Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kaiser Permanente's Former Chairman Might Not Understand Why Healthcare Prices Are Different

Consumer Reports has published an article demanding that we get "mad about the outrageous cost of health care." Hey, I'm all for that. The article goes through the usual list of suspects, e.g. $37.50 for a single Tylenol, having two or three MRI scans when one will do, et cetera. The article also asserts that "health care works nothing like other market transactions. As a consumer, you are a bystander to the real action..." I could not agree more.

However, I was a taken aback by a statement from George Halvorson, the former Chairman of Kaiser Permanente: "There is no such thing as a legitimate price for anything in health care. Prices are made up depending on who the payer is." That is not unique to health care. It is a characteristic of almost all markets.

Read the entire column at Forbes.

Obamacare Not Yet One Year Old, Providers Prepare to Lobby for More Money

Now that Obamacare is rounding out its first year, and seems to be secure for the time being, providers who advocated for it are starting to change their lobbying tune. When Obamacare was less secure, the story was that it would improve the situation dramatically — for everyone.

Unfortunately, providers are already starting to complain that it’s not enough; they need more money.

Read the entire article at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Obamacare Might Have Enrolled Only 2.3 Million; Spent $73 Billion to Save $5.7 Billion in Uncompensated Care

Things change fast in Obamacare. Just yesterday, I discussed evidence that Obamacare had enrolled only 6 million people in subsidized, private plans on exchanges. Having read the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS’) latest report, it looks like the figure is only 2.3 million: “Based on an estimated 10.3 million decrease in the total number of uninsured and an estimated 8 million increase in the number covered by Medicaid, ASPE estimates that hospital uncompensated care costs will be $5.7 billion lower in 2014 than they otherwise would have been.” The difference between 10.3 million and 8 million is only 2.3 million, and that is quite a comedown from HHS’ May estimate that 8.1 million people “selected” private coverage in exchanges.

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

Is The FDA Even Capable of Regulating 21st Century Medical Devices?

he pace of innovation in medical devices is breathtaking. The most exciting developments are in mobile health. One year ago this month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its final regulations on mobile medical apps. So far this year, the FDA has approved 23 medical apps that the editors of MobileHealthNews define as “notable.”

The role of the FDA in preventing such apps from reaching patients is of great concern. Mobile technology is so well integrated with other technologies that we now take for granted that FDA regulation of these apps risks giving the FDA power over tools that we’ve used conveniently for years. Many were relieved when the South Korean FDA announced in March that it would not regulate Samsung’s latest Galaxy smartphone!

Well, the whole issue may become irrelevant. Ordinary citizens are hacking medical devices to improve them, ignoring the FDA completely.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Obamacare Might Have Enrolled Only 6 Million (Not 8.1 Million)

I’ve been discussing evidence that Obamacare enrollment has been shrinking, and that the number of uninsured might have increased in 2014. Now, there’s more.

Read the entire article at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

60 Percent of Health Plans That Could Meet Obamacare's Essential Heath Benefits Are Illegal

According to Obamacare’s regulations, a health plan must pay at least 60 percent of the actuarial value (AV) of its costs. That means that if the cost of your health care for a year is expected to be $8,000, a plan which pays 60 percent (called a bronze plan in Obamacare), will cover $4,800 of the costs. You’ll be expected to pay $3,200 in deductibles and co-payments.

Our colleague Linda Gorman defines AV as “the average amount a plan with a given set of benefits is likely to pay given a standard population.” I’ve also discussed that because Obamacare’s regulations define AV relative to a “standard population” health insurers can design plans that cause the sick to have extremely high out-of-pocket costs.

Professor Bob Graboyes, in the compelling and entertaining video presented below, explains another big problem with Obamacare’s AV regulations: They outlaw 40 percent of possible AVs above the 60 percent minimum.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Research Suggests Los Angeles Has No Cardiologists in Obamacare Networks, Chicago No Diagnostic Radiologists

The American Heart Association commissioned Avalere Health to examine the adequacy of provider networks in health plans on Obamacare exchanges. “Narrow networks” have been in the news, as patients have learned that their Obamacare plans do not cover their preferred physicians. This new research covered nine urban areas, and confirms that patients are right to be concerned.

