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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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Primary care needs a new operating system

Primary care was meant to be the front door to the healthcare system: the one-stop-shop we rely on for all of our general healthcare needs, and to help us navigate the rest of the convoluted care delivery ecosystem.

But as a front door, it’s pretty broken.

The impact of COVID-19 has shown us this more than ever before—primary care’s already overburdened system has crumbled under the pressure, with patients left to self-diagnose without lab tests or in-person visits, wait in eternal telephone queues for callbacks that may or may not happen. In short, the very place in the healthcare system that was supposed to help catch illness soonest, in fact, created barriers.

The truth is, though, it may have never been set up for success in the first place, given its extremely broad mandate.

Just consider the number of billing codes primary care has to manage: more than five times the number of billing codes (the mix of services that can be billed for and reimbursed through insurance) than the next specialty. Despite the fact that primary care physicians (PCPs) are the ones handling the vast majority of visit volume (52% of ~1B annual outpatient visits), primary care has been both underappreciated and under-compensated—only 5%-8% of overall healthcare spend (PDF), and the lowest annual income amongst all specialties (PDF).

Read the full article at Fierce Healthcare

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COVID-19 shows Direct Primary Care model’s strengths

As a family physician for R-Health Yardley, I am fortunate to be able to stay connected to my patients as we navigate and adjust to the current changes our community is facing. As a Direct Primary Care Provider, I am proud to be there for my patients, helping ease their anxieties as they cope with the concerns of COVID-19 and what it means for them and their families.

Direct Primary Care is an alternative to traditional primary care. It is a model that truly focuses on the patient-physician relationship and has been proven to promote positive health outcomes. Individuals who receive this type of healthcare, whether it is offered through their employer or they chose to enroll on their own for a flat monthly fee, have access to unique care opportunities. Direct Primary Care offers the same general medical care and chronic disease management but with so much more than what traditional primary care can offer. Our offices offer onsite labs and immunizations and coordinate care with specialists. However, the real benefits of Direct Primary Care are what make us unique. Our patients have little to no wait time for an appointment and we usually see them same day if needed. As a physician, I am not pressured to see a certain number of patients a day and don’t have an overwhelming stack of paperwork or billing to complete. This leaves me with more time to connect with my patients, getting to know them and listening to all their concerns.

Read the full article at The Intelligencer

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