It’s 1965: Contraceptives Now Legal for Married Couples

Contraceptives were not universally legal for married couples until a 1965  US Supreme Court Decision.   The Court gave a constitutional right to married couples to use contraceptives in Griswold vs. Connecticut:  http://family.findlaw.com/reproductive-rights/griswold-v-connecticut-and-the-right-to-contraceptives.html

In 1999 I was engaged in a cost/benefit analysis of contraceptive coverage and maternity costs for employers. The data is old the but the study raises some important economic questions and  considerations.  The costs need to be updated, but I am sure the economic impacts are similar: http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/1999/03/22/editorial3.html

Coming next–more in our health care accountability series.

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What Hospital Executives Earn: 2013 Update

Last year we examined Hospital CEO salaries in Washington State. Data from Washington State Department of Health. 

Here are the top earners for 2013 compared to 2012:

Gary Kaplan, MD, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle        $, 1,961, 263  <$1,776,415>

John Evans is no longer head of Central WA Med. Center         $   298,965    (other compensation)

Peter Rutherford, Administrator new Central WA Health         $    612, 703

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I Have No Business Being Alive, But I Am and I’m Back: Accountability

Today marks either the day I had my stroke or the day I fell  unconscious on the floor for  nearly three days before being rushed to Harborview.  EMT’s, Harborview and friends  saved my life.

I am writing a book now that takes a hard look at our health care system. It stems from being an outside observer/reporter to being a patient.  My question is: what happens to people who don’t have the coverage, options or networks I have?   And who benefits in such as system?  Stay tuned.  Details to come.

I remain passionate about accountability.   Here is a link to an earlier O’ConnorReport on this issue:

http://oconnorreport.com/2013/06/special-report-worth-the-cost-and-benefit-drugs-and-devices-who-decides/

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CEO Compensation Revisited

A recent New York Times article focused on the real cost in health care–Administrator and Executive Salaries.  We looked at that in 2013 and wondered about accountability?  The issue still remains.  Who holds the boards that set the salaries accountable for costs and community benefit?  Here is the recent article and what we found last year:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/18/sunday-review/doctors-salaries-are-not-the-big-cost.html?action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&module=RelatedCoverage&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

Here’s what we found last year.

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My Recovery and the Road Ahead

Hello, I just learned this week that my outlook is exceptionally good.  My neurologist said I should have nearly a 100% recovery.  That said, I have to pace myself and not rush headlong into life, as I am prone to do.

There are not enough words in any language to say ‘thank you’ to a remarkable woman:  Marsha who was my health care COO; ran interference for me when I could not; was my voice when I was voiceless.  Nor are there enough words of thanks to so many other friends—Sandy, an MD who started early e-mail updates; Gene and Liz  who were thrown suddenly into the mess of my life and helped in immeasurable ways.  And especially my friend Karen who literally saved my life by calling a friend who called the manager who found me. I am still trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together of what happened. I may never know. I do know I would be dead if I were not social and engaged in the community.

A stroke changes your life. I won’t go back to the health care policy arena fight.  I am not one to fiddle with policy minutiae—it upsets me, which is not good for a healing brain.  I am going back, however, to my real passion—the consumer, the patient.

I have been given many gifts I would never have suspected. I want to return those gifts with a new book. It will be called: Gifts From A Stroke: Finding the Nub of Life©.  I can be an interpreter and voice for patients and share lessons I would never have learned otherwise.

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I Survived: You and Your Family Can Too

Dear Readers,

You have not heard from me since January because I had a major stroke.  It was most probably January 19th, but I was found and taken by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center on January 21st. I was in assisted living from February 11 to March 2nd when I returned home, with care.  It is a miracle I am alive. By all rights I should be dead.  But I’m not.

Ironically I was working on all the pieces I should have had in place before the stroke. I now have them in place.  You should have them as well if you live alone or have family and friends who do.

I am just flat out miraculously lucky. I have friends who worried when I had not called back or returned e-mails for a day or so—“that’s not like Kathleen.”  A friend called a friend who called the manager of the complex where I live.  The manager found me and I gather I was every shade of purple, green and blue that can be imagined.  I was lying on the floor and luckily still, but barely, breathing.  By all rights I should be dead. By all rights I should not be able to write this at all.

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And now a little more about the full story: Why Are Hospitals Really Changing Billing Status?? and Keep Your Eye on Maryland

A story ran Thursday night (1/9/14) about the new billing code at American hospitals, called “observation care.”  I hope you can open this without the accompanying commercial ad.  Basically, the story is about the problem of the new billing code for seniors in hospitals–called observation care.  If a patient is in observation care, their subsequent care in a rehab facility is not covered because rehab care requires ‘in patient’ hospital care according to existing Medicare rules and regulations.

What is missing from this story, told only by hospital association executives and a patient is why hospitals started this new billing practice.

Last year, for the first time, hospitals were fined by Medicare if there were too many re-admissions of patients who had recently had surgery.  By changing the coding to “observation,” patients are not technically re-admitted to in-patient care, and therefore,  the hospitals are not subject to fines by Medicare.

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Report on Catholic Hospital Mergers

Here are excerpts from www.MergerWatch.org on Catholic Hospital mergers that we reported on earlier this week.  The report seems to be framed as an issue of women’s health, but it is a broader issue that also affects end of life care.   Very interesting information also on charity care by hospital type.

http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/health-care-inc/2013/12/new-report-says-catholic-hospitals.html?ana=e_ptl_hc

My best wishes to you and your families during this Holiday Season.

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Major Report This Week on Catholic Hospital System Mergers and Impact on Reproductive Health and End of Life Care; Health Care Costs and Children’s Poverty and A Promising Program

First, my best wishes to you all for a lovely holiday season with family and friends. Thank you for your patience with me these past several months as a major writing project has kept me from the midst of the fray.

This week, however, MergerWatch, an organization out of New York will be releasing a report on the impact of the Catholic health system mergers with non-catholic institutions and the implications of that expansion on reproductive and end of life care.  For information on MergerWatch, see their website:  http://www.mergerwatch.org/

Here is the article about their upcoming report.

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20131214/MAGAZINE/312149950?AllowView=VW8xUmo5Q21TcWJOb1gzb0tNN3RLZ0h0MWg5SVgra3NZRzROR3l0WWRMWGFWdndGRWxYOU9qTENvK25lK0g4UUxyMmxlMDVxbHc9PQ==

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Shrinking Health Care Networks on Exchanges, Expensive out of Network Costs, Local Hospitals Not Passing Quality Standards, Problems with Post Hospital Costs for Medicare, and more

While everyone is focusing on whether or not Healthcare.gov is going to work,  there are other significant issues about access that must be addressed.   A critical issues is who is in the networks offered in the insurance exchange products.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/insurers-restricting-choice-of-doctors-and-hospitals-to-keep-costs-down/2013/11/20/98c84e20-4bb4-11e3-ac54-aa84301ced81_story.html

What is at issue in these network restrictions is cost–and consumers could unknowingly be getting the short end of the stick.  As reported in The Seattle Times: 

“Premera, for example, limits annual out-of-pocket costs for in-network care at $6,350. But out-of-pocket expenses for care outside the network are “unlimited.”  (emphasis mine).

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