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Articles by Donald E. L. Johnson

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Today is Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Healthcare Providers

Mark Udall kills VA, Vets health benefits bill with pork, gimmicks

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) helped kill a senate bill that would have restored benefits to our veterans and ensured their access to health care for  medical problems related to their service. Udall and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) voted for the bill that died because it is full of pork and provisions that would have paid for veterans medical care that had nothing to do with their military service. Those provision would have made VA health care even more of a single payer plan and would have overwhelmed VA hospitals and clinics to the point that they would not be able to serve the veterans who need to have their military-related injuries and traumas treated. This is just another example of how Udall and Bennet let the most corrupt senate majority leader in history, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), lead them around like the lemmings and hacks that they are.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 03/01/14 at 07:36 AM
ColoradoElections '14UdallCongress 113thHealth insuranceHealthcare ProvidersVA • (0) CommentsPermalink

CMS Obama Democrats making Medicare Part D drug program more expensive for seniors
In 2003, I blogged frequently against Medicare Part D, which provides drug subsides for seniors. Now I'm a beneficiary. 

What people who don’t buy ObamaCare (ACA) can do to manage self insurance risks

Smart young people who don't have pre-existing medical conditions are deciding to self insure rather than enroll in hugely expensive insurance plans sold on ObamaCare (ACA) health exchanges. If they self insure, I think they should understand their risks and know how to deal with a huge medical bill if they are hurt in an accident or are stricken by an expensive illness. Some ideas:


Who do we blame for ObamaCare, the unAffordable Care Act? Big Government corrupts

Who do we blame for soaring health insurance premiums?

You can blame AARP, health insurers, doctors and hospitals and the politicians that they paid with campaign contributions to distort the health insurance and health care markets.

And you can blame uninformed, unorganized and powerless voters for letting the Henry Waxmans of Congress and every president since JFK for making it all go wrong.

Health care is big money and big government.

Big government spends big money.

Big money in the hands of Big Government corrupts. 

Big government corrupts politicians, campaign contributors, drug companies, hospital administrators, physicians and regulators who have anything to do with distorting our health insurance and health care markets.

That's why America's huge government is and looks so corrupt. We're a third world country now.

Keep health care providers out of the health insurance business

The Wall Street Journal reports that some health care systems are getting into the health insurance business.

Gosh, how history repeats itself. Back in the 80s and 90s, several so-called "integrated" health systems got burned in the health insurance business. They didn't have insurance expertise, financial resources, market clout or credibility with individuals, employers or regulators. So most failed.

Hospitals and docs created Blue Cross and Blue Shield back in the 30s to make sure that they got paid the way they wanted to be paid, patients and payers be damned. That scam worked for decades until Medicare/Medicaid and smarter employers came along and forced the Blues to work for the payers instead of the providers.

If hospital systems try to compete with national health insurers, they'll lose the price wars even if they are the providers. This is because the national insurers have the financial and political resources and the market share that will allow them to crush the providers' plans whenever they decide to do that.

Over the last 35 to 40 years, too many hospital administrators have gotten their institutions into businesses that they knew little about, and they cost those institutions millions. Or, I should say, they ran up huge losses that they recovered by over-charging insurers and self-insured patients.

Most health care administrators are too smart to get into the insurance business. But their medical staffs get frustrated with insurers and demand that the hospital systems go into the health insurance, medical supply, group purchasing or whatever business the docs think will help them become richer.

Any board of directors that lets its CEO take it into what will be a money-losing, over-regulated business such as health insurance strikes me as being either incompetent, manipulated, self serving and/or all of the above.

State and federal legislators and regulators should not only outlaw health care providers from getting into the health insurance business, they also should enact anti-trust laws that break up the big regional and national health care chains and insurers.

How to make a fiscal cliff deal on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

Democrats and Republicans are deeply divided within each party as well as between parties on how to avert putting the country over the "fiscal cliff," which really is a slope, not a cliff. As a Small Government Republican Medicare beneficiary who's benefited from the free gift of Part D, cheap Medicare premiums, tax credits on home mortgages and coverage of primary care services that I should be paying for out of pocket, here's the deal I would like to see:

1. Make Medicare and Medicaid catastrophic programs only. Drop all the wellness and primary care nonsense that enriches providers and often hurts patients with false positives and harmful procedures.

2. Take all Congressionally imposed mandated benefits out of M/M.

3. Take all payments for teaching and medical research out of M/M. Fund them in separate bills and programs.

4. Breakup regional and metro hospital systems, medical groups and national health insurers.

5. Free seniors to buy non Medicare health insurance plans that cover primary care, wellness care and alternative care services without any Medicare subsidies for those premiums.

