Later On

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Archive for the ‘Healthcare’ Category

Diabetes reversal in Tennessee

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Apparently it’s catching on. Blake Farmer reports for NPR:

Chains, saws and old logging equipment litter the back field of Wendy Norris’ family farm, near the county seat of Altamont, Tenn. Norris used to be part of the local timber industry, and the rusted tools are relics from a time when health woes didn’t hold her back from felling hardwoods.

“I was nine months pregnant,” Norris says. “Me and my husband stayed about 10 or 15 miles in the middle of nowhere, in a tent, for a long time.”

Those outdoor adventures are just a memory now. A few years ago, as Norris turned 40, her feet started going numb. She first assumed it was from standing all day at her job at a nursing home.

“But it wasn’t,” she recalls now. “It was that neuropathy, where my [blood] sugar was high and I didn’t know it.” Norris had developed Type 2 diabetes.

Grundy County, Tenn., has a long list of public health challenges, and Type 2 diabetes tops the list. The county is stunningly scenic; it also has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the region.

Norris was relatively active. She also enjoyed sodas, sweets and frozen dinners. Meanwhile, diabetes runs in her family. So, when her diabetes diagnosis came down, her doctor prescribed insulin shots and told her to watch what she ate.

“You’re sitting there thinking, ‘Well, what does that mean?’ ” Norris says.

Type 2 diabetes can be reversed with weight loss and exercise; but research shows that people need lots of help to achieve control of blood sugar with just a change in diet and lifestyle, and they rarely get enough support. It’s easier for doctors and patients to rely primarily on medication.

Norris says trying to overhaul her diet by herself was confusing and difficult. And when things didn’t change, the doctor just kept increasing her dosage of insulin.

But then Norris lost her health insurance. The injectable insulin cost her hundreds of dollars a month — money she simply didn’t have.

Fortunately, that’s when a couple of nurses who were members of her community stepped in to help — not with cash, but with crucial support of a different sort.

At the nonprofit Beersheba Springs Medical Clinic, a nonprofit clinic founded in 2010 to bring free or low-cost health care to the area, Norris was introduced to an alternative approach to taming her Type 2 diabetes — and the prospect of reversing her diagnosis altogether.

Retired nurses on a mission

In a former parsonage near the clinic, Karen Wickham ladles out lentil stew as a handful of participants in the evening’s health education session arrive.

She and her husband, Steve, are white-haired, semiretired nurses who have dedicated their lives to what they call “diabetes reversal.” They offer six-week seminars to Type 2 patients like Norris, who has also brought along her father and daughter.

“It’s our purpose,” Karen says. “Our purpose in life is to try to help make a difference — first in our community.”

With slide presentations, the Wickhams explain the difference between sucrose and glucose and the science behind the fact that foods like potatoes spike blood sugar, while sweet potatoes don’t. They preach eating as much fiber as a stomach can stand and dropping almost every kind of sweetened beverage.

Then they demonstrate ways to burn all those calories. On one evening, Steve invents the “Beersheba Boogie” on the spot, asking participants to raise their knees and pump their fists in place. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 July 2019 at 5:44 pm

Health Insurers Make It Easy for Scammers to Steal Millions. Who Pays? You.

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Marshall Allen reports in ProPublica:

Ever since her 14-year marriage imploded in financial chaos and a protective order, Amy Lankford had kept a wary eye on her ex, David Williams.

Williams, then 51, with the beefy body of a former wrestler gone slightly to seed, was always working the angles, looking for shortcuts to success and mostly stumbling. During their marriage, Lankford had been forced to work overtime as a physical therapist when his personal training business couldn’t pay his share of the bills.

So, when Williams gave their three kids iPad Minis for Christmas in 2013, she was immediately suspicious. Where did he get that kind of money? Then one day on her son’s iPad, she noticed numbers next to the green iMessage icon indicating that new text messages were waiting. She clicked.

What she saw next made her heart pound. Somehow the iPad had become linked to her ex-husband’s personal Apple device and the messages were for him.

Most of the texts were from people setting up workouts through his personal training business, Get Fit With Dave, which he ran out of his home in Mansfield, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth. But, oddly, they were also providing their birthdates and the group number of their health insurance plans. The people had health benefits administered by industry giants, including Aetna, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare. They were pleased to hear their health plans would now pay for their fitness workouts.

