Posts Tagged ‘government care’

ObamaCare Factoid: Access To Health Care Doesn’t Mean Squat When Hospitals, Doctors And Pharmacists Bail

March 22, 2010

As an introduction, let me just say this: In this article, I detail that doctors and hospitals and pharmacies are going to bail out of Medicare and Medicaid – if they don’t just go out of business altogether.  They aren’t bailing out on private insurers – the free market businesses that Obama and the Democrats have continuously demonized and demagogued – they’re bailing out on the very government health care systems that liberals want to erect in the place of the free market health care system that they are destroying.  And as a matter of fact, the poorest and neediest are the ones who will likely suffer the most due to this terrible ObamaCare bill.

Congratulations, Democrats.  Thanks to the passage of ObamaCare, you and all your useless slacker friends who love to parasitically leach off of society will have access to health care.

Mind you, that “access” won’t mean squat as doctors, pharmacies, etc. stop accepting patients from Obama and his crappy government.

Don’t believe me?  Well, here’s some info from the New York Times:

EARLY this year, Barbara Plumb, a freelance editor and writer in New York who is on Medicare, received a disturbing letter. Her gynecologist informed her that she was opting out of Medicare. When Ms. Plumb asked her primary-care doctor to recommend another gynecologist who took Medicare, the doctor responded that she didn’t know any — and that if Ms. Plumb found one she liked, could she call and tell her the name?

Many people, just as they become eligible for Medicare, discover that the insurance rug has been pulled out from under them. Some doctors — often internists but also gastroenterologists, gynecologists, psychiatrists  and other specialists — are no longer accepting Medicare, either because they have opted out of the insurance system or they are not accepting new patients with Medicare coverage. The doctors’ reasons: reimbursement rates are too low and paperwork too much of a hassle.

When shopping for a doctor, ask if he or she is enrolled with Medicare. If the answer is no, that doctor has opted out of the system. Those who are enrolled fall into two categories, participating and nonparticipating. The latter receive a lower reimbursement from Medicare, and the patient has to pick up more of the bill.

Doctors who have opted out of Medicare can charge whatever they want, but they cannot bill Medicare for reimbursement, nor may their patients. Medigap, or supplemental insurance, policies usually do not provide coverage when Medicare doesn’t, so the entire bill is the patient’s responsibility.

The solution to this problem is to find doctors who accept Medicare insurance — and to do it well before reaching age 65. But that is not always easy, especially if you are looking for an internist, a primary care doctor who deals with adults. Of the 93 internists affiliated with New York-Presbyterian Hospital, for example, only 37 accept Medicare, according to the hospital’s Web site.

Two trends are converging: there is a shortage of internists nationally — the American College of Physicians, the organization for internists, estimates that by 2025 there will be 35,000 to 45,000 fewer than the population needs — and internists are increasingly unwilling to accept new Medicare patients.

Sorry to throw you out on your ass, old timer.  But the government health care system sucks, and Zero is going to make it even suckier.

And here’s how Zero will make it suckier:

Updated January 14, 2010
Why Doctors Are Abandoning Medicare
By C.L. Gray, M.D.
FOXNews.com

Physicians will not be bullied into bankruptcy. Our system needs reform, but what’s being hammered out in Washington is not the answer.

Two weeks ago the Mayo Clinic shocked the nation when it closed the doors of one of its Arizona clinics to patients on Medicare. Just this past June President Obama himself praised Mayo as a model of medical efficiency noting that Mayo gives “the highest quality care at costs well below the national norm.” If Mayo feels compelled to walk away from this government-run program, others will surely follow. The nation must understand why.

Doctors are leaving Medicare for two reasons: one obvious, the other more concealed.

The first is simple—the math
:

1) For the past decade Medicare consistently paid physicians 20% less than traditional insurance companies for identical service.

2) On January 1, 2010 Washington made hidden cuts to Medicare by altering its billing codes.

3) Medicare will cut physician reimbursement by another 21% on March 1. The CBO said this cut must take place if the Senate healthcare bill was to “reduced the deficit.”

4) Even more, Congress pledged to cut Medicare by yet another $500 billion. Again, the CBO said this additional cut must take place if the Senate healthcare bill was to “reduced the deficit.”
Many physicians were operating at a loss even before this series of massive cuts. In 2008, Mayo Clinic posted an $840 million loss in caring for Medicare patients. No businesses can survive when patient care expenses exceed revenue.

The second is more ominous—Washington’s increasingly abusive posture toward physicians.

