restrictions

Many plans require pharmacies to collect payment when prescriptions are filled and prohibit them from waiving or reducing the amount. They can't even tell their customers about the clawbacks, according to the suits. Contracts obtained by Bloomberg prohibit pharmacists from publicly criticizing benefit managers or suggesting customers obtain the medication cheaper by paying out of pocket.

Pharmacists who contract with OptumRx in 2017 could be terminated for "actions detrimental to the provider network," doing anything that "disparages" it or trying to "steer" customers to other coverage or discounted plans, according to an agreement obtained by Bloomberg.

"They're usually take-it-or-leave-it contracts," said Mel Brodsky, who just retired as chief executive officer of Pennsylvania's Keystone Pharmacy Purchasing Alliance, which buys drugs on behalf of independent pharmacies.

OptumRx is among the three largest benefit managers that combine to process 80 percent of the prescriptions in the U.S. The other two, Express Scripts Holding Co. and CVS Caremark, haven't been accused of clawbacks. CVS doesn't use them, it said in a statement. Express Scripts is so opposed that it explains the practice on its website and promises customers will pay the lowest price available.
Potential Death Blow

Pharmacies fear getting removed from reimbursement networks, a potential death blow in smaller communities. But some pharmacists jump at opportunities to inform customers who question their co-pay amounts.

"Most don't understand," said Spence, who owns two pharmacies in Houston. "If their co-pay is high, then they care."

States are responding. Last year, Louisiana began allowing pharmacists to tell customers how to get the cheapest price for drugs, trumping contract gag clauses. In 2015, Arkansas prohibited benefit managers and pharmacies from charging customers more than the pharmacy will be paid.

"The consumers don't know what's going on," said Steve Nelson, a pharmacist in Okeechobee, Florida. "We try to educate them with regards to what goes into a prescription, OK? You've got to kind of tip-toe around things."

ilsm -> im1dc... , February 24, 2017 at 07:08 PM
pharma to USG

like drug cartel in Mexico

except no briefcases

im1dc -> ilsm... , February 24, 2017 at 07:47 PM
That's a valid observation.

[Feb 19, 2017] As Democrats stare down eight years of policies being wiped out within months, but those policies did virtually nothing for their electoral success at any level.

Notable quotes:
"... This point has been made before on Obamacare, but the tendency behind it, the tendency to muddle and mask benefits, has become endemic to center-left politics. Either Democrats complicate their initiatives enough to be inscrutable to anyone who doesn't love reading hours of explainers on public policy, or else they don't take credit for the few simple policies they do enact. Let's run through a few examples. ..."
"... missed the point the big winner is FIRE. ACA should have been everyone in medicare, and have medicare run Part B not FIRE. Obamcare is welfare for FIRE, who sabotage it with huge deductibles and raging rises in premium.. ..."
Feb 19, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Peter K. -> Chris G ... , February 18, 2017 at 07:35 AM
via J.W. Mason (lots of F-bombs!):

http://democracyjournal.org/arguments/keep-it-simple-and-take-credit/

Keep It Simple and Take Credit

BY JACK MESERVE
FROM FEBRUARY 3, 2017, 5:42 PM

As Democrats stare down eight years of policies being wiped out within months, it's worth looking at why those policies did virtually nothing for their electoral success at any level. And, in the interest of supporting a united front between liberals and socialists, let me start this off with a rather long quote from Matt Christman of Chapo Trap House, on why Obamacare failed to gain more popularity:

There are parts to it that are unambiguously good - like, Medicaid expansion is good, and why? Because there's no f!@#ing strings attached. You don't have to go to a goddamned website and become a f@!#ing hacker to try to figure out how to pick the right plan, they just tell you "you're covered now." And that's it! That's all it ever should have been and that is why - [Jonathan Chait] is bemoaning why it's a political failure? Because modern neoliberal, left-neoliberal policy is all about making this shit invisible to people so that they don't know what they're getting out of it.

And as Rick Perlstein has talked about a lot, that's one of the reasons that Democrats end up f!@#$ing themselves over. The reason they held Congress for 40 years after enacting Social Security is because Social Security was right in your f!@ing face. They could say to you, "you didn't used to have money when you were old, now you do. Thank Democrats." And they f!@#ing did. Now it's, "you didn't used to be able to log on to a website and negotiate between 15 different providers to pick a platinum or gold or zinc plan and apply a f!@#$ing formula for a subsidy that's gonna change depending on your income so you might end up having to retroactively owe money or have a higher premium." Holy shit, thank you so much.

This point has been made before on Obamacare, but the tendency behind it, the tendency to muddle and mask benefits, has become endemic to center-left politics. Either Democrats complicate their initiatives enough to be inscrutable to anyone who doesn't love reading hours of explainers on public policy, or else they don't take credit for the few simple policies they do enact. Let's run through a few examples.

...

ilsm -> Peter K.... , February 18, 2017 at 12:47 PM
missed the point the big winner is FIRE. ACA should have been everyone in medicare, and have medicare run Part B not FIRE. Obamcare is welfare for FIRE, who sabotage it with huge deductibles and raging rises in premium..

[Jan 16, 2017] Trump said he will target pharmaceutical companies over drug prices and demand that they negotiate directly with Medicaid and Medicare.

Jan 16, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

pgl -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 16, 2017 at 05:57 AM

If Trump is serious about what he said - expect a real battle with Speaker Ryan.
DeDude -> pgl... , January 16, 2017 at 06:57 AM
That may be exactly what Trump is counting on. Trump is a classic bully, he gets back at people (to make an example and reduce future "resistance"). It would be very difficult for the GOP to fight with Trump publicly in the first year. Question is what his specifics are. He may even be able to get bipartisan support and split the GOP, the way Bush did with his prescription drug plan for seniors.
reason -> DeDude... , January 16, 2017 at 07:35 AM
Trump doesn't do details. Details are for little people.
libezkova -> DeDude... , January 16, 2017 at 07:44 AM
Crushing Speaker Ryan is not bulling per se. This is a great service for the country.

He is definitely out of touch with reality.

Peter K. -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 16, 2017 at 05:55 AM
"We're going to have insurance for everybody," Mr. Trump said. "There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can't pay for it, you don't get it. That's not going to happen with us."

In the interview, Mr. Trump provided no details about how his plan would work or what it would cost. He spoke in the same generalities that he used to describe his health care goals during the campaign - that it would be "great health care" that left people "beautifully covered."

Single payer!

ilsm -> Peter K.... , January 16, 2017 at 06:10 AM
Trump would have to sell it, but in the past he has praised European style single payer, but said it would be a hard sell in the US.

If Nixon could go to China.

MLK would observe "if US can pay to gut the world, it can afford a little for the home front".

Peter K. -> ilsm... , January 16, 2017 at 06:52 AM
"Beautifully covered."

Can't wait!

