The Supreme Court’s decision upholding the ACA is deliciously ironic. The “individual mandate”–an idea promoted for everyone in the 90s and for Massachusettians (?) in the 2000s by the arm of the Republican party known as the Heritage Foundation–was found to be legal. But not as a mandate, instead as a tax.
Put aside for a minute the dreadful political contortions required to get this quasi-universal health insurance bill past Congress in the first place. Put aside the fact that the supposedly non-political Supreme Court hands down decisions time after time that are a pure reflection of the exceedingly public extreme political views of its justices. Put aside for a minute the fact that the ACA has undeniably kickstarted a round of changes in the health care delivery and insurance system that at least has the potential to lower costs and improve care, and that the luncay of politics meant we nearly lost that momentum.
Instead focus on what the Supremes have done. They’ve cut through decades of rhetoric about how we pay for health insurance and clarified it thus: we pay for health care via taxes–whether they are private taxes on employers and employees (and now individuals) or public ones on citizens.Tagged: Heritage Foundation, John Roberts, Regulation, SCOTUS, Taxes Jun 28, 2012
I know that secretly you’re all bored of this Supreme Court nonsense, and want to get back to the real business of health care, which is often the ongoing war between regional insurers and regional health systems. And the war in Pittsburgh between Highmark and UPMC has been as fierce as anywhere. But it’s been lacking in the kind of juice that makes for a good Friday afternoon scandal. Until now.
Last Sunday Highmark CEO Ken Melani got arrested. (This is a real arrest not one of the fake kind featured in last Friday’s funny). Melani’s mistress was some 25 years younger than him and had been working for him at Highmark. That then progressed to her moving in with him. But after an argument with Melani last Sunday she went back to her husband’s place. Melani went around there and apparently accused her of only wanting him for his money –he was on about $4.5m a year–and ended up in a fist fight with her husband. Apparently his mistress wasn’t leaving him for good and wasn’t intending to get back with her husband, but one policeman apparently heard Melani say that he’d have killed both of them if the police hadn’t stopped him. Either way it’s juicy stuff for health care.
Highmark is in the process of buying the only non-UPMC chain in Pittsburgh, West Penn Allegheny, and is still trying to get to a contract with UPMC that keeps it playing in the town–which UPMC of course dominates. Melani is now on unpaid leave and presumably not coming back any time soon, while as of today Highmark Chairman Robert Baum has taken the reins.
This may end up meaning nothing in the ongoing UPMC/Highmark battle, but I do sit here musing that the only way this would have been better for the Friday Funny is if the mistress in question had been UPMC’s CEO Jeffrey Romoff’s wife–who herself is some 30 years younger than Romoff and happens to be wife number 4. But as the Rolling Stones say, you can’t get everything you want!Tagged: Highmark, Melani, Micro, UPMC Mar 30, 2012
There’s a conference styling itself as mini-TED for health care in New York next week. It’s called NextGen Health. There is of course a major EMR called NextGen Healthcare (owned by publicly traded QSII). You might imagine that there’s scope for some confusion between the two brand names, and you’d be right. But the tale of what’s transpired about that confusion is quite the melodrama. Read on and have your Friday chuckle.
Nextgen Health the conference is run by Ari Teman who also runs the Nextgen Charities conference. After he started planning the Nextgen Health conference, the other (bigger, richer, with the EMR) Nextgen asked him to stop using the same name and–when he refused–sued him for trademark infringement. Ho hum you say, happens every day. True, but then this gets more fun.
Saturday of last week, I got an email that was basically a press release saying that the CEO of QSI (the Nextgen EMR company) had been arrested that day for sending an emissary to conduct some kind of raid or home invasion on Ari Teman’s house. I paid attention partly because it was wacky news for the usually doudy EMR business and partly because I’d met Ari Teman at a function in NY the previous Monday. He’d invited himself to breakfast with me the next day where he told me lots about himself and how great his conference was going to be, and eventually asked for my & Health 2.0′s help in marketing it. You may suspect that meeting people who think their new thing is the greatest ever is not that unusual in my line of work, and you’d be right. So I took some of this with a grain of salt, but the line-up looked good and he had people I respect involved and so I agreed to look at a marketing deal.
Then the “press release” arrived about the “arrests” of QSI’s CEO, chief counsel, bottlewasher, dog and more, following the “raid” on Ari’s house while he was at the Aetna meeting at which I’d met him and I was speaking. The “release” was actually mostly a self-promotional piece for Ari and the conference (well, mostly about Ari who you may not realize is a “Jewish Federations of North America’s Jewish Community Hero of the Year“).
I did what any self-respecting lazy blogger would do and sent it to a real HIT industry gossip queen/journalist (Inga@HISTalk) to run down the truth. Continue reading “The Strange Tale of NextGen and NextGen”Mar 23, 2012
It seems that I just got back from Vegas and CES although I had 3 weeks in India & Hong Kong in between. But in a few minutes I’ll be off there again as this time HIMSS brings its modest 40,000 attendees to Vegas. (When I say modest, CES had 200K!) THCB and Health 2.0 News will be there in force with me, Laura Montini & Jennifer Lee looking dangerous with our flip cams, while Health 2.0ers Marco Smit, JL Neptune & Pat Ryan will be working with AT&T, ONC, Novartis and other clients. And to those of you following on Twitter, the red satin jacket was the winner in the poll for what I’ll be wearing as fashion judge at HISTalkpalooza (and afterwards Regina Holliday will paint it!). So expect lots of video interviews on THCB and Health 2.0 News in the next days and weeks, and wish us luck as we descend into miles of walking all fueled by too much alcohol and too little sleep!
