Goodbye Medicare, hello County Clinic

Where is the outrage over the destruction of (what is left of) Medicare and the debt we owe to veterans? I’m afraid that we’re not talking about “Medicare for all,” or even “Medicaid for all.” We’re talking about County Clinic for all.

For a look at the proposed cuts in cost for Medicare, take a look a this table.

Consider that “reduce costs for re-admissions” and the “bundling” of hospital and outpatient costs after a hospitalization.

That means that Medicare will only pay a flat fee to the hospital for any hospitalization and follow up care after the hospitalization and will not pay if the patient has to be readmitted for complications or a new illness within a certain period of time. Patients would not be able to return to their family doctor for follow up care, unless the doctor works for the hospital. And there would be a lot of pressure to keep patients out of the hospital.

People who “cost” Medicare the most money would be encouraged to forgo care. I predict a huge push for hospice care for anyone with complicated, chronic diseases. (Or, possibly, a back-alley, underground medical care system for cash and barter. Wonder how long that will be legal?)

The AMANews reports that coordination of care doesn’t lower costs to Medicare, only 2 out of 15 of the model centers cut patients’ days in the hospital, and that the coordination is burdensome for small and solo practices. For every 100 patients, we interact with 99 other doctors in other practices. (I knew it was a lot.) (I don’t think any of these links require subscription, let me know if there’s a problem.)

This is my favorite part from that article:

“It doesn’t matter if you back up a truck to their offices and drop off bundles of money,” Dr. Norman said. “They don’t have the time, resources or expertise right now to put this all in place.”

Speaking of “bundles of money,” the stimulus has a chunk to support Community Health Centers, as reported by Reuters’ Maggie Fox. Will these centers really be open longer hours, as advertised, and will they continue to mandate the hiring of mid-levels (Nurse Practitioners or Physician Assistants), rather than allowing the hiring of physicians with the grants, as currently the case for other Federally funded clinics?

The budget includes plans to pay for the 667 Billion dollar health care for all by cutting payments to “providers” (including doctors and hospitals, pharmacists and wheel chair companies), according to the Wall Street Journal. We’re already scheduled to have that automatic “Sustainable Growth Rate” 20% cut in Medicare payments to doctors, next year. Want to bet that the cut won’t go through and/or won’t be considered part of the “savings”? (And mesh with the President’s plans to cut the deficit.)

That WSJ and the LATimes articles also mention a “public” health care plan, and possible new taxes (on the employer’s portion of insurance payments or a new income tax).

Speaking of which, the Massachusetts mandatory health insurance trial isn’t working – even to make sure that people have insurance or are able to see their doctor in a timely manner – according to the Boston Globe The solution? That old United States National Health Insurance Act, paid for by “a modest progressive tax.”

About bnuckols

Conservative Christian Family Doctor, promoting conservative news and views. (Hot Air under the right wing!)


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