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 16, 2017 at 06:00 AM
The GOP's strategy for Obamacare? Repeal and run.
http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/01/15/gop-strategy-for-aca-repeal-and-run/aCcjrJWQDjx4r4aRxkMCaL/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Elizabeth Warren - January 15, 2017

For eight years, Republicans in Congress have complained about health care in America, heaping most of the blame on President Obama. Meanwhile, they've hung out on the sidelines making doomsday predictions and cheering every stumble, but refusing to lift a finger to actually improve our health care system.

The GOP is about to control the White House, Senate, and House. So what's the first thing on their agenda? Are they working to bring down premiums and deductibles? Are they making fixes to expand the network of doctors and the number of plans people can choose from? Nope. The number one priority for congressional Republicans is repealing the Affordable Care Act and breaking up our health care system while offering zero solutions.

Their strategy? Repeal and run.

Many Massachusetts families are watching this play out, worried about what will happen - including thousands from across the Commonwealth that I joined at Faneuil Hall on Sunday to rally in support of the ACA. Hospitals and insurers are watching too, concerned that repealing the ACA will create chaos in the health insurance market and send costs spiraling out of control.

They are right to worry. Massachusetts has worked for years to provide high-quality, affordable health care for everyone. But there's no magic wand we can wave to simply snap back to our old system if congressional Republicans decide to rip up the Affordable Care Act and run away.

Health care reform in Massachusetts wasn't partisan. Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, hospitals, insurers, doctors, and consumers all came together behind a commitment that every single person in our Commonwealth deserves access to affordable, high-quality care. When Republican Governor Mitt Romney signed Massachusetts health reform into law in 2006, our state took huge strides toward offering universal health care coverage and financial security to millions of Bay State residents.

That law was a major step forward. Today, more than 97 percent of Bay Staters are covered - the highest rate of any state in the country.

But Massachusetts still has a lot to lose if the ACA is repealed. One big reason for our state's health care success is that we took advantage of the new opportunities offered under the ACA. In addition to making care more accessible and efficient, our state expanded Medicaid, using federal funds to help even more people. And we combined federal and state dollars to help reduce the cost of insurance on the Health Connector.

When the ACA passed, Massachusetts already had in place some of the best consumer protections in the nation. But the ACA still made a big difference. It strengthened protections for people in Massachusetts with pre-existing conditions, allowed for free preventive care visits, and - for the first time in our state - banned setting lifetime caps on benefits.

If the ACA is repealed, our health care system would hang in the balance. Half a million people in the Commonwealth would risk losing their coverage. People who now have an iron-clad guarantee that they can't be turned away due to their pre-existing conditions or discriminated against because of their gender could lose that security. Preventive health care, community health centers, and rural hospitals could lose crucial support. In short, the Massachusetts health care law is a big achievement and a national model, but it also depends on the ACA and a strong partnership with the federal government.

If the cost-sharing subsidies provided by the ACA are slashed to zero, Massachusetts will have a tough time keeping down the cost of plans on the Health Connector. The state can't make funds appear out of thin air to help families on the Medicaid expansion if Republicans yank away support. And our ability to address the opioid crisis will be severely hampered if people lose access to health insurance or if the federal funding provided through the Medicaid waiver disappears. Even in states with strong health care systems - states like Massachusetts - the ACA is critical.

The current system isn't perfect - not by a long shot. There are important steps Congress could take to lower deductibles and premiums, to expand the network of doctors people can see on their plans, and to increase the stability and predictability of the market. We should be working together to make health care better all across the country, just like we've tried to do here in Massachusetts.

This doesn't need to be a partisan fight. But if congressional Republicans continue to pursue repeal of the ACA with nothing more than vague assurances that they might - someday - think up a replacement plan, the millions of Americans who believe in guaranteeing people's access to affordable health care will fight back every step of the way.

Repeal and run is for cowards.

pgl -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 16, 2017 at 06:00 AM
"Providing health insurance to everyone in the country is likely to be very costly, a fact that could diminish support from fiscal conservatives."

Herein lies the real issue. Of course we could reduce these costs by ending the doctor cartel, ending the oligopoly power of the health insurance giants, and pushing back on Big Pharma. Alas, Speaker Ryan is not interested in any of these things.

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 16, 2017 at 06:01 AM
Rand Paul says he's drafting
a measure to replace Obamacare http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/01/15/rand-paul-says-drafting-measure-replace-obamacare/y6wMEPKjbi1oEkj9TkekSO/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe
Miles Weiss - Bloomberg - January 15, 2017

Republican Senator Rand Paul said he's drafting legislation for a health-care insurance plan that could replace Obamacare, including a provision to ''legalize'' the sale of inexpensive insurance policies that provide abbreviated coverage.

''That means getting rid of the Obamacare mandates on what you can buy,'' Paul said in an interview on CNN's ''State of the Union'' on Sunday. Obamacare, which Republicans are moving to repeal, requires insurers to cover a number of procedures -- such as preventive care and pregnancy -- that Paul said drives up the cost.

The Kentucky Republican said he'll propose helping people pay for medical bills through tax credits and health savings accounts, which allow users to set aside money tax-free to pay for medical expenses. His bill would allow individuals and small businesses to form associations when buying insurance, giving them more leverage, he said.

''There's no reason why someone with four employees shouldn't be able to join with hundreds and hundreds of other businesses'' to negotiate better prices, Paul said. Becoming part of larger pools would help small companies secure coverage ''that guarantees the issue of the insurance even if you get sick.'' ...

Paul said his legislation is meant to address concern among Democrats and some Republicans that ending Obamacare would also end health-care coverage for many of the 20 million people who acquired insurance under the law. While Republicans move ahead with their plans to eradicate Obamacare, they have yet to outline an alternative.

''It's incredibly important that we do replacement on the same day as we do repeal,'' Paul said on CNN. ''Our goal,'' he added, is to ''give access to the most amount of people at the least amount of cost.''

Fred C. Dobbs -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 16, 2017 at 07:28 AM
(I urge that Dr Paul's plan include
guv'mint-supplied snake bite kits
for all. That could save a bundle.)

[Jan 14, 2017] Insurance overhead runs are probably the best argument for single payer

Jan 14, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
pgl -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 13, 2017 at 06:14 AM
There are 3 ways we could reduce what we pay for health care:

(1) Ending the oligopoly power of the health insurance companies;

(2) Ending the doctor cartel;

(3) Reducing the monopoly power of Big Pharma.

Alas, the Republicans have no intention in doing any of this. So when they tell people they want to lower their costs, they are talking to rich people. The cost to the rest of us will go up if they have their way.

Observer -> pgl... , -1
From what I read, and recall from data Anne has posted a number of times, pharma costs are about 10% of total health care costs, and run about 2X EU average, or Canada, if we adopt that as a reference baseline. If we cut it in half, that would reduce our costs about 5%.

Doctors fees (physicians and clinical services in this reference) are about 20%. I think you have mentioned before we pay about 2X typical EU wages. So if we cut that in half, it reduces our costs about 10%.

Taken together, that's ~ 15% reduction. Not nothing, but in a few years of cost growth we are back to current cost levels.

Do you see that differently?