Read the entire article at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Federally Funded Rate Review Saved One Percent of Premium - At Most

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has produced a report cheerleading the results, so far, of the $250 million it is giving to states to impose “rate review”. The results are underwhelming: $703 million dollars cut from $110.5 billion of premiums last year. Because it comes from a self-congratulatory press release, this reduction of less than one percent of premium must be the best estimate they could get, after strangling the data until it confessed to something.

Read the entire article at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Hospitals Admit: Medicaid Expansion Increases ED Use

The evidence that Medicaid expansion increases use of hospitals’ emergency departments is coming fast and thick. Hospital executives are longer afraid to admit it, and have given up the pretense that Medicaid increases timely, quality, primary care.

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

Are There 1.3 Million More Uninsured in 2014?

Kudos to Joe Antos of the American Enterprise Institute for discovering a datum that the government neglected to promote: By one of the government’s own measurements, the number of uninsured Americans increased by 1.3 million during February through April 2014 versus the same three months of 2013.

Read the entire article at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

The Return of "Death Panels" Government-Funded End-of-Life Planning is Morally Questionable

Are death panels on the rebound? Obamacare envisioned Medicare paying physicians to discuss end-of-live-care with their patients. When this sparked fierce blowback from citizens who feared that “death panels” would ration care to elderly patients, the Administration backed off.

However, the American Medical Association (AMA) has been lobbying for the execution (pun intended) of this provision. The AMA is a business which profits from its monopoly over the billing codes that physicians use when they submit claims to Medicare. The more billing codes there are, the better it is for the AMA.

For patients, however, it is risky to allow the government to pay physicians to counsel us on end-of-life issues. There is another approach, but it is so emotionally challenging that it may be impossible to implement.

Read the entire article at Forbes.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

3 of 4 Physicians Say Government-Sponsored EHR's Not Worth The Cost

Mitch Morris, MD, of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions discusses the results of the firm’s latest survey of U.S. physicians:

Three out of four physicians surveyed report that EHRs increase costs and do not save them time. This survey is not alone in its findings: Through another recently released survey, Clem McDonald and colleagues found that physicians say that EHRs “waste an average of 48 minutes per day.”
Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Did the War on Poverty Stop the Drop in Poverty?

Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation have written an analysis of fifty years of the War on Poverty. The result: It looks like the number of poor people was falling dramatically in the years before President Johnson declared War on Poverty; and that the drop stalled soon after.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Hospitals Respond to Obamacare's Perverse Incentives: ED Use Up, Charity Care Cut

Hospitals, inveterate lobbyists for Obamacare, have responded rationally to its incentives: They have increased use of their emergency departments, and cut charity care.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog and the Independent Institute's Beacon blog.

We're Number 44! Bloomberg Ranks Countries on Efficient Health Care

Bloomberg (the media business, not the former mayor of New York, although the latter appears to have regained control of the former), has ranked 51 high- and middle-income countries on healthcare efficiency. The U.S ranks 44th.

44 of 51 is pretty bad. (Indeed, we are bracketed by the Dominican Republican and Bulgaria). However, the Bloomberg rankings suffer from some of the same problems that we see with other rankings.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

32 Percent of Employers May Move to Health Exchanges in 3 Years

PricwaterhouseCoopers has released new results from its 2014 Touchstone survey of employers. The major take-away is that one third of employers are considering moving their active employers to private health insurance exchanges in the next three years.