Lankford’s mind raced as she scrolled through the messages. It appeared her ex-husband was getting insurance companies to pay for his personal training services. But how could that be possible? Insurance companies pay for care that’s medically necessary, not sessions of dumbbell curls and lunges.

Insurance companies also only pay for care provided by licensed medical providers, like doctors or nurses. Williams called himself “Dr. Dave” because he had a Ph.D. in kinesiology. But he didn’t have a medical license. He wasn’t qualified to bill insurance companies. But, Lankford could see, he was doing it anyway.

As Lankford would learn, “Dr. Dave” had wrongfully obtained, with breathtaking ease, federal identification numbers that allowed him to fraudulently bill insurers as a physician for services to about 1,000 people. Then he battered the system with the bluntest of ploys: submit a deluge of out-of-network claims, confident that insurers would blindly approve a healthy percentage of them. Then, if the insurers did object, he gambled that they had scant appetite for a fight.

By the time the authorities stopped Williams, three years had passed since Lankford had discovered the text messages. In total, records show, he ran the scheme for more than four years, fraudulently billing several of the nation’s top insurance companies — United, Aetna and Cigna — for $25 million and reaping about $4 million in cash.

In response to inquiries, Williams sent a brief handwritten letter. He didn’t deny billing the insurers and defended his work, calling it an “unprecedented and beneficial opportunity to help many people.”

“My objective was to create a system of preventative medicine,” he wrote. Because of his work, “hundreds of patients” got off their prescription medication and avoided surgery.

There are a host of reasons health care costs are out-of-control and routinely top American’s list of financial worries, from unnecessary treatment and high prices to waste and fraud. Most people assume their insurance companies are tightly controlling their health care dollars. Insurers themselves boast of this on their websites.

In 2017, private insurance spending hit $1.2 trillion, according to the federal government, yet no one tracks how much is lost to fraud. Some investigators and health care experts estimate that fraud eats up 10% of all health care spending, and they know schemes abound.

Williams’ case highlights an unsettling reality about the nation’s health insurance system: It is surprisingly easy for fraudsters to gain entry, and it is shockingly difficult to convince insurance companies to stop them.

Williams’ spree also lays bare the financial incentives that drive the system: Rising health care costs boost insurers’ profits. Policing criminals eats away at them. Ultimately, losses are passed on to their clients through higher premiums and out-of-pocket fees or reduced coverage.

Insurance companies “are more focused on their bottom line than ferreting out bad actors,” said Michael Elliott, former lead attorney for the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in North Texas.

As Lankford looked at the iPad that day, she knew something else that made Williams’ romp through the health care system all the more surprising. The personal trainer had already done jail time for a similar crime, and Lankford’s father had uncovered the scheme.


Scanning her ex-husband’s texts, Lankford, then 47, knew just who to call. During the rocky end of her marriage, her dad had become the family watchdog. Jim Pratte has an MBA in finance and retired after a career selling computer hardware, but even the mention of Williams flushed his face red and ratcheted up his Texas twang. His former-son-in law is the reason he underwent firearms training.

Lankford lived a few minutes away from her parents in Mansfield. She brought her dad the iPad and they pored over message after message in which Williams assured clients that their insurance would cover their workouts at no cost to them.

Lankford and Pratte, then 68, were stunned at Williams’ audacity. They were sure the companies would quickly crackdown on what appeared to be a fraudulent scheme.

Especially because Williams had a criminal record.

In early 2006, while Williams and Lankford were going through their divorce, the family computer started freezing up. Lankford asked her dad to help her recover a document. Scrolling through the hard drive, Pratte came upon a folder named “Invoices,” and he suspected it had something to do with Williams.

His soon to be ex-son-in-law had had a promising start. He’d wrestled and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Boise State University, and a Ph.D. at Texas A&M University, before landing a well-paying job as a community college professor in Arlington. But the glow faded when the school suddenly fired him for reasons hidden by a confidential settlement and by Williams himself, who refused to reveal them even to his wife.

Out of a job, Williams had hustled investments from their friends to convert an old Winn-Dixie grocery store into a health club called “Doc’s Gym.” The deal fell apart and everyone lost their money. The failure was written up in the local newspaper under the headline: “What’s up with Doc’s?”

Inside the “Invoices” folder, Pratte found about a dozen bills that appeared to be from a Fort Worth nonprofit organization where his daughter and Williams took their son Jake for autism treatment. As Pratte suspected, the invoices turned out to be fake. Williams had pretended to take Jake for therapy, then created the false bills so he could pocket a cash “reimbursement” from a county agency. . .

