Inappropriate use of emergency departments (EDs) → congested EDs → over-worked staff members → frustrated staff members → speculation of more non-emergent ED usage → expectation to provide high customer satisfaction scores → decreased actual customer satisfaction → decreased reimbursement → higher costs of ED → budget cuts → decreased staffing → return to beginning. Whose idea was any of this?  None of it makes sense to me.  The idea of providing reimbursement to healthcare agencies based on customer satisfaction scores is ...

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Patient-centered primary care medical homes (PCMHs) are all the rage. A frequently-touted part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), they have received literally hundreds of millions of dollars in federal incentive and demonstration-project funding. They’ve been around for decades. In fact, the more you know about the intention behind the creation of a primary care patient-centered medical home (PCMH), the more you want to ask, “Well, of course – how ...

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In addition to providing coverage to millions of uninsured Americans, one of the key attributes of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is reforming the way that we finance health care in the U.S. Since the rise of the health insurance industry (as a job benefit or under Medicare), we have operated under a system known as “fee-for-service,” in which every little nugget of health care provided (from an operation to ...

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First in a series. The primary care physician (PCP) should be the backbone of the American healthcare system. But primary care is in crisis -- a very serious crisis. The first statement is my considered opinion and I will attempt to convince you of its truth. The second sentence is a simple fact. Accounting for only 5% of all health care expenses, the PCP can largely control the “if and ...

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It saddens me to proclaim that the American Medical Association (AMA), the once-venerable organization that has advocated for the interests of physicians and patients alike since its founding in 1847, is on the precipice of irrelevancy.  Membership has dwindled such that only 1/4 of physicians now belong to its ranks. The attendant decrease in social and political influence that accompanies this decrease in membership arguably compromises the ability of the AMA ...

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Recently, another installment was published from the research team of the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment. The major finding -- Medicaid coverage results in a 40% increase in emergency department (ER) use. Many of the health care pundits quickly sifted through the scientific results to support their opinions. You can read some of them here: Sarah Kliff reports the facts: Expanding Medicaid doesn’t reduce ER trips. It increases them. Scott Gottlieb claims that 
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Recently, I attended a dinner and lecture at the local dining venue where they served huge hunks of prime rib and sauteed snow peas from some far away place where it's spring, and chocolate mousse and wild rice. Global warming increased just slightly due to our excess consumption, but my portion would have been wasted had I stayed home. Beside the food, I was curious to see what the health care ...

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While the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has been criticized by its opposition as “socialized medicine,” it relies heavily on private health insurance. On the other end of the political spectrum is the idea that a government-run single payer system, similar to Canada’s, is the best way to deliver health care. (This is sometimes shorthanded in the U.S. as “Medicare for All.”) However, this system has been believed politically impossible ...

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The primary debate in health care reform this past year centered on insurance coverage. The next great debate will focus on the cost of providing health care. For decades, the way we’ve paid doctors and hospitals has driven up health care costs. And while the pace of health care spending has slowed the last four years, it continues to rise faster and more noticeably than improvements in U.S. health care outcomes. The reason is not ...

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The Affordable Care Act was enacted all the way back in 2010. But, even before then, critics were asserting that this new law would more or less destroy the American economy, insert Uncle Sam squarely between patients and providers, and initiate the end of freedom as it ushered in socialized medicine. That was nearly 4 years -- and 40 repeal attempts -- ago, and yet, the sky remains intact above ...

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