Friday, December 2, 2016

AMA endorsement of Trump health secretary spurs backlash

Liberal MDs are furious after top doctors group backed Trump’s pick for health secretary
When Donald Trump this week tapped a surgeon-turned-congressman to run the Department of Health and Human Services, the nation’s largest physicians group swiftly endorsed the choice.
Liberal doctors peppered the American Medical Association with furious tweets decrying the group’s endorsement of Representative Tom Price as a betrayal of patients and physicians. And by Wednesday night, 500 doctors had signed an online open letter titled “The AMA Does Not Speak For Us” started by the Clinician Action Network, a left-leaning advocacy group.
The AMA does not truly represent grassroot physicians.  A small percentage of physicians are members of the AMA. Formerly state medical societies required membership in the AMA to belong to a state medical society. THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE.
The outpouring of anger has exposed the bitter political rifts dividing doctors these days. Price is an AMA member, but he also belongs to a conservative doctors’ group that publishes a journal which has advanced discredited theories, such as the notions that abortions cause breast cancer, vaccines cause autism, and HIV does not cause AIDS. The same group shot into the spotlight during the presidential campaign by promoting conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health, including speculation that she’d had a seizure or a stroke.
These opinions are not true. They should not be attributed to HHS-nominee, Tom Price. Just because he belongs to an alternative medical group he does not ascribe to those statements.  As a congressman he represents all of the people of his district.  It does not mean he promote these ignorant statements.
The outpouring of anger has exposed the bitter political rifts dividing doctors these days. Price is an AMA member, but he also belongs to a conservative doctors’ group that publishes a journal which has advanced discredited theories, such as the notions that abortions cause breast cancer, vaccines cause autism, and HIV does not cause AIDS. The same group shot into the spotlight during the presidential campaign by promoting conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health, including speculation that she’d had a seizure or a stroke.
 There are left-leaning alternatives to the AMA, too, including one that has long advocated for gun control, pushes physicians to cut all financial ties with drug companies — and expressed dismay that any doctors group would back Price.

The AMA remains by far the biggest and most visible lobbying force representing doctors and medical students. The group spent $15 million just in the first nine months of this year to lobby Congress and the executive branch on everything from marijuana research to opioid prescribing to telemedicine, as well as traditional issues such as reimbursement and billing, according to federal filings.

The AMA reaps profits from insurance companies with advertisements, derives income from copyrights from Current Procedural Codes that are used by insurance companies, medicare, medical, hospitals, and medi-cal.  The lobbying funds do not come from dues. Do the numbers.

“The AMA is generally a force for the status quo in health care, a physicians’ guild in the old-school style of wheeling, dealing, and horse-trading to keep the billing flowing like a mighty stream into MDs’ coffers,” Dr. Zackary Berger, an internist at Johns Hopkins.

The AMA is a dinosaur in today's medical environment.  On the other hand specialty groups are focused on education, and are apolitical.

This article is from STAT, an internet publication about Health and Medicine and is mixed with the author's private opinionls


AMA endorsement of Trump health secretary spurs backlash

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tom Price appointed as Head of Health and Human Services

It has taken 48 hours for me to wrap my head around the announcement.  Most physicians would recognize his name as a physician and a congressman from Georgia.

I am pleased that President-elect Trump nominated Tom Price as the future head of Health and Human Services.

I did some due diligence in the manner most physicians approach any issue. My hope and expectation is that Trump appointed Price because of his education, training and experience as an orthopedic physician and surgeon as well as his experience on the House Budget Committee as  Chairman. He would also be among the most politically conservative Health and Human Services secretaries in history. And as a member of House leadership, he would bring to the Trump administration a revolutionary governing agenda closely aligned with Republicans on Capitol Hill.

As a leading member of the tea party caucus in the House, Price has led calls for dramatically cutting federal programs, particularly for low- and moderate-income Americans, and for repealing and replacing Obamacare, which he has called “monstrous legislation.”

He is the group of doctors often called in at a time of crisis, and trauma. Many do their best work at night, on weekends and holidays.  Price is no stranger to challenges in the hospital, operating room and congress.

There has been an immediate and predictable Democratic response, a knee-jerk reaction (reflex) which requires no cerebral activity to elicit with a reflex hammer. It is a lower form of neural reflex moderated only by the spinal cord and several peripheral neurons.

