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Showing posts from 2009
Response to the North Coast Journal article on health care reform

I am a local pediatrician and I really enjoyed reading Alan Sanborn's salient and entertaining article in favor of health reform. I, too, am an advocate of a single payer system because I can see no other way to improve care and contain costs. There is fat in the system, but it belongs to: INSURANCE COMPANIES (most of these companies keep about 20% of the premiums thay take in for themselves in the form of administartive costs and profit), MALPRACTICE LAWYERS and PHARMACUETICAL COMPANIES. Without fundamental reform, including tort reform, much of the money put into the system will not go towards health care essentials.
To rebut Ron Ross, the comparison between running health care and running a company is not a comparison that works, because there are fundamental differences between some one with cancer who needs treatment, and some one who would like to mail a package (i.e. the Fed Ex example). Health car…
Anthem or Anathema?

Healthy Families, a government program to provide health insurance to low income children is administered by Anthem Blue Cross, a for-profit insurance company. Last month, Anthem decided to offer new contracts to all Healthy Families providers paying roughly 1/3 the previous rates. In the setting of our national and state budget crisis, primary care offices were asked to accept drastic cuts in reimbursement rates, and many did. The California Medical Association (CMA) estimates that as many as 50% of the healthy families providers accepted the new, slashed reimbursement rates. The providers who refused to sign a fiscally impossible contract were subject to angry calls and tirades from scared and frustrated families, because (of course) Anthem let the physicians break the news to the patients. At our pediatric office patients cancelled numerous appointments, while others paid cash to have their children seen. Local families were unable to find providers who wer…

Cash for Clunkers and EMR's

Our household has had the dubious honor of being deeply and directly affected by some of the major initiatives contained in the economic stimulus package. My husband, who is a sales manager at Mid City Motor world has been working long, busy days trying to accommodate the rush of car buyers flooding in to take advantage of the “Cash for Clunkers” program, while our pediatric office, with the promise of future reimbursement for “meaningful use” of an EMR, has begun the process of converting to electronic medical records.
The cash for clunkers program is meant to reduce carbon emissions by encouraging people to turn in gas guzzlers and purchase more fuel efficient vehicles, but questions remain as to the overall benefit. Cash for Clunkers does not reduce, recycle or reuse in the least. The clunkers must be destroyed and sent to landfills,—so no used vehicles come out of the transactions to sell again, and no parts can be gleaned for resale. Jobs involved with used car sales and p…

Medicine Needs CPR

Had Trouble Finding a Doctor Lately?
We, the physicians of Humboldt and Del Norte County, want you, our patients, know that the state of medicine in this area has deteriorated greatly over the past years, and is in danger of falling into dire straits right now. There are many reasons why that is so, and we cannot claim to understand them all, but the fact remains that local medical care is falling apart.
This is what we know:
1. People are having trouble finding a doctor. The local medical society had to drop its physician referral program because the number of calls from people wanting help finding a doctor became unmanageable, and the medical society didn’t have anyone to send them to anyway.
2. Hospitals are providing more services for ever-decreasing reimbursements. The region’s largest hospital, St Joseph’s, managed to pull itself back from the brink of financial insolvency, but not by much. Recently St. Joseph’s rehabilitation program came very close to having to be shut d…