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Make Transparent Health Care Prices A Price Of Any Future Aid To The Health Care Industry

The country’s leaders are understandably focused on policies to help American businesses and workers deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus recession. In addition to broad-based relief, Congress has targeted aid to hospitals, health care providers, and clinical laboratories, despite their relative wealth. Two bills enacted in March provided a nearly $175 billion bailout for hospitals and providers.

On May 15, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would add another $100 billion to this bailout and provide substantial taxpayer funds to health insurers through a full subsidy for employee COBRA coverage, an increase in Affordable Care Act subsidies, and a provision that would largely offset any insurer losses in 2020 and 2021 with taxpayer money.

It’s time for Congress to stop focusing its efforts on supporting the wealthy health care and health insurance industries and it’s time for these industries to help American families and businesses and drop their fight against health care price transparency. This starts by equipping Americans—both families and employers—with tools to be better purchasers of health care. Specifically, Congress should lock in the Trump administration’s price transparency rules to end the legal battles over them and to give the American people the information they need to make smarter decisions about their health care and coverage. Enhanced shopping will increase competitive pressures in health care markets and lead to lower prices and enhanced quality of care.

Read the full article at Health Affairs.

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Physicians Praise New Rule Clarifying Patient Payments For Direct Primary Care Are Tax-Deductible

Proposed Rule Would End Discrimination Against Patients Who Pay Fixed Monthly Fees Directly to Doctors

Leading DPC physicians welcome ‘needed relief for primary care practices and businesses across the nation.’

[Washington, DC] [June 9, 2020] – Today the Treasury Department proposed a rule that would grant tax advantages to patients who pay fixed fees directly to doctors, following years of advocacy by the Docs4PatientCare Foundation, the only health care organization composed of practicing physicians with hands-on, practical knowledge of the American health care system.

If finalized, the rule would clarify that fixed-fee direct primary care (DPC) arrangements are 213(d) qualified medical expenses that can be paid out of tax-deferred medical accounts— including FSAs, HRAs and in certain situations HSAs.*

Dr. Lee Gross, president of the Docs4PatientCare Foundation (D4PCF), says the rule promises relief for patients and doctors fighting for survival.

“In a time where DPC practices have led the nation by example of how primary care can be efficiently delivered during a pandemic, the Trump administration has recognized that this is needed relief for primary care practices and businesses across the nation,” Gross said. “This change will allow better and more affordable access to primary care services, particularly in rural areas where critically needed.”

D4PCF has long battled tax discrimination introduced by Obama-era IRS officials against patients who pay low monthly fees directly to DPC practices for steeply discounted office visits, labs, tests, imaging, and specialist referrals.

Dr. Chad Savage, president of the affiliate organization DPC Action, says the long-overdue clarification will help DPC practices attract patients to a low-cost, high-value model quietly revolutionizing American health care.

“Today’s rule from the Treasury Department formalizes the executive order signed by President Trump regarding HSAs,” Savage said. “This vital rule will help to level the playing field by creating tax parity between insurance-based practices and the innovative model of primary care known as Direct Primary Care.”

By expanding the appeal of these high quality, cost-effective practices, the rule will also create an opportunity for insurance-based practices ravaged by COVID-19 to start anew in the DPC format.

“By providing a high-quality, cost-effective health care option, it will free up limited resources that can be used to facilitate economic recovery from the pandemic,” Savage said. “On behalf of DPC Action, I would like to earnestly thank President Trump and the Trump administration for their tireless work in support of America’s patients, businesses and physicians.”

Gross thanked several Trump administration members whom D4PCF has spoken with for months about the proposed rule.

“The Trump administration has taken a huge step forward in clarifying a decade-long uncertainty around the tax treatment of direct primary care memberships,” Gross said. “We wish to thank the President and the administration, particularly the National Economic Council. We would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Treasury Department, especially Secretary Mnuchin, Assistant Secretary Kautter, and the Internal Revenue Service. We greatly appreciate the steadfast support of the Health and Human Services Department, especially Secretary Azar and Deputy Secretary Hargan.”