Georgia Rep. Tom Price has been a fierce critic of the Affordable Care Act and a leading advocate of repealing and replacing the 2010 health care law.
Price, an orthopedic surgeon from the suburbs of Atlanta, introduced his own legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare in the current Congress and the three previous sessions. Price's plan, known as the Empowering Patients First Act, was the basis for a subsequent health care proposal unveiled by House Speaker Paul Ryan, with Price's endorsement, in June.
Three of the four previous Health and Human Services secretaries were former governors. Price, an orthopedic surgeon, would be the first physician to serve as the department’s secretary since Dr. Louis Sullivan, who held the post from 1989 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush.
Price's major complaint about the ACA is that it puts the government in the middle of the doctor-patient relationship.
"They believe the government ought to be in control of health care," Price said in June at the American Enterprise Institute event where Ryan unveiled the Republican proposal to replace Obamacare. "We believe that patients and doctors should be in control of health care," Price continued. "People have coverage, but they don't have care."


Now that President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, here are five key planks in his own health care proposal.
He would also be among the most politically conservative Health and Human Services secretaries in history. And as a member of House leadership, he would bring to the Trump administration a revolutionary governing agenda closely aligned with Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Price has said he's not wedded to his own ideas and is open to compromise, so the final proposal to replace Obamacare is likely to be a hybrid of his ideas and those hammered out with other Republican House members and presented as Ryan's plan.
Still, with Price on track to be at the helm of HHS, he would be the one writing the rules to implement whatever legislation is eventually passed.
We will see what happens after the inauguration !  The ball is already in play.

Is Being a Physician Now a Working Class Job?




Physicians are known to be masters of self-sacrifice, and self-control. They undergo years of training and make substantial emotional and financial sacrifices until they complete their training. The reward at the end of the road is a fulfilling job where he or she can treat people who are in need and enjoy the emotional, personal, and financial fruits of their labor.

The Executive Class Physician
But is this the reality? At a time when the job satisfaction of physicians is at all time low, and burnout at all-time high, alarming depression rates, and a shocking 400 physicians suicide per year in the United States. One can’t help but wonder if physicians have finally joined the working class.
The popular belief is that working classes are comprised of those who are paid minimum wage and who cannot make ends meet, while physicians are compensated well financially, relative to those in other professions. However, this income-based classification is misleading. The working class represents workers who have lost control over their means of production, and are in turn controlled by members of another class.
With the rapid “industrialization” and “commodification” of medicine, an increasing number of doctors are deserting private practice for large heath systems and employment in hospitals. Only one-in-three physicians will remain independent by the end of 2016, and three in four medical residents will start their career as employees of a medical group, hospital, or faculty plan.
ref: doximity, By Andres Barkil-Oteo
This trend is not arbitrary; there is a strong movement facilitated by ACA to consolidate doctor networks, and to turn them into salaried employees of hospitals and health plans. The aim, is to control service utilization and make health care delivery more coordinated and efficient.
This change would not necessarily be all negative. Consolidating doctors will help to deliver more efficient services at a lower cost. Doing so may provide security and peace of mind to doctors in the current challenging financial and regulatory environment. However, this change is coming at a steep price for providers and patients. Physicians need to be cognizant that they are trading away autonomy, control over decision-making, and at times their ability to influence the work process. Giving up autonomy and means of production results in alienation of physicians from each other, alienation from the work being done, alienation from their patients, and ultimately alienation from themselves.
To meet the complex nature of service delivery, health systems have created inflated bureaucracies, with numerous administrators and middle managers to manage the system of production. This has led to two parallel sets of workers in a system, often with broken lines of communication. Over time, a distinctively antagonistic relationship has developed between physicians and the bureaucracy that controls them. A hierarchical bureaucracy now controls the daily work of physicians, and management’s power is based on the concentration of decision-making authority and information needed in planning and controlling the system. The oppression of the physician working class is a result of their exclusion from the decision-making process.
author: This last statement is the key ingredient of physician burnout and dissatisfaction.  Early education and training of physicians is to be accountable and in control of their patient's care.  Current and future plans fly in the face of their prime directive, 'do no harm'.
There have been increasing complaints about the concentration of money and power among the managers of health systems, coupled with the increasing tendency to fill the ranks of administrators and hospital CEOs with people lacking clinical background. The official explanation for this trend is that systems are becoming increasingly complex, and that managing the business of health care necessitates control by business minded people. This has created a clear split between administrators vs. doctors and nurses regarding dealing with clinical protocols and procedures.
In this challenging environment, physicians’ identities are increasingly being changed and molded to fit the chain of production. Physicians are described as a collection of FTEs (full-time equivalents). They are referred to as providers or prescribers, and they are increasingly viewed as workers whose job it is to deliver health care to costumers or consumers. The physician-patient relationship is seen as a business transaction between vendors and purchasers. “It is difficult for physicians to take themselves seriously as professionals if patients treat them with the same suspicion as snake oil salesmen.” In this system, the ability to work becomes commodified and sold in the marketplace in 15-minute units., and physicians perceive their work as simply executing the checklists and demands that are coming from their employer. In time, there is a sense that patient consultations are closer to mundane processes in a long production line, rather than a fulfilling system for improved health.
Given the nature of this situation, it is no wonder that so many patient safety and quality improvement initiatives, checklists, and “practice improvement” campaigns fail. They fail because often these campaigns are perceived as external demand, as opposed to something physicians freely choose because they believe in it.” As a result, physicians are increasingly alienated from their work. Decisions regarding who to take care of, when, where, and what therapy should be administered at what cost are increasingly determined by the employer or the insurer – and not the practicing physician. With the quality of the work delivered increasingly determined by process measures that are imposed externally, physicians will eventually be less satisfied by and fulfilled by their work.
In order to deal with the frustration of physicians, the employer provides two different types of solutions. The first is based in offering R&R, relaxation workshops, and personal growth retreats to offset the negative impact of the alienation caused by the existing unpleasant work environment. The second to ask physicians to do more training. The CME (continuing medical education) industry is growing at a fast pace especially after the introduction of the maintenance of certification (MOC) requirements, which has encountered much resistance from the medical profession.
All of the forgoing suggests that doctors need to identify the problems they face in clear terms, and need to embrace their working class identity. Only then will they be able to identify possible solutions and create a practical plan of action.
Andres Barkil-Oteo is a psychiatrist.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

