Planned Parenthood is under attack, and certainly not for the first time. The organization, federally funded by the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act since 1970, provides a wide range of medical services to women (and men), including routine physical exams, STI screenings, contraception, and abortion. This latest movement against the organization gained traction following a series of heavily-edited videos from the so-called Center of Medical Progress, ...

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I cracked a Budweiser and flipped on Spotify radio for what I was told would be a challenge.  On my computer screen, Minnesota’s health insurance exchange website waited expectantly, to which I submitted the Holy Trinity of health information -- age, date of birth, and tobacco usage -- and waited.  The next page loaded slowly, evidence of the voluminous information that would soon surface.  I had hoped for simplicity, instead, ...

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The federal government is currently debating whether the big six health insurance companies in the U.S. will soon become the big four. Aetna and Humana have announced plans to merge, as have Anthem and Cigna. The American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association strongly oppose the mergers, saying they will reduce competition in consumer markets. Meanwhile, health care provider groups continue to consolidate. Small hospitals either get swallowed up by ...

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ICD-10 is not a character in an upcoming fall TV show, but instead something far less glamorous. ICD stands for International Classification of Diseases and is a list of codes used by doctors and hospitals when billing insurance companies. It’s been around since 1946, with the 10th iteration going into effect on October 1st. And it may be an unpleasant October surprise for doctors and hospitals. Don’t blame Obamacare. Don’t blame ...

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A recent CMS proposal to bundle payments for doctors and hospitals for hip and knee replacements in 800 model centers has hit a roadblock. The five-year program would have begun January 1, 2016, and nearly 300 comments were received by CMS earlier this month. Apparently most of the comments were not, shall we say, favorable. Even the Federation of American Hospitals protested For those who are unaware, "bundled payments" means that ...

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I was recently discussing all the changes going on in healthcare at a summer cookout with a few doctors in private practice.  The topic of accountable care organizations (ACOs) came up, and the group started debating the pros and cons of them.  At one point in the conversation, I brought up Medicare’s Innovation Center (the organization leading efforts like ACOs) and asked the group what they thought of it. No ...

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Pharmaceutical drugs cost too much. The new ones are always so expensive. Hence, we need more regulations. And, the government should impose them. Set price limits. Cap drugmaker profits. This will make it better for all of us. The paternalism of our government should be the strongest when we are ill. Because we may need that medicine. The government should regulate things more so we can get it cheaper. Case in point. One new medication ...

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Ask physicians across the country what problems they want solved, and they won’t hesitate to tell you. They worry about the growing health risks they observe in patients based on lifestyle choices, obesity and a variety of social factors that they feel powerless to change. Ask what they would modify if they had a magic wand, and they’ll point to the illogical, problematic and increasingly complex reimbursement schemes still favored ...

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Sixty years ago, before he became a controversial figure in the field of psychiatry, Dr. Thomas S. Szasz co-authored an article for the Archives of Internal Medicine (now JAMA Internal Medicine) on “The Basic Models of the Doctor-Patient Relationship,” which is well worth reading today, particularly for those who believe that patient empowerment/engagement is a novel and disruptive innovation of our digital times. The paper is describing three distinct ...

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I read a fascinating article from ProPublica about a nurse practitioner (NP), Heather Alfonso, who pleaded guilty in June to accepting $83,000 in payments from a drug company in exchange for prescribing a high priced drug used to treat cancer pain. However disturbing this is, notably in the data released by the federal government on payments by drug and device companies to doctors and teaching hospitals, the payments ...

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