We have provided numerous examples wherein CMS has provided the private Medicare Advantage plans with an unfair advantage over the traditional Medicare program, at a considerable cost to taxpayers. This is yet one more example. In a secretive process, CMS is allowing private insurers to automatically enroll their current clients in their Medicare Advantage plans without requiring them to opt in. Patients must understand what is happening and then take specific action to opt out if they would prefer to be enrolled in the traditional Medicare program.
The bureaucrats are fixated on the meme that we can reduce spending by paying for the value of health care rather than the volume. They have been disappointed with models such as accountable care organizations, and they are now turning to MACRA and its alternative payment models (APMs), with a renewed surge of interest in bundled payments.
When the Medicare Part D program covering drugs was designed, conservatives were in control of the government. As a result it was decided that the ideology of competition in the marketplace should be used to improve value rather than using government administered pricing. Today’s message demonstrates once again that markets do not work in health care.
Celebrations of the success of the Affordable Care Act have to be tempered by the knowledge that it leaves too many uninsured, that health care is still not affordable for far too many, and that the benefits of tighter insurance regulation were largely offset by the insurance design changes of excessive cost sharing and restrictive narrow networks. One other goal was to improve payment systems so that patients would receive greater quality at lower costs. So what do physicians think about the implementation and effectiveness of the design changes in the payment system?
California has been a leader in establishing and implementing the health insurance exchanges authorized by the Affordable Care Act. Although they did hold down premium rate increases in the first two years to 4 percent (still above the rate of inflation), the higher costs of health care have caught up with them. That requires an average of a 13.2 percent premium increase for the next year (though other regulatory and market factors cause greater year to year fluctuation in the premiums). What does this mean for those enrolled in those plans and for the rest of us who obtain our health care coverage elsewhere?
The phased privatization of England’s National Health Service is taking a toll in undermining “the cohesive public ethos of the NHS.” This brief description by Dr. Alex Scott-Samuel will give you a hint of the disaster that is taking place. Their political leaders apparently have learned nothing from the dysfunction that characterizes our system in the U.S., nor are we learning anything from them.
Physicians celebrated the passage of MACRA because it brought the end to the despised SGR method of making adjustments to Medicare payment rates. The legislation was not simply a repeal of SGR, but it was repeal and replace legislation. Most physicians are not “even somewhat familiar with the pending reimbursement changes.”
The Great Recession has contributed to slowing of the growth in health care spending in recent years, but the future changes are predicted to be more closely related to various demographic related coverage changes plus certain payment trends including the increase in cost sharing in private insurance plans. Also the increase in the government contribution to our national health expenditures deserves special mention.
There are many injustices inherent in our dysfunctional, fragmented system of financing health care, and surprise medical bills from out-of-network physicians is one of them. Patients who have health insurance should not have to face these bills that otherwise would have been covered by their insurance. So what is the solution?
In this JAMA article, President Obama understandably touts the benefits of his Affordable Care Act (ACA) and describes some of the problems that remain that need to be addressed. Two serious deficiencies of his article are that he fails to acknowledge the fact that some of the changes taking place are actually detrimental, and his proposals for the way forward are grossly inadequate when considering the need.
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