An Alternative Form of Mental Health Care Gains a Foothold - The New York Times


An Alternative Form of Mental Health Care Gains a Foothold

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Big Heist – A satirical, follow-the-money film on the destruction from healthcare's status quo… And the coming redemption.

You cannot fix a tire until  you let all the air out.


The Big Heist follows the money to answer these questions.

It's the story of how and why healthcare's financial incentives are wasting trillions of dollars, bringing our country to its knees.
More than this, it's the story of real hope that together we can fix it.
The Big Heist follows the coming redemption, tracking people and organizations across the country and political spectrum that are already fixing it from the ground up.
Through satire and storytelling, The Big Heist will be both entertaining and accessible to everyone.

We've created a system that crushes the very people we trust to provide us care.

  • Physician burnout is at record levels
  • Nurses are expected to perform superhuman feats
  • Social workers and professional caregivers lack resources to bend the demand curve
  • Family members and loved ones face a labyrinth of bureaucracy and opacity

We can do better.

The Big Heist will show how some of us already are.

The Status Quo

As of 2009, the average family spends more than $450/mo on healthcare because of hyper-inflation.

Health 3.0 Future

A single program saved a city more than $200 per employee per month. It has nearly perfect patient satisfaction.

A hotel spends 55% less overall, while it's employees get $15 copays and $0 copays on 90% of prescriptions. Plus, they pay for college for employees and their children.

How did we get here?

Tower of Babel


The Big Heist – A satirical, follow-the-money film on the destruction from healthcare's status quo… And the coming redemption.

Friday, November 18, 2016

So you think Obamacare is a disaster? Here's how California is proving you wrong - LA Times

Even as turmoil in insurance markets nationwide fuels renewed election-year attacks on the Affordable Care Act, California is emerging as a clear illustration of what the law can achieve.
The state has recorded some of the nation's largest insurance choices. That means that even with rising premiums, the vast majority of consumers should be able to find a plan that costs them, at most, 5% more than they are paying this year. 
And all health plans being sold in the state will cap how much patients must pay for prescriptions every month and for many doctor visits

Donald Trumps successful election as President almost certainly means the Republican dominated Congress will repeal/amend/replace the law. Assurances have already been given regarding the pre-existing condition clause. The financial sheets will require significant cost shifting with careful analysis of where funds are going for needless regulations.

The next year will prove to be interesting. Stand by.







  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Prejudice in the Hospital

An interesting Perspective...Reverse discrimination.



How do doctors deal with discrimination?

Minority Nurse

Kimani Paul-Emile wrote,   :Patients’ Racial Preferencesand the Medical Culture  of Accommodation"  in the UCLA Law Review

The Beginning

The aftermath

Racial prejudice travels in both  directions.