After the 2014 elections: Is Obamacare safe? By decisively taking control of the U.S. Senate and increasing their majority in the House of Representatives, the Republicans now have a chance to force some modest changes in the Affordable Care Act, but they will not be able to repeal or reverse it.  But Republican gains in state legislatures and governorships may put the brakes on Medicaid expansion, leaving millions ...

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How to choose a good hospital? Hint: Dont listen to the ads. Nearly every day a press release from a health care provider or health care technology vendor shows up in my inbox urging me to look at what they offer and to write about it. Most of the time I don't find their news worth passing along, but occasionally a pitch sparks a column idea. That's the case with the press ...

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It is well known that Medicare expenditures threaten the financial solvency of the U.S. government. And it is pretty well agreed upon that some of our Medicare spending goes towards wasteful medical care. But which medical care is wasteful and how much is such care costing us?  A study in JAMA Internal Medicine provides a sneak peek at answers to these important questions. The research, led by Aaron Schwartz, a graduate student ...

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We have heard ad nauseum that the data collection mandated by Medicare and Medicaid is to improve quality of care. Significant taxpayer dollars have been expended as bonuses in the name of PQRS (Physician Quality Reporting System). With all this investment and mandating, one would assume that the PQRS must be highly indicative of better quality of patient care, right? Not so fast. Two recent reports demonstrate how ineffective this program is and how much ...

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I think it’s fair to say Jonathan Gruber will not be offered the role of Pinocchio. Although intelligence agencies, in search of the truth serum, might have an interest in the ingredients of what he drinks. Please put away the pitchforks. Gruber deserves credit for honesty and bipartisanship. Plus a complete rejection of Disneyland economics. If you’re looking for transparency, the other face of honesty, Gruber is ground zero. Stupidity, though, was ...

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To me, Medicaid is Obamacare’s sleeping giant -- the enabler of federal power and control over the health system. It is a far more powerful enabler than health exchanges, which have gotten most of the publicity. It surpasses the number of uninsured and underinsured that the exchanges have enrolled. In the next year, four million more Americans will joing Medicaid’s rolls. It already covers one third of America’s uninsured. Under Obamacare, ...

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Just north of Denver, Jefferson County has become a battleground in the fight over performance-based pay for teachers.  The recently elected school board plans on implementing “[a] compensation system that recognizes and rewards our great teachers,” according to school board president Ken Witt.  The response of the local teachers’ union was for teachers to call in sick and enlist students in protesting what they describe as a proposed “patriotic curriculum.” The protests are a ...

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What primary care can learn from the financial service industry Man looks into the Abyss, and there's nothin' staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character, and that's what keeps him out of the Abyss. - Lou Mannheim (Hal Holbrook) in the movie, Wall Street We hear reform ideas all the time: Primary care physicians need to work at the top of license, physicians need to work in teams, health ...

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Last year the New York Times reported that the aviation industry had become so safe that one could fly every day for 123,000 years before dying in an aviation crash. I wish we could say the same for the U.S. health care system. Nationally, problems with health care quality (doing too much, doing the wrong things, and doing too little when indicated) are pretty clear. The bigger problem is that the progress has ...

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Money has always been and will always be a big part of medicine Medicine is not about money, except when it is. When I was in my residency training, pharmaceutical reps still roamed the land. Vast herds of gorgeous young women in tight skirts and stilettos traveled through doctor's offices, clinics, hospitals and residencies all over creation. Their appearance was always a thing of joy, especially for sleepy, hungry physicians-in-training. Someone would run to the ...

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