I have been busy on a project and not blogging as frequently. Given the discussions about health care in the election, however, I thought people would find this brief graphic video by the Kaiser Family Foundation of interest. It shows quite clearly our costs and outcomes from drugs to hospitals and doctors and life expectancy.
The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit foundation. www.kff.org The reporter is Julie Rovner, a seasoned and respected health care journalist.
Posted in Affordable Care Act, Economy, Health Care Reform, health insurance, patient safety, policy and politics, politics, prescription drugs, public dialogue, quality of care, technology and pharmaceutical costs
Tagged affordable care act, business, complexity of care, Congress, Democrats, doctors, drugs, economics, health care, health care costs, health care quality, health care reform, health policy, hospitals, Medicaid, Medicare, physicians, politics, Republicans
Dick Spady may not be a national icon, but he was a giant man of vision and values. He co-founded Seattle’s legendary hamburger company–Dick’s Drive In. He believed in people’s inherent quality and dignity. This was reflected in all his work from covering health care for all his employees to his passion for civic engagement.
In the fast foods industry notorious for providing low pay and poor to non-existent benefits, he paid for health care benefits for all his employees–full and part-time. But that’s not all.
If college students worked 20 hours per week, Dick’s covered their tuition costs. If some employees did not go to college, the company covered the costs of child care. Employees could take time for community activities and the company would cover that time. He not only invested in his company and his employees, he invested in the community as well through his employees’ service. This all in addition to his personal civic contributions. There is also a box on the counter at each Dick’s so customer can donate spare change for community organizations.
Speaker Paul Ryan’s new call to repeal the Affordable Care Act is either a bluff or completely blind and heartless. Imperfect as it is—and the legislation certainly has flaws—the Act assures people have access to health insurance even with a pre-existing health condition and fewer families face bankruptcy, crushing debt or lose their homes because of medical costs. Hospitals and doctors are now held accountable for patient safety and outcomes. They face public reports and fines if they fail to do so. They beginning to focus on value and send one bill for a procedure, such as hip or knee replacements, rather than two separate confusing bills.
Insurance companies now must limit their profits and administrative costs to 20 to 25% of member premiums. If they fail to do so, they must return some of the premium dollars members paid. Insurers can no longer set a lifetime maximum financial limit on what they will pay for a person’s medical costs. People can get coverage immediately when they buy insurance not wait for their coverage to begin. Medicaid now covers more people, including single males for the first time. Individual have subsidies to buy insurance. Nursing homes must report their ownership, a first step to hold them accountable. Doctors must now report their financial ties with pharmaceutical companies. Hospitals can now be fined $50,000 for failing to survey community health needs and developing a plan to meet those needs.
With exceptions for some employers, all insurance policies must offer the same Essential Benefit packages. This guarantees some promise of administrative simplicity and guaranteed benefits people can count on, thereby reducing wasteful administrative costs. People can choose the basic set or they can buy additional benefits. Mental health services must be covered like all medical and surgical procedures. There are many more provisions.
Posted in Affordable Care Act, Health Care Reform, health insurance, medical bankruptcy, Medicare, patient safety, pharmaceutical companies, politics
Tagged affordable care act, Congress, consumer health choices, Democrats, doctors, drugs, economics, federal health exchange, health care, health care costs, health care quality, health care reform, health insurance, health insurance exchanges, hospitals, legislation, Medicaid, medical care, Medicare, physicians, politics, Republicans, states
Finally it looks like Congress might just re-visit Medicare Part D and let Medicare negotiate rates with drug companies. See charts below: http://www.statnews.com/2015/12/01/stat-harvard-drug-prices-poll/ The VA and Medicaid can negotiate rates.
Senate Special Committee on Aging holds drug costs hearing December 9th. Follow the link below to drug price trends. Scroll down to see what other countries charge. One chart shows a spike in drug prices in the 1990s. That was when drug companies were allowed to start direct to consumer advertising.
