A strange thing happened last year in some the nation’s most established hospitals and health systems. Hundreds of millions of dollars in income suddenly disappeared. This article, part two of a series that began with a look at primary care disruption, examines the economic struggles of inpatient facilities, the even harsher realities in front of them, and why hospitals are likely to aggravate, not address, health care’s rising cost issues. According ...

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Over the past seven seasons, Game of Thrones fans have demonstrated the ability to spot an emerging threat early on -- a quality more leaders in health care need to possess. If you've tuned into the popular HBO series from the beginning, you likely recall Ned Stark (Lord of Winterfell) forecasting doom and gloom in the show's opening episode, appropriately titled “Winter Is Coming.” Right then, you knew something bad was ...

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For its many users, health care’s fee-for-service reimbursement methodology is like an addiction, similar to gambling, cigarette smoking, and pain pill abuse. Doctors and hospitals in the clutches of this flawed payment model have grown dependent on providing more and more health care services, regardless of whether the additional care adds value. I don’t use this metaphor lightly, nor wish to trivialize our nation’s growing problem with addiction. Rather, as a ...

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The “doctor-patient” relationship is tightly woven into the culture and history of medicine. But that special bond is under enormous pressure today. And to keep it from fraying, we need periodically to examine the fabric. Last month, the Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP), representing 28 of the nation’s largest and best medical groups in the U.S., did just that. Annually, CAPP sponsors a meeting in Washington D.C. where it invites ...

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For years, health care reform has pursued the holy grail of higher quality at lower cost. I’ve always believed it’s achievable, and now it’s needed more than ever. The U.S. health care system is failing. Costs continue to increase faster than our nation’s ability to pay, and the quality of our outcomes lag those of most other industrialized nations. People increasingly ask me what concrete steps could make a difference. The ...

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“Pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered,” the saying goes. And so may it prove to be true for the pharmaceutical industry. Three articles, all published May 3, illustrate the greed and egregious pricing by certain drug companies that are gaining public recognition and scrutiny. As an example, Marathon invested $370,000 to obtain the license for the data on “deflazacort,” a steroid available for about $1,200 a year in the United Kingdom. ...

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For much of the first 100 days of the new Congress and administration, the news has featured health care and the frequently rancorous debate on its future. Will the Affordable Care Act (ACA) be repealed, replaced, revised or remain essentially intact? Will funding be cut or will subsides and cost-sharing reduction payments stay the same in order to encourage insurers to stay on the health care exchanges? At this point, we’re ...

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Recently, I heard from a student in her third year of medical school. To date, she has borrowed more than $100,000 to fund her education. She is in the top 10% of her class, with honors in all of her subjects and high scores on her national exams. She would be a valued resident in the most competitive specialty training programs. Her goal is to become a primary care physician ...

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It sounds great, almost too good to be true: Coverage for all with lower costs, a broad choice of providers, and minimal paperwork. The problem is that it won’t work. For more than half a century, advocates for a government-run, single-payer approach to health care coverage have touted its potential. With debate over the Affordable Care Act heating up by the day, progressives, both at the state and federal levels are now ...

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Rationing of health care services according to an individual’s ability to pay — or, as the case may be, the inability to do so — is becoming more prevalent in the United States, both in the public and private insurance spheres. Commercial payers, for example, increasingly require doctors to follow a complex and time-consuming authorization process. Recent surveys show that 75 percent of doctors complain about this often unnecessary step. Insurance ...

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