Continue reading. There’s more. And see also:

Health Insurance Hustle: The Confounding Way We Pay for Care

That’s a series of stories, of which the blogged report is one.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2019 at 12:02 pm

Democrats Obsess Over Health Insurers When They Should Fight Doctors and Hospitals

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Josh Barro writes in New York:

Nobody likes health insurers, but the Democratic candidates’ fixation on them as an all-purpose bogeyman for any problem with health care, as demonstrated at this week’s debates, is a demonstration of why single payer in the U.S. wouldn’t work like its supporters see it working abroad and would like it to work here.

One of the key arguments for a single payer system is that it’s cheaper than a system with private payers. That has generally been true around the world, but it’s not a law of nature. Single payer is cheaper because governments use their leverage as the sole buyer of health care to push prices down. They pay doctors and hospitals less, because they can. The savings don’t come from the single-payer system itself; they come from the choice to pay less.

So, what will happen if the U.S. adopts a single payer system? Providers like doctors and hospitals will make the same arguments Senator Michael Bennet did at Thursday’s debate: That they depend on the higher rates from private insurers to offset the lower rates they get from Medicare and Medicaid. If every patient’s insurer paid like Medicare, they’d close.

In a lot of cases, the hospitals aren’t bluffing: Hospitals need to charge patients more than in other countries to make their finances work, because they pay their doctors more than in other countries. Achieving costs like in countries that have single payer would require cramming through unit cost savings so our costs align with those countries. And that path runs straight through doctors and hospitals, which are a lot more profitable than insurers.

Senator Kamala Harris noted – correctly – that American emergency room costs are outrageous, leading patients to hesitate before they seek care they might need. But while Harris framed this as a problem with health insurance, it’s hospital systems that set those high prices; insurers increasingly pass those costs through to patients, but if they didn’t, premiums would be even higher than they are now.

Former Vice President Biden, bizarrely, threatened to put health insurance executives in jail “for their misleading – their misleading advertising, what they’re doing on opioids – what they’re doing paying doctors to prescribe.” That’s not chiefly an insurance issue, either – it’s an issue with pharmaceutical companies.

And at Wednesday’s debate, Senator Elizabeth Warren objected that health insurers had made $23 billion in profits last year. $23 billion is a lot of money, but total U.S. health expenditure – public and private – was $3.5 trillion as of 2017, the most recent year with available data. Since we spend about twice what our peer countries in the OECD tend to spend for approximately the same outcomes, our excess health spending is about $1.8 trillion. Abolishing health insurer profits would take us roughly 1 percent of the way to getting in line with our peers on costs.

I understand the impulse not to name the key villain, the key element in our health care system that’s making it unaffordable, which is providers and the payments they require. People feel positively about doctors and hospitals; they do not feel positively about insurers. But when you try to implement a single payer system, you will have two options: Fight the providers, or pay them whatever they want, in which case the shift to single payer won’t save much money and will require enormous tax increases.

I would also note that, while cost saving through monopsony buying power is not an ironclad consequence of adopting single payer, it is also possible to achieve that end without adopting single payer at all. The government can control payment rates to providers without actually making all the payments if it regulates prices. That is, it is possible to take on the providers first, which would save money for the government, employers, and individuals – making money available for all sorts of things, including expansions of health coverage.

While this approach would also require fighting the powerful provider lobby, it would make available allies you would not have with you for a fight to expand government spending and implement single payer. You could tell employers  . . .

Continue reading.

The US healthcare system is a mess. From Snopes.com:

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2019 at 8:49 pm

Fun colonoscopy facts

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From How Not to Die, by Michael Greger MD, starting on page 284:

Colonoscopies

The colonoscopy. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more dreaded routine procedure. Every year, U.S. doctors may perform more than fourteen million colonoscopies,81 an exam used to detect abnormal changes in the large intestine (colon) and rectum. During the procedure, doctors insert a five-foot-long flexible tube fitted with a tiny video camera and inflate the colon with air to visualize the colon lining. Any suspicious polyps or other abnormal tissue can be biopsied during the procedure. Colonoscopies can help doctors diagnose causes of rectal bleeding or chronic diarrhea, but routine colon cancer screenings may be the most common reason they are performed.

