Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The FDA’s Productivity and Consistency Have Collapsed in a Decade

Joseph A. DiMasi, Christopher-Paul Milne, and Alex Tabarrok have written a devastating Report Card demonstrating how poorly the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does its business.

The FDA has a government-granted monopoly on deciding the safety and efficacy of new medicines. The FDA’s permitting of new drugs has slowed down over the years because its government-granted power insulates the agency from the demands of suffering patients. We should not be surprised to learn that FDA managers are unable or unwilling to reallocate resources to where they are most needed.

Read the entire column at The Independent Institute's Beacon blog.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Obama's Push To Recruit Young Adults Into Obamacare Falls Short

The White House and its media allies have been cheerleading Obamacare’s apparent success at exceeding the president’s stated target for enrollments in the Obamacare health-insurance exchanges. Even more importantly, they have asserted that a significant proportion enrolled in the exchanges are young people.

They are misleading us.

Read the entire article at The Independent Institute's Beacon blog.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Governor Jindal's Health Reform Proposal: Pros & Cons

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has joined the number of Republicans with an alternative health reform. His Freedom and Empowerment Plan doesn’t mince words on repealing Obamacare:

Unfortunately, like the Republican Study Committee’s American Health Care Reform Act, Jindal’s proposal replaces the current exclusion of employer-based tax benefits with a standard tax deduction. Although he does not quantify the dollar amount, he proposes that it increase with inflation.

A standard deduction for health benefits has problems similar to the current exclusion of employer-based benefits from taxable income:

  • It is regressive, giving more tax relief the higher your income tax bracket;
  • It is not helpful to the half of the population that does not pay income tax (and thereby exacerbating demand for Medicaid).
Read the entire column at The Independent Institute's Beacon blog or John Goodman's Health Policy Blog.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Uninsured Patients 36 Percent More Likely To Get Medical Appointments Than Medicaid Patients

Posing as patients, researchers made almost 13,000 calls to doctors’ offices in ten states, seeking appointments for a variety of ailments. For those posing as privately insured patients, they got appointments 85 percent of the time. For those posing as patients on Medicaid, they only got appointments 58 percent of the time. Researchers also posed as uninsured patients who were willing to pay in full at the time of the appointment.

The result? 78 percent were successful (for appointments costing more than $75) — 36 percent better than those posing as Medicaid patients and quite close to those posing as privately insured.

Read the entire column at The Independent Institute's Beacon blog or John Goodman's Health Policy Blog.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Medicaid Patients Access To Physicians Has Dropped Almost One Fifth In Five Years

According to a Merritt Hawkins’ 2014 survey of the proportion of physicians in five specialties (cardiology, dermatology, orthopedic surgery, ob/gyn, and family practice) accepting Medicaid patients dropped from 55.4 percent in 2009 to 45.7 percent — a drop of almost one fifth.

This decline under the Obama administration contrasts with some improvement in Medicaid patients’ access during the second term of the Bush administration.

As in 2009, Boston had the longest waiting times to see specialists at 1 ½ months.

Read the entire column at the Independent Institute's Beacon blog or John Goodman's Health Policy Blog.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hooray! The Medicare Doc Fix Is Fixed Until Next April

Congress has given up on repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) as a way to pay physicians under Medicare.

At the end of 2013, Congress passed another short-term fix that prevented physicians’ reimbursements from being cut by one quarter until March 31 — a three-month fix. Lawmakers just passed another fix, this one running for a year.

And, just as always, these politicians who are elected for two-year to six-year terms voted to massively increase spending today, in exchange for significant cuts a decade hence

Read the entire column at John Goodman's Health Policy Blog or the Independent Institute's Beacon blog.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Employer-Based Health Insurance: "Job Lock" Is Not The Problem, "Insurance Lock" Is

Over at The Incidental Economist, Austin Frakt is publishing an interesting series on “job lock“. This is the idea that, because most of us get our health benefits from our employers, we are “locked” into jobs we don’t like because they offer benefits which we do like (or need).

We get our health benefits from our employer because they are non-taxable. If employees bought health insurance on our own, we would pay premiums with after-tax dollars. Given this government discrimination, the idea of job lock makes sense: If we got our homes from our employers we would surely hesitate to switch jobs, which would result in forced eviction from the current home to a new one.

But "job lock" is not really the problem. Rather, "insurance lock" is.

Read the entire article at The Independent Institute's Beacon blog or John Goodman's Health Policy Blog.

Another Speaker Confirmed For Health Technology Forum: DC on April 17

Please join us for our second Health Technology Forum: DC Meet Up on April 17

6:00-7:00 PM - Networking & Refreshments
7:00-7:15 PM - Announcements & Introduction
7:15-8:30 PM - Presentation
8:30-9:00 PM - Networking w/ Speakers

Topics and Speakers

As of April 3, we have two speakers confirmed:

• Dan Haley is Vice President of Government & Regulatory Affairs for athenahealth, a leading provider of cloud-based services for electronic health record (EHR), practice management and care coordination and one of the nation's fastest growing technology companies. Dan is responsible for all aspects of the company’s interactions with government at all levels. He is a frequent blogger and guest columnist on health IT and health policy.

Dan has held senior positions in Massachusetts state government, including Chief of Staff to Governor Mitt Romney. He is a graduate of Middlebury College and Harvard Law School.

• Joel C. White is the Executive Director of the Health IT Now Coalition, a diverse group of organizations representing patients, health providers, health insurers, agents, and brokers, employers and unions that have come together to help integrate information technology into health care.

Joel was previously Staff Director of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. During his twelve years on Capitol Hill as professional staff, he helped enact nine laws, including the Medicare Modernization Act, the Deficit Reduction Act, the Tax Reform and Health Care Act, the Trade Act, and the Children’s Health Act.

For more details, and to register, please see here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dan Haley of athenahealth To Speak At Health Technology Forum: DC, April 17

Please join is in Washington, DC on April 17 to hear Dan Haley of athenahealth and other speakers discuss the emerging landscape of mHealth regulation.

More information at this link.

JRG on Al Jazeera America on Obamacare Enrollment Deadline

I had the pleasure of joining the good folks at Al Jazeera America to discuss the Future of Obamacare, after the March 31 deadline.

Follow this link for the video.