If you want to understand what ails the U.S. health care system, look no farther than the dialysis industry. A recent New York Times article, "UnitedHealthcare Sues Dialysis Chain Over Billing," provides a pre-made case study. In brief, a chain of dialysis clinics, American Renal Associates, pushed poor people out of government coverage and into private insurance with UnitedHealthcare so that the clinics could bill $4,000 per treatment rather than $200. A ...

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Recently, ACP offered practical solutions to physicians’ concerns about Medicare’s proposal to implement the new payment system created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The College’s detailed recommendations, summarized here in a press statement that is linked to the comment letter itself, would replace CMS’s proposed and unnecessarily complex quality scoring system with a much simpler and understandable approach as developed by the College. We challenge CMS to completely ...

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Small, independent private practices are closing, increasing numbers of physicians are retiring, and fewer medical school graduates are choosing primary care.  The old-fashioned practice my father and I have built is a dying entity.  Parents say coming to see us for an appointment feels more like a visit with a friend than a medical encounter.  I am fighting for the survival of primary care practices.  MACRA proposed reimbursement will decimate ...

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In the wake of the Orlando shootings, the usual battle lines are drawn in the usual, predictable way. Urban liberals and many Democrats call for more regulations and enforcement to limit access to firearms (especially assault weapons); hunters and conservatives and many Republicans -- and especially the National Rifle Association (NRA) -- ...

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I’m feeling pretty good about myself today. My patient, recently admitted to home health care, was just not herself, low O2 sats, irregular heart rate with pain on inspiration and feeling a little clammy. While her recent surgery was a neck fusion, it still didn’t completely eliminate the possibility of a pulmonary embolism. Instead of spending 15 to 30 torturous minutes in her primary doctor’s voice mail hell, I made ...

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This is my 12th year as a physician in the United States. I was born in London, grew up in Berkshire, and decided to become a doctor when I was a teenager. I remember being asked what I thought about the National Health Service (or NHS, the UK’s government-run health system) during my medical school interview. That question is almost a rite of passage for anyone applying to medical school in ...

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It has now been confirmed that Prince’s untimely death resulted from an overdose of the drug fentanyl. It is unclear whether the lethal dose of fentanyl was a prescription medication or a counterfeit “analog” drug from the illicit market. Regardless, the facts are now clear enough to know that the U.S. health care system failed Prince in the same ways it is failing the 78 Americans who die every day ...

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In 2008, mental health advocates hailed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act as “historic;” putting an end to what Sen. Edward Kennedy called “the senseless discrimination in health insurance coverage that plagues persons living with mental illness.” The law requires most group health plans to offer coverage for mental health and substance use disorders equal to that provided for medical problems. Two years later, the Affordable Care Act extended ...

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Three weeks ago, I changed jobs.  I left a high-tech, high-volume teaching hospital in one of the largest medical centers in the U.S. for the greener pastures of a small, private community hospital.  Why? I needed a less stressful position, lower acuity patients and to be rid of the madness of commuting. I am a registered nurse with experience in emergency and trauma nursing, critical care, electrophysiology and cardiovascular surgery. I ...

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“I need help with my colitis.” “Really? I thought we had things pretty well controlled.” I hadn’t seen her in the better part of a year. I remembered how hard it had been to get her ulcerative colitis into remission. How sick she had been, how miserable her life was. There was a bit of trial and error in the office, followed by a hospitalization for intravenous steroids, then a tapering dose ...

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