As the Democratic candidates for president continue to beat up each other on how best to achieve universal coverage (Medicare for all, a public option, closing the ACA’s coverage gaps), health care journalists keep wondering when President Trump will release his long-promised “phenomenal” plan to position the GOP as “the party of health care” for the 2020 election. Skepticism is warranted over when or even if ...

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This seems to be the big take-home message from voters the mid-term elections, which bodes well for preserving gains from the Affordable Care Act and expanding coverage.   Health care was the number 1 issue for voters according to several exit polls, beating out immigration, the economy, and gun violence, among others, with voters strongly favoring Democrats as the party more likely to protect patients with ...

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The word “historic” is often used by PR professionals to hype something that is, well, pretty run-of-the-mill.  They figure that no one is going to read a news release that announces “[Name of organization] proposes small change that really won’t make much of a difference.”  The problem is that when something is done that really measures up to being historic, the recipient is less likely to believe it, kind of ...

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Single payer health care is enjoying a boomlet in public opinion. A Pew Research Center poll released in June 2017 found that, “Overall, 33 percent of the public now favors such a ‘single payer’ approach to health insurance, up 5 percentage points since January and 12 points since 2014.”  58 percent of those surveyed by Pew said that the government has a responsibility to ensure health for all, with a third ...

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President Trump told a group of Republican Senators that the House-based American Health Care Act is “mean” -- and on this he surely called it right! How else would one describe a bill that would take health insurance away from 23 million people, allow states to waive rules requiring insurers to cover people with preexisting conditions at no extra charge, and raise premiums and deductibles to the oldest and ...

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When I tweeted this on Monday morning about the House GOP bill to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, I had no idea that it would result in me appearing on MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell or that it and my other tweets would be referenced by NBC News, a New York Times editorial, or for that matter, a retweet from singer-songwriter John Legend! I mention ...

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The Republican congressional leadership appears to be determined to move forward with a high-risk “repeal, delay and replace” plan, very early in the new 115th Congress to repeal (at least on paper) the Affordable Care Act’s key coverage provisions—Medicaid expansion, subsidies to make private insurance sold through the exchanges affordable, the individual and employer mandates, and the taxes to pay for coverage—by a simple majority vote, while delaying when the ...

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One thing I’ve learned is that physicians who have gone into direct primary care (DPC) practices are passionate about their decision: they not only believe that DPC is better for their patients and their own professional and career satisfaction, many assert it is the answer to just about everything ailing primary care. There is an evangelical fervor among some DPC advocates to spread the word and convert other ...

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We all want this sometimes, don’t we?  We want the things in our daily lives that bug us the most, like long lines at the DMV, to just go away.  But how often does that really happen? As the senior staff person for ACP’s governmental affairs team in Washington, DC, I often hear from exasperated physicians who want ACP to just make things they don’t like go away, whether it's MACRA ...

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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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I’ve had the chance to present the changes being brought by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) to audiences of hundreds of physicians -- at ACP’s Leadership Day on Capitol Hill, ACP’s Board of Governors and Board of Regents meetings, several educational sessions and a news briefing at the College’s Internal Medicine 2016 Scientific Meeting, and to the California Medical Association’s Leadership Academy.  I’ve also had chats with ...

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Just as the U.S. health care system is about to make performance measurement a central feature of … well, just about everything doctors do … some prominent and highly influential physicians are asking for a pause and reassessment. Writing for the New York Times, Dr. Bob Watcher argues that, "Two of our most vital industries, health care, and education, have become increasingly subjected to metrics and measurements. Of course, ...

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The fact that primary care is undervalued by Medicare and other payers has been long understood to be driving the precipitous decline in the numbers of new physicians choosing primary care internal medicine or family practice, and a growing exodus of established primary care physicians. Efforts to address this undervaluation have traditionally been to, 1) bump up the payments (relative value units) for the office visit codes traditionally billed by primary ...

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shutterstock_207314821 Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed Medicare (and Medicaid) into law.   Medicare’s relationship with physicians since then can best be described as a complicated one. First, recall that Medicare became law notwithstanding the American Medical Association’s fierce opposition to it. Three years prior to its enactment, AMA President Ed Annis warned that, "We doctors fear that the American public ...

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shutterstock_164492462 Anti-Obamacare critics often claim that “every” physician they know hates Obamacare. For instance, pediatric neurosurgeon and GOP Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson told Fox News that “he's spoken to hundreds of doctors throughout the country about the Affordable Care Act, and not one of them ‘liked’ President Barack Obama's signature health care law.” Doctors hate Obamacare, it’s alleged, because it ...

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I would think that when physicians decide where to set up practice, there are things that they would want to think about other than how much money they’ll make.  Yet if one reads Medscape’s current list of the best and worst places to practice, it would appear that money trumps everything else (although Medscape said it also considered factors like “cultural attractions”). What Medscape apparently did not consider ...

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The 92-8 vote in the United States Senate to join the House in passing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), H.R. 2, represents a remarkable milestone for the Medicare program, and for ACP advocacy on behalf of internists and patients. It is remarkable not only because it eliminates the failed Medicare SGR -- how often does Congress admit it made a mistake, and then correct it? -- but because it ...

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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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For years, policy experts have been predicting the end of fee-for-service.  Yet it can be said of fee-for-service that, like Mark Twain’s alleged demise, reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. (Actually, this is an often-used misrepresentation of what Twain actually said. After the New York Herald incorrectly reported that he was “grievously ill and possibly dying,” an “amused” Mark Twain wrote that “the report of my death has been ...

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Whatever happened to “first, do no harm?” One of the findings included in a Senate investigative committee’s report on the U.S. government’s post-9/11 torture program was that it was designed by two psychologists.  They were paid “$80 million to develop torture tactics that were used against suspected terrorists in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center” -- including “waterboarding and mock burial on some of the ...

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