A project of the Galen Institute

Issue: "Medicare"

Mars and Venus on Medicaid

John Graham
Forbes
Thu, 2014-10-16
"I will be covering Medicaid Health Plans of America’s annual conference in Washington, DC from October 26 to 28. So, I thought I’d prepare for it by reviewing the research on health outcomes for patients on Medicaid. What a tangled web! According to evidence cited by Forbes opinion editor and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Avik Roy, “patients on Medicaid have the worst health outcomes of any insurance program in America – far worse that those with private insurance and, strikingly, no better than those with no insurance at all. “ On March 10, 2011, the Wall Street Journal published a column by Forbes contributor and American Enterprise Institute Resident Fellow Scott Gottlieb, MD, which concluded that “Medicaid coverage is worse than no coverage at all.”"

Utah Gov Gary Herbert's Obamacare Expansion Won't Work -- And Neither Will Its Enrollees

Jonathan Ingram, Nic Horton and Josh Archambault
Forbes
Thu, 2014-10-16
"The Obama administration and liberal activists hope that Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) will be the next governor lured into Obamacare expansion on the false promise of flexibility and free money. Herbert says he is nearing the end of negotiations with the federal government and wants to call a special session for the legislature to sign off on the Obamacare expansion plan. Unfortunately, most of the details of the plan remain a mystery. He’s given a few snippets of information here and there, but has thus far not released a detailed proposal. Utah is often seen as a national leader for its values of helping individuals help themselves. Yet, Medicaid expansion undermines that very value system. Governor Herbert’s Obamacare expansion efforts are disappointing for the many unintended consequences that will follow in the state, and in light of his very strong position against Obamacare in the past.

Thanks to Obamacare, Health Costs Soared This Year

Robert Moffit, The Heritage Foundation
The Daily Signal
Tue, 2014-10-14
"On November 15, open enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges begins again. Before the second act of our national healthcare drama commences, let’s review what we’ve learned in Act I. For starters, everyone now knows that federal officials are challenged when it comes to setting up a website. But they’ve demonstrated the ability to dole out a huge amount of taxpayers’ money for millions of people signing up for Medicaid, a welfare program. And they’ve proved they can send hundreds of millions of federal taxpayers’ dollars to their bureaucratic counterparts in states, like Maryland and Oregon, that can’t manage their own exchanges. But there are many other lessons to be gleaned from Year One of Obamacare."

Insurers back away from Corbett's Medicaid expansion plan

Alex Nixon, Pittsburgh Tribune Media
Wed, 2014-10-08
"Some health insurers are having trouble finding doctors and hospitals to accept low rates under Gov. Tom Corbett's Medicaid expansion plan, leading one company to quit the program and another to reduce participation. Highmark Inc., the state's largest health insurer, said it won't participate in Corbett's Healthy PA program because it couldn't sign enough doctors to its network. Healthy PA is an alternative to Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, proposed by Corbett and approved by the federal government in August, in which private insurers provide coverage to Medicaid recipients."

Health advocates decry lack of Medicaid expansion

Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press
Wed, 2014-10-08
"JACKSON, Miss. Groups supporting low-income Mississippi residents said Tuesday that elected officials are ignoring 300,000 people and refusing billions of federal dollars by choosing not to expand Medicaid in one of the poorest states in the nation. If the state were to extend Medicaid, as allowed under the health overhaul that President Barack Obama signed into law, many low-wage workers could receive coverage that would enable them to afford doctors' visits, prescriptions and medical supplies, said Roy Mitchell of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program. He said bus drivers, cashiers, day care workers and many others are in jobs that provide modest paychecks but no health insurance coverage."

It's Time To End The Doc Fix Dance And Move On To Real Reform

Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute
Forbes
Wed, 2014-10-08
"If Washington is ever going to tackle entitlement reform and get federal spending under control, it must start with Medicare. The former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Doug Holtz-Eakin, details Medicare’s fiscal plight: Between 2001 and 2010, Medicare’s cumulative cash flow deficits totaled more than $1.5 trillion – or 28% of the total federal debt over the past decade. But it gets worse: By 2020, as Baby Boomers continue to age into Medicare at the rate of more than 10,000 a day, Medicare’s cumulative $6.2 trillion in cash flow deficits will constitute 35% of the nation’s total debt accumulation."

Medicare fines record number of hospitals

Vicki Needham, The Hill
Mon, 2014-10-06
"Medicare is fining a record number of hospitals because they readmitted too many patients within 30 days for more treatment, according to federal records released this week. During the next year, 2,610 hospitals will see their reimbursement levels reduced and 39 hospitals will be hit with the largest penalty allowed, according to Kaiser Health News. The federal government’s penalties are designed to make hospitals pay more attention to their patients after they are discharged."

Why is this GOP governor talking health care with Obama?

Eric Bradner, CNN
Mon, 2014-10-06
"As soon as Air Force One touched down in Indiana on Friday, Gov. Mike Pence met President Barack Obama on the tarmac with a plea: Expand the state's access to government-sponsored health insurance. The catch: Pence wants to do it with a conservative twist. At least, that's how he's selling his proposal. And his political future could hinge on whether the first-term Republican can convince conservatives that he's not just rebranding Obamacare. Pence has spent much of his first two years in office trying to strike a bargain on one of the health care law's core components. Indiana will expand Medicaid coverage, Pence says, but only if it's allowed to do it through a tweaked version called the "Healthy Indiana Plan," which also requires users to make small payments into health savings accounts."

The Mystery of the Missing $1,200 Per Person: Can Medicare’s Spending Slowdown Continue?

Tricia Neuman and Juliet Cubanski
Kaiser Family Foundation
Thu, 2014-10-02
"The big story in the Medicare world these days is the slowdown in program spending. Based on our comparison of CBO’s August 2010 and August 2014 baselines, Medicare spending this year will be about $1,200 lower1 per person than was expected in 2010, soon after passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which included reductions in Medicare payments to plans and providers and introduced delivery system reforms that aimed to improve efficiency and reduce costs. By 2019, Medicare spending per person is projected to be more than $2,400 lower per person than was expected following passage of the ACA. Medicare spending projections in CBO’s August 2010 and subsequent baselines take into account the anticipated effects of the ACA, along with other factors that are expected to affect future Medicare spending. So it seems that the ACA may be having a bigger than expected effect, but something else may be going on here too."

Governors: States Should Consider Easing Physician Assistant Limits

John Wilkerson, Inside Health Policy
Thu, 2014-09-25
"Governors suggest in a new report that states consider easing restrictions on physician assistants to help deal with swelling Medicaid rolls. The National Governors Association says states should consider including PAs in the definition of "provider," loosening so-called scope-of-practice laws to let physicians delegate more tasks to PAs, opening clinical training sites and encouraging PAs to work in primary care. "To increase the use of the physician assistant workforce, states should review the laws and regulations affecting the profession and consider actions to increase the future supply of PAs," an NGA release states."

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