I don't have offhand figures for what insurance overhead runs. I think reducing that is probably the best argument for single payer, although comparisons to medicare overhead seem suspect (I'd expect much lower overhead percentages when much of your costs you are processing are $40K end of life hospital events vs. routine GP visits.) So one might zero out the profit, and reduce costs by having one IT/billing system. What's the scale of the opportunity here - another 15%?

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/health-expenditures.htm

[Jan 13, 2017] Reducing the cost of healthcare

Jan 13, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
pgl -> Fred C. Dobbs... , January 13, 2017 at 06:14 AM
There are 3 ways we could reduce what we pay for health care:

(1) Ending the oligopoly power of the health insurance companies;

(2) Ending the doctor cartel;

(3) Reducing the monopoly power of Big Pharma.

Alas, the Republicans have no intention in doing any of this. So when they tell people they want to lower their costs, they are talking to rich people. The cost to the rest of us will go up if they have their way.

Observer -> pgl... , January 13, 2017 at 07:12 AM
From what I read, and recall from data Anne has posted a number of times, pharma costs are about 10% of total health care costs, and run about 2X EU average, or Canada, if we adopt that as a reference baseline. If we cut it in half, that would reduce our costs about 5%.

Doctors fees (physicians and clinical services in this reference) are about 20%. I think you have mentioned before we pay about 2X typical EU wages. So if we cut that in half, it reduces our costs about 10%.

Taken together, that's ~ 15% reduction. Not nothing, but in a few years of cost growth we are back to current cost levels.

Do you see that differently?

I don't have offhand figures for what insurance overhead runs. I think reducing that is probably the best argument for single payer, although comparisons to medicare overhead seem suspect (I'd expect much lower overhead percentages when much of your costs you are processing are $40K end of life hospital events vs. routine GP visits.) So one might zero out the profit, and reduce costs by having one IT/billing system. What's the scale of the opportunity here - another 15%?

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/health-expenditures.htm

anne -> Observer... , January 13, 2017 at 07:37 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/us/politics/health-care-congress-vote-a-rama.html

January 12, 2017

Senate Takes Major Step Toward Repealing Health Care Law
By THOMAS KAPLAN and ROBERT PEAR

In its lengthy series of votes, the Senate rejected amendments proposed by Democrats that were intended to allow imports of prescription drugs from Canada, protect rural hospitals and ensure continued access to coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, among other causes....

[Nov 05, 2015] Fake herbal supplements are more common then you think

observer.com

observer.com

Earlier this year, the New York AG investigated supplements at major retailers and found that four out of five didn't contain any of the labelled herbs. They contained "cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies." We're not talking fly-by-night Internet products; these are glossy bottles of so-called Gingko Biloba and Echinacea and Garlic, sold in stores like GNC and Target and Walgreens, with relaxing names like "Herbal Plus" and "Spring Valley":

1-rMEC1moEKkOBfuiGvH8Czg

When you buy a supplement, then, you're effectively on your own - not just in determining whether the supplement is safe and effective, but even in deciding whether you're eating what you think you're eating. Reload's packaging suggests it's an "herbal blend" full of plants like Gingko Biloba and Saw Palmetto, but tests show that it actually contains sildenafil, the strong prescription chemical found in Viagra itself.

This is a much freer market than people are accustomed to when they purchase anything from a reputable retailer, let alone something they plan to swallow. Absent stricter regulation, busy citizens count on the media to inform.

[Oct 28, 2013] OBoZoCaRe BoNaNZa!

Zero Hedge

Below is Kunstler's description of our medical situation. All that needs to be pointed out is that the republicans are primarily the ones responsible for opposing the kinds of fixes that would have gone a long ways to remedy the situation. A single care provider approach means cutting out the sleazy tribe of middle-men who make our way of fleecing the ailing public so profitable. The prime directive of the republican party is at all costs protect the unholy wealth of those who already have most of it...

The ObamaCare piece of the picture is a mere pathetic soap opera compared to the first two quandaries. The 2000-page law did nothing to address the core tragedy of medicine in America - namely, that it has evolved into a hideous hostage racket. You go to a hospital with a terrifying illness and you are susceptible to fleecing by the so-called "care-givers" for the promise that you may get to live. No prices for treatment are never discussed. They are presumed to be astronomical - but who cares if you end up dead, and if you do get to live, you'll figure that out later. If you hold an insurance policy, these charges will be subject to a fake negotiation between grifting insurance companies and grifting hospitals, physicians, and drug companies. The price "settlements" are only slightly less a joke than the actual charges, and are obfuscated in documents designed to bewilder even well-educated policy-holders.

Even if you are insured, the charges may bankrupt you. A typical one-day charge for "room and board" in a non-specialized hospital in-patient bed runs $23,000 at my local hospital. For what?

Half a dozen blood-pressure checks and three bad meals? You can be sure that ever-fewer families will be able to fork over $12,000-a-year for basic coverage.

The ObamaCare legislation and its laughable rollout of a useless website is just a punctuation mark at the end of the soap opera script.

The result eventually will be the complete implosion of the medical racket and a return to a very primitive clinic system, with payment in chickens or cords of stove-wood. The smaller number of surviving humans will surely enjoy better health, and greater piece of mind, when this monster racket expires of inertia, bad faith, and deceit.

[Nov 03, 2011] The profit in keeping you ignorant by Wendell Potter

iWatch News

Health insurance industry and its corporate allies are fighting requirement that policies be understandable By Wendell Potter6:00 am, October 31, 2011 Updated: 1:21 pm, October 31, 2011 PrintE-mail6 inShare. Columnist Wendell Potter Robin Holland If you have no idea what you're paying good money for when you enroll in a health insurance plan, there's a good reason for that: insurers profit from your ignorance. And they're waging an intense behind-the-scenes campaign to keep you in the dark.

In my first appearance before Congress after leaving the insurance industry, I told members of the Senate Commerce Committee that insurers intentionally make it all but impossible for consumers to find out in advance of buying a policy exactly what is covered and what isn't and how much they'll be on the hook for if they get sick or injured. Insurers are quite willing to provide you with slick marketing materials about their policies, but those materials are notoriously skimpy when it comes to useful information. And the documents they provide after you enroll are so dense few of us can understand them.

In the months following my Senate testimony, lawmakers drafting health reform legislation included a provision requiring insurers to both provide comprehensible disclosures of health plan benefits and make that information available to anyone shopping for coverage. Despite repeated attempts by industry lobbyists to get that provision stripped out of the final bill, the Affordable Care Act as signed by President Obama last year requires that all private health plans provide consumers with a concise and understandable Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) form. In addition, they must provide a uniform glossary of medical and insurance terms.

If you think that sounds like a reasonable request, you're not an insurance company executive who is rewarded more for meeting Wall Street's profit expectations than assuring that consumers know what they're buying.

Now the Obama administration is trying to figure out how to enforce this new requirement, and so health insurers and their allies have launched a full-court press to persuade government officials to gut it by exempting policies sold where people work. Because the vast majority of Americans who have coverage get it through their employers, this would mean that most of us would, for all practical purposes, continue to have to buy a pig in a poke.

