My correspondents have sent me lots of articles today. All worth a read—
When Is a Pain Doctor a Drug Pusher? Basically never as far as I can tell but in the DEA’s view any time the DEA feels that its livelihood is threatened. What a disgusting scumbag organization (and I include the US and State DA’s in their ecosystem), and I’m beyond disgusted that as a taxpayer I’m paying for this insanity. The DEA needs to abolished and anyone who’s
Report Rates Hospitals on Their Heart Treatment. The “report” is from CMS using Medicare data and it names names. I spent the last two days with lots of hospitals. They don’t think this type of hospital ranking matters yet, and they’re right. But it will matter increasingly as patients figure this out (more from me on this next week).
3 drug makers busted and fined for drug reimbursement scam in cancer drugs. Not exactly a surprise:
The plaintiffs argued that the drug makers had sold medications to doctors at steep discounts to the “average wholesale price” that Medicare and pension funds paid, while secretly encouraging them to claim full reimbursement from insurers.
There is nothing rational about allowing doctors to profit from selling drugs. But then again there’s nothing rational in our payment system as a whole. This is, though, one abuse that should be ended quickly.
Finally from the WSJ, yet again showing that it’s a socialist rag, How many doctors does it treat to see a patient? (Behind sub wall I’m afraid), but let me give you the first few lines:
In the mid-1990s I worked weekend shifts as a “moonlighting” doctor in a suburban Chicago hospital. When I would show up on Friday evenings, the other doctors would always say: “Peter, remember, no roundtrips on weekends.” Translated, that meant no patients admitted over the weekend should go home before Monday afternoon at the earliest. I soon understood the genesis of the “no roundtrip” rule. At the crack of dawn on Monday mornings, before their regular office hours, the doctors would go from room to room, providing consultations and filling out billing cards.
The villain is of course fee-for-service medicine. The author wants it eliminated and he’s right. But note the interesting screw-up in the current incentives. The doctors wanted to see their patients on the Monday so they could bill FFS and make more money. But the hospital was getting a fixed DRG payment for most of those patients. It was in their interests to get them out of the hospital as soon as possible, as every moment they stayed they were making less money because they were filling a bed that could be filled with a new admission. Both of them are crazy incentives for the overall health care systems, but more than a decade later we still do not have hospitals and doctors on the same set of incentives—even irrational ones!