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Archive for the ‘health reform’ Category

Opt-Out Proposition Has Voter Approval

Friday, July 8th, 2011

CactusVoters at recent elections approved of a ballot measure that would make it possible for Arizona residents to opt out form any state or federally mandated health care. Informal returns indicate that Proposition 106 is leading by quite the sizable margin.

The proposition was offered by supporters in order to amend the state constitution awaiting the federal health care reform law that was recently enacted. These supporters argued that the people of Arizona should be able to keep control of their own decisions regarding health care.

According to the chairman of Arizonians Health Care Freedom, Dr. Eric Novack, “The majority of Arizona voters, I believe, have said very clearly that the decision belongs in the hands of families and not in the hands of politicians.”

As of October 13, 2010, Arizonians Health Care Freedom have raised close to two million dollars so far supporting the proposition based on a filing with the Secretary of State. In addition, Dr. Novack is also the chairman for the United States Health Freedom Coalition, which is a national advocacy group that donated a $1.5 million to the efforts in Arizona.

Groups that are in opposition of the proposition have managed to raise less than five thousand dollars as of October 13th, according to the offices of the Secretary of State in Arizona.

Those who oppose Proposition 106 believe that it may derail the many benefits of health care reform in the state or, most likely, set up a high-priced and ineffective legal challenge over clashes with the federal measure. After all, federal law almost always surpasses the state laws in such court rulings.

According to Shirley Sandelands, who is the second vice president of the Arizona League of Women voters had this to say, “We have a very strong position that we would like to have affordable health care.” In regards to the passage of Proposition 106, she said, “I have a feeling it will end up being adjudicated.”

The Rise of Mail Order Has Pharmacists Ready for Battle

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Pharmacy

Pharmacists vs. Mail Order

A brutal war has begun between mail order companies and pharmacists over where people should be allowed to fill long-term prescriptions.

Local pharmacists in the state of New York are lobbying for a legislation that prevents health plans from demanding patients with chronic illnesses to have their prescriptions filled via mail order.

While a number of health plans changed to mail order delivery several years ago due to the fact that it was less expensive for consumers and employees alike. However, drugstores have been providing prices that are somewhat more competitive, which pushes lawmakers level the playing field, making sure people are still able to go to local pharmacies to have their prescriptions filled.

The projected legislation banning mandatory mail order programs was first introduced in late February in both state chambers. In addition, the legislation also prohibits health plans from requiring patients to pay more for their prescriptions if they decide to purchase them from a local drugstore.

The Pharmacists Society of the State of New York traveled to Albany in order to plead their case. The executive director, Craig M. Burridge said, “What we are asking is to make mail order an option, not mandatory.” He continued, “We are not opposed to mail order as a convenience to the patients. But right now, they don’t have a choice.”

The big organizations that are responsible for the management of prescription drug programs, pharmacy benefit managers, believe that mail order is so appealing because not only is it more convenient, but it is less expensive as well.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association represents these pharmacy benefit managers. The president Mark Merritt said, “There’s going to be use of more home delivery, not less.” He also said, “It saves money and is pretty popular with consumers.”
Creative Commons License photo credit: dno1967b

Hospital Restrictions on Free Care

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Free Health Care
The Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System could anticipate somewhere in the neighborhood of two hundred patients per month to apply for free care.

Then, in 2009, the number increased to  as many as three hundred patients per month.

The executives at Sarah Bush Lincoln decided to take a closer look and determined that there was a need to set some limits. Beginning in 2010, discounted and free care, with a few exceptions, was limited to patients within a seven-county region.

Craig Sheagren, the Vice President of Financial Services for Sarah Bush Lincoln said, “I will say this: It has not made much of a difference.”

Across the state of Illinois last year, financial aid requests at hospitals rose as jobs dwindled and insurance benefits shrank, leaving less people who are even able to pay for medical care at all.

Free Care Patients on the Rise

The Executive Vice President at the Illinois Hospital Association, Howard Peters said, “We’re hearing from hospitals that they’re having record numbers of people needing charity and record numbers of people on Medicaid.”

The organization released a report last year, revealing that more than one hundred hospitals in Illinois filing community benefit reports in 2008-09 combined dispensed more than $490 million in discounted and free healthcare, which was as much as $70 million more than a year prior.

In addition, those facilities also sustained almost $2.4 billion in uncompensated costs for patients who use health plans sponsored by the government for the elderly or disadvantaged, such as Medicare and Medicaid. This is $150 million more than the year before, with more than $1 billion in bad debt.