Fortunately there are several organizations, including Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports , that are fighting the good fight. They're demanding that Obama officials write the regulations to apply to all health plans, regardless of whether they are sold on the individual market or through employers, unions or other groups. They insist that Congress intended for the standard form, which would allow "apples-to-apples" comparisons of health plans, to apply across the board.

As Consumers Union noted in comments sent to the administration, the booklet describing benefits that most employers currently provide their workers "is a bulky, legalistic document that few consumers can understand." It cited one study which concluded that the typical benefit description document provided by employers is written at a college reading level. Most Americans have trouble understanding information written above the 6 th to 8 th grade level.

Insurers and their corporate allies, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Health Underwriters, are claiming in comment letters to the administration that providing a uniform, simplified and understandable version of those documents would cost so much money they would have to increase premiums.

America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the lobbying and PR group for insurers that says it represents more than 1,300 health plans covering 200 million people, contends that the cost of implementing the proposal would be $188 million. In addition, AHIP says, the annual cost of providing the information would be $194 million. Would insurers consider absorbing those costs? Of course not.

"The benefits of providing a new summary of coverage document, in addition to what is already provided to consumers, must be balanced against the increased administrative burden that drives up costs to consumers and employers," AHIP said in its letter.

Nonsense. Consider this: the five largest insurers (UnitedHealth, WellPoint, Aetna, CIGNA and Humana) over the past week have reported profits exceeding $2.6 billion for just the three months that ended September 30, 2011. Over the past 10 years, those five companies have recorded profits of more than $50 billion. Imagine what the total would be if you added in the profits of the other 1,295 health plans AHIP says it represents.

The industry could even pass a hat among the CEOs of those big insurers and come up with the additional money without any one of them giving until it really hurt. UnitedHealth's Stephen J. Hemsley is the highest paid CEO in America, according to Forbes magazine. He hauled in more than $100 million last year alone. When H. Edward Hanway, my former CEO at CIGNA, retired at the end of 2009, he walked out the door with $111 million. When you consider the money those two guys have made over the years, they alone could cover the cost of providing consumers with information they can understand.

I'd advise everyone to keep their eyes on this skirmish. If the administration caves to the insurers' demands on this, we'll know who really is calling the shots when it comes to implementing health care reform.

[Feb 08, 2011] guest-post-why-small-business-isnt-hiring-and-wont-be-hiring

by cxl9
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 12:49
#943358

$1000/month for health coverage? Really? I am a 43-year old man who pays $369/mo. for a Kaiser gold policy + prescription. A young person could expect to pay half that. Anyone who believes health care is overpriced or unaffordable is simply hoping the government will force someone else will pay his medical bills.

by docj
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 13:01
#943378

Good luck finding a "state approved" health insurance policy in the People's Republic of MA for under $1K/mo. (Thanks for that, Mitt Romney.)

by ThirdCoastSurfer
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 14:31
#943751

Thanks to QE2 I have High Blood Pressure and "suddenly" don't qualify for traditional insurance. I applied for and qualified for "Obama Care" through www.pciplan.gov.

For $400 a month it carries a $2,000 deductible and a $5950 Out of Pocket max (OOP). http://www.pciplan.com/forms/pdfs/2011BenefitsSummary.pdf

So, from Year to Year, I can expect to pay $4800 in premium and $2,000 deductible equaling $6,800 before coverage begins and then I'll pay 20% of the next $19,750 before the OOP max is reached.

It was hard for me to fathom why I would chose (or in 2014 be forced) to accept such terms rather than just pay cash in the hopes that no one annual bill would amount to more than $10,750 (Premium + OOP) until I looked at the cost of random things like an appendectomy or a ER visit for a broken bone, each of which can easily cross $20,000 in expense because of the way hospitals, and health care in general, "upcharge" and "unbundle" their charges. Apparently, no one pays the listed price, so why all the confusion? I have no idea but is it possible that for tax purposes the difference can somehow be applied as a taxable loss as a business expense?

"Talk about what a tangled web we weave"

by blunderdog
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 15:54
#944043

If all this info is accurate, and you're not happy with the "Obamacare" option, why not just skip the health-insurance and pay the fuckin' tax penalty?

Who in the world even wants health-insurance?

It's the ultimate definition of a sucker bet: insurance against shit you could *never* want to happen in the first place. If it pays off, you lose. If it doesn't, you lose.

I *know* some of these folks, and I'd predict: if something horrible happens to you and fucks your world, you're really not going to give a shit whether you can pay your bills for the emergency surgery.

by Dr. Sandi
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 17:56
#944520

Once you get on the actuarial bad side of 55, the odds look a lot different.

You can stiff the hospital and all the various hangers-on for the first visit. But you're screwed if you ever have to go back there and don't have cash or credit card in your drooping paw.

by blunderdog
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:09
#944556

Yes, I do actually appreciate that, which is why I say "IF" it looks like a bad deal, fuck it.

What I can't get over is listening to folks bitching about health-insurance costs on the one hand, taxes on the other hand, and outrageous health care expenses on the third hand. No one HAS TO take BP medicine. No one HAS TO have dialysis (or their kidneys replaced) after a decade of *not* taking BP medicine.

The money either has to come from somewhere or it doesn't--if it doesn't, just stop paying and die already. It's no one's fault that people get old and die, right? Your health is going to fail you no matter who you are or what you've done. If you don't want to pay for health-care, DON'T.

Just don't whine about it if you choose to pay. And don't blame government for the fact that you want the best possible care available and "money is no object" as soon as you reach that point, but it's a waste of your tax dollars as long as you feel ok.

Most people I know are completely infantile on this subject. It's no wonder no one's happy with our "policies."

by braveneweconomy
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 12:55
#943379

Same here. I'm an independent contractor mid-40's and pay about $400/mo. for great coverage. I'm always perplexed by the people who scream about health care being too expensive.

by minus dog
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 13:26
#943496

Sure, you can get insurance for $250/mo (assuming you can afford that - many cannot) but it doesn't do you any damn good for the sort of routine medical care someone my age actually uses. I typically get a huge cash discount, so my bill is essentially the same as if I were paying for the services with insurance... and without the monthly overhead.

Even at 250 a month, I'd be paying about 10x as much per year for medical and dental expenses. Even with the occasional serious injury every 3-4 years (about $3k a pop) I'm still coming out ahead.

Complaints about "freeloading" are going to fall on deaf ears - two words: Social Security.

This article is spot on; the system exists to fuck us and empty our pockets, why the hell would be participate in it?

by RKDS
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 13:37
#943517

It would've been interesting for you to provide a salary for comparison, because to someone making $30K and taking home less than $2K per month, $400 right off the top actually _is_ expensive. And it's even worse if your employer doesn't offer coverage and you have to pay even more on the individual market.

by minus dog
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 18:24
#944590

And, as people seem to keep forgetting, median individual income is somewhere around $26K

by HungrySeagull
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 14:00
#943602

I know one retired dentist who endured 1200 dollars coverage per month for the wife. The moment the wife hit 65, medicare kicked in and he pockets the 1200 dollars per month.