6. Raise premiums on all parts of Medicare. They're ridiculously low. 

7. Raise co-pays for all primary/preventive care and lower co/pays on catastrophically expensive cases.

8. Make Medicare Advantage enrollees pay the full premiums for the expanded coverage. 

9. Use money saved by eliminating coverage of provider-enriching preventive and wellness services to cover long-term care expenses that become catastrophically expensive as a percentage of the beneficiary's wealth, including the value of a a home or other investments. If someone is worth, say, $5 million, and long-term care costs, say, $80,000 to $100,000 a year, let that person pay for that care. If the person is worth $500,000 or less, Medicare could pay. That's the Moocher Nation way, of course.

10. Eliminate the death tax. Keep taxes on capital gains and dividends at 15%. No tax increases on the rich unless everyone gets income tax increases. Shrink the number of people who don't pay income taxes, get food stamps and are fraudulently filing disability claims.

11. Keep SS/Medicare enrollments at current ages. Change CPI calculations to reflect real inflation, which is a lot higher than the CPI shows today.

13 ways to cut Medicare costs

Over the last 35 years, there have been a lot of attempts to slow the growth in Medicare expenditures, which have continued to soar unabated because of poor policy making by both parties. 

Although the Budget Control Act of 2011 (S. 365) says the Joint Budget Committee that will try to agree on the next round of budget cuts won't be allowed to change Medicare's benefits, I think it should.

Here are some ideas for changing Medicare that would give consumers and providers strong financial incentives to increase access to care and higher quality care at lower costs per patient and per enrollee:

People who are smart about money won’t buy health insurance until they become sick

ObamaCare will give working Americans who are smart about money strong financial incentives to become and stay uninsured until they need catastrophically expensive health care. If they recover and no longer need insurance, they’ll drop it until the next time. The number of people who can afford to buy health insurance today but don’t is about 15 million. In five years, it could be several multiples of that.

Economists are just figuring it out here and here. Even liberal bloggers are getting it.

What this means:

What does defensive medicine cost? It depends on your agenda

Democrats who depend on malpractice lawyers for huge campaign contributions do everything they can to down play the cost of defensive medicine. Republicans who don’t get money from trial lawyers do everything they can to show that the threats of malpractice suits cause physicians to increase the cost of health care by 30% to 50% by practicing defensive medicine. When physicians practice defensive medicine, they order more tests and procedures and drugs than they should in an effort to reduce their risks of being sued. Trial lawyers win. Medical supply companies and medical device companies win. Physicians and hospitals win. Patients and taxpayers lose.

A new Gallup poll of physician finds that 25% of procedures ordered by physicians are unnecessary. Jackson Healthcare uses that number to estimate that $650 billion of the $2.5 trillion spent on health services is spent on unnecessary tests and treatments. Click on the hed of this story to see links to several relevant articles.

Posted by Donald E. L. Johnson on 02/28/10 at 01:23 PM
ColoradoPPCHealthcare ProvidersHospitalsPhysiciansQualityRead More

Catholic hospitals, nuns split with bishops over Nelson’s abortion solution in HR 3590

Catholic hospitals and a group of nuns are splitting with their bishops over Sen. Ben Nelson’s (D-Neb) abortion compromise in the health bill (HR 3590) that the Senate passed on Chistmas eve.

The hospitals are “cooperating with evil” because 

Providers are trying to keep health insurance premiums high by protecting expensive mandates

In Colorado, state laws that mandate that health insurers cover services offered by numerous alternative care providers increase the cost of health insurance by some 50%. These mandates generally are backed by the providers who profit from them and by disease-specific advocacy groups that don’t care that they’re making health insurance unaffordable for millions.

The health insurance reforms in the bill before the Senate (HR 3590) would allow 

Senate dumps public option: Wins for Michael Bennet, Joe Lieberman?

Are Colorado’s Sen. Michael Bennet and Conneticut’s Joe Lieberman both winners as a result of the reported decision by Senate Democrat leaders to dump the government-run public option health plan from the health spend and tax bill (HR 3950)?

Bennet has strongly backed the public option that won’t happen. He has endeared himself to 

Obama, Pelosi HMO gets new life but not there yet

President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid are doing all they can to force working Americans and their families into a Medicare for all HMO/PPO that would sharply cut payments to providers and limit patients’ access to advanced medical technology and quality care. The Wall Street Journal is the only news organization covering this scandal in depth, and it explains in an editorial what the hard left Democrats are plotting. Other media are willingly being sucked in by clever White House distractions designed to hide what’s going on in Congress.


The Public Option Comeback The secret to its budget ‘savings’? Medicare price controls. [Read comments after the editorial.]

Senators Michael Bennet, Mark Udall vote to deceive public on $900 billion health care bill

Colorado’s two Democrat Senators, Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, today voted for a slight of hand accounting measure that would have taken $247 billion in Medicare physician payments out of the Senate Finance Committee’s health bill (S 1796) and added them to the Federal government’s budget deficit. more

Rep. Mike Coffman’s town hall: won’t support HR 3200; wants Congress to deal with jobs, economy

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO, CD-6) met in Conifer with more than 30 constituents. His summary of the most pressing issues before Congress and questions and answers that followed are below. Click on the headline.


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