I have been excited about private exchanges for a while now. Private exchanges are a way for us to solve a problem that we’ve been beating our heads against for years: Employers’ monopoly control of our health dollars is the “original sin” of U.S. health care. Nevertheless, it is so deeply embedded in our culture and business practices that anyone who threatens it by advocating individual choice in health benefits faces fierce blowback.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Medicaid Spending Will Be More Than Advertised

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, spending on Medicaid, the jointly funded state-federal welfare program that provides health benefits to low-income people, increased 6.7 percent in 2013 to $449.5 billion. And it will keep growing at a fast rate.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Obamacare Will Devour Your Pay Raise

Mercer’s latest National Survey of Employer Sponsored Health Plans reports that the cost of employer-based benefits will jump significantly in 2015

Employers in the U.S. are predicting that health benefit cost per employee will rise by 3.9 percent on average in 2015, preliminary results from a new survey by Mercer reveal. Cost growth slowed to 2.1 percent in 2013, a 15-year low, but appears to be edging back up. Moreover, a higher percentage of employees signing up for coverage through the worksite could be a wildcard driving costs higher.

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

Commonwealth Fund: Most Who Visited Obamacare Exchanges Rated Them Fair or Poor

The media have cheered the latest Commonwealth Fund survey of Americans who have tried to enroll in Obamacare plans on health-insurance exchanges. For those who actually read the report, the results are significantly worse for Obamacare than championed by the press release.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Dartmouth Debunked? Providers Don't Drive Variation in Health Spending

Central planners love to cite the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. The Atlas is an impressive, decades-long effort to study geographic variance in health spending. The famous Atul Gawande, MD, is likely responsible for the fact that the Dartmouth results are better known among lay people than any other research in health economics.

Our Greg Scandlen has previously discussed research that challenges the Dartmouth conclusions. Now, Louise Sheiner of the Brookings Institution has published research that further challenges the Dartmouth results.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Return of Death Panels? Government-Funded End-of-Life Care is Morally Questionable

Are death panels on the rebound? Obamacare envisioned Medicare paying physicians to discuss end-of-live-care with their patients. When this sparked fierce blowback from citizens who feared that “death panels” would ration care to elderly patients, the Administration backed off.

End-of-life planning is back on the radar screen because of a very thorough report just released by the Institute of Medicine (IoM). It comprises a wealth of information on the state of end-of-life planning in America today. Unfortunately, it contains a dangerous recommendation: Government-funded counselling.

Read the entire column at Forbes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Obamacare is Reducing Economic Growth, Not Growth in Health Spending

One major criticism of U.S. health care is that we spend more money on health care than any other country. If health spending consumes resources that are needed elsewhere, this could be a problem. The U.S. now spends about 17 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care. Canada, where government has a monopoly on essential health services, keeps spending down to about 10 percent of GDP. The conclusion, apparently, is that more government reduces health spending.

This is Obamacare’s governing principle. On the face of it, it seems to be working: The rate of growth of health spending is flat. Indeed, it may remain around 17 percent of GDP this year, and for even a few more years.

However, there is no evidence that Obamacare’s increased regulation of health care is causing this moderation.

Read the entire column at the Intellectual Conservative.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Very Weak Argument In Favor Of Hospital Mergers

Earlier this week, I discussed the rapid pace of mergers throughout health care. Hospital consolidation is one point of special concern, because it can reduce competition and increase prices.

In the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Kenneth L. Davis, MD, CEO and President of Mount Sinai Health System in New York City puts forward a number of claims in favor of hospital consolidation. Each is weak, making an unconvincing argument overall.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Number of Uninsured Americans Aged 18-64 Down Two Percentage Points

The number of uninsured Americans, aged 18-64 has dropped by two percentage points from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of this year, according the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

That brings the proportion of uninsured down to where it was about ten years ago. In other words, Obamacare has not managed to overcome the results of the recession that began in December 2007. Plus, much of the reduction in uninsured is a result of more people becoming dependent on Medicaid, which is welfare, so should not be viewed as the same type of benefit as individually owned or employer-based health insurance.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Obamacare's Second Open Enrollment Starts In Two Months - Ad It's Going to Be Awful

If there is one thing that the Administration and Democratic candidates have in their favor going into the mid-term elections, it is that election day is November 4, and Obamacare’s second open enrollment begins on November 15. If the dates were flipped, there is little doubt that voters affected by Obamacare would wreak havoc on the politicians who imposed the Rube Goldberg contraption of exchanges on them.

