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CCHF Health Freedom eNews

May 29, 2013


 

Three Falsehoods Refuted

The health care reform debate is littered with false statements. Truth is hard to come by. However, several recent news stories counter a whole series of mistruths and half-truths. Here are just three falsehoods -- there are many more, including one countered in our news release below -- and the new facts and findings that counter the false claims:

  • FALSE: "Patient satisfaction" scores improve patient care. The scores have little to do with the efforts of doctors and nurses. A new study on "patient experience" found that only 3% of the executives at 1,072 hospitals said physicians or other clinicians have primary responsibility and direct accountability for the patient's experience. 26% said a "committee" is responsible. That's right. A committee. Patient care, cure or comfort wasn't even listed as a reason executives push for a "great patient experience."

 

Texas physician Reid B. Blackwelder, M.D., spurns the entire concept: "Patients shouldn't have an experience. They have problems that need to be solved. The phrase is too slick and avoids what it's about, which is we take care of [patients] and minimize the risks."

 

  • FALSE: Quality reporting improves patient care. Despite all assertions to the contrary, the paperwork burden of a growing list of government checklists and reporting requirements detracts from patient care. A recent letter from three hospitals affected by Hurricane Sandy to the federal government shows just how true this is.

 

Although data reporting was waived for the Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) and Outpatient Quality Reporting (OQR) programs, the hospitals asked for a six-month reprieve from FOUR other federal reporting systems and TWO federal scoring systems to protect against "reputational and financial penalties" and to "ensure that hospitals have the flexibility to direct resources toward caring for patients who suffered during disasters, as well as toward internal disaster recovery efforts."

 

  • FALSE: Patients involved in "shared decision making" will cut costs. Shared decision making (SDM) was supposed to reduce health care costs. However, a new study finds that patients involved in SDM spend 5% more time in the hospital and incurred 6% higher costs. With 35 million hospitalizations each year, the 30% of patients interested in shared decision making would mean $8.7 billion of additional costs per year, according to the study.

 

SDM is required under Obamacare, and despite the additional costs now, we have concerned that the videos used for SDM will eventually be used to convince people to ration their own care, especially at the end of life. To that point, use of SDM is a reportable "quality measure" for Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). To push SDM, the Medicare Administration has recently given $26 million to a national collaborative and $36.1 million to a consortium of health care systems. 

 

Think twice before accepting news reports about initiatives to improve health care. Seek alternative sources to public radio and liberal news sources. CCH Freedom, and our weekly eNews publication, provides you with a reliable alternative. Thank you for donating to CCH Freedom to help us counter the falsehoods with facts!

Partnering with you for health freedom,

Twila Brase, R.N., PHN
President and Co-founder
 

 




News to Know:

Labor Unions Breaking Ranks on Obamacare

Many labor unions that formerly supported Obamacare, are now publicly dissenting.  The United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers called for a repeal or complete reform.  Joe Hansen, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers, wrote in his op-ed published in The Hill, "the President's statement to labor in 2009 is simply not true for millions of workers" regarding Obama's statement that union members could keep their insurance.  Find out why here...   


 

Everyone Knows Your Medical Adherence...except YOU!


Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) is no longer just in the business of credit scores; it is now ranking our medical adherence.  Most concerning for privacy advocates, the public has no access to these rankings based on items such as tardiness for filling prescriptions, over-ordering prescriptions, or not picking up prescriptions at all.  Insurers could use this private information against individuals in regard to credit worthiness or cost of care.


 

EMRs Keeping Tabs on Citizens

More than 50% of all doctors are now using electronic health records (EHRs or EMRs) after receiving Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments to build and utilize the systems.  This is an increase from the 17% of doctors using EHRs in 2008.  The stated goal of implementation was to improve care, coordination, and reduce duplicative tests and procedures.  The real result of EHRs is clearly stated by Bill Clinton: "So we don't have unexamined lives and unexamined healthcare systems".



 

 

Medical Practitioners Ceding Control to Outsiders

Doctors are finding it difficult to use electronic medical records. Yet much of the EMR data will be used by payers (government and health plans) to drive physician and patient behavior: "...[C]onnecting the EMR to the claims data actually helps the payer understand the practice patterns, the best practice guidelines and also probably, from an analytics standpoint, it is important to us [payers] in how we are driving behaviors," said Rajni Aneja, MD, MBA, a Humana "clinical transformation" executive. Data technicians and claims departments are now playing a larger role in the practice of medicine.  Read more...


