Influencing Healthcare Policy – Lobbying, Incentives & Insurance

Benjamin Franklin is credited as saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," but policymakers seem more influenced by the money he's pictured on.

Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” but policymakers seem more influenced by the money he’s pictured on.

By Wayne Caswell, Founding Editor, Modern Health Talk

As President Trump’s administration transitions from the Obama era, a conservative ideological shift will influence healthcare policy, but so will other factors. They are discussed here, based on my response to “The Past, Present and Future of Healthcare Policy” at ReferralMD.

Influencing Healthcare Policy

Although The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as ObamaCare, has flattened the curve to the lowest annual cost increase in decades, it still has not reduced overall costs for many reasons. These include (1) special interest lobbying to protect industry revenues & profit, (2) misaligned incentives, and (3) an insurance middleman that adds more cost than value. It is unlikely that any “repeal and replace” strategy can live up to Trump’s promises because of these three factors. Read More …

US Healthcare System has Cancer. Can Trump Fix it?

By Wayne Caswell, founding editor, Modern Health Talk

Dr. Sudip Bose says, "The epicenter of health care is the doctor-patient relationship."

Opening his January 16, 2017 Huffington Post article, Dr. Sudip Bose said, “One thing is certain about the future of Obamacare, and that is that it will change under a Donald Trump presidency.“ Given his public statements, Trump will clearly make sweeping changes sooner than later, but what those changes will be is anything but clear. That’s why today’s article describes what I hope for, if not what I expect.

The US healthcare system has cancer – a malignant form that started way before Obama became President, and it has taken decades to grow to its current condition, where our very existence is threatened. It’s my hope (remember Hope & Change?) that healthcare reform under Trump will not just treat the symptoms of a growing healthcare cancer, like the lack of insurance competition or price transparency. I hope Trump will recognize the need to treat our healthcare system’s cancer aggressively, naturally and holistically. Will he? Read More …

Corporate Behavior and Rising Health Care Costs

As the dust settled from the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), one of my LinkedIn groups got into a debate about what it all means and what needs to happen next. I got such a positive reaction from one of my comments that I thought I’d share it here, followed by details of the documentary I mentioned.

My Comment

The aging population adds significantly to healthcare costs, but that’s a global problem and not specific to the US, so what is it about our nation that makes our healthcare system the most expensive in the world by far and without the positive outcomes to justify it?

As a consumer advocate, I believe our problems are rooted in our politics and societal beliefs and find it quite telling that, according to the HBO documentary “The Weight of the Nation,” public health officials can accurately gauge one’s average weight and BMI by zip code. It’s also telling that longevity in poor neighborhoods can be over 20 YEARS LESS than in affluent neighborhoods on the other side of the same town. Watch the video and see the stats at http://www.mhealthtalk.com/2012/06/americas-obesity-epidemic-a-big-problem-updated/.

I especially feel for children born into poor families or the “new poor” that were once middle-class families, but where the parents lost their job and/or home at no fault of their own, got hit with a health emergency, and have since burned through any retirement and capital investments they once had. Poor families often have:

  • Less access to healthcare, even from pre-birth,
  • Less access to affordable and nutritious foods,
  • Less exercise opportunity, with fewer places to safely play,
  • Inferior public schools (college seems out-of-reach),
  • Fewer job opportunities, and
  • Less say in government.

Read More …

Disrupting Healthcare with Functional Medicine 2.0

Disrupting Healthcare with Functional Medicine 2.0

By Dr. Shaiv Kapadia, Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder, Iggbo

The United States has the best and worst healthcare system in the world. Let me explain. If you are having a heart attack or stroke or a victim of an accident, there is no better integrated system of acute care delivery on the planet. Chronic disease, however, is a completely different story. [EDITOR: The medical industrial complex spends twice as much on political lobbying as the military industrial complex, to avoid disrupting healthcare as they know it. That’s because cutting costs to match what other advanced nations pay per capita would mean losing over $1.5 trillion/year in profits – profits that today mostly come from treating symptoms.] Read More …

Who Should We Believe about Longevity & Other Claims?

Who should we believe about how long we can REALLY live?Who should we believe about how long we can REALLY live?

Controversy and catchy headlines help sell magazines and advertising, and that makes writing about outrageous claims profitable. The more outlandish, the better. The news media loves it, and so do the readers, whether it’s political controversy or in how long we can live.

The LA Times, in When, and why we must die, is just one of the many news outlets to pick up a story about two scientists who recently published study results concluding that humans can’t live beyond age 122. They’re entitled to their opinion, but I don’t buy it. Read More …

The Big Heist – Become a Benefactor

The Big Heist, a satyrical documentary about our broken healthcare systemYou can be part of History by becoming a benefactor of The Big Heist, at any amount. This documentary-in-process is a satirical, follow-the-money film about healthcare, the status quo, and efforts to fix our broken system from the ground up.