The reasons doctors often find it difficult to convince their patients to keep coming back for colonoscopies include the necessary bowel prep, during which you have to drink quarts of a powerful liquid laxative before the procedure to completely clean yourself out. There’s also the pain and discomfort of the procedure itself82 (though you’re purposefully given drugs with amnesiac effects so you won’t remember how it felt),83 feelings of embarrassment and vulnerability, and the fear of complications.84 These fears are not unfounded. Despite how routinely colonoscopies are performed, serious complications occur in about 1 out of every 350 cases, including such issues as perforations and fatal bleeding.85 Perforations can occur when the tip of the colonoscope punctures the wall of the colon, when the colon is overinflated, or when a doctor cauterizes a bleeding biopsy site. In extremely rare cases, this cautery can ignite some residual gas and cause the colon to literally explode.86

Death from colonoscopy is rare, occurring in only about 1 in every 2,500 procedures.87 Yet this means colonoscopies may be killing thousands of Americans every year, raising the question: Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Colonoscopies are not the only screening technique for colon cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the official prevention guidelines body, considers colonoscopies just one of three acceptable colon-cancer screening strategies. Starting at age fifty, everyone should get either a colonoscopy once a decade, have their stool tested for hidden blood every year (which involves no scoping at all), or have a sigmoidoscopy every five years, along with stool testing every three. The evidence supporting “virtual” colonoscopies or DNA stool testing was judged insufficient.88 Though routine screenings are no longer recommended at age seventy-five, this assumes you’ve been testing negative for twenty-five years. If you’re now seventy-five and have never been screened, then it’s probably a good idea to get screened at least into your eighties.89

Sigmoidoscopy uses a much smaller scope than in a colonoscopy and has ten times fewer complications.90 However, because the scope may only go about two feet inside your body, it might miss tumors farther inside. So which is better overall? We won’t know until randomized controlled colonoscopy trials are published in the mid-2020s.91 Most other developed countries do not recommend either scoping procedure, though. For routine colon cancer screening, they still endorse the noninvasive stool blood testing.92

Which of the three options is best for you? The USPSTF recommends that the decision should be made on an individualized basis after weighing the benefits and risks with your doctor.

To what extent, though, do doctors inform patients of their options? Researchers audiotaped clinic visits to find out. They were looking for the nine essential elements of informed decision making, which include explaining the pros and cons of each option, describing the alternatives, and making sure the patient understands these options.93

Unfortunately, when it came to colon cancer screening, in most cases, the doctors and nurse practitioners studied communicated none of this vital information, zero out of nine elements.94 As an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association put it: “There are too many probabilities and uncertainties for patients to consider and too little time for clinicians to discuss them with patients.”95 So doctors tend to just make up patients’ minds for them. What do they choose? A National Cancer Institute–funded survey of more than one thousand physicians found that nearly all doctors (94.8 percent) recommended a colonoscopy.96 Why do doctors push colonoscopies in the United States when most of the rest of the world appears to prefer noninvasive alternatives?97 It may be because most doctors in the rest of the world don’t get paid by procedure.98 As one U.S. gastroenterologist put it, “Colonoscopy … is the goose that has laid the golden egg.”99

An exposé in the New York Times on spiraling health care costs noted that in many other developed countries, colonoscopies cost just a few hundred dollars. In the United States? The procedure may cost thousands, which the journalists concluded has less to do with providing top-notch medical care and more with business plans aimed at maximizing revenue, marketing, and lobbying.100 Who’s in charge of setting the prices? The American Medical Association. A Washington Post investigation exposed that each year, a secretive AMA committee determines billing standards for common procedures. The result is gross overestimates for the time it takes to perform common services like colonoscopies. As the Post pointed out, if AMA standards are to be believed, some doctors would have to work more than twenty-four hours a day to perform all the procedures they report to Medicare and private insurers. Is it any wonder that gastroenterologists bank nearly $500,000 per year?101

But why would your family doctor or internist push the procedure if they’re not the ones doing it? Many doctors who refer their patients to gastroenterologists receive what are essentially financial kickbacks. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported on this practice of so-called self-referrals, a scheme where providers refer patients to entities in which they have a financial interest. The GAO estimated that doctors make nearly a million more referrals every year than they would have if they were not personally profiting.102

What to Take Before a Colonoscopy

Ever popped one of those breath mints after a big meal at a restaurant? Peppermint doesn’t just make your breath smell better; it also helps to reduce the gastrocolic reflex—the urge to defecate following a meal. Nerves in your stomach stretch after eating, which triggers spasms in the colon to enable your body to make room for more food coming down the pike. Peppermint can reduce these spasms by relaxing the muscles that line your colon.103

What does this have to do with colonoscopies? If you take circular strips of human colons removed during surgery and lay them on a table, they spontaneously contract about three times per minute. Isn’t that kind of creepy? But if you drip menthol (found in peppermint) onto the colon strips, the strength of the contractions diminishes significantly.104 During a colonoscopy, such spasms can hinder the progress of the scope and cause the patient discomfort. By relaxing colon muscles, peppermint can make the procedure easier for both doctor and patient.

