June 19, 2017

Ezra Klein, “Republicans are about to make Medicare-for-all much more likely,” Vox, June 15, 2017

While GOP push to destroy the ACA continues in total secrecy, speculation abounds about what will happen if they actually decide to set fire to the barn. Klein quotes an expert saying, “Democratic politicians I never thought would utter the words have mentioned single-payer to me in a non-joking way of late.” This does not, of course, include the Great Dem Hope Jon Ossof running in GA-6, whose campaign has now burned through something like $25 million trying to capture conservative Republican votes with a 2016-redux strategy.

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Tony Pugh, “Free health clinics make a comeback amid fear of what Trump will do to Obamacare,” McClatchy, June 14, 2017

Sad commentary on the current outlook for health care as well as on the shortcomings of the ACA.

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Jerri-Lynn Scofield, “States launch new joint probe into company sales and marketing practices for opioids,” Naked Capitalism, June 18, 2017

Good introduction to legal moves against opioid peddlers and a reminder that the Obama DoJ had a miserable record on corporate crime (W’s was better).

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Helaine Olen, “Why Won’t More American Corporations Support Single-Payer Health Care?”, The Nation, May 22, 2017

Reference to a recent Warren Buffett statement more or less endorsing single-payer. Shout out to the American Sustainable Business Council’s recent initiative, but the author concludes that big business will only climb on board at the last possible moment.

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Beth Mole, “Feds probing psychiatric hospitals for locking in patients to boost profits,” ArsTechnica, April 24, 2017

Had missed this one earlier: three federal agencies are investigating Universal Health Services for keeping psych patients until the day their insurance coverage runs out. And why wouldn’t they?

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I’m a terrible doctor, and I’m proud of it,” Musings of a Dinosaur, Oct. 4, 2016

A new blog discovery: self-described family doctor (i.e. dinosaur) with tales of modern insanity known as healthcare delivery, as well as just amazing tales of practicing medicine.

 

June 12, 2017

(1)  Russell Mokhiber, “Single-payer is not a priority even for Democrats who say they support single-payer,”Counterpunch, June 9, 2017 

Fascinating experiment by a single-payer advocate in Pennsylvania who dug past the signatures of the 113 co-sponsors of HR 676 to see if there was anything behind this surge of “support.” Disappointing results, to say the least! He has a great idea of how to push the issue in the mid-terms.

(2)  Joel Winston, “Ancestry.com takes DNA ownership rights from customers and their relatives,” ThinkProgress, May 17, 2017

Why you really, really should NOT send away for those cool DNA tests to see if you are 2% Uzbek and 1.3% Native Alaskan. Similar details at Tim Cushing, “Cheap DNA testing is giving some insurers even more ways to deny coverage,” Techdirt, June 7, 2017

(3)  Jon Walker, “California plan for single-payer system must confront political obstacles to succeed,” ShadowProof, June 7, 2017

From the author of the four-part series I shared last week, this is a sobering take on the obstacles to get to single-payer in California even with the political support. Note the discussion of ERISA. Walker finds the bill as written too full of good intentions and still needs “a specific plan that includes the trade-offs necessary to make it work.”

(4)  David Lazarus, “Fixing healthcare: Which single-payer system would be best for California?” Los Angeles Times, Mar. 7, 2017

 A more optimistic view with a semi-endorsement of the “Bismarck model,” the German system of channeling payments through nonprofit health insurers.

(5)  Dean Baker, “The Federal Government pays 50 percent of testing costs for orphan drugs,” Beat the Press, June 11, 2017

Economist Baker relentlessly annotates the assumptions embedded in mainstream news coverage. One of his favorite targets is pharmaceutical price gouging and how reporters routinely shill for the industry.

 

June 6, 2017

ROAD TO SINGLE-PAYER—A 4-part series by Jon Walker, ShadowProof

This is a marvelous (and wonderfully didactic) round-up of the current situation and the political, fiscal, legal, and administrative obstacles we face in achieving single-payer.

Part 1: HOW THE US CAN ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE  – http://bit.ly/2qTiRPG

Part 2: UNDERSTANDING DIFFERENT UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS – http://bit.ly/2qXsz7z

Part 3: FIGHTING FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL – http://bit.ly/2szz2Tu

Part 4: OVERCOMING HURDLES AT THE STATE LEVEL – http://bit.ly/2s0rgVB

 

May 24,  2017

Theo Anderson, “The surprising cross-partisan appeal of single-payer healthcare,” In These Times, May 22, 2017

“[I]f and when one state adopts a single-payer system, it could quickly alter the national political landscape, with implications far beyond the fight for healthcare reform.”

Chris Ladd, “Unspeakable realities block universal health coverage in America,” Forbes, Mar. 13, 2017

From a former GOP local official writing in a business magazine comes the startling concept of “white socialism.” Read the argument and try to disagree!

Matt Bruenig, “Opponents of single payer are moral monsters on par with AHCA proponents,” Medium, Mar. 18, 2017

An intemperate corrective to the argument that the primary goal must be to save ACA, rather than push for single payer.

