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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

August 15, 2012

  • President's Commentary.
  • Drug Screening of ALL Patients.
  • Will One in Six Employers Drop Coverage?
  • Who Owns Your Health Data?
  • Discrepancies in "Quality" Ratings.
  • Obesity: Target for Federal Intervention.
  • Stats of the Week.
  • News Release of the Week.
  • Featured Health Freedom Minute.

President's Commentary

Paul Ryan is Romney's choice. Conservatives remember with delight how Ryan  shredded Obamacare at the President's health care summit. Ryan said the bill was "full of smoke and mirrors." He looked right into the President's eyes. Six minutes later, Obama could barely respond.

Ryan's Medicare proposal now takes center stage. In March, Paul Ryan created shock waves with the Medicare reform proposed in his 2013 budget called  "The Path to Prosperity."  His bold step changed the debate forever. Mr. Ryan's Medicare proposal "begins with a commitment to keep the promises made to those who now are in or near retirement. Consequently, for those 55 and older, the Medicare program and its benefits will remain as they are, without change." Thus he acknowledges the dependent situation of some or many of the elderly.

I'd like to tell you that Mr. Ryan, who brings all his Midwestern niceness into seemingly every encounter, proposes to completely obliterate ACA-like policies and give Americans a non-Medicare option in their sunset years. However here are the details:

First, I'm pleased to report that Ryan's plan  repeals Obamacare (p. 94). But then his plan "would set up a carefully monitored  exchange for Medicare plans" (p. 97), which would act much like the ACA's federal Exchange, with the government deciding which plans are available to seniors. He would also extend it to "non-retirees by giving certain employers the option to offer their employees a free choice option, smoothing the transition from their working years to when seniors become Medicare-eligible" (p. 97). This portends the possibility of the Medicare Exchange becoming a  National Exchange.

Mr. Ryan's plan does move Medicare to a defined contribution program which he calls "premium support" (p. 96). However, it's not a voucher given to the individual, and just like the ACA, these government subsidies would be directly distributed to health plans though the Exchange (p. 97).

Also, like the ACA, a  cap on the growth rate of spending would be implemented (p.53). And finally, like the ACA, his plan includes "risk adjustment," which is done through profiling of recipients. Higher payments go to health plans that enroll high-risk recipients (p. 219). Means-testing of seniors would also be required (p. 98), the age of eligibility would increase in 2023 (p. 97), and medical liability lawsuits would be limited (p. 98). In sum, Medicare would stay in place with various government intrusions and government controls on choice, access and price.

Will Ryan's plan end Medicare as we know it? Medicare-as-we-know-it is already ending. The  $38 trillion unfunded liability is three times the national debt, with bankruptcy possible as early as  2016. Medicare can't be saved in its present form. This is what scares politicians of all stripes who could soon be in the line of fire from  77 million babyboomers whose "retirement security" program is going bust.

While Paul Ryan's current plan contains some troubling provisions and does not create a needed  escape hatch from Medicare for seniors, it does recognize the crisis ahead and begin the critical "What next?" discussion.

Now on to the news . . .




News to Know:

Drug Screening of ALL Patients

New Jersey, Arizona and Iowa will receive grants of  $7.5 million each to make "drug screenings a routine part of health care" per Politico Pro (July 26). The CDC says, "The ideal goal is, of course, to screen all of your patients." Your consent is not part of the equation. The  CDC suggests strategies for asking these sensitive questions to patients: "The next decision concerns WHO will perform the initial screening, and WHEN and in WHAT contexts." This is called  SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment). The American College of Surgeons (ACS)  Committee on Trauma has a voluntary process for hospitals to be ACS-verified  trauma centers. Establishing SBIRT and contributing patient data to the National Trauma  Data Bank are  requirements.

Will One in Six Employers Drop Coverage?
 