Doctors have experimented with spraying peppermint oil from the tip of the colonoscope,105 as well as using a hand pump to flood the colon with a peppermint solution prior to the procedure.106 The simplest solution might be the best, though: asking the patient to swallow peppermint oil capsules. Premedicating with eight drops’ worth of peppermint essential oil four hours before a colonoscopy was found to significantly reduce colon spasms, patient pain, and make the scope easier to insert and withdraw compared with a placebo.107

If you do need a colonoscopy, ask your doctor about using this simple plant remedy. It might make it easier on both of you.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2019 at 1:13 pm

Why There Is so Much Commercial Corruption in Nutrition

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Michael Greger MD blogs at NutritionFacts.org:

The prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes has skyrocketed, as has the number of articles published about diabetes in medical journals. “Why does our wealth of academic knowledge not translate more directly to improving the human condition?” Perhaps our over-attachment to the reductionistic mindset that proved so successful with acute deficiency diseases may actually represent an obstacle to success battling chronic disease.

These days, health seems to have been reduced to a highly commercialized commodity, in which we’re marketed all sorts of high-cost, high-tech tests and treatments of dubious value with substantial risks attached. “This is worrisome because most of the things that make us healthy and keep us healthy are cheap and largely available without professional help or commercial prodding.” This isn’t to say modern medicine can’t work miracles, but what about the big picture? That is, what about the 80 percent of death and disability caused by preventable diet-related diseases?

What about the field of nutrition? In my video Why Is Nutrition So Commercialized?, I discuss how it’s become about profits and products, and extracting nutrients from whole foods so they can be repackaged and marketed. But food is best eaten whole. Eat the broccoli and the blueberries, not some broccoberry supplement. But the reason there aren’t more studies on whole foods is fairly obvious: You can’t patent them. Why should a company spend a lot of money, time, and effort to convince you to buy broccoli when any other company can sell it to you? That’s why the field of nutrition can be more about marketing profitable products than educating people about the fundamentals of health and wellness. For example, the benefits of whole grains over refined grains is commonly attributed to the fiber, which enables the food industry to whip out fiber-fortified Froot Loops and make you feel all better.

Let’s consider this ingenious study: Burkitt and colleagues thought the extraordinarily low rates of killer chronic diseases in sub-Saharan Africa were due to all the whole, plant foods they were eating. This turned into the fiber hypothesis, the reductionistic thought that fiber must be the magic bullet active ingredient. What happens if we put it to the test? What if we compared two groups of older women, both getting around six grams of grain fiber a day, but one group mostly from whole grains and the other mostly from refined grains? Who do you think lived longer? If it was just the fiber, there shouldn’t be much difference because both groups ate about the same amount. In fact, the whole grain group lived longer and with a significantly lower mortality rate, which implies that it may be all the other wonderful things in whole plant foods “linked to fiber [that] may confer important health benefits above and beyond effects of the fiber itself.” That’s why fiber supplements wouldn’t be expected to offer the same benefit.

Indeed, food, not nutrients, is the fundamental unit in nutrition. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 June 2019 at 5:44 pm

“Best healthcare system in the world”: The Nonprofit Hospital That Makes Millions, Owns a Collection Agency and Relentlessly Sues the Poor

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Wendi C. Thomas reports in ProPublica:

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — In July 2007, Carrie Barrett went to the emergency room at Methodist University Hospital, complaining of shortness of breath and tightness in her chest. Her leg was swollen, she’d later recall, and her toes were turning black.

Given her family history, high blood pressure and newly diagnosed congestive heart failure, doctors performed a heart catheterization, threading a long tube through her groin and into her heart.

Her share of the two-night stay: $12,109.

Barrett, who has never made more than $12 an hour, doesn’t remember getting any notices to pay from the hospital. But in 2010, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare sued her for the unpaid medical bills, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.

Since then, the nonprofit hospital system affiliated with the United Methodist Church has doggedly pursued her, adding interest to the debt seven times and garnishing money from her paycheck on 15 occasions.