D4PCF has urged the Trump administration to issue the clarification for years, including via an eight-page letter critiquing inconsistent guidance from the IRS on the tax treatment of DPC practices.

The proposed rule could have gone further towards tax parity of DPC, a matter D4PCF and DPC Action will address with the administration during the comment period.

* Flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, and health savings accounts

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The shocking reason hospitals keep their prices a secret from you

Congress has provided hospitals with nearly $200 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars to help them weather the coronavirus pandemic. House Democrats just passed a bill adding another $100 billion. Now it’s time to stop bailing out hospitals and start helping financially stressed families get better health care at lower costs.

In health care, most prices are hidden. Earlier this month, big, profitable hospital systems were in court to make sure that American patients remain in the dark, challenging a Trump administration rule that would require them to publicize prices, including those negotiated with insurance companies.

No other industry is fighting to hide prices from consumers. When given pricing information, people know how to shop for value. With websites like Amazon and Kayak, Americans use price information to secure the best deals. This forces providers to compete by lowering prices and improving quality. Health-care markets don’t work like this.

Read the full article at the New York Post

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This Pandemic Shows Why Socialism Always Fails

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis that has ushered more control into the government’s hands at the expense of individual decision-making, we are learning why socialism has failed—and always will.

Apologists for socialism and communism claim that real socialism has never been tried. That is, the failures of the Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela, and others were due to bad leadership instead of bad political philosophy. But an egalitarian society where leaders and elites resist enriching themselves at the expense of others is impossible. And the actions of our elites during this pandemic prove the point.

As COVID-19 has temporarily stripped Americans of many of our cherished liberties, giving us a temporary taste of socialism’s sour fruit, we are learning how elites would behave if these restrictions became permanent.

Many who have championed the quarantine are flagrantly violating it. Two elites infected by COVID-19, George Stephanopoulos and Chris Cuomo, flouted rules that the rest of us are supposed to follow. Stephanopoulos went on a mask-less walk, breaking his required self-isolation. Cuomo, instead of being quarantined in his basement as he claimed on CNN, traveled to inspect his second home—which was under construction. He even got into a confrontation with a passing bicyclist while he was sick.

Read the full article at RedState

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Coronavirus shutdown highlights need for health care reform

The U.S. health care system was broken and expensive before the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) says.

And now, “COVID-19 has exacerbated the brokenness and lack of affordability in healthcare,” David Balat, director of health care initiatives at the TPPF, told The Center Square.

Before Gov. Greg Abbott took steps to close businesses deemed nonessential and suspend elective surgeries to ensure enough hospital beds remained open to treat COVID patients, Balat and several legislators proposed reform measures.

“Texans are largely frustrated by the way we pay for and deliver health care services,” Balat said. “Costs are skyrocketing, people are paying tens of thousands of dollars before coverage kicks in, insurance companies are failing patients, and too many communities are seeing their medical providers close up shop.”

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The ‘Marshall Plan’ to Save Primary Care

Primary care physicians are facing challenges that threaten their very existence, and despite pivoting to virtual health and making other changes, they face a massive drop in volume and revenue. As a result of the financial cliff, some physicians are pushing for a new way to pay for primary care.

“I am convinced that when we get on the other side of the pandemic, the care delivery system is fundamentally going to change, but it is going to be a really painful trip getting through the pandemic,” says Tom Banning, Texas Academy of Family Physicians CEO, who has been working on what he calls a “Marshall Plan” to save primary care. 

Dallas-based Merritt Hawkins surveyed physicians and found that 21 percent of physicians have been furloughed or experienced a pay cut, 14 percent plan to change practice settings as a result of COVID-19, 18 percent plan to retire, temporarily close their practices, or opt out of patient care, and 16 percent have or will cut reduce staff. Around one-third of physicians (32% percent) said that they will change practice settings, leave patient care roles, temporarily shut their practices or retire in response to COVID-19.  