Fully  51% of employers "plan on dumping their retiree coverage, more than a third (35%) plan to dump coverage for part-time workers, and one-sixth (16%) plan to dump coverage for full-time employees," according to Chris Jacobs from the Senate Joint Economic Committee Republicans (Aug 9, 2012). Expect even more in 2014. As a  May 2010 report from American Action Forum notes, "Consider a $12,000 policy in 2014, of which the employer would bear roughly three-quarters or $9,000. A simple comparison of $9,000 in savings versus a $2,000 penalty would seemingly suggest large-scale incentives to drop insurance.  Caterpillar recently noted that it could save 70 percent on health care costs by dropping coverage and paying the penalties; AT&T's $2.4 billion cost of coverage would drop to just $600 million for the penalties." The survey:

 
Who Owns Your Health Data?

The Obama administration wants all Americans to have a computerized medical record by 2014. Doug Pollack in  Forbes notes, "Legally, it's unclear who owns the data." Adam H. Greene, an attorney says, "Few federal or state laws talk about ownership of health information...Rather, we have a confusing tapestry of federal and state laws governing the level of control that patients have over the sharing of their health information." Neither seems to know that the 2003 HIPAA "privacy" rule and the HITECH Act (2009 "economic stimulus") stripped patients of control over their records. At least 2.2 million entities have access without consent. Patient ownership is needed to protect privacy and impede  rationing-based research.

Obesity: Target for Federal Intervention

In June 1998, the National Institutes of Health  changed the definition of obese. Overnight 25 million people suddenly became "obese." In 2005, the Institute of Medicine "called on the federal government to develop guidance for [annual] BMI measurement programs in schools." BMI means  "body mass index," the ratio of weight in kilograms to height in meters squared. The CDC  admits that, "Little is known about the outcomes of BMI measurement programs...." The CDC also admits that the youth in their report were originally "classified as 'overweight'" but then  reclassified as "obese" due to a June 2007 federal recommendation. Despite the obesity rate being in  serious question, the CDC has issued a  map of adult obesity:

 
Discrepancies in "Quality" Ratings

Leaders on both sides of the political aisle have supported "quality measurement" of doctors. These leaders support mandatory reporting of private patient data (increased paperwork and expense) for the creation of government-issued report cards on physician "performance" (compliance with government directives). These leaders think health care can be manufactured with precision just like Toyotas on a conveyor belt. They ignore Fourth Amendment rights against government search and seizure of papers and effects. Now we have visual evidence of the imprecision of scorecards. See the diagram from a  an article comparing various hospital rating systems. Note the explanation at the bottom:

 




Stats of the Week:

$716B - Obamacare cuts to Medicare

20% - number of people who expect to pay the penalty-tax for not buying insurance.

85% - survey respondents concerned about computerized medical records

21M - Medical Records breached ( reports required for breaches of 500+ records).

479 - reports of medical record breaches to U.S. Department of HHS.

48M - number of Medicare cards that display the Social Security Number (SSN)

14M - number of individuals eligible for Medicaid before Obamacare that will now come "out of the woodwork" and onto State rolls under the individual mandate.

 




News Release of the Week:

State Health Exchange Data Sharing Promotes Major Privacy Intrusions According to Citizens' Council for Health Freedom

ST. PAUL, Minn. - As states struggle to implement state health exchanges required by the ACA, some are leading the way with implementation. One such state is Minnesota, whose recent, $41 million contract with Maximus, Inc., catapults Minnesota to the lead position of state exchange enactment.

While some applaud swift exchange implementation, the Citizens' Council for Health Freedom is warning Minnesotans and concerned citizens nationwide to be wary of the intrusions into Americans' health privacy and the broad sharing of information that occurs in health exchanges. Continue reading




Featured Health Freedom Minute:

400 Doctors Quit

Yesterday I talked about the cost of computerized medical records. Now Dr. David Cossman reports a shocking statistic. He writes that a whopping 400 doctors have quit his hospital rather than learn how to use the complex electronic medical record. Continue reading

Twila Brase broadcasts a daily, 60-second radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, which brings health care issues to light for the American public. Health Freedom Minute airs on the entire American Family Radio Network, with more than 150 stations nationwide in addition to Bott Radio Network with over 80 stations nationwide.

Click here to listen to this week's features.

 

Citizens' Council for Health Freedom
161 St. Anthony Avenue, Ste 923
St. Paul, MN 55103
Phone: 651.646.8935 • Fax: 651.646.0100
Email: info@cchfreedom.org
www.cchfreedom.org



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