President Obama reflected this attitude last summer. On national television, he stated as fact a surgeon is paid between $30,000 and $50,000 for amputating a patient’s foot.

In reality, a surgeon is paid between $740 and $1,140 to perform this unfortunate, but often life-saving procedure. This reimbursement must cover a pre-operative evaluation the day of surgery, the surgery, and follow-up for 90 days after surgery—not to mention malpractice insurance, salaries for clinic nurses, and clinic overhead. It is frightening to think our president is so wildly misinformed even as he stands on the cusp of overhauling American health care. But it gets worse.

Given massive federal deficits, Washington now faces increasing pressure to cut Medicare spending. One way to do this is to intimidate physicians into under-billing. To do this Washington intends to spend tax payer dollars to ramp up physician audits using Recovery Audit Contractors (RAC audits) to randomly investigate private physician’s Medicare billing.

A physician group at my hospital recently experienced an AdvanceMed audit, an earlier version of the RAC. For a year Medicare auditors made their practice a living hell, making them question if it was worth caring for Medicare patients at all. [click to keep reading]

Do you remember that bit about the Mayo Clinic no longer accepting Medicare patients in Arizona?  That’s a trend the rest of the country is going to follow.  From the Wall Street Journal:

President Obama last year praised the Mayo Clinic as a “classic example” of how a health-care provider can offer “better outcomes” at lower cost. Then what should Americans think about the famous Minnesota medical center’s decision to take fewer Medicare patients?

Specifically, Mayo said last week it will no longer accept Medicare patients at one of its primary care clinics in Arizona. Mayo said the decision is part of a two-year pilot program to determine if it should also drop Medicare patients at other facilities in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota, which serve more than 500,000 seniors.

Mayo says it lost $840 million last year treating Medicare patients, the result of the program’s low reimbursement rates. Its hospital and four clinics in Arizona—including the Glendale facility—lost $120 million. Providers like Mayo swallow some of these Medicare losses, while also shifting the cost by charging more to private patients and insurers.

Sorry, senior.  But you can’t get your prescriptions refilled, either.  From the Seattle Times:

Walgreens will stop taking new Medicaid patients in Washington state as of April 16, saying it loses money filling their prescriptions.

Effective April 16, Walgreens drugstores across the state won’t take any new Medicaid patients, saying that filling their prescriptions is a money-losing proposition — the latest development in an ongoing dispute over Medicaid reimbursement.

Now that ObamaCare has passed, get ready to see more and more doctors say bye-bye:

If ObamaCare passes, you may lose your family doctor.  Oh, and good luck finding a new one.

That’s the stunning conclusion of a new study by the Medicus Firm, as reported by Recruiting Physicians Today, a newletter published by the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine.  Medicus, a national physician search firm, surveyed 1,195 practicing physicians about the health reform plans pending in Congress.  The doctors, representing a wide range of specialties and career levels, were asked to assess the possible impact of ObamaCare on their careers, including “income, job satisfaction, and future career plans.”1

The bottom line of that investigation, titled Physician Survey: Health Reform’s Impact on Physician Supply and Quality of Medical Care, is summed up by Medicus managing partner Steve Marsh:  “What many people may not realize is that health reform could impact physician supply in such a way that the quality of health care could suffer.  The reality is that there may not be enough doctors to provide quality medical care to the millions of newly insured patients.”2

Why?  Put simply, doctors fear that ObamaCare would make the business and practice of medicine more trouble than it’s worth.  The surveyed physicians foresee in their future under ObamaCare a decrease in income coupled with an increased work load, a toxic combination of new regulations and taxes plus millions of newly insured individuals swelling their patient rosters.

The doctors assessed the possible impact of several iterations of ObamaCare.  For example, 72 percent felt their income would decrease under a health reform bill that included a public option, while 50 percent predicted a decrease in income under a health reform regime without a public option.

