As the Affordable Care Act continues to impact millions of Americans through its second year of implementation, many things have become clear to both patients and health care providers alike: nothing is as it seems. While the ACA has provided health care to millions of previously uninsured Americans, it has also robbed many patients of their doctors and has forced others into higher premium, lower service plans.  Even those with ...

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SGR has been the bane of my time in policy.  And I want it to be yours. SGR, formally known as the sustainable growth rate, is a formula developed under none other than the Balanced Budget Act (the same one that set the cap for GME-funded residency slots at 100,000) to determine the Centers for Medicare And Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursement payments to physicians.  And because the universe loves a good ...

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The country is in a state of health care denial. Politicians, pundits, and executives proudly declare America’s medical care is the best in the world. But it isn’t. The U.S. lags behind other industrialized nations in many important health measures -- partly because citizens of certain races, ethnicities and incomes experience poorer versions of U.S. health care than others. The disparities are glaring. The solutions aren’t nearly as obvious -- but we’ll explore some ...

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In late January, government officials announced a timeline for Medicare’s shift to paying clinicians based on quality of care rather than quantity of services.  As Medicare goes, so go private insurers; this makes the agency’s move toward quality-based reimbursement nothing less than a sea change. It builds momentum for a view of health and health care that is integrated and holistic, rather than comprising discrete, disjointed episodes of treatment. This ...

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Health care in the U.S. continues its radical transformation with the rollout and rapid adoption of high-deductible insurance plans. More than even value-based purchasing, this has the potential to reshape the health care landscape because it has awakened the health care consumer. In its 2014 Employer Health Benefits Survey, The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 41 percent of all firms (32 percent of large employers, 61 percent of small ...

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Members of Congress and the news media have a bad habit of referring to efforts to stop Medicare from arbitrarily cutting payments to physicians for taking care of their patients as the “doc fix.”  Typical is this story from CNN -- “Bipartisan Love: Boehner, Pelosi strike deal to kick doc fix” -- that reported on the release yesterday of an agreement between the two leaders on a bill to repeal ...

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As we begin the journey to value-based health care, the relationships between a hospital and its medical staff are changing. For decades, these relationships were straightforward: doctors admitted patients to the hospital, performed procedures and delivered therapies, and at some point, sent the patients home. This simple formula was the business model for hospitals, and it worked well. Same with the doctors. The hospital would pretty much let us do what ...

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For many of the millions of low-income families seeking quality health care in the safety net, the quest can be bewildering. They may walk into a drab, disorganized and unwelcoming clinic, with the staff, signage, and endless medical forms all using unfamiliar language, with unexplained, lengthy waiting times, and with providers burying them in information they can’t understand. On a second visit, they may feel even worse when they end ...

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has put its foot down, this time on the side of patients. Many hospitals charge you more for the same outpatient tests you get in your doctor’s office. Sixty-six different services are being targeted by CMS to leverage the playing field. Are the tests really all that different? We are not talking about inpatient tests that happen when you are sick enough to be ...

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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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