The Big Heist blends the comedy & parody styles of ZDoggMD and The Daily Show — to entertain and educate with the goal of transforming the public’s understanding of our nation’s healthcare system, along with the causes of its dysfunction, and how to truly fix it. This has been my personal passion since founding Modern Health Talk five years ago. I’ve already published over 100 articles on different aspects of healthcare reform public polity, sharing my own technical & futurist perspective and insights, and I love hearing other viewpoints with similar aims. Read More …

The Future of Healthcare? It’s In The Past

The future of healthcare is impacted by the ripple effects of past developments, trends, market drivers, and market inhibitors

The future of healthcare is largely affected by politics and population health successes of the past, including vaccines, clean water, safe food, sewer systems, public education, and the environment, each causing its own set of ripples in the system. But dampening these positive effects is special interest lobbying aimed at protecting profits. (Wayne Caswell, mHealthTalk editor)

By Tim Perry, MPA, MS, CPHIMS, PCMH CCE, CISSP

Look Back to See Where We Are Going

To celebrate its 200th anniversary, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article in June 2012 titled, “The Burden of Disease and the Changing Task of Medicine“. The authors did a wonderful job of looking not only at clinical data on disease but also shed light on changes in society that affected the prevalence of diseases. A particularly interesting part of the article is a chart depicting the Top 10 Causes of Death in 1900 vs 2010. Notice the changes. Read More …

What to ask Clinton and Trump about Healthcare?

I responded to a Huffington Post article about proposed changes to Medicare and questions that should be asked of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but I went deeper into the serious healthcare issues, citing an article I posted yesterday about The Ideal Healthcare System. It referenced differences between public and private sector organizations but primarily spoke of the need to better align incentives to the nation’s health goals. Therefore, my questions to Presidential candidates relate to that larger view of health and healthcare.

What to ask Clinton and Trump about Healthcare?

What would YOU ask Clinton and Trump about Healthcare? (please comment below and share with others)

Read More …

Let the Health Care Reform Debates Begin, Again

Let the Health Care Reform Debates Begin, Again

Click the image to see some of our other articles on public policy and health reform.

Editorial by Wayne Caswell, Founding Editor, Modern Health Talk

According to Forbes, House Republicans released this week a 37-page draft of their plan to “replace Obamacare and reform entitlements.” To that I say, Let the Health Care Reform Debates Begin, Again.

Even though Obamacare has slowed the rising costs of healthcare as our population ages, significantly more work needs to be done to bring our total costs in line with what other advanced nations pay, and with better outcomes. Doing that – continuing to reform health care – has the potential of cutting our $3.4 trillion/year costs in half, thus saving well over $1 trillion/year. Those savings can then be redirected to other purposes, such as lowering taxes, paying down debt, or making strategic investments in education, poverty, research, and infrastructure. The aim of such reforms is to help all Americans regardless of age, income, or socio-economic status.

But powerful opposition to true reforms comes from within the medical industrial complex that stands to lose over $1 trillion/year in revenue and so spends twice as much on political lobbying as the military industrial complex. It’s important that the public keep House Republicans from being tempted to cave into the lobbying pressure. So what should our goals be? Read More …

The Disruptive Force of Technology in Healthcare

A LinkedIn discussion of mHealth argued that, “Technology is Just a Tool. It’s Not The Solution to Healthcare’s Problems” — I couldn’t disagree more and posted this response…

Those in the Ivory Tower should worry about the disruptive force of technology in healthcareMy Editorial Opinion

Okay, Technology is not the end-all, but it’s MUCH MORE than just a tool for solving healthcare’s problems. The accelerating pace of tech innovation is a disruptive force that’s breaking business models and helping to move us away from the fee-for-service model that’s primarily responsible for Americans spending twice as much as those in other advanced nations for healthcare. (See Moore’s Law and the FUTURE of Healthcare.)

Those at the top of the healthcare mountain, especially those resisting more rapid adoption of disruptive technology, are most at risk of obsolescence. As noted in 101 Minitrends in Health Care, 429 of the original [1955] Fortune 500 companies are no longer in business today.

As medical devices keep getting cheaper, smaller, more accurate, and easier to use; more & more functions once associated with doctors in hospitals will move down-market toward consumers at home, office or wherever they are. Telehealth video calls and telemedicine sensor monitoring will extend across town, across state lines, and across international borders as payers (including Medicare) realize that medical tourism often offers better outcomes at less cost.