Not surprisingly, “an overwhelming 63 percent of physicians prefer a more gradual, targeted approach to health reform” as opposed to the massive, one-size fits all plans favored by the President and Congressional leaders.3 An astonishing 46 percent of responding primary care physicians claim they would leave or try to leave medicine as a result of ObamaCare, gravely exacerbating the existing shortage of primary care doctors (according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the number of U.S. medical school students choosing primary care has already dropped 52 percent since 1997).4

The Medicus results echo a similar Investors Business Daily poll of over 1,000 practicing physicians, 65 percent of whom expressed opposition to the President’s health reform plan, and 72 percent of whom doubted the administration’s claim that the government could significantly expand coverage and provide better care at lower costThe IBD poll, conducted in September of 2009, also found a startling number of physicians, 45 percent, who would consider quitting if ObamaCare becomes law.  The grim conclusion of the IBD survey:  “Two of every three practicing physicians oppose the medical overhaul plan under consideration in Washington, and hundreds of thousands would think about shutting down their practices or retiring early if it were adopted.”5

If ObamaCare would drive practicing doctors out of work, it would also devastate efforts to recruit new physicians.  After all, how do you persuade talented young people to enter a business that promises high taxes, regulation, risk and stress – without commensurate compensation? For the average health care consumer, the result of this shrinking pool of physicians would be long waits and rationed care, to say nothing of overworked, unhappy doctors.

A CNN Money article details that children and the poorest and most vulnerable adults are going to increasingly suffer as doctors bail out of Medicaid.

There’s another inherent rub there.  Democrats pitched ObamaCare as taking care of “47 million Americans” who can’t afford insurance.  But the poor always had access to coverage under Medicaid.  The only reason many of these people don’t use Medicaid is because the government program is such a total disaster, or they can’t find a doctor who will lose money treating them.

I’ll quote myself from an earlier article to make a couple more points about the “47 million Americans” lie:

If you believe that the government is going to create a trillion dollar entitlement that ensures 47 million more people – (John Larson, chairman of the Democratic caucus, used the “47 million” figure on ABCs “This Week” just yesterday; he used it again on CNNs “State of the Union”) and spends less money than is spent now, you are an abject fool.

And that “47 million” clearly includes 17 million illegal immigrants.  The Democrats’ incredibly cynical plan is to take health resources from you and from your children and grandchildren and give those resources to illegal immigrants so they can capture the Hispanic vote.

The bottom line about ObamaCare is that it is a government program, in which the government demonizes and destroys the private system of insurers and doctors and hospitals and pharmacists that make the system work, and offer in its place an utter disaster.

This ObamaCare boondoggle is going to be a holocaust.  God only knows how many people – especially the poorest and most vulnerable – are going to die.  It’s going to be legalized murder.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  I don’t think the Democrats’ intentions are all that good, but I do know that this is a road – scratch that, a superhighway – to hell.

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Democrats, Please Explain Why You Want To Inflict Americans With This Vile Health Care System?

March 2, 2010

Up to 1,200 needless deaths, patients abused, staff bullied to meet targets… yet a secret inquiry into failing hospital says no one’s to blame

By Fay Schlesinger, Andy Dolan and Tim Shipman
Last updated at 1:45 PM on 25th February 2010

  • Up to 1,200 patients died unnecessarily because of appalling care
  • Labour’s obsession with targets and box ticking blamed for scandal
  • Patients were ‘routinely neglected’ at hospital
  • Report calls for FOURTH investigation into scandal

Not a single official has been disciplined over the worst-ever NHS hospital scandal, it emerged last night.

Up to 1,200 people lost their lives needlessly because Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust put government targets and cost-cutting ahead of patient care.

But none of the doctors, nurses and managers who failed them has suffered any formal sanction.

Enlarge   stafford

Relatives of patients involved in the report hold pictures of their loved ones outside the Moat House hotel near Stafford, after Robert Francis QC delivered his report

Indeed, some have either retired on lucrative pensions or have swiftly found new jobs.

Former chief executive Martin Yeates, who has since left with a £1million pension pot, six months’ salary and a reported £400,000 payoff, did not even give evidence to the inquiry which detailed the scale of the scandal yesterday.

He was said to be medically unfit to do so, though he sent some information to chairman Robert Francis through his solicitor.

The devastating-report into the Stafford Hospital-shambles’ laid waste to Labour’s decade-long obsession with box-ticking and league tables.

The independent inquiry headed by Robert Francis QC found the safety of sick and dying patients was ‘routinely neglected’. Others were subjected to ‘ inhumane treatment’, ‘bullying’, ‘abuse’ and ‘rudeness’.

Enlarge   Stafford

Anguish: Sandra Whitehouse with pictures of her mother Joan Morris and a copy of the Francis report

The shocking estimated death toll, three times the previous figure of 400, has prompted calls for a full public inquiry.

Bosses at the Trust – officially an ‘elite’ NHS institution – were condemned for their fixation with cutting waiting times to hit Labour targets and leaving neglected patients to die.