A major factor in the uncompensated costs is the rise in Medicaid patients, most of which are children. According to the state Department of Healthcare and Family Services in Illinois, Medicaid enrollment reached a record high of 2.6 million in 2010.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Fibonacci Blue

Digital Health Records and Insurance Reform

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Digital RecordsAll too often we go to the doctor when we do not feel well, only to have to provide the details of our health history again and again. Some patients have even taken to storing their health and drug information on smartphones for easy access. When patients come to the doctor for care, they do not want to have to tell their story over and over each time.

Patients long for the day when medical and insurance records will all be collected in one place, where they can be easily accessed with the time comes. It would make the lives of many people a great deal simpler and the odds of an error occurring would be incredibly diminished. With the way most health care offices currently handle patient records, it is easy for details to be entered, or reentered as in some cases, incorrectly into the computer or on paper charts.

Electronic Health Records Save the Day

Fortunately, that day is getting closer and closer. Government and industry are in the middle of a multimillion dollar spending spree on electronic medical records (by some reports, $20 billion from the federal government). Therefore, if it has not already taken place, it may not be long before your medical records become digitized.

Just how beneficial the move to digital medical records will help patients is not apparently clear. The effort to move the health care field into the age of digitization is not yet releasing nurses and doctors from their charting duties. In addition, the headaches from dealing with the old paper patient charts are becoming increasingly replaced by anxieties over new electronics. Instead of issues with illegible handwriting, medical professionals are now faced with incorrect clicks and incompatible software.

A hefty chunk of federal stimulus money for health reform, which was approved back in 2009, is being used to help fund the cost of the switch to electronic medical records.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Phil Roeder

Facts about Health Reform Disapproval

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

DisapprovalA recent poll released by CNN highlights the countries worries about healthcare reform. The CNN poll reveals that only 39% of those surveyed support the healthcare reform law, while fifty-nine percent are in opposition. However, this is just the beginning.

If you break down the numbers, you see that 61% of those polled are in favor of the section of the legislation prohibiting insurance companies from cancelling policies when people get sick. Sixty-four percent like the part that stops private insurance companies from denying people with preexisting conditions.

Public Favors Active Health Insurance Reforms

The public has favorably accepted the provisions of the law that have already gone into effect, like no coverage denial due to preexisting conditions for anyone under the age of nineteen, young adults staying on their parents plans, as well as free immunizations and preventive care.

What is that people are not happy with you ask? Well, sixty percent of the people who responded to the recent CNN poll oppose the legislation that requires all Americans to have health insurance (known as the “insurance mandate”) or face penalization. Although many people are in objection to the mandated coverage, which is understandable, there is another side to the story that is being overlooked completely.

Mandated Insurance Coverage Allows for Universal Coverage

Without the mandated coverage, insurance companies would not be able to provide coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions and remain a profitable business, unless the price of premiums was raised to an amount that is unaffordable for ninety-nine percent of the American population. The only other solution is to have the government pay for coverage of everyone with a preexisting condition, thus removing them from the private market.

Therefore, to determine where you stand on the issue of healthcare reform, you need to ask yourself if you would rather people with preexisting claims were left to fend for themselves. Before you answer, keep in mind that you may become one of those with a preexisting illness by the time you become eligible for medicare.

Creative Commons License photo credit: B Rosen

Will Health Care Reform Be Repealed Following GOP Gains?

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

So Be ItHouse Republicans, who are recovering control, are taking aim at health care reform. Their ultimate goal is to dismantle or repeal legislation.

Although House Republicans have a historic and broad majority, they have challenging obstacles to overcome in order to deliver on their top campaign promise, which is to dismantle or repeal comprehensive health care reform. The Republican attack against health care is largely due to the health mandate (a requirement that individuals must purchase health insurance if they have none – or face penalties), and state health exchanges (which require states to set up health insurance marketplaces).

Health Repeal Must Make it Past the Democrat-heavy Senate

A direct repeal must make it past the Senate, which is currently controlled by the Democrats, and even more forbiddingly a Democratic president in the Oval Office, who has personally made health care reform a number one priority. Unfortunately, the Republicans do not hold the two-thirds majority that they need in both Houses in order to have the power to overthrow a veto by the president.

On the contrary, an outright repeal may very well be the first vote on the floor, following the vote for Speaker, when Congress comes together at the beginning of the next year.

GOP Speaker Boehner says Health Reform Kills Jobs

At a recent press briefing for GOP leaders, presumptive House Speaker and Republican Representative John Boehner of Ohio said, “The health-care bill that was enacted by the current Congress will kill jobs in America, ruin the best health-care system in the world, and bankrupt our country.” He went on to say, “That means that we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill and replace it with common-sense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance.”

President Barack Obama is standing his ground on the new health care law. In a recent press briefing, he said, “I’m sure this is an issue that will come up in discussions with Republican leadership, but I think we’d be misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years re-litigate arguments that we had over the last two years.”

Creative Commons License photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com