All of these trends will democratize healthcare, increase competition, and help move the emphasis away from sick care and toward health & wellness. As Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

4 Paths to End of Life – one costs less than we thought

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — There are 4 paths to end of life, but last-ditch, high-tech heroic treatments and days in the hospital intensive care unit is NOT what makes dying in America so expensive. The common belief is that this is where we should focus efforts to spend the nation’s healthcare dollars more wisely, but think again.

4 paths to end of life - This chart shows that having multiple chronic illnesses is far more expensive.

A new study finds that for nearly half of older Americans, the pattern of high spending on healthcare was already in motion a full year before they died. That’s thanks to the care they received for their multiple chronic health conditions — including many doctor visits and regular hospital stays over the year, not just in their final days. Read More …

Why Medicare-for-All is Not Enough

Doctors Prescribe Single-Payer Health Care Reform

Doctors Prescribe Single-Payer Health Care Reform

Dr. David Himmelstein speaks at a news conference about the new Physicians’ Proposal for Single-Payer Health Care on the steps of City Hall in New York, May 6. Photo: Annette Gaudino

Well before Bernie Sanders entered the presidential race, a nonpartisan group of 39 leading doctors set out to fix the glaring problems in the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare). The single-payer plan they proposed, essentially Medicare-for-All, has since been endorsed by over 2,000 physician colleagues and published in the American Journal of Public Health, according to this article in Huffington Post.

The HuffPost article generated lots of reader comments, and I just had to respond because this is the sort of debate I love to jump into. It brings together many different perspectives, especially those of consumers who too often aren’t heard from by politicians. Here’s a summary of my responses and answer to the question, “Is Medicare-for-All enough?” Read More …

Research Funding and Hope for Alzheimer’s Disease?

Is there hope for Alzheimer’s disease?

Can Alzheimer's be stopped? a NOVA broadcast

This past week NOVA aired Can Alzheimer’s Be Stopped? (watch below) The program covered research funded by drug companies as they race to cure Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The profit potential from discovering a breakthrough cure, as noted at the beginning, is well into the Billions. Sadly, a treatment without a cure may be worth even more. So hence the race, given the large and growing numbers of people affected and the devastating impact the disease has on them, their caregivers, and society. Read More …

Wireless Networks and Electromagnetic Radiation

Schumann Resonance

RESONANCE is eye-opening documentary, revealing the biological harm from and health impact of wireless networks and electromagnetic radiation. The entire documentary is included here with some added comments. Most troubling to me are the long-term effects of electromagnetic radiation on cellular structures, cancer, and Melatonin, an important antioxidant and sleep-inducing hormone. Read More …

Mindfulness and Sleep

The Magic of Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Mindfulness. It’s a buzz word right now.

Guest article by Amanda Gore (original on Huffington Post)

Businesses are more conscious of the bottom line results of being more mindful and teaching their people to do so. CEOs are being coached to be more mindful to improve their leadership skills. Students are being taught to be more mindful to do better in tests. Everyone is jumping on the mindfulness bandwagon!   

WHY MINDFULNESS?

Because our lifestyles encourage us to be mind-less! Read More …

What is a Sleep Economist?

The Sleep Economist

By Wayne Caswell, Founder of Modern Health Talk and Sleep Economist at Intelligent Sleep

What is a Sleep Economist?

I’m a sleep economist. At least that’s how I present myself when I talk about the economic impact and benefits of sleep, and the science of Intelligent Sleep. But what does that mean? Let me explain.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic,” and getting enough sleep is an absolute necessity, not a luxury. They also say sleep quality should be thought of as a “vital sign” of good health because of the many ways it impacts us overall. Read More …

HEALTH or SICK Care?

 

Health or Sick Care

Dr. Sachin H. Jain wrote a good article in Forbes calling for Redesigning Health Care to Meet the Needs of Our Sickest Patients, and I’m publishing my response here.

“While I understand the need to improve care of our sickest and most frail elderly patients, my view conflicts with that of the medical industry, which we mistakenly call the “healthcare” industry.  Read More …

‘The Patient Will See You Now’ Envisions New Era

The Patient Will See You Now (book)The Patient Will See You Now’ is a book by Dr. Eric Topol that envisions a New Era in healthcare where we consumers take more responsibility for our own health and wellness and have the tools to do so. Often these are smaller, cheaper, and easier to use versions of what doctors have used for years, but digital and in some cases more accurate or beneficial.

Dr. Abigail Zuger wrote a review of Topol’s book for The New York Times and described the overall thesis as “the old days of ‘doctor knows best’ are as good as gone. No longer will doctors control medical data, treatment or profits. Instead, thanks to the newest science, humanity will finally achieve truly democratic health care: Up with patients! ‘Our Bodies, Our Selves’ for all!”

As Tool says in the following video, “What bothers me most about healthcare is the unwillingness to give rightful info to patients.”

Read More …