But after a probe that was controversially held in secret, not a single individual has been publicly blamed.

The inquiry found that:

• Patients were left unwashed in their own filth for up to a month as nurses ignored their requests to use the toilet or change their sheets;

• Four members of one family, including a new-born baby girl, died within 18 months after of blunders at the hospital;

•  Medics discharged patients hastily out of fear they risked being sacked for delaying;

•  Wards were left filthy with blood, discarded needles and used dressings while bullying managers made whistleblowers too frightened to come forward.

Last night the General Medical Council announced it was investigating several doctors. The Nursing and Midwifery Council is investigating at least one nurse and is considering other cases.

Enlarge   Stafford Robert Francis QC outside the Moat House hotel near Stafford

Ministers suggested the report highlighted a dreadful ‘local’ scandal, but its overall conclusions are a blistering condemnation of Labour’s approach to the NHS.

It found that hospital were so preoccupied with saving money and pursuit of elite foundation trust status that they ‘lost sight of its fundamental responsibility to provide safe care’.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham accepted 18 recommendations from Mr Francis and immediately announced plans for a new inquiry, to be held in public, into how Department of Health and NHS regulators failed to spot the disaster.

But Julie Bailey, head of the campaign group Cure the NHS, condemned his response as ‘outrageous’ and backed Tory and Liberal Democrat demands for a full public inquiry into what went wrong.

Tory leader David Cameron said: ‘We need openness, clarity and transparency to stop this happening again.’ Gordon Brown described the scandal as a ‘completely unacceptable management failure’ and revealed that the cases of 300 patients are now under investigation.

He told MPs the Government was belatedly working on plans to ‘strike off’ hospital managers responsible for failures. The hospital could also lose its cherished foundation status.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said ‘These awful events show how badly Labour has let down NHS patients. It should never again be possible for managers to put a tick in a box marked “target met” while patients are pushed off to a ward and left to die.’

The Francis probe was launched following a Healthcare Commission report on Stafford Hospital in March last year. It found that deaths at the hospital were 27 to 45 per cent higher than normal, meaning some 400 to 1,200 people died unnecessarily between 2005 and 2008.

Enlarge   Stafford

Sonia Burnhill, of campaign group Cure the NHS, who lost her husband Peter whilst he was a patient at Stafford General Hospital

Two weeks before the report’s publication, the Trust’s chief executive Martin Yeates was suspended. He eventually resigned in May after being offered £400,000 and a £1million pension pot.

The Francis report said staff numbers were allowed to fall ‘dangerously low’, causing nurses to neglect the most basic care. It said: ‘Requests for assistance to use a bedpan or to get to and from the toilet were not responded to.

‘Some families were left to take soiled sheets home to wash or to change beds when this should have been undertaken by the hospital and its staff.’ Food and drink were left out of reach, forcing patients to drink water from flower vases.

While many staff did their best, Mr Francis said, others showed a disturbing lack of compassion to patients.

He added: ‘I heard so many stories of shocking care. These patients were not simply numbers. They were husbands, wives, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandparents. They were people who entered Stafford Hospital and rightly expected to be well cared for and treated.’

Family who lost four loved ones

Kelsey Lintern was at the centre of one of the worst tragedies in the hospital’s appalling catalogue of failure.

She lost four members of her family within 18 months, her grandmother, uncle, sister and six-day-old baby.

Mrs Lintern, 36, almost became the fifth victim when a nurse tried to give her pethidine while she was in labour, despite her medical notes and a wristband clearly stating she was allergic to the drug.

The horrific story began in January 2007 when her baby daughter Nyah had to be delivered by her own grandmother because a distracted midwife was not looking.

Laurie Gethin 37, was one of four members of the same family who died at the hospital within the space of 18 months

Laurie Gethin 37, was one of four members of the same family who died at the hospital within 18 months

The baby was not breathing but she was resuscitated, then discharged by a junior paediatrician just two days later, despite the family’s fears she was seriously ill.

She was not feeding properly and still appeared blue. She died four days later. A post-mortem examination revealed four holes in her heart. Mrs Lintern accepts that Nyah may have died in any case, but said the hospital should at least have ‘realised there was a problem’.

It was when she was in labour with Nyah that a nurse arrived with a syringe of potentially-fatal pethidine, oblivious to the fact Mrs Lintern was allergic to it.

In April 2007, Mrs Lintern’s sister, Laurie Gethin, 37, died of lung, bone and lymph cancer, which had taken 18 months to be diagnosed, even though she was displaying tell-tale symptoms.