Despite having just tossed another $60 million out the window “to help consumers navigate their health care coverage options in the Health Insurance Marketplace,” the Administration will likely face an even more bemused and disgruntled population of "consumers" than it did the first time around.

Read the entire column at Forbes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

UnitedHealthcare's Price Transparency Tool Is Having An Impact

UnitedHealthcare has released a study describing the results of its myHealthcare Cost Estimator, and mobile version (Health4Me). The results are, perhaps, unusual. The report concludes that patients who used these tools chose higher quality providers. However, it did not report savings from using the tools. I also note that the report was finished on February 25, but only released to the public today.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Massive Momentum for Mega-Mergers in Health Care

Paul Keckley of Navigant Consulting summarizes the rapid pace of consolidation within U.S. health care. Keckley’s article has a business angle. He points out that a staple of business school case studies is failed mergers. Nevertheless, most mature industries (e.g. airlines, accounting firms) consolidate rapidly and thoroughly.

Health care has seen a wave of mergers before.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Individual Health Insurance Rates Rose 24.4 Percent in 2014

A new paper written by Professor Amanda Kowalski of Yale University, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and the Brookings Institution examines the effect of Obamacare on premiums in the individual market for health insurance in 2014 versus 2013. Her analysis includes policies sold in the individual market off the exchanges, as well as those sold on Obamacare exchanges:
Across all states, from before the reform to the first half of 2014, enrollment-weighted premiums in the individual health insurance market increased by 24.4% beyond what they would have had they simply followed state-level seasonally-adjusted trends.
Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Federal Health IT Standards Still Taking On Water

Last May, this blog discussed the proposed watering down of standards for hospitals and other facilities to get federal bounties for so-called “meaningful use” of electronic health records (EHRs) in 2014.

Well, they appear to have done it again.

Rad the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Why Do Large Employers Want To Control Their Employees Health Benefits?

There is no doubt that large employers want to offer health benefits to their employees. It does not seem to bother them that each employee is not free to spend his own money on health insurance that suits his and his family’s needs.

The effect of Obamacare on these benefits has yet to be determined. At one extreme, an analyst at S&P Capital IQ concluded earlier this year that 90 percent of employees working at companies in the S&P 500 stock index would lose their employer-based health benefits by 2020. These are the largest companies in the United States.

Nevertheless, these employers continue to commit themselves resolutely to employer-based benefits. Why?

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Employer Health Costs Rising Slowly? Some Many Not Be Offering Obamacare's Minimum Benefits

Yesterday, we discussed the slow rate of growth of premiums in employer-based plans. Today, Kaiser Health News reported a surprising discovery: Some employers who assert they are offering benefits may not be. Indeed, their plans may not even offer hospitalization benefits.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Being Observed In Hospital? Patients With Private Coverage Better Off Than Medicare Beneficiaries

This headline comes from that notorious member of the right-wing conspiracy, Kaiser Health News.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Employer-Based Health Insurance Costs Up 3 Percent, Share of Workers in Consumer-Driven Plans Steady

The annual Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research Education Trust Employer Health Benefits Survey has been released. As many expected, the increase in employer-based health costs from 2013 to 2014 was moderate.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Boom! Hospital Revenue Up 5 Percent in Twelve Months

This morning’s Quarterly Services Survey (QSS) released by the Census Bureau reported that hospitals’ revenue rose 4.9 percent from the end of the second quarter in 2013 to the end of the second quarter in 2014. From the first quarter to the second quarter of 2014, it jumped 2.8 percent, overcoming a first quarter drop of minus 0.8 percent. Revenue for ambulatory services rose only 2.4 percent in the same twelve months. It jumped 3.0 percent from the first quarter of 2014, but had dropped 2 percent in the first quarter from the end of 2013.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

The State of Telemedicine - State By State

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has released two thorough and valuable reports on the state of telemedicine in all fifty states.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Who Should Regulate Telemedicine, and How?