HOORAY!

And if anything happens beyond what medicare pays, cash paid to billing all done.

by Mercury
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 12:57
#943391

The acid test isn't whether or not your premium checks get cashed but whether or not you get what you need when you blow a gasket.

by tmosley
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 13:15
#943456

Exactly. My company changed insurance this year and I went to the dentist for a regular checkup+x-rays. The insurance only covered half of the cost! This policy was the same price (to me) as the older one.

I would hate to see what happens if I were to actually have to go to the doctor or have some surgery.

by TheDriver
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 13:40
#943556

I'm happy to fill you in on those details. As a 40 yo with reasonably priced coverage who had to face 2 unexpected, unrelated surgeries in as many years, I can tell you how bad things really are. I'll leave the country for future surgeries and pay cash. Even with airfare and lodging costs, it would be cheaper than having the work done in the US.

by HungrySeagull
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 14:04
#943615

I had two insurance policies.

Both of them fought over a 16,000 dollar Ride in a MRI machine some time ago. They paid it. Then they fight over several surgeries I have had. They paid that too.

The moment Obamacare became law, I canceled both insurance companies and go to cash. If my doctor can fix a boo boo, great! Otherwise I make do.

I learned a month after cancelling for myself and spouse, our premiums would have gone up from about 870 a month to 1450 a month and some services cut back or disallowed.

Sorry. I am not putting money after a company that is cutting back.

Oh the small details about hospice, burial, cremations and all of that is already prepaid and arranged. One phone call does it all.

by baserunr
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 14:07
#943631

See, here's a disconnect. Insurance is to cover the cost of expensive, unexpected-type events that have a small chance of occuring. If you are going to the Dentist for a "regular" check-up, that doesn't meet the criteria of what "insurance" is designed to cover. Many insurers have found a way to earn additional premium by expanding the boundaries of what they will "insure". That doesn't mean it is such a great deal for the insured; it just means the company can earn additional premium. If you work to keep the insurance for large, unlikley, and calamitious expenses, you'll probably find it very affordable. Pay cash for the rest.

by cxl9
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 13:44
#943565

Agreed. I have been with Kaiser for years, and I can say that the service has been great. I have no complaints whatsoever with the medical treatment. I plan to stay with them for as long as I possibly can, at least until private health providers are eliminated in the United States and all of us are waiting in line down at the Post Office to get our health care.

by Thunder Dome
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 12:58
#943394

I'm covering a family of four in the great state of Illinois--$20,000/yr not including dental.

by Threeggg
on Tue, 02/08/2011 - 15:32
#943955

Thunder you are doing better than me. (by $18 dollars) I pay $1718.00 for a Blue Cross Blue Shield Policy in Illinois. (it includes dental) That is for 3 people that are healthy.

I am looking into a major medical policy with a large deductable as I will pay for the regular medical expenses out of my pocket.

The medical sham put forth by Bamy raised all the prices. Now that they have the prices up over the rainbow they now want to repeal it. !

Prepare yourselves peeps as this running financial shit-train is pulling into the station.

[Mar 29, 2010] Will the GOP Remain the Party of No?

This is from The Myrtle Beach Sun:
DeMint, Graham let S.C. down on health care overhaul, by Isaac Bailey, The Myrtle Beach Sun: Two South Carolina legislators had the opportunity to shape the historic health care bill President Obama signed into law on Tuesday... Because the Senate version of the bill was going to be the foundation of the law, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint were our only two politicians who could have forced even more conservative ideas into the legislation. ... Neither did. Both shirked their responsibility to the state to walk lockstep with the GOP.
There was little reason to expect anything different from DeMint, who represents the party's Rush Limbaugh-wing. He didn't begin the debate saying we must find a way to bring down S.C.'s high percentage of the un- and underinsured. He didn't say we must find a way to stem costs that are spiraling out of control, bankrupting hard-working people for the sin of getting too sick. He didn't say the days of uninsured families having to leave coffee cans decorated with a sick loved one's photo on convenience store counters must end. He didn't say that if reform included strong tort reform so doctors would no longer feel the need to perform unnecessary tests that he would vote for it.
Instead, he said reform's defeat would be Obama's "Waterloo", that it would break the president. Only after his comments ignited a firestorm did DeMint propose a policy that most experts considered laughable. He was focused on politics, not people.
Sen. Graham began the debate differently. He knew if nothing changed, our health care system would eventually bankrupt us, which is why he initially supported the bipartisan Bennett-Wyden bill. ... But the proposal went nowhere fast. Instead of Graham engaging in the fight to incorporate the best parts of Wyden-Bennett - or any other effective plan - he fell in line with the rest of the GOP caucus.
He, too, became more concerned about his party's positioning for November than the people he was sent to Washington to represent...
The most vulnerable South Carolinians ... needed Graham and DeMint to lead. ... They didn't. Instead, they stood for the petty and ignored the real needs of the people. History won't forget. And neither should we.

And, from the local paper this morning:

Move past 'repeal, replace', Editorial, Register Guard: Republicans are preparing to march into the 2010 election under the dubious banner of "Repeal and replace!"
It's a losing strategy, one that GOP lawmakers should rethink before venturing too far down that road. The health care reform bill has been signed into law. ... The Republicans should turn the page on health care if they want to shed the "party of no" label that served both the GOP and nation poorly in the debate over health reform.
That doesn't mean that House Minority Leader John Boehner and other Republican leaders should publicly embrace Obamacare. That's unrealistic; their philosophical differences with Democrats on reform are too deep and broad, and Republicans resentment over President Obama's historic achievement precludes even the pretense of a political truce.
But Republicans face long odds in any attempt to repeal and replace health care reform, and they know it. ... As Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., acknowledged, repeal "is not realistic because Barack Obama would veto the bill and we don't have the votes to override it."
For Republicans such as Boehner, Kyl and DeMint, "repeal and replace" is an election strategy and not a practical legislative goal. ...
Repeal-and-replace Republicans eventually must face the difficult task of explaining why their apocalyptic predictions - everything from the death panels to the dismantling of democracy - didn't come true. In the months and years to come, many Americans, even those skeptical about the reform effort, will come to see the scare tactics as hyperbolic depictions of a bill whose moderate approach incorporated many Republican ideas.
Republicans have just suffered a devastating legislative defeat, and they are entitled to nurse their wounds. But the GOP's political aspirations - and the nation's interests - would be best served by full engagement on the many critical issues facing Congress, from financial regulatory reform to immigration to unemployment. ... Republicans remain fixated on their loss on health reform - so much so that some, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have publicly ruled out any bipartisan cooperation for the remainder of the current session.
The American people need - and deserve - a legislative process in which both parties are engaged and bring competing views to the table. By clinging to the cold corpse of the health care debate, Republicans will miss an opportunity to express a clear, compelling vision on other issues - a vision that could do far more to sway voters to their side this fall than continuing to flail away over health care. ...
While there is still time, Republicans should repeal and replace their catchphrase, and substitute another that bodes better for their party's future.