Mr. Anne Dev [sic], “American health system micro-aggressions, or death by a thousand cuts,” Medium, Mar. 2, 2017

And to conclude, this completely insane horror story.

 

May 23, 2017

Arthur Delaney, “The republican plan to cover sick people might sort of work, but nobody really knows,” Huffington Post/Politics, May 17, 2017

Background on how the high-risk pools work—or don’t. Note the anecdote at the end about the lady who moved across the country solely to obtain health insurance.

Elizabeth Rosenthal, “Doctors will help change our broken medical system,”Medium, May 12, 2017

Author of the book An American Sickness: How Healthcare became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back gives practical advice to doctors on how to resist dubious and/or corrupt practices by hospitals and other medical services.

Bill Hammond, “NY Dems’ lunatic push for single-payer health care,” New York Post, May 22, 2017

A good sign! This pushback from the Murdoch paper means we are getting too close to victory for their comfort. Their main lines of attack: NYS will have to raise taxes to cover costs, and single-payer will restrict access to high-cost procedures while lowering salaries of medical professionals.

Mike Murphy, “Apple’s new $5 billion campus has a 100,000-square-foot gym and no daycare,” Quartz, May 16, 2017

Not exactly a healthcare story, but an insight into how we collectively handle the burdens of childcare and –raising. And get a load of the corporate-headquarters-as-UFO. Apparently, children are not raised in Silicon Valley—perhaps it takes place on another planet.

 

May 18, 2017

Diane Ackerman and Jonathan Gruber, “A whistleblower tells of health insurers bilking Medicare, New York Times, May 15, 2017

The government subsidizes insurers for high-cost patients, so the companies game the system to boost people’s diagnoses into the most lucrative ones. Duh! Creating perverse incentives and then watching for-profit companies exploit them is surprising because . . .?

Note how easy it would be to monitor and fine companies doing this, but the government personnel assigned to these activities have been cut back. So there you have it: make the program lose money through corruption, then denounce it as wasteful government spending.

Billy Wynne, The Bipartisan ‘Single Payer’ Solution: Medicare Advantage Premium Support For All,” Health Affairs, May 11, 2017

Very technical and a little obscure, but we may be hearing a lot of this sort of proposal for an in-between or transitional solution in the future, especially once the U.S. Senate takes up the issue.

Sarah Jane Tribble, “The Orphan Drug Machine: Drugmakers Help Turn Patients With Rare Diseases Into D.C. Lobbyists, Kaiser Health News, Apr. 10, 2017

Another one from April but great background: Pharma showcases patient suffering to strongarm its costly drugs into the reimbursed formulary: 83 percent of the 104 largest patient advocacy groups take money from the drug, medical device and biotech industries.

“Envelopes in his left hand held $750 checks to help patients with a rare disease cover the cost of a whirlwind trip to the nation’s capital. The money was donated by the pharmaceutical industry.”

 

May 16, 2017

Dean Baker, WaPo columnist condemning Sanders’ drug importation bill doesn’t realize Canada can expand its regulatory agency, Beat the Press, May 15, 2017

Baker is a wonderful antidote to tendentious economic reporting purporting to tell us why single-payer won’t work, drug prices are fair, etc.

James Howard Kunstler, “American health – a racket of rackets,” Clusterfuck Nation, Mar. 31, 2017

Quite a rant. Ends with an interesting proposal: for a new Pecora Commission, styled after the investigation into the causes of the 1929 crash, that could expose health insurance as a criminal enterprise.

David Dayen, “From processors to predators: The hidden monopolies that raise drug prices,” American Prospect, Mar. 28, 2017

How Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) extract rent through a monopoly on information.

Elisabeth Rosenthal, “How to save money at the hospital,” Tincture, Apr. 4, 2017

Practical suggestions for avoiding hospital price-gouging from the author of “An American Sickness.”

 

May 12, 2017

Emma Court, “American health care is so messed up that a whole industry has been created to help navigate it,” MarketWatch, May 6, 2017.  “Medical bill advocates” have arisen to help people deal with the gaps, blind spots, and “errors” by insurers that jack up bills in our hyper-complicated, fragmented health care system. Note that time spent on this is a form of tax, which should be part of our response when people raise the issue of single-payer- related taxes. Of course, one can always choose NOT to spend the time and pay up.

Tom Baker & Daniel Hemel, “4 ways states can prevent the Affordable Care Act from ‘exploding,’ Vox, April 8, 2017.  An old one but still relevant: aside from the pro-active measures the Trump Administration can take to undermine the ACA, the deadliest is to refuse reimbursement to insurers and indirectly collapse the system.

Sarah Klifee, “Aetna CEO in private meeting: ‘Single-payer, I think we should have that debate,’ Vox, May 12, 2017.  The Bertolini approach is for the government to keep Aetna in the game by imitating the creeping privatization of Medicare and call it “single-payer.” Amazing to hear an industry titan try to head off the end of his business by co-opting the language. Sign of panic?