 

EMRs are not Financially Feasible

Hospitals across the U.S. are incurring financial difficulties due to the implementation of electronic medical records.  The latest calamity: Juneau, Alaska-based Bartlett Regional Hospital. After signing a contract in 2011 for a new EMR system for $7.37 million with an annual maintenance fee of $1.155 million, Bartlett recently voted to break the contract. This coming after two other hospitals recently announced their EMRs caused decreased income and business disruptions.


 

EMRs Don't Live Up To Hype

Electronic medical records (EMRs) were supposed to reduce costs by, among other things, reducing duplicate testing. Instead, physicians using EMRs to access computerized X-rays are found to be 40% to 70% more likely to order more tests, according to a study.  EMR evangelists are protesting the study, but the author says they are just engaged in "wishful thinking" about EMRs and unwilling to accept "solid data" and "unwelcome conclusions." One advocate took another tact: "At the end of the day, it's about the quality of care."  If only that were true. EMRs decrease quality. They are difficult to use, reduce hands-on patient care, and have caused a least six deaths.



The "Business of Health Care"

Lumeris created the 9 C's framework to assist providers in the transition to the accountable care model which claims to have a "Triple Aim": better care, better health, lower costs -- and added physician satisfaction. Fine words, but what's the reality? The Obamacare Accountable Care Organization (ACO), has been called "HMO on steroids." There will be limited networks, patient tracking, "bundled payments," and employed physicians. Almost half of the C's focus on the business aspect of health care, not the medical mission of patient care:

-C6: Collaborative learning

-C7: Cost effectiveness

-C8: Capacity expansion

-C9: Career satisfaction

 

Five Reasons to Oppose Medicaid Expansion

The Heritage Foundation has a succinct list of reasons for opposing the Arkansas Plan for expanding Medicaid under Obamacare:


 

  1. Accepts Obamacare Expansion and Funding: Full expansion up to 138% of federal poverty level, while drawing on new federal dollars the country cannot afford to pay
  2. Medicaid Rules Still Apply: States must still provide Medicaid level benefits and protections
  3. Details Matter: States must still receive federal approval in writing
  4. Private Coverage in Name Only: Private plans must meet federal benefits and regulations
  5. No Clear Way Out: States may not be able to legally retreat at a later date


Patient Trust without Privacy?

Patient trust was the topic on hand at this year's information data security conference: " Safeguarding Health Information: Building Assurance Through HIPAA Security".  Speakers stressed the need for patients to trust their providers with their private data.  Unfortunately, the real issue was avoided - over 2.2 million entities have HIPAA granted access to this private data. Until state legislatures enact real privacy protections - as allowed by HIPAA -- patients have every reason to distrust what happens to their data and take steps to protect themselves.



No bank account = No insurance?

Obamacare comes with yet another mandate: a personal bank account.  Most health plans require customers to pay their monthly premium via a checking account. There is no law requiring otherwise, but what about those Americans who choose not to have a checking account?  One in five Americans only has a tenuous relationship with a bank according to the FDIC.  Will these people end up breaking the law for being uninsured once the mandate to buy health insurance kicks in? Read more here...




Quote of the Week:

 

" We're going to make it more profitable to share [patient data] than to hoard. No one should make a profit making patient data hostage." - Farzad Mostashari, MD, head of the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) which is leading the charge to impose interoperable EMRs nationwide, HIMSS13, Healthcare IT News, March 7, 2013.

 




Stat of the Week:

$139.1 billion - the cost of repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula that is set to cut payments to Medicare providers by 24.4% across the board in 2014.




News Release of the Week:

80% of Americans Will Need Help With 'Easy' HIX Registration

St. Paul, Minn. - One of the benefits of shopping online in the Obamacare health exchanges was supposed to be the easy, simple method of obtaining insurance. But new information from an industry insider reveals that 80 percent of Americans will need personal assistance in the process - and the Obama Administration is spending hundreds of millions of dollars, scrambling to convince Americans to sign up for higher premiums and privacy intrusions inherent in the exchanges. Continue reading

 




Featured Health Freedom Minute:

A Doctor Whose Patients Love Her

Iʼve just watched a speech from a Texas doctor who loves going to work every day. Sheʼs had a cash practice for 11 years. She sets prices and takes no insurance. Her patients say they love her. She sees billionaires and migrant workers. Just for kicks, she takes five dollars off your bill if you come in wearing spurs. She negotiates lower prices on X-rays and lab tests, and sees some patients for free. 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.

 




Correction

May 15: Angelina Jolie's mother died of ovarian cancer.

 

 

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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