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Congress has a Prescription for Health Care’s Sickly Status Quo

Despite the problems that plague American health care, innovative ideas exist to cure what ails it. But many transformative approaches are languishing in obscurity compared to insurance-based, big-government alternatives. One idea, reforming Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), is a powerful antidote to the sickly status quo. And Senator Ted Cruz’s Personalized Care Act (S. 3112) would implement this much-needed solution. S. 3112 — which has a companion bill in the House, Congressman Chip Roy’s HR 5596 — would lift unnecessary HSA restrictions, let Americans spend HSA dollars how they see fit, liberate employers, and unleash Direct Primary Care.

Created in 2003, HSAs are already powerful tools that empower patients. Individually owned, these plans allow patients to place pre-tax dollars into an account and use the funds for certain medical expenses. Frequently confused with the much less advantageous Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), HSAs are the ultimate tax-advantaged savings modality. That’s because they are not taxed on contribution, growth or use for an “Eligible Medical Expense.”

Currently, however, needless restrictions prevent HSAs from achieving their potential — and widespread adoption. Insurance companies, fearful of losing any power, were able to include language that prohibits Americans from owning an HSA unless it is linked to an insurance company’s High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). This unnecessary requirement forces patients who buy HSAs to also buy overpriced traditional insurance policies, limiting the appeal of HSAs.

Read the full article at RealClear Policy

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New Hudson clinic’s novel idea: a price list

“If, as a health care provider, you’re not paying attention to the financial wellbeing of your patient, you’re not treating the whole patient,” he said.

That approach is front and center at ReforMedicine, a direct-pay family medicine practice with offices in western Wisconsin. The newest location in Hudson opened this month at 596 Outpost Circle, Suite G.

“We’re built on the notion of doing things in a more cost-sensitive way,” said Usher, ReforMedicine founder and CEO. Part of that means giving patients a price list so they know exactly how much they’ll have to pay.

Being seen for an ear infection, sore throat or pink eye? $100.

Well child check or adult physical? $150.

Common lab tests? Starting at $48 a piece.

Read the full article at Rivertowns.net

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Commentary: Health care reform that’s superior to Medicare for All

Health care reform is shaping up as the defining issue of the 2020 election. According to Real Clear Politics polling, most voters say that health care is their most important issue.

For doctors, that’s no surprise. We hear complaints from our patients about the health care system every day. Chief among these is the exorbitant cost.

Average insurance premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance, which covers most Americans, have risen by more than 50 percent over the last decade. Deductibles have doubled.

How can families with median annual household incomes of around $60,000 pay $10,000 worth of combined premium and deductible costs per year?
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Direct Primary Care Could Bring Savings and Quality to Missouri Medicaid

Medicaid must be reformed to ensure its long-term survival. Over the past decade, Medicaid rolls have expanded faster than many states can afford. From 2013 to 2018, the number of Medicaid enrollees increased by nearly 28 percent, to more than 67 million. In 2017, the cost of Medicaid reached $581.9 billion, representing 17 percent of total healthcare spending nationwide.

In many states, the increased cost of health care can be traced to overregulation, rising drug and medical device costs, and increased use of long-term and behavioral health services. Even worse, bloated Medicaid programs, even in states that have not expanded, face viability problems. In Missouri, Medicaid costs have risen consistently over the past decade. According to the News Tribune, Medicaid costs have grown from 17 percent of Missouri’s general revenue in 2011 to 24 percent in 2018. In 2018, the Show Me State spent a whopping $10.3 billion on Medicaid.

Unfortunately, Medicaid cost overruns will continue to grow. According to a recent report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Medicaid expenditures are expected to rise at an average annual rate of 5.7 percent from 2017 to 2027, a rate that far exceeds annual U.S. gross domestic product growth. The Rapid Response Review, a study of Missouri’s Medicaid system that was completed in February predicts Medicaid spending could increase to as much as 30 percent of general revenue by 2023.

Read the full article at The Heartland Institute.