Lillian Wood Latta, 80, died after hospital staff failed to give her enough fluids, her family claimLillian Wood Latta, 80, died after hospital staff failed to give her enough fluids, her family claims

Her body, with her eyes still open, was left on her blood-splattered bed in full view of other patients. Tests revealed that Mrs Gethin had ‘markers’ in her blood which can indicated cancer.

But it was only when she was sent for a scan at another hospital that tumours were discovered. Mrs Lintern’s uncle, Tom Warriner, 48, died in January 2008 after his intestine was accidentally pierced in an operation for bowel cancer.

A coroner ruled the death was accidental. That summer, her grandmother Lilian Wood Latta, 80, died hungry and dehydrated after suffering a stroke. She was left in her own excrement during her final days and the family said the dehydration was caused by staff failing to give her adequate fluids.

Mrs Wood Latta had been referred to the hospital by her GP after suffering a series of mini-strokes at home. She was moved between wards three times, and it was left to relatives to change her incontinence pads.

Her dying wish had been to see Mrs Lintern’s new baby Khalen, so, after checking with staff, Mrs Lintern took her daughter in. But as the frail pensioner held her great-grandchild, a nurse appeared and said: ‘What on earth is a baby doing here? You do know we’ve got MRSA and C-Diff on this ward?’

Mrs Lintern, who lives in Cannock, Staffordshire, with husband David and their two daughters, said: ‘It is called the caring profession. But where is the care?’

James Reay died in agony after a junior doctor at Stafford Hospital failed to check his medical history and gave him the wrong drug.

The 67-year-old former miner was admitted to A&E in May 2006 with a swollen leg. Medics administered the anticoagulant Heparin – but failed to take into account Mr Reay’s history of stomach ulcers, which are known to react badly to the drug.

Two days later he was rushed to another hospital where he died from internal bleeding after three weeks of intense pain. Yesterday his widow Olwen won a five-figure pay-off in an out-of-court settlement after Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust admitted liability.

Mrs Reay, 69, said: ‘I have won my case but to me it is blood money and I cannot enjoy it. I would rather have my husband.’

‘Failed boss with £1million pension pot’

StaffordStafford Hospital former chief executive Martin Yeates was suspended on full pay in March last year

With a background in the hotel and catering industry, Martin Yeates was brought in to help Mid Staffordshire achieve the holy grail of foundation trust status as a supposed beacon of quality in the NHS.

A profile on the Trust’s website, since removed, boasted that he had developed ‘a more businesslike approach for the organisation’ after his appointment in September 2005.

The Trust finally achieved foundation status two years later. Mr Yeates’s career in the NHS began when he switched from the hotel trade to manage the catering department at Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry in 1977.

It has now ended with a £1million pension pot, six months salary and a possible £400,000 pay-off for the father of two – despite the Trust’s catastrophic failings.

Mr Yeates, who lives with second wife Lynn in a converted barn in a hamlet outside Stafford, was not at home last night and a neighbour said he had not been seen since Christmas.

It is believed he has spent at least some time in Egypt since being suspended on full pay of £169,000 in March last year – two weeks before an investigation revealed the deaths of at least 400 more patients than would have been expected, and an ‘appalling’ catalogue of failings in care.

Yesterday’s inquiry report said Mr Yeates resigned with effect from June 14, and was paid six months full salary in lieu of notice.

In his report, Mr Francis said Mr Yeates had failed to resolve ‘governance and staffing issues’ at the Trust and that he and colleagues had ‘focused on systems’ instead.
Stafford

The probe was launched into events at Stafford Hospital after a damning report last March from the Healthcare Commission revealed a catalogue of failings

Of the other Trust bosses, former chairman Toni Brisby resigned in March last year after the NHS watchdog Monitor said it intended to remove her. She told the Francis report she received no termination payment of any kind. Jan Harry, the trust’s director of nursing from 1998 to 2006, oversaw disastrous changes to the organisation of wards.

But she told the inquiry she could not recall a decision to axe 52 nursing posts and was ‘not aware’ of plans to drastically alter the ratio of trained to untrained staff. She also said it was not her job to monitor ward standards – a claim later described as ‘absurd’ by Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing.

Helen Morrey, former director of operations at the trust, admitted that risk assessments about the impact of job cuts were inadequate and accepted responsibility for a failure to thoroughly investigate complaints by patients. She was put on paid leave last July, before leaving the trust in November.