There's an inconsistency between free market ideology and the need for reform in areas like health care and financial services. One of the first steps in reforming the system is to acknowledge that the market won't take care of the problems itself. Once that is acknowledged, i.e. that regulation is needed to fix these market failures, the only question is whether that regulation will be of the "market-based" variety or by edict (e.g. this is the difference between system of tradable carbon permits that allow least cost carbon reduction strategies to emerge and a government set emission limit for each industry which generally does not achieve ca4rbon reductions at least cost).

With Democrats mostly opposed to old fashioned edict style regulation -- with their willingness to embrace market-based solutions to regulatory issues -- and with Republicans unwilling to embrace anything that Democrats propose, there is little ground left for those Republicans who are willing to admit that markets sometimes fail to stand upon. Democrats have taken the middle ground -- market based regulation -- from Republicans. This leaves Republicans with a choice of going along and compromising (and thereby embracing proposals they have made in the past, e.g. the health care bill looks an awful lot like the health care program Romney put in place in Massachusetts), or standing in opposition simply because it is a Democratic proposal. The choice they've made, standing in opposition to everything, is a losing strategy that allows policy to be shaped entirely be the other side. It will be interesting to see if a fissure develops within the Republican Party over this.

Will Republicans be able to share the market-based regulatory ground Democrats have taken away? There are already signs that Republicans will work with Democrats on financial reform, but there were early signs of a bi-partisan effort on health care as well, so we'll see how this plays out. I think people are fed up with banks and want something to be done, and Republican attempts to block legislation won't play well with the public at all. So I expect the coalition of no to be broken -- some legislators will see that they cannot continue just saying no and expect public support -- but not without big fights within the Republican Party between the extremists and the centrists. If Republicans do move in this direction, and it's more likely they'll do so on financial reform than on climate change legislation, you'll see an attempt to reclaim these policies as Republican (here's a great example: Health Care Reform--A Republican Idea?). And given the administration's centrist tendencies, in many cases they'll have a pretty good argument.

Posted by Mark Thoma on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 10:34 AM in Economics, Financial System, Health Care, Politics, Regulation Reblog Permalink Comments (32)

Comments

roger said...

MT, you write about the Dems "willingness to embrace market-based solutions to regulatory issues" - I'd read that a little differently: with the Dems "unwillingness to embrace regulatory solutions to market-based problems."

That, I think, is a more accurate index of the Democratic party's conservatism.

howard said...

we can only hope that the gop will go all-in on repeal....

jrossi said...

This bill has lots of problems from where I sit. One comes to mind immediately: Medicaid reimbursements will increase for us primary care docs, but will be cut for specialists. This essentially turns the primary doc's office into a Community Health Center (poverty medicine clinic), where the primary is left holding the bag.

For example, suppose a Medicaid pt comes to my practice who needs immediate specialty care (draining a peri-tonsillar abscess, for example), but who will be unable to see one because none of the local ENT docs will take the risible payment. So I"m stuck, with an acutely ill pt that I can't help. Well, I could spend a hour on the phone begging someone to take him, or I could send the pt to the ER and move on to my next pt, so I can actually stay in business and keep my practice open. This kind of crap happens every single day in poverty medicine and is one of the main reasons why it can be so hellish to take care of people without adequate insurance. Begging the GI guy to see your rectal bleeder, begging the surgeon to see your hernia case, begging the neurologist to see your headache pt. Make no mistake about it, insurance that specialists refuse is inadequate. Better for mental health and, usually, the bottom line of the primary doc to refuse to take part.

Get to work on this, politicians of America.

OhNoNotAgain:

The big question is: are the Medicaid rates for specialists enough for them to make a profit and cover their costs ? If so, then I think these specialists are going to find themselves in a lot of trouble if they keep up the practice of refusing to see patients because the payments aren't as high as they want them to be.

jrossi:

That is a big question. Profit is total revenue minus total expenses. What you're really asking is whether the marginal cost of seeing a Medicaid pt is greater than the marginal revenue you get from seeing the pt. Well, it depends on the practice's variable cost structure, doesn't it?
Another interesting question is opportunity cost. If you can see a private pt at $200 and a Medicaid pt at $75, the choice is easy, if you can pick and choose.
Will the specialists be in a lot of trouble? Again, it depends. If I send the ENT 9 paying pts for every Medicaid one, he risks losing a lot of money by pissing me off and refusing to see my Medicaid pt. If I send 2 paying pts for every 8 Medicaiders, well, he might not care for my business.
The devil is in the details in HC reform.

anne:

J Rossi:

This bill has lots of problems from where I sit. One comes to mind immediately: Medicaid reimbursements will increase for us primary care docs, but will be cut for specialists. This essentially turns the primary doc's office into a Community Health Center (poverty medicine clinic), where the primary is left holding the bag.

For example, suppose a Medicaid pt comes to my practice who needs immediate specialty care (draining a peri-tonsillar abscess, for example), but who will be unable to see one because none of the local ENT docs will take the risible payment. So I"m stuck, with an acutely ill pt that I can't help. Well, I could spend a hour on the phone begging someone to take him, or I could send the pt to the ER and move on to my next pt, so I can actually stay in business and keep my practice open. This kind of crap happens every single day in poverty medicine and is one of the main reasons why it can be so hellish to take care of people without adequate insurance. Begging the GI guy to see your rectal bleeder, begging the surgeon to see your hernia case, begging the neurologist to see your headache pt. Make no mistake about it, insurance that specialists refuse is inadequate. Better for mental health and, usually, the bottom line of the primary doc to refuse to take part.

[I know, I know and this is quite important and especially worrisome since there are supposed to be further limits to physician payments to come and the limits are to be selective in terms of area of practice.]

Hal:

The GOP seems headless. One would think McCain would be the leader, but he is so weak and desperate he needs Palin to help him keep his senate seat. When Palin is the GOP's not so secret weapon you can be pretty sure the party is headless, or better, brainless. What is frightening is that brainless might win lots of votes in 2012 if Americans are still angry and uninformed.

anne:

J Rossi:

This bill has lots of problems from where I sit. One comes to mind immediately: Medicaid reimbursements will increase for us primary care docs, but will be cut for specialists. This essentially turns the primary doc's office into a Community Health Center (poverty medicine clinic), where the primary is left holding the bag....

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/26/health/policy/26docs.html

March 25, 2010

More Doctors Giving Up Private Practices
By GARDINER HARRIS

The delivery of medical care is changing as more young physicians take jobs with heath systems and older doctors sell their practices to those same systems.

[Also, the nature of what a community doctor is and how much leeway such a doctor may have is changing and seemingly quickly.]

alan :

There are a lot of strange distortions in the medical system right now - probably a lot to do with malpractice system. For example, I went to doctor to get finger stitched, was told I needed a surgeon and had to go to ER. All I got was 5 stitches! Maybe the primaries and nurse practitioners will have to get on with doing real care instead of referring, and maybe we'll have to figure out how to get the gun-for-hire lawyers to back off.

jrossi :

That's weird Alan. This family doc sews people up all the time, and so does my NP. You must live in the East or in a big city.

jrossi :

Anne, Independent family docs have been a dying breed for years, but now it's hitting the specialists--and quick. I don't know if it's good or bad. Interesting times.