Barrett, 63, now owes about $33,000, more than twice what she earned last year, according to her tax return.

“The only thing that kept me levelheaded was praying and asking God to help me,” she said.

She’s among thousands of patients the massive hospital has sued for unpaid medical bills. From 2014 through 2018, Methodist filed more than 8,300 lawsuits, according to an MLK50-ProPublica analysis of Shelby County General Sessions Court records. Older cases like Barrett’s, which dates back nearly a decade, remain on the court’s docket.

Other hospitals in Memphis and around the country also sue patients. According to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found more than 20,000 debt lawsuits filed by Virginia hospitals in 2017. More than 9,300 garnishment cases occurred that year, and nonprofit hospitals were more likely to garnish wages.

But Methodist’s aggressive collection practices stand out in a city where nearly 1 in 4 residents live below the poverty line.

Its handling of poor patients begins with a financial assistance policy that, unlike many of its peers around the country, all but ignores patients with any form of health insurance, no matter their out-of-pocket costs. If they are unable to afford their bills, patients then face what experts say is rare: A licensed collection agency owned by the hospital.

Lawsuits follow. Finally, after the hospital wins a judgment, it repeatedly tries to garnish patients’ wages, which it does in a far higher share of cases than other nonprofit hospitals in Memphis.

Its own employees are no exception. Since 2014, Methodist has sued dozens of its workers for unpaid medical bills, including a hospital housekeeper sued in 2017 for more than $23,000. That year, she told the court, she made $16,000. She’s in a court-ordered payment plan, but in the case of more than 70 other employees, Methodist has garnished the wages it pays them to recoup its medical charges.

Nonprofit hospitals are generally exempt from local, state and federal taxes. In return, the federal government expects them to provide a significant community benefit, including charity care and financial assistance.

Methodist does provide some charity care — and pegs its community benefits as more than $226 million annually — but experts faulted it for also wielding the court as a hammer.

“If Warren Buffett walks in and needs a heart valve procedure and then stiffs the hospital, then yes, you should sue Warren Buffett,” said John Colombo, a University of Illinois College of Law professor emeritus who has testified before Congress about the tax-exempt status of nonprofit hospitals. “I can’t think of a situation in which thousands of your patients would fit that.”

Several nonprofit hospitals don’t sue patients at all, such as Bon Secours Hospitals in Virginia, which stopped pursuing debt suits in 2007, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which includes more than 20 facilities.

Some of Methodist Hospital’s cousins — health systems affiliated with the United Methodist Church — also don’t sue patients. That’s the case with Methodist Health System, which operates four hospitals in the Dallas area. The collection policy of the seven-hospital Houston Methodist system states: “At no time will Houston Methodist impose extraordinary collection actions such as wage garnishments,” liens on homes, or credit bureau notification.

“We are a faith-based institution and we don’t believe taking extraordinary measures to seek bill payments is consistent with our mission and values,” a Houston Methodist spokesperson said by email.

Methodist Le Bonheur, which says it is the second largest private employer in Shelby County, boasts on its website that it’s committed to a “culture of compassion.” Last year, Fortune magazine ranked the hospital among the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Methodist declined repeated requests to interview its top executives. . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, and the hospital is despicable.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 June 2019 at 5:29 pm

Which is greater, Republican dishonesty or Republican hypocrisy? Trump Wants Your Employer to Ditch Its Health Care Plan

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Kevin Drum blogs:

For years, opponents of Obamacare have been exercised by President Obama’s supposed “Lie of the Year” for 2013: If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. This turned out to be untrue in a specific sense: you could keep your plan if your insurance company continued to offer it. However, many insurance companies decided to cancel their existing plans and replace them with new ones that conformed to Obamacare’s rules. In 2013 the cancellation letters went out and Republicans pretended to be outraged.

Fast forward to 2019. The Trump administration has just issued a final rule governing HRAs and is busily promoting it. An HRA is a Health Reimbursement Account, and what it means is this: your employer can now decide to cancel its group plan and replace it with an HRA that reimburses you for an individual plan that you buy in the open market. There are various rules in place about how much employers have to spend and who can qualify, but the nut of the thing is simple. It’s a new policy that actively appeals to employers to ditch their group plan—most likely for an assortment of individual plans that provide worse coverage.

This will spawn outraged coverage from Fox News and the rest of the conservative noise machine, right?

Written by LeisureGuy

22 June 2019 at 2:59 pm

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