The practice of medicine is regulated by the states. For many years, advocates of telemedicine have pointed to inconsistencies in how medical licensing boards recognize out-of-state physicians as a limit to telemedicine. In 2012, health economist Jason Shafrin reviewed literature, which indicates that requiring a doctor to be physically present with a patient to prescribe reduces access and harms patients.

The situation is coming to a head.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Health Policy Blog.

Visits to Emergency Rooms Increase Three Times Faster in States That Expanded Medicaid Than Those That Did Not

The Colorado Hospital Association has issued a report comparing certain trends in states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare with states that did not. The most important take-away is how much Emergency Department visits increased in expansion states versus non-expansion states:

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Health Policy Blog.

Indian Patients Suffer From India's Weak Patents

India’s recently elected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will visit the U.S. later this month. One of the sticking points in the U.S.-India relationship is weakness in India’s laws governing intellectual property (IP). The Global Intellectual Property Center of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks 25 countries in its Global IP Index, and India comes in last place. Indian growth will continue to lag as long as this persists: Researchers have demonstrated the positive relationship between IP protection and a county’s prosperity.

Read the entire article at

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Obamacare Has Eliminated 350,00 Jobs, Cut Small-Biz Payrolls $22.6 Billion

New research published by the American Action Forum further corroborates our conclusion that Obamacare is harming U.S. employment. In a new scholarly paper, Ben Gitis and colleagues estimate that:
…Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations are reducing small business (20 to 99 workers) pay by at least $22.6 billion annually. In addition, ACA regulations and rising premiums have reduced employment by more than 350,000 jobs nationwide, with five states losing more than 20,000 jobs.
We found that, on average, employees who work a full year for a business with 50-99 employees lose $935 annually due to ACA regulations, while employees of businesses with 20-49 employees, on average lose $827.50 annually.
Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Third-Party Billing "Bordering On Mail Fraud"

Billing in U.S. health care: You can’t believe it until you’ve experienced it. Price transparency seems to be coming gradually, at least in convenient clinics and places like the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, which post their prices. However, when it comes to hospitals and health insurers, we do not appear to be making much progress.

Last month, I wrote about two healthcare experts who became patients and who got befuddled and bemused by the outrageous and appalling bills that started flying at them soon after their procedures. Here are a couple more examples:

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

After $26 Billion Spent, Electronic Health Records Only 4 Percent of Target

At a September 3 meeting of the Administration’s Health IT Policy Committee, the Administration disclosed that only 3,154 eligible professionals (doctors, dentists, etcetera) had “attested” to so-called “meaningful use Stage 2″ to get their bounties from the federal government for installing electronic health records. Only 143 hospitals had attested.

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

Monday, September 8, 2014

Laszewski, Back From Summer Vacation, Still Predicts Obamacare Train Wreck

If I have one complaint about the summer of 2014, it was the absence of health insurance expert Bob Laszewski from his blog since July 31. Well, he came back last Sunday, and the summer break did not temper his criticism of Obamacare.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Obamacare and Employment: Not Good

The media cheered a report published by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which asserts that Obamacare (“the ACA”) does not explain the high proportion of part-time workers.

Yes, it does - and more.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Medical Marijuana Might Reduce Opioid Overdoses

Newly published research indicates that medical marijuana laws reduce overdose deaths from abuse of Oxycontin and other opiods by a statistically — and economically — significant amount.

