Op/Ed: Patients and Physicians Unite: You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Chains

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

In an entertainment venue called the "Escape Room," participants are locked inside a themed adventure room, and they must figure out how to escape. Themes include prisons, KGB interrogation, and hostage situations. Perhaps a new theme could be ObamaCare.

Despite a large majority of Americans reporting healthcare as their number one concern, Congress does not have the political appetite for a serious assessment of the Affordable Care Act. It's time for Congress to say, "ACA and its 'fixes' are not working; cut our losses and move in a different direction."

New proposals should focus on reducing the cost of pharmaceuticals and medical services rather than shifting costs from one entity to another via mandated insurance benefits and government subsidies.


Op/Ed: A Health Savings Account Could Save Your Life

Dear Congress, please act on a few simple reforms that will help everyone and hurt no one—except the drug lobbies and middlemen.

First, seniors must demand to be treated like thinking adults—and save the federal government money in the process. Under current law, anyone age 65 and over who is entitled to Social Security benefits is automatically entitled to "free" Medicare Part A (hospital coverage). But if a senior wants to decline Part A and seek or keep other medical care options he must forfeit his Social Security benefits.

As Judge Rosemary Collyer noted in a legal challenge to this rule, "plaintiffs are trapped in a government program intended for their benefit. . . They disagree and wish to escape." Alas, the 1993 regulation was interpreted to confirm the draconian punishment for wanting to break free of the government control. To right this wrong, will one brave congressperson or senator revive the Retirement Freedom Act and support the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act that makes it easier for patients and physicians to opt out of Medicare? 

Second, seven of ten Americans use prescription drugs, and they overpay for these 23 percent of the time. Patients often aren't told they could pay less by not using insurance. If the insurance co-pay is higher than the actual cost of the drug, the middlemen (pharmacy benefit managers) keep the difference.

Legislative remedies exist. The bipartisan Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act prohibits health insurance issuers and group health plans from restricting or penalizing pharmacies who tell enrollees the differential between a drug's cash price and the insurance plan's cost.

The bipartisan Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018 prohibits health plans and pharmacy benefit managers in the Medicare Advantage program from restricting pharmacies from informing individuals regarding the prices for certain drugs. The bipartisan Transparent Health Pricing Act requires entities that furnish health-related products or services to the public to disclose the wholesale, retail, and discounted prices for those products and services at the point of purchase and on the Internet.

And when the price of brand name drugs has increased 10 times more than inflation, dear Congresspersons, consider supporting the Competitive DRUGS Act prohibiting name brand drug companies from compensating generic drug companies to delay a generic drug's entry into the market.

With regard to medical services, the Direct Primary Care (DPC) model is burgeoning as patients yearn for quality time with their doctor at an affordable price. Here, all primary care services and access to basic commonly used drugs at wholesale prices are included in a fixed transparent price.

Congress should support the Primary Care Enhancement Act, a one-page bill that allows Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to be used to pay enrollment fees for DPC practices. Many Medicare beneficiaries prefer this model as they remember the era when patients actually knew their doctors.

Moreover, the DPC model saves federal dollars. Prescription drugs accounted for $110 billion in Medicare spending in 2015, 17% of all Medicare spending. With DPC dispensing, the cost of pharmaceuticals can be as much as 15 times lower than pharmacy prices. And Medicare spent $17 billion on potentially avoidable hospital readmissions. DPC's better coordination of chronic care decreases hospital admissions.


Op/Ed: There’s More To Black History Than Slavery

Numerous bills designed to give patients more control over their medical care include provisions that: increase the maximum HSA contribution; allow Medicare eligible individuals to contribute to HSAs; allow members of healthcare sharing ministries to participate in HSAs; and allow individuals who participate in DPC practice, or who receive care from an employer's onsite medical clinic to participate in HSAs.

Physicians want freedom to do the best for their patients and patients want good care at affordable prices. Will Congress act or continue to let such liberating legislative opportunities wither away?

Bio: Dr. Singleton is a board-certified anesthesiologist. She is also a Board-of-Directors member and President-elect of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). She graduated from Stanford and earned her MD at UCSF Medical School.  Dr. Singleton completed 2 years of Surgery residency at UCSF, then her Anesthesia residency at Harvard's Beth Israel Hospital. While still working in the operating room, she attended UC Berkeley Law School, focusing on constitutional law and administrative law.  She interned at the National Health Law Project and practiced insurance and health law.  She teaches classes in the recognition of elder abuse and constitutional law for non-lawyers.

 

Haute Tease

  • Massive Moore Tornado Upgraded to F5; Nine Children Dead; Death Toll Stands at 24

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Nine children died in Monday’s massive Moore Tornado, which ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb, killing 24, injuring hundreds and leaving a trail of destruction through the center of the heartland.

     
  • The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences And The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association Present The Oscar® Concert

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The Los Angeles Philharmonic today announced details of The Oscar® Concert, a special, one-night-only celebration of film music at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at 8:00 p.m.  

  • Twentieth Century Fox Film Announces Release Of "HOME" From Singer Nick Jonas To Lead Upcoming Ferdinand Soundtrack

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Twentieth Century Fox today announced the release of "Home," an original work by actor, multi-platinum and Grammy award nominated Nick Jonas and the "official" song from the forthcoming animated feature FERDINAND due to be released this holiday season.  

  • New Casting Directors Branch Elects Three To Academy Board Of Governors

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Three members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ newly created Casting Directors Branch have been elected to the Academy Board of Governors. 

     
  • A California Closing Review – The Perfect Set of Characters for A Summertime Read

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Ready for a digital detox? Looking for the perfect summer read, a purely fun, page turner, turned down corners, smudged pages, a no app necessary, trashy, romance novel or high brow biography; soft or hard a genuine book?

     
  • Official Screen Credits Forms Due December 3 For 2014 Oscars®

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    LOS ANGELES, CA – Wednesday, December 3, is the deadline to submit Official Screen Credits (OSC) forms to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for 87th Academy Awards® consideration.

     
  • YOUTH, From FOX Searchlight Films, To Open December

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    FOX Searchlight Films Presents, YOUTH,  an INDIGO FILM production in collaboration with MEDUSA FILM co-produced with BARBARY FILMS, PATHÉ, FRANCE 2 CINÉMA, NUMBER 9 FILMS, C-FILMS in select theaters on Friday, December 4th, 2015.