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How Four Pages Could Transform Health Care

Obamacare was trumpeted as a revolutionary bill when it passed into law in 2010. If a law’s impact depends on its number of pages, then the 955-page Affordable Care Act would have become one of the most impactful laws in U.S. history. But that has not been the case. That’s why Senator Ted Cruz’s innovative Personalized Care Act, weighing in at a paltry four pages but possessing powerful remedies, is desperately needed. The Personalized Care Act could transform health care by liberating Americans from employer-based health insurance, helping employers, providing new coverage options, and improving care quality.

This clever bill promises to revolutionize the U.S. employer-based health care system for the first time since its inception in 1942. Today, more than half of people under age 65 obtain insurance through their employer. That’s because employers purchase health plans with pre-tax dollars, while individuals buy their policies with post-tax dollars—substantially increasing the cost.

The Personalized Care Act, S. 3112, takes away this employer advantage by letting patients themselves buy medical coverage with pre-tax Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

Read the full article at TownHall.

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Doctors picking direct care

Dr. Emilie Scott was only a few months into her first job when she started hearing the complaint: She was spending too much time with each patient.

Like many primary care doctors working in large medical systems, Scott was encouraged to see a new patient every 20 minutes. But that was barely enough time to talk and do a physical.

She eventually quit her job to try a new approach aimed at eliminating many of the headaches of traditional health care: tight schedules, short appointments and piles of insurance paperwork.

Instead of billing insurers, Scott now charges patients a $79 monthly fee that covers office visits, phone calls, emails, texts and certain medical tests and procedures. Scott typically sees six patients a day, down from around 30, and spends more time at each appointment. She hired two assistants to help handle paperwork compared with working with a department of billing specialists.

This approach — direct primary care — aims to leverage the extra time and money from avoiding insurance into improving care for patients.

“As far as our financial success, it does not depend upon having a team of people to figure out how to get money from the insurance company,” said Scott, who co-owns a private practice in Irvine, Calif., that serves about 900 patients. Scott said the practice has grown by word-of-mouth, without advertising.

In many ways, direct primary care is a return to a simpler time when doctors charged cash for their services. Patients say they appreciate the accessibility and simplicity of the system.

Read the full article at Times Union.

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‘Medicare for All’ and the Free Market

Medicare for All is a single-payer, government-controlled health care system. It’s promoted as the solution to America’s high health care costs because it will eliminate competition. According to Senator Bernie Sanders’s version, all insurance-based health care plans will be eliminated and replaced by a monolithic, centrally-controlled plan that would cover the entire population. Insurance companies won’t be allowed to cover any services already covered by the government plan. Paradoxically, though, if Sanders’s plan is implemented, its shortcomings could drive patients toward free-market health care options.

If Medicare for All is implemented, wait time for testing and procedures will increase dramatically. Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and pharmacists will help cover the deluge of demand — since there simply aren’t enough physicians to go around. That means your visit with a medical professional will be shorter than ever, not to speak of the dropoff in care quality.

It’s unlikely that patients will accept the long waits endemic in single-payer systems. They won’t wait months for an MRI or a specialist visit. Many patients will turn to the private market. That’s where they can enjoy meaningful, thorough physician visits in a short time frame — and receive reasonably priced tests and procedures.

Read the full article at the American Thinker.

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VA Healthcare and the Failure of a Government Run System

In less than a year, Americans will choose a president who will chart the course for the country, with ramifications that could affect many future generations. Healthcare is one such issue. Every Democrat presidential candidate advocates for more government involvement in healthcare. Most endorse some variation of socialized medicine. The most extreme candidates, like Senators Warren and Sanders, call for an end to private healthcare insurance, meaning that 180 million Americans who receive this through work, would lose it. Some candidates want to return to failing Obamacare and prop it up by introducing a government-run health insurance option. This veiled attempt to offer greater flexibility in coverage is nothing more than a Trojan Horse which would ultimately lead to a single government-run system. This is because, over time, private insurance cannot compete against a government-sponsored competitor and will be squeezed out.

Americans have been ‘hoodwinked” already with promises that we could keep our doctors if we liked them; keep our insurance if we wanted; go wherever we wanted to receive healthcare. These guarantees were as unrealistic and disingenuous as the promises now being made by the Democratic hopefuls. Who can take seriously claims that a government-run system which will cost $52 Trillion would actually save Americans money in the long run?

Read the full op-ed at Townhall.com.

