Monday, October 25, 2010

New health law is a prescription for distortion
Bucks County Courier Times

The onslaught of misinformation and distortions about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act this political season isn't helping the many Americans who are confused about the law.

Who hasn't seen political ads claiming that under the health law, Medicare will be cut $500 billion.

But are any of these claims true?

Yes and no. Mostly it depends on what health coverage you have, who pays for it, how much you earn and how you earn it, according to health care policy and reform experts.

Next year employers will be required to list the value of employee health benefits on W2 forms. No, you won't be taxed on it.

But combine a take-no-prisoners political season with a law as voluminous and complex as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and confusion explodes. Experts who've