Fred C. Dobbs:

I wonder, is there any other reason for this than specialists getting much better salaries?

It is true, apparently, that doctors are 'practicing differently' these days.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/26/health/policy/26docs.html

NYT - March 25, 2010
More Doctors Giving Up Private Practices
By GARDINER HARRIS
WASHINGTON - A quiet revolution is transforming how medical care is delivered in this country, and it has very little to do with the sweeping health care legislation that President Obama just signed into law.

But it could have a big impact on that law's chances for success.

Traditionally, American medicine has been largely a cottage industry. Most doctors cared for patients in small, privately owned clinics - sometimes in rooms adjoining their homes.

But an increasing share of young physicians, burdened by medical school debts and seeking regular hours, are deciding against opening private practices. Instead, they are accepting salaries at hospitals and health systems. And a growing number of older doctors - facing rising costs and fearing they will not be able to recruit junior partners - are selling their practices and moving into salaried jobs, too. ...

jrossi:

It's the money, Fred. If PCPs could make a reasonable living we would not group up much. Actually, a small single-specialty group is fine, mainly because you can share on-call and overhead, plus a lot of us like a small group--two or three heads are better than one. But most docs, myself included, would avoid multi-specialty groups, where PCPs are low men on the totem pole, and hospital or health system owned groups, where a@@holes in business suits call the shots. Most docs like to be independent. But you can't make much of a living doing this, so we are forced to group up. There's a recent post at Kevinmd about a doc worried about cuts in Medicare putting him out of business (he's an internist so he should be OK at least temporarily with the 10% increase), but the details of the doc's practice finances are interesting. Revenue 800k, Costs 720k, take home 80k. He shoulda gone to nursing school, probably would get paid more.

Fred C. Dobbs:

I think it's interesting that doc's like to be businessmen, get the revenues, don't like the costs, complain about the net. Forget nursing; go be a (salaried!) hospitalist. On the other hand, you guys are heroes & life-savers. Deal with it!

You want $$$, go be investors.

Zephyr:

The healthcare system is being choked by the pressures of the insurance system. Insurance is the biggest problem with our healthcare system. We need to remove the insurance bureaucracy from the healthcare dollar. This applies to government insurance and private insurance.

We need publicly funded clinics and hospitals available equally to all.

We have public roads, public defense, public schools...
...why not public healthcare?

Fred C. Dobbs:

Just 4 years ago, Mitt Romney was getting along wonderfully with the Democrat-controlled MA legislature, famously establishing universal health care (which was good enough to become the model for the US plan). Things were looking up for him and the Republicans, sort of. Then the election campaign of 2008 happened and the Republicans soiled themselves. The question has to be, can they swallow their pride, clean themselves up, and return to rational political discourse? The country sorely needs to have two functional parties, for balance if nothing else. It's not looking good, yet.

Fred C. Dobbs:

'Things were looking up for him and the Republicans, sort of': aside from a furious
urgency to get past the Bush Jr years a.s.a.p.

anne:

Alan:

"There are a lot of strange distortions in the medical system right now - probably a lot to do with malpractice system."

The effect of malpractice concerns has been repeatedly studied and found to have a minimal effect on health care cost. A sense of this is that by the beginning of 2005, there were already a majority of states with malpractice suit limits in effect and the difference has been minimal if any. Nonetheless, there is a sense that malpractice makes a difference in costs even among doctors even in states with the strictest limits such a Texas. This would seem quite wrong.

Fred C. Dobbs:

It's arguably effective that doctors would have us believe that they need high pay to cover their
malpractice premiums, even if it's only anecdotal.

anne:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande

June 1, 2009

The Cost Conundrum: What a Texas town can teach us about health care.
By Atul Gawande

"It's malpractice," a family physician who had practiced here for thirty-three years said.

"McAllen is legal hell," the cardiologist agreed. Doctors order unnecessary tests just to protect themselves, he said. Everyone thought the lawyers here were worse than elsewhere.

That explanation puzzled me. Several years ago, Texas passed a tough malpractice law that capped pain-and-suffering awards at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Didn't lawsuits go down?

"Practically to zero," the cardiologist admitted....

Fred C. Dobbs:

Interesting , but as the article says:

'McAllen has another distinction, too: it is one of the most expensive health-care markets in the country. Only Miami-which has much higher labor and living costs-spends more per person on health care.'

What does this 'teach us about health care'?
Don't do it like they do it in McAllen TX.

Fred C. Dobbs:

Even more interesting, the article says:

'The Medicare payment data provided the most detail. Between 2001 and 2005, critically ill Medicare patients received almost fifty per cent more specialist visits in McAllen than in El Paso, and were two-thirds more likely to see ten or more specialists in a six-month period. In 2005 and 2006, patients in McAllen received twenty per cent more abdominal ultrasounds, thirty per cent more bone-density studies, sixty per cent more stress tests with echocardiography, two hundred per cent more nerve-conduction studies to diagnose carpal-tunnel syndrome, and five hundred and fifty per cent more urine-flow studies to diagnose prostate troubles. They received one-fifth to two-thirds more gallbladder operations, knee replacements, breast biopsies, and bladder scopes. They also received two to three times as many pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, cardiac-bypass operations, carotid endarterectomies, and coronary-artery stents. And Medicare paid for five times as many home-nurse visits. The primary cause of McAllen's extreme costs was, very simply, the across-the-board overuse of medicine.' ...

I believe I have read that this has to do with physician-entrepreneurs 'providing' (selling?) diagnostic testing to their patients. Very profitably too. Personally, I think testing is a great idea, when done ethically & cost-effectively.

Fred C. Dobbs:

By the way, many doctors think
'the world' of Atul Gawande, MD.
http://gawande.com/about
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Department of Surgery
gawande@gawande.com,
etc.

Reality Bites:

The cap instituted in Texas is not the malpractice reform that was proposed and rejected. Notice that only pain and suffering is capped at $250,000. A doctor could still get sued for millions if he fails to test for an obscure ailment that eventually leads to a loss of function or life. Thus the need to practice defensive medicine.

Republicans aren't on board on this bill. Their proposals voiced during the "debate" with Obama were rejected. There's no reason why they should lend support to a bill they believe will be very harmful to the country and end up raising health care costs.

ken melvin said...

If there really was a god, those who keep on yapping about malpractice would be among those who got their brains fried and the letter of apology cause see MO has a $250k cap.

beezer said...

The 800 lb gorilla in the room is the doctors, or lack thereof.

We don't graduate enough physicians because it's pretty much financially out of reach for most of those smart and talented enough to compete. Too few of anything is going to raise labor rates.

Also, we've turned physicians into businesspeople first. Got to make that real big "nut." Not really the right focus for medical care overall, and certainly not for producing affordable care specifically.

Too many doctors today got there in order to become wealthy. And as long as that is the primary motivation, health care will always be far too expensive.

Open up education by subsidizing medical education so all the bright young ones can compete, in return for guaranteed salaries. We'll get a stronger corps of physicians overall, as well as physicians who have the right motivation to begin with.

History:

Per Uwe Reinhardt, who knows about these things, US medical costs are too high because we pay too much for things. (Not that McAllen-style overuse isn't a problem also). The things are:
1) Medical bureaucracy, i.e. insurance companies.
2) Drugs
3) Doctors, who are paid about twice what they are in the rest of the world relative to prevailing incomes.

Our gross overpayment per year (compared to other advanced countries) is about $1T/yr,
split $300B, $300B, $400B.

We're discussing point three. The main reason (along with what beezer correctly said) for this situation is that Lyndon Johnson bribed the AMA into letting him pass Medicare. The bribe took the form of allowing arbitrary pricing for new procedures, under the rubric "usual, customary, and reasonable". In this scenario a procedure might cost $50 and a somewhat improved one $5000. I actually saw one instance of this apparently absurdly exaggerated increase cited; although I'm too lazy to look it up.

The doctors who are highly paid are the ones who do procedures. Hence, a lot of procedures.

Cutting procedure reimbursement rates is indispensable to cutting costs. The solutions to monopoly-based price increases are: 1) regulation, or 2) monopony; you take our business because there is no other.

[Mar 29, 2010] Booming business helps patients navigate medicine - The Denver Post

By MIKE STOBBE AP Medical Writer Article Launched: 07/24/2008 12:21:20 PM MDT NORCROSS, Ga.-After three surgeries, Judy Sherer still had chronic pain in her left shoulder. She'd lost faith in her doctors, and in despair tried a new health benefit offered by her employer.

The service, Health Advocate, is a call-in center that helps customers find the right doctor, haggle over insurance coverage and manage other medical system headaches.

An advocate helped Sherer find a new surgeon-one who found metal shavings left in her shoulder by a previous doctor. The advocate also negotiated the charge for her physical therapy down to $40 per visit from the $200 she was told initially.

"It saved me a ton of money," said Sherer, 63, of Norcross, Ga. "I'm very, very pleased."

Health Advocate is one of a growing number of U.S. companies offering some form of advocacy services to medical consumers. Revolution Health-the Web-based medical consumer services company overseen by AOL co-founder Steve Case-has been considering getting into the same business.

"It's a really interesting industry that's just taking off," said Carol Fischer, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania-based Health Advocate, a 12 million-member organization.

Currently, the health advocacy business is an industry with about $50 million to $75 million in annual revenue but only about a dozen companies of any significant size, said Richard Rakowski of Intersection LLC, a Connecticut-based investment and development firm that has researched the field.

But those numbers have grown from a few years ago, and it may be on track to become a $1 billion industry based on the demand for the service, said Rakowski, the firm's principal.

The field is blossoming in the wake of cutbacks in corporate health benefits, an overhaul of Medicare and other changes that have forced medical consumers to shop more for medical care.

More than ever, people need help negotiating the medical system, said Jessica Greene, a University of Oregon health policy analyst.

"We're asking consumers to make more complicated decisions, but the numeracy and health literacy skills of many consumers are not at the level needed to handle this new responsibility," Greene said.

Though some consumers are savvy enough to beat a billing overcharge or probe doctors' litigation histories, they don't have the time for such labors, experts said.

Indeed, the largest customers of health advocacy services are companies, not individuals. "The employers are interested because it means their employees are not on the phone taking care of doctor's visits" during work hours, Fischer said.

The companies grouped into the health advocacy business range from small regional firms operating out of home offices to companies with national call centers the size of football fields. No one seems to have an exact count, but Flagship Global Health, Care Counsel and Enhanced Care Solutions are among the more visible names.

Health Advocate claims to be the largest. Founded in 2001, it now has more than 3,500 companies, unions and other organizations as clients, including Johnson & Johnson, American Express and The Home Depot Inc.

Altogether, about 2.6 million employees, or members, are signed up with Health Advocate. But the number who can use it is actually higher: Members can share the call-in number with spouses, children, parents and parents-in-law-including elderly kin who need help picking a Medicare prescription drug plan, finding a nursing home or arranging transportation for health care. With all relatives added in, Health Advocate's membership as roughly 12 million, Fischer said.

About 180 advocates staff Health Advocate's call center in suburban Philadelphia. It's usually registered nurses who talk to the patients, and each patient gets an advocate who stays with the case and is the recurring contact. The staff also includes behind-the-scenes workers who help with insurance claims and other administrative questions.

"I'd say 80 percent of (our) people call Health Advocate because they have trouble with billing," said Andrew May, a human resources vice president for Wells Real Estate Funds, the Georgia-based company that employs Sherer.

Initially, May said, he doubted Wells employees would use Health Advocate, thinking they would instead continue to come down to human resources for help rather than turn to a 1-800 number.

But some of Wells' 400 employees started using it and having great experiences, he said. Company executives appreciated the help, calling the $5,700-a-year cost a good deal.

"We're not billing specialists. We're not registered nurses. To have that resource is much more powerful-it gets to the bottom of things quicker," said Susanna Johnson, a Wells human resources manager.

Health Advocate in May began to sell its services straight to individuals, as a $365-a-year service.

Some other companies have always focused on individuals, especially rich ones.

One example is $10,000-a-year PinnacleCare, founded in 2002 by John Hutchins, who created a concierge-like service at the Cleveland Clinic. He later used his connections to build a national network of doctors for his private health advisory start-up.

The Baltimore-based company is essentially a club for millionaires and billionaires that puts nurses and social workers in touch with members. Not only will they help members find top-level care, they will get them moved to the head of the line. PinnacleCare advisers will even meet the patient at a doctor's office or hospital.

PinnacleCare has about 1,700 member-families. One satisfied customer is Kirk Posmantur, 45, the founder and chairman of Axcess Luxury & Lifestyle. His Atlanta-based company markets handmade watches, private jets and other luxury items to the affluent.

"It's a no-brainer for those who've got net worth of $5 million or more," he said. "You've got people who advise you on your taxes. You've got people who advise you on how to manage your money. But what's more important than your health?"

Not every health advocacy group is a for-profit business.

The Patient Advocate Foundation provides free help to people with chronic, debilitating and life-threatening conditions. Founded in 1996, the Virginia-based organization has 113 employees and an annual budget of about $8.5 million. It handled nearly 45,000 cases in 2007-most of them cancer patients.

The organization's founders initially expected many clients to be uninsured. As it turns out, about 80 percent have at least some health insurance but are dealing with pre-approval authorizations, medical debt from incomplete coverage or other problems, said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, the group's chief executive and co-founder.

Companies like PinnacleCare are a blessing "for those consumers that can afford to have a boutique service," she said.

She wishes, however, that companies would provide more pro bono service. "The concern is those that need help and can't afford something like that," Davenport-Ennis said.