Filed Under: Matthew HoltFeb 20, 2012
In 1999 PersonalMD & HealthCompass were some of the new personal health records (PHRs) where you could store health data and share it with others who needed to see it. They were basically vaults, they rarely even had data linked to a drug or condition database–just plain text, and they couldn’t get data out of larger systems. And they were not successful.
Later PHRs tried to overcome these problems by making it easier to import data from other systems (think geting your drug data from Walgreens) and linking to other reference databases (so that when you enter a drug name the right spelling comes up and it can tell you about interactions, etc.).
There was (and still is) the problem of how to get paper documents into the record. MyMedicalRecords.com allows you to fax in paper records to make PDFs, and has burned through some $30m in 5 years (and I was pretty cynical about them from the start). Of course even getting much of this right didn’t help many early PHRs like WellMed which went through some $40m before being sold to WebMD for $20m and iMetrikus (now Numera) which spent some $75m (est) of Chiron Founder William Rutter’s money before completely changing models.
CareZone is the product of ex-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz’s last two years since the fire-sale to Oracle. It was introduced to an adoring bunch of journalists yesterday including Techcrunch’s Eric Eldon, Robert Scoble, and Xconomy’s Wade Roush. All of them continue to confirm to me that they don’t much understand this market and they fawn over former techies who think that they’ve discovered health care nirvana. I really cannot see what the fuss is about. They’re all fascinated by the fact that this doesn’t link to Facebook and somehow keeping instructions to take Johnny to the doctor off the Twitter feed is a huge advance. But none of them see the really basic flaws in CareZone or seem to have any history of what’s happened in this market before.Feb 15, 2012
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the water, the CBO is out with the bad news that in its analysis of over 30 disease management programs, and none of the independently run ones saved Medicare any money. Even the ones that succeeded, which put the medical groups at risk and generally lodged the DM nurses with them (rather than have them call in on the phone), didn’t save enough to justify the costs of the program.
Now the first group isn’t a surprise to those of us who followed the fate of Medicare Health Support. The second group includes a series of demonstrations paying physician groups to save money. They did better, but not well enough to save once the extra costs of the program are included. (Details here). We can only hope that using more lightweight technologies with better understanding of patient behavior does in fact end up saving money–as has been shown in some commercial medical home settings. But we must also be prepared to admit that we don’t yet know how to save money in the care of the chronically ill under Medicare. Which means that the only obvious way to do it is to cut payments to providers!
Filed Under: Matthew HoltJan 18, 2012
Blueprint Health is a specialist health IT incubator that just opened its doors this week and selected its first group of startups who get $20K each and a chance to hang in a nice art gallery in Soho that’s opening officially Thursday (FD Health 2.0′s NY city team will be moving in too). You can read more at Techcrunch and see the HUGE list of mentors here (I was thinking of throwing my hat in the ring until they told me it involved work!). But I wanted to ask Brad Weinberg & Mat Farkash, the founders, what was so special about Blueprint, so Mat told me:
Matthew H: Describe the Blueprint program
Mat Farkash: Blueprint Health is a New York based health-focused accelerator that is a Charter member of the TechStars Network. Blueprint Health kicked off its three-monthWinter program on January 9 in its 12,000 square foot office in SoHo and will also host a summer program in 2012. The program is a heavily mentorship focused, providing teams with access to over 120 mentors, all of whom have experience in the healthcare industry, including many physicians and health providers.Tagged: Blueprint Health, Mat Farkash, Startups Jan 11, 2012
While I was blundering around the excellent Venrock/athenahealth party last night I ran into Missy Krasner. Missy ran David Brailer at ONC and then ran Adam Bosworth at Google Health and is as good as anyone in spotting and being around the trends in health IT. So what’s she doing now? Well she’s joined Rebecca Lynn’s crew at Morgenthaler Ventures. Is this cause for the boys of health IT VC to get afraid? Probably yes.
So what is Missy actually going to do? I had the good sense to ask her and she had perhaps less sense in telling me in quite some detail:
Jan 10, 2012
During my 5 years at Google on Google Health, we met with alot of innovative healthcare startups who came in and pitched their solutions as possible integration partners or acquisition targets. There is still so much out there that has not be adequately addressed: end-of-life documentation, personalized health and provider search, big data and analytics, patient/provider communications via ACO trends, transparency solutions for benefit design and EBOs, patient UGC and the social web, cheaper and better reimbursable telemedicine, and on and on. With all the innovation coming out of the various health IT accelerators and government app challenges, it’s a great time to align with a seasoned venture firm and take a deeper look at what is really ripe to become a market disrupter.
ONC Director Farzad Mostashari is out with his review of 2011 on a month by month basis. Good to see that Farzad & colleagues took December 2011 off (just kidding!). He calls it a year of “momentous” progress. I’m doubly biased because I’m a proponent of newer and better health technology for clinicians AND citizens. Also, (FD) Health 2.0 is the main subcontractor on the i2 Investing in Innovation challenges which were–as noted by Farzad–launched in June, have had several close already, and will continue to roll off the production line for another 18 months. But as a general and occasionally cynical observer I’m very impressed with what ONC has done. Continue reading “Progress made by ONC (Really!)”
Filed Under: Matthew HoltJan 6, 2012