Read the entire article at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Zeke Emanuel, Center for American Progress Give Up On Obamacare

In a new paper, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and colleagues associated with the Center for American Progress (President Obama’s go-to think tank) throw in the towel on Obamacare:
Given the current political gridlock, it is unlikely that the federal government will take the lead on reforms to control health care costs system-wide. States must therefore play a leadership role, with the federal government empowering and incentivizing them to act.
If those words sound familiar to you, you are not alone. The Washington Post reports this as “Democrats borrow a GOP idea on heath care costs."

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

One In Four Jobs Added Last Month Was In Health Care

The healthcare jobs boom continues. This morning’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 142,000 jobs (seasonally adjusted) were added to non-farm civilian payrolls in August. 34,000 of those (24 percent) were in health care.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Costs of Government Administration of Health Care to Almost Double In 10 Years

This week’s report by staff of the Office of the Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services concluded that the last few years of muted increases in health spending will soon be ending. Health spending will resume its upward march:

While there was nothing very surprising in the report, there was at least one things that was underreported by the media: The astonishing increase in “government administration” of health care.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Health Care Top 100 Is Top Heavy With Government

Earlier this year, Modern Healthcare released a list of the 100 most influential people in healthcare. These people come from every sector, ranging from government to nonprofit to private sector. Some worked in the government before moving on to more lucrative positions in the private sector. No matter their backgrounds, each person has shaped the debate on healthcare and reform in some way. But we decided to do some breakdown of the numbers to examine the demographic of those that are in the top 100.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Hospitals' Revenues Lagging, Unions Flagging

One of the under reported causes of the high cost of health facilities, especially hospitals and nursing homes, is the high rate of unionization in the sector. In the glory days of spending growth, unions staged great campaigns to organize healthcare workers.

After Obamacare, things are different. Moody’s recently reported that non-profit hospitals’ top-line revenue growth was just 3.9 percent last year, an “all-time low.” For many businesses, 3.9 percent revenue growth in the Obama economy would be relatively rosy. However, it’s not what hospitals are used to.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Obamacare Tax Merry-Go-Round

Get a load of how Obamacare health insurance premium taxes work. According to Medicaid Health Plans of America: “This situation results in the federal government taxing itself and taxing state governments to fund the higher Medicaid managed care payments required to fund the ACA health insurer fee”.

It look me a few times to get my head around that.

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Where Is The Obamacare Health Spending Boom?

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released the second estimate of second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There is good news – especially for those of us concerned with health policy.

First, the BEA seems to have figured out how to measure health spending under Obamacare, no longer giving huge updates to initial estimates, like it did in the first quarter. The second estimate is little revised from the advanced estimate: Real GDP increased by 4.2 percent (annualized) versus an advanced estimate of 4.0 percent; and health spending accounted for just 0.05 percent of the increase, versus an advanced estimate of 0.08 percent.

Read the entire column at

"Interoperability" of Health Data Is A Unicorn

Having spent $26 billion of taxpayers’ money since 2009 inducing hospitals and physicians to install electronic health records (EHRs), many champions of the effort are dismayed that the EHRs are not interoperable. That is, they cannot talk to each other — which was the whole point of subsidizing the effort.

Read the entire column at

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hospitals' Huge Bills: Is Medicare Caving In?

Before the Labor Day long weekend, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) quietly disclosed a deal it is offering to America’s hospitals, many of which are engaged in a long-running dispute over hospital charges. Apparently responding to political pressure, CMS is offering hospitals which accept the deal 68 cents on the dollar to close disputed claims.

Is CMS caving in to hospitals' high prices?

Read the entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.

Social Media Shakes State Power: A Case Study of Compassionate Use

We’ve written about states’ “right to try” laws, which expand desperate patients’ power to use drugs before the FDA approves them. These laws, gaining bipartisan approval in a growing number of states, open up the question of whether FDA powers that limit the availability of new medicines can be challenged by states.

A couple of pharmaceutical executives have written a very honest article about their experience dealing with a request for compassionate use of an experimental drug, while one of them was CEO of the company that was developing it.

Read he entire column at NCPA's Health Policy Blog.