It’s no secret that in today’s health care market, insurance companies are calling the shots. As a pediatrician in private practice for almost two decades, I’ve seen insurance companies transform into perhaps the single most powerful player in today’s health care landscape -- final arbiters whose decisions about which procedures or medications to authorize effectively end up determining the course of patient care. Decisions made by insurers, such as MassHealth, have ...

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Recently, a child was on a waitlist for five months to get into my practice. For this article, I will call him Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim, now five years old, has a skin condition known as eczema or atopic dermatitis. When we first met, virtuously every area of his body was covered with wounds from constant scratching. Skin that breaks easily and heals poorly can give bacteria access to other parts ...

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The New York University School of Medicine stunned the nation by announcing tuition for all current and future medical students will be free, irrespective of merit or financial need. Dr. Robert Grossman, dean at NYU, commented: “This decision recognizes a moral imperative that must be addressed, as institutions place an increasing debt burden on young people who aspire to become physicians.” NYU says their scholarship -- which begins in the ...

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A few weeks ago, I saw a young patient who was suffering from an ear infection. It was his fourth visit in eight weeks, as the infection had proven resistant to an escalating series of antibiotics prescribed so far. It was time to bring out a heavier hitter. I prescribed ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic rarely used in pediatrics, yet effective for some drug-resistant pediatric infections. The patient was on the state Medicaid ...

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In July, 2009, the family of Massachusetts teenager Yarushka Rivera went to their local Walgreens to pick up Topomax, an anti-seizure drug that had been keeping her epilepsy in check for years. Rivera had insurance coverage through MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid insurance program for low-income children, and never ran into obstacles obtaining this life-saving medication. But in July of 2009, she turned 19, and when, shortly after her birthday, her family ...

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When Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan (AmBerGan) announced their health care partnership, Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett declared “the ballooning costs of health care act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy.”  He is right. Our broken system is infested with tapeworms. Tapeworms are parasites; they exploit their hosts, drain resources, and suck the life out of their prey. Unfortunately, Buffet failed to call attention to the tapeworms specifically; ...

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The National School Walkout is planned for March 14, 2018 at 10 a.m. and will last 17 minutes in honor of the 17 students and staff members killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day. The heart of the nation has seemed to shift overnight regarding the debate on guns, but this change has been almost two decades in the making. United and Delta Airlines ...

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My pediatric practice is one which harkens back to days long ago when physicians knew their patients and pertinent medical histories by heart. My 81-year-old father and I were in practice together for the past 16 years; he still used the very sophisticated “hunt and peck” to compose emails. The task of transitioning to an electronic record system seemed insurmountable, so we remain on paper. Our medical record system has ...

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Newborns born in 29 other countries of the world have life expectancies exceeding 80 years; yet, an infant born in the U.S. in 2016 is expected to live only 78.6 years according to recently released statistics. While death rates fell for 7 of the 10 biggest killers, such as cancer and heart disease, they climbed for the under-65 crowd. The irrefutable culprit is the unrelenting opioid epidemic. Last year, life expectancy ...

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Recently, pharmacy giant CVS agreed to purchase Aetna for an astounding $69 billion dollar sum. The company allegedly plans to reduce health spending by developing an integrated system touted as “a new front door for health care in America.” This merger is actually an acquisition, entailing transfer of ownership. The central aim of an acquisition is to increase market share, expand the scope of services provided, and improve financial ...

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