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Tag: The States

Massachusetts doctors say single-payer or bust

Massachusetts members of the Physicians for a National Health Program released a report today faulting the state’s experiment with health reform for failing to achieve universal coverage, being too expensive and draining funds away from safety-net providers.

The doctors’ punch line is that the reform has given private insurance companies more business and power without eliminating vast administrative waste. In fact, it says, the “Connector” in charge of administering the reform adds about 5 percent more in administrative expenses.

In summary, nothing less than single-payer national health reform will work, according to authors Drs. Rachel Nardin, David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, all professors at Harvard Medical School.

Continue reading…

And in today’s scuttlebutt–Sutter pay grades

A little birdie contacted me leading me to wonder, what did the former CEO of Sutter Health Van Johnson do to get paid $5.6 million for working for a “part year” in 2006? (See page 100 of this PDF). It may go somewhat to explaining why a) Sutter is the most expensive hospital system in Northern California, and b) why the unions hate it so much! On the other hand we’re entitled to wonder when the web site says things like this :

Unlike investor-owned health care systems, Sutter Health is a not-for-profit organization. As such, any money left over after employees and bills have been paid is reinvested in health care.

On the other hand in 2005 Johnson didn’t make the top 5 list dominated by CEOs of individual Sutter hospitals all earning what typical hospital CEOs make—500K and up!) (page 59 here). Neither did current CEO Patrick Fry make the top 5 in 2007 (page 99 here). Perhaps the key is that they only pay the big boss after he quits?

Anyway, anyone who can elucidate please comment away.

California kids may face triple whammy, leading to more uninsured

After years of seeing decreasing numbers of uninsured children, California is poised to go the other direction.

For years, child enrollment in private health insurance plans decreased as companies scaled back on health care costs by increasing employees’ share of the premiums or by stopping dependent coverage altogether.

But those declines were offset by increased enrollment in public programs. Recognizing that half the uninsured children already qualified for Medi-Cal (California’s version of Medicaid), and Healthy families (the
state’s SCHIP program), school districts and advocates focused efforts on finding and enrolling those children.

But now, things aren’t looking so rosy. State and county budgets constraints threaten to erode the children’s enrollment gains in
Medi-Cal, Healthy Families  and Healthy
Kids programs, county-organized health plans.

"Come next spring, you could have a double or triple whammy of kids
losing health coverage," said Joel Diringer, a consultant who helped
many California counties create the local programs.

Continue reading…

Massachusetts Health Care Reform : The Canary in the Coal Mine

Advocates for health care reform have been keeping an eye on Massachusetts, hopeful that its new health reform law will serve as a pilot program for the nation.

I’m much less hopeful than I was two days ago.

Yesterday I attended the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Eighth Annual Leadership Forum where I was one of four speakers. This year, the Society (which owns The New England Journal of Medicine)  focused on the cost of health care –with a special emphasis on funding universal coverage in Massachusetts. The new was not good. While the citizens of   Massachusetts believe that everyone has a right to health care (when polled 92% say “yes”), no one wants to pay for universal coverage.   When asked “if the only way to make sure that everyone can get the health care services they need is to have a substantial increase in taxes [should we do it] 55% said “no.”

One speaker at the forum recalled a man who explained why taxpayers shouldn’t have to pick up the bill: “The government should pay for it.” (He didn’t disclose who he thinks “the government” is. )Continue reading…

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