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Doctors Praise White House Rules on Price Transparency to Expand Patient Choice & Reduce Health Care Costs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 15, 2019

CONTACT

Primary: Felicia Horton, Docs4PatientCare Foundation, 267-778-1170, felicia@hortonlogistics.com

Secondary: Michael Hamilton, Good Comma Editing, 937-219-5366, michael@goodcommaediting.com

DOCTORS PRAISE WHITE HOUSE RULES ON PRICE TRANSPARENCY TO EXPAND PATIENT CHOICE & REDUCE HEALTH CARE COSTS

Two New Rules Empower Patients to Shop for Price & Quality in Health Care, as Insurers & Hospitals Disclose Negotiated Prices

Physician says ‘price transparency is the first and best form of accountability.’

[Washington, DC] [November 15, 2019] – Today the White House advanced two rules to illuminate health care prices currently hidden from patients by hospitals and insurers, drawing praise from physicians of the Docs4PatientCare Foundation (D4PCF), the only health care organization composed of practicing physicians with hands-on, practical knowledge of the American health care system.

Physicians applauded the finalization of a rule requiring hospitals to publish clear, readable prices for patient services—including “standard charges,” negotiated discounts for select payers, and discounts for cash patients.

“The rule enlists hospitals in helping patients understand the cost, quality, and value of the medical care they are purchasing,” stated Dr. Lee Gross, President of the Docs4PatientCare Foundation. “Only when patients understand what their dollars are buying them can they evaluate whether they’re making healthy purchases from quality providers.”

Hospitals must list prices of “300 common shoppable services” in a “consumer-friendly manner” once the rule takes effect in 2021, according to an email received by D4PCF from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on November 15.

“Finally, patients will be able to shop for health care the same way they shop for every other service and product bought and sold in the United States,” Gross said. “The ability of patients to compare prices across providers will drive quality of care higher and prices lower.”

A second rule would clarify for patients what portions of their medical bills they must pay, versus how much their health insurance plans cover. Using an online tool, insurers would have to give patients real-time estimates of their liability for covered services. Additionally, insurers would have to post online the prices they have negotiated for in-network and out-of-network providers if the proposed rule is finalized.

“Price transparency is the first and best form of accountability,” Gross said. “Health insurers have kept patients guessing for too long. It’s time for patients to understand what — if anything — their overpriced insurance plans are doing for them, and which providers their high premiums let them access.”

The rules are a crucial step in implementing President Trump’s Executive Order on Improving Price Quality and Transparency in American Healthcare. D4PCF physicians attended the signing of the executive order at the White House in June 2019 and were recognized for their expertise and leadership.

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For more information or to schedule an interview with the Docs4PatientCare Foundation leadership, please contact:

Primary: Felicia Horton, Docs4PatientCare Foundation, 267-778-1170, felicia@hortonlogistics.com

Secondary: Michael Hamilton, Good Comma Editing, 937-219-5366, michael@goodcommaediting.com

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Why Doctors Oppose a Bill That Congress Thinks Will Help Them

“The most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Ronald Reagan uttered these words more than three decades ago, but they still ring true today. Like Reagan, 1,500 physicians are concerned about the perils of government intervention that means well but fares poorly. That’s why they have signed a petition imploring the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) to oppose the bill HR 3708, which is purportedly designed to help them.

Despite the House resolution’s upbeat title and good intent, the Primary Care Enhancement Act of 2019 would hamstring the most innovative category of primary care physicians in the country — harming doctors and their patients.

Most of the doctors who have signed in opposition to HR 3708 practice under a patient-friendly model called direct primary care (DPC). These doctors practice outside of the insurance-based payment model. Instead, DPC physicians offer comprehensive primary care for an extremely low monthly fee — and offer huge discounts on more specialized care.

Liberated from the time-consuming and costly insurance industry, DPC physicians can devote more time to their patients — providing better care and cheaper prices on services, labs, imaging and medications. And if the IRS clarifies the ability to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for DPC, everything could become even more affordable. HSAs use pre-tax dollars to pay for qualified medical expenses. Counting DPC monthly fees as HSA-eligible expenses would result in huge savings for patients.

Read the entire Op-Ed at Townhall.com

 

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