• Reflex: September 21, 2011

    Cutting payments to Medicare and Medicaid providers may harm patients, reports Robert Pear (NYT). “Experience, [experts] say, shows that some cuts in payments to providers hurt beneficiaries, as more doctors refuse to take Medicaid patients or limit the number of new Medicare patients they will accept. Hospitals curtail services. Beneficiaries may have more difficulty getting therapy services after a stroke, traumatic brain injury or hip fracture. By contrast, the experts say, other cuts force health care providers to become more efficient, saving money for beneficiaries, taxpayers and the government.” Austin’s comment: There is an easy way to cut spending: just trim payment rates. There is an easy way to cut wasteful care and spending: stop paying for things shown not to work and force entities to compete on price. The problem is the latter takes time and is resisted by interest groups as strongly as the former. One thing nearly all agree on is that spending must be cut. There’s no avoiding a fundamental truth: somebody must lose.

    Don’s comment: Austin is correct and the blind spot for both political parties is that the last step if we succeed in slowing cost inflation in health care is that someone will get less care and/or someone will be paid less for providing care. Hard stuff.

    Hospital workers outspend others on medical care, reports Debra Sherman “Healthcare workers and their dependents were more likely to be diagnosed and hospitalized to treat asthma, diabetes, congestive heart failure, HIV, hypertension and mental illness. It found that the average cost of healthcare for hospital employees and their dependents was $4,662 per year — $538 higher than that of the general population.” Aaron’s Comment: Are they really sicker, or do they just have better access? 

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    • Since I made the suggestion on your post asking for comments, I have to send out kudos to you for listening. Thank you for the comments to the first link. Please keep it up. I really do believe that people need to hear those reactions in order to come to terms with what has to be done.

      As for the second link, could it be that the people that work in hospitals are just more willing to go get checked out if something comes up? It may not be better access, just more willingness to use the access you have.

      • They may feel more comfortable. Making people more comfortable is increasing access. It’s not all about insurance.

    • That is interesting timing in light of main reason given for the nurses strike in CA:
      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/09/kaiser-nurses-strike.html