The feds are at it again. Medicare is in the cross hairs with an anticipated 0.9 percent cut to Medicare Advantage plan payments in 2016. The final decision is to be made on April 6 of this year. Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to traditional Medicare. Traditional Medicare consists of Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) coverage.  Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) can be chosen in place of the ...

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I’m a cardiologist. But if you believe the news, you will assume my entire medical specialty is shady and full of morally suspect physicians. Let me tell you why. Recently, two articles surfaced in the lay press, one published by the New York Times and the other by U.S. News & World Report. Like the ...

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I admittedly don’t understand much about the intricacies of economics. But I don’t have to in order to recognize the significance of Walmart’s decision to raise the minimum pay for its lowest paid hourly employees. In the week following the company’s announcement, plenty has been written about the impact that such a move will have on the company’s success and on local economies. It goes beyond that, however. What I see ...

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When I speak with colleagues about ways to provide primary care to the poor, they generally fall into one of two camps. The first camp, generally supporters of the Affordable Care Act, contends that the ACA's originally mandatory (but later ruled optional) expansion of Medicaid insurance eligibility and a temporary federally-funded increase in Medicaid fee-for-service rates to Medicare levels provided enough incentives to attract family physicians to patient-centered medical homes that ...

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Whether you like it or not health care financing is transitioning from payment for discrete services to global payment for value. Whether you agree with this trend, or comprehend its meaning, if it has one, is largely irrelevant in the short term. The government of the United States, the Chamber of Commerce, both political parties, all health care stakeholders, and even your own medical associations are fervently supporting, and actively ...

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We want to make sure that we stop it before it starts. It’s so much easier to prevent bad medicine than it is to stop it after it’s started. – Arkansas Rep. Julie Mayberry (R-East End) speaking on Arkansas Public Radio about SB-53, a bill that restricts medical abortions by preventing them via telemedicine -- an unfortunate development for the 78 percent of Arkansas women who don’t live near ...

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Medicaid expansion “is one of the biggest milestones in health care reform,” according to the Obamacare Facts website. The goal was to provide insurance coverage to low-income Americans, specifically the uninsured. The major problem with Medicaid is low reimbursement. “Due to low payouts, many doctors don’t take Medicaid, and the quality of care tends to be poor,” admits the website. The solution was to raise the amount doctors get paid under ...

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More and more hospitals are realizing that the 30 to 50 percent of waste occurring within their organizations is not only real, but a tremendous opportunity.  This is good news for both our patients and our health care system.  The bad news is that many hospital executives believe that this waste is largely limited to processes like materials management, ER wait times and operating room first-starts. The next step in our ...

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There are many good reasons for Congress to enact President Obama’s proposal to raise the Federal minimum wage to $9 per hour.  Many of these reasons, from economic stimulus to possible reductions in gaping income inequality to much-needed financial relief for working families, have been extensively discussed in the public sphere.  However, one important benefit of increasing wages has not received enough attention: improving mental health. Numerous studies show that poverty ...

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Hospital leaders who are successful managers today are successful because they manage change. The great hospitals leaders by now have become masters at it. But there’s a difference between change you can see coming (bundled payments, EHR implementations, declining reimbursements) and change that shows up unannounced on the front door. That’s often what it feels like when a huge, publicly traded company acquires a smaller physicians group. It can feel like ...

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