Posted in aging, Economy, media, Medicare, pharmaceutical companies, policy and politics, politics, prescription drugs, technology and pharmaceutical costs
Tagged aging, complexity of care, Congress, Democrats, drug companies, drug costs, drug patents, drug rates negotiation, drugs, economics, generic drugs, health care costs, health care quality, health insurance, health policy, illness, insurance, medical care, Medicare, medications, pharmacy, politics, Republicans, Senate
The Nobel Prize for Physiology and Science was awarded to three scientists this year. One was for Malaria treatment using natural medicine. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2015/
Laureates’ work and biographies: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2015/press.html
I rely on heavily on Western medicine but I have also successfully used integrative medicine for years. Consequently, Dr. Tu’s award interested me. The award came at the same time the Bastyr University history I co-authored was published. The Nobel Prize recognition and Bastyr’s history demonstrate we are stronger when we work together to have evidence in both medical and integrative medicine.
Posted in patients' voice, quality of care, Uncategorized
Tagged Bastyr university, CAM therapies, health care, health care quality, integrative health care, malaria, medical care, natural health, naturopathic health care, Nobel prize, traditional Chinese medicine
Currently our ever present media floods us with today’s health care issues, but without focus for successful action. Our apparent disdain and often contempt for varied points of view mean that we don’t listen to nor learn from each other. The end result is we cannot see our way to find common ground to move forward. We Americans have been held hostage to the endless dead end debates on health care that go back to the 1800’s. We can and must move forward.
I know many think I am a Pollyanna but having worked with the people across the country for years I firmly believe in the deep goodness of so many Americans who want an accessible and affordable health care system that works for them, their families and their communities. Too often they are caught in the crossfire of those who tell them what the ‘right’ solution is without ever having asked people what they think or want.
There are groups that have found ways to make a positive difference. Two such groups are featured below.
Posted in Affordable Care Act, community action, community based care, Health Care Reform, health care stories, media, patient safety, patients' voice, politics, public dialogue, quality of care
Tagged affordable care act, civic engagement, collaboration, common ground, community action, community health, deliberation, democracy, dialogue, failed debates, Foundation for Health Care Quality, health care, health care quality, health care reform, health insurance, health policy, innovation, innovative projects, Kettering Foundation, media, medical care, partisan politics, politics, public participation, research, trust
In 2013, I ran a 2 column series on how pharmaceutical products are tested and evaluated before going on the market (see link below). In light of the current discussions about drug prices, here are some things you might be interested in knowing plus an illuminating article from The Washington Post about the drug Pradaxa:
1) Clinical trials:
- Trials are conducted with a limited number of people for a limited about of time. The people who participate in the trials often don’t have other health conditions. Consequently-
- When a drug comes on the market people with additional medical problems can face problems with other medications they are on and/ or with other health conditions.
Posted in business, consumer protection, pharmaceutical companies, prescription drugs
Tagged access, affordability of care, business, cancer drugs, clinical trials, drug costs, drug patents, drugs, health care costs, health care spending, insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, medications, pharmaceutical products, PhRMA, politics
In 1995, I interviewed the President of the Kaiser Family Foundation for an article in HMO Magazine, which was published by the Group Health Association of America. The issues about about a public voice are depressingly the same!
“Unless we get people involved in the health care debate on terms they fully understand any public support of health care reform is up for grabs…..When someone says the public doesn’t understand the issue, it’s a red flag to me that health care reform will be open season for spin doctors. We must get the public involved in the debate now. Unless we do, the public will get the messages that build on their distrust of government, and they will turn away from reform.” Drew Altman, President, Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, CA. Important Voices: Is there Any Voice for the Public in Health Care Reform? by Kathleen O’Connor, Jan 1995, HMO Magazine. www.kff.org
But now, you can have a voice! Read Below:
Posted in Affordable Care Act, community based care, consumer protection, Health Care Reform, health insurance, patients' voice, policy and politics, quality of care
Tagged affordable care act, Committee on the Costs of Medical Care, common ground, complexity of care, Congress, Democrats, economics, health care, health care costs, health care quality, health care reform, health insurance, health policy, politics, public discussion, public voices, Republicans
I am pleased to announce that I have been appointed by Governor Inslee to serve as one of six public members on the state’s Medical Quality Assurance Commission. The Commission’s goal is: “Promoting patient safety and enhancing the integrity of the profession through licensing, discipline, rule making and education. “
The Commission has 21 gubernatorial appointed members: Thirteen physicians, six public members and two physician assistants. The members ensure there are sufficient case reviewers, panel members for hearings and adequate representation on special committees.
The appointment was made in mid-August.