Medicare for All and Other News

“Mostly False” Rating for Sanders Statement on Single-Payer Savings

Senator Bernie Sanders recently cited a study from British medical journal, The Lancet, that stated a single-payer system would save the health care system “hundreds of billions of dollars”. However, the Kaiser Health News pegged this statement as “Mostly False” because other studies do not point to the same results. Read more here.

Source: Kaiser Health News

Insurers are Impacted by Coronavirus

The three major insurance areas likely to be impacted by the coronavirus are travel insurance, life insurance and business insurance. As the virus spreads, more travelers are cancelling their trips, more businesses are impacted by shutdowns, and those who die from the virus may not receive benefits because of exclusions for “flu-type outbreaks”. Read more.

Source: Insurance Business Magazine

Hospital Mergers Don’t Improve Quality as Expected

An article in the Wall Street Journal explored a study recently conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine. This study discovered that the quality of care in merged hospitals either stayed the same or worsened. This finding goes against popular reasons cited as rationale for mergers. The article asked readers the question, “How can hospitals raise the quality of care for patients while keeping costs down?”. Below are some of the responses.

  • Nice to read a response from someone who actually understands the realities and challenges of hospital reimbursement and finance .The truth is, if we really wanted to decrease health care costs in this country, the single best way to achieve that goal would be to massively deregulate the industry. Get rid of the huge regulatory burden of entities like JCAHO, CMS, and the ACA  and the exorbitant administrative costs they force on hospitals, and you’d see the trend of mergers and consolidation of hospitals slow and the price of inpatient healthcare would instantly go way down.
  • “Destroy "Certificate of Need" requirements for new hospitals, and allow the market to sort it out. These mergers are a perfect illustration of what happens to prices and quality when choice is decreased.However, even that might only have limited impact, because of how notoriously opaque the industry pricing is. Regardless of what costs are doing, it's not as if the average consumer can price shop a procedure.”
  • The purpose of hospitals merging is not to increase quality. It’s to have enough size and scale to be able to have a shot at dealing with behemoth entities like the Federal government.The other was to maintain pricing power in an environment of declining reimbursements, and to have the economies of scale to extract better pricing from pharma and med device suppliers. The satisfaction problem for patients is dealing with these giant consolidated systems.Hospitals want very much to increase quality and patient satisfaction (they get dinged by the Feds of their numbers are low).Small community hospitals and rural hospitals are having a very hard time surviving the forces that were set in motion in 2008 with the ACA. That is what really caused the consolidation wave, the mortal threat of having to deal with a Federal single-payer system. That storm has passed for now but the consolidation forces it set in motion continue. The rural and charity hospital crises badly need solutions.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Telehealth Adoption Doubles

More physicians than ever are participating in telehealth. In 2016 only 14% of physicians used telemedicine, but that number doubled to 28% in 2019. Research from the American Medical Association (AMA) found that more providers are using telehealth as a way to improve efficiency and safety. Other categories that saw an increase include remote monitoring and management for improved care, remote monitoring and management for efficiency, clinical decision support, patient engagement, point of care/workflow enhancement, and consumer access to clinical data. Read more.

Source: Healthcare Innovation

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