Read the full article at D Magazine

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Why Banning Doctors With Different Ideas From YouTube Is Bad For Public Health

Remember in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” when the pig Snowball is whipping support for his plan to build a windmill, and his rival Napoleon sics a secret pack of dogs on him, “and he was seen no more”? Then Napoleon bans public debates, and “the sheep broke out into a tremendous bleating of ‘Four legs good, two legs bad!’ which went on for nearly a quarter of an hour and put an end to any chance of discussion.”

Similar is the intelligentsia’s recent reaction to two ER doctors’ public questioning of the official narrative about COVID-19. Far from merely refuting the doctors’ analysis in the public square—an exercise once considered a staple of civil society—the intelligentsia rushed to condemn, vilify, and disappear them from the agora.

In remarks uploaded to YouTube in April, Dr. Daniel Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi questioned the conventional wisdom about the coronavirus pandemic. They offered an alternative perspective to what government and medical officials were claiming about the virus’s spread and about how to contain it.

Read the full article at the Federalist

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Next U.S. health crisis is dependence on Chinese Communist Party for medical supplies and drugs

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our daily lives in unimaginable ways, leaving little doubt as to how unprepared we were. Our Achilles’ heel is our reliance on other countries — especially China — for many of our drugs and medical supplies. Now we must take evasive action to protect American patients and health care professionals from the consequences of remaining medically dependent on China. One solution may be right in front of us — or, rather, south of us.

The pandemic has brought to the fore the drug and medical supply shortages surgeons have experienced in operating rooms for years. The United States imports almost half of its personal protective equipment (PPE) from China, Financial Times reports. This includes masks, face shields, disposable gowns, and gloves. Unsurprisingly, these items were no longer available once China realized it was facing an epidemic.

To help meet the shortage, 3M, an American company, committed to President Trump that it would ramp up production of N-95 masks. The problem? These are produced in China by 3M’s partner company. The Chinese Communist Party essentially nationalized production of PPE and stopped the export of this equipment.

Read the full article at the Washington Times

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How Coronavirus Shutdowns Are Killing America’s Health Care System

President Trump has compared the fight against COVID-19 to a war against a silent enemy. The soldiers on the front lines are the doctors, nurses, technicians, and others who are fighting it in hospitals across the United States.

These brave people deserve the long-overdue adulation being heaped on them. The untold story, however, is of the hundreds of thousands of doctors facing not only the health risks of caring for patients with undiagnosed COVID-19, but also ruinous financial calamity and professional catastrophe, self-inflicted by government.

Take, for example, the largest urology practice in the Southeast, where I serve as managing partner. We employ more than 400 people, including physicians and advanced practice providers. When the Wuhan virus pandemic hit the United States, we were at first asked, and later ordered, to stop performing elective surgery, which accounts for more than 50 percent of our revenue.

Read the full article at The Federalist

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States Should Add Adrenaline Boost to Guidelines for ‘Opening Up America Again’

If the “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again” the White House released mid-April have encouraged anyone that maybe COVID-19 will not permanently send our economy back to the 1930s, they also remind us that the United States is caught in a game of chicken with financial ruin. As in every game of chicken, the vital question is “When should I swerve?”

Importantly, the guidelines do not win the game: they expand the players. They entrust governors and other state and local officials with the most crucial decision facing our country: “When should we start reopening our economy?” Although the guidelines indicate that states or regions should “satisfy” certain gating criteria “before proceeding to Phase One,” they defer to non-federal officials:

State and local officials may need to tailor the application of these criteria to local circumstances (e.g., metropolitan areas that have suffered severe COVID outbreaks, rural and suburban areas where outbreaks have not occurred or have been mild). Additionally, where appropriate, Governors should work on a regional basis to satisfy these criteria and to progress through the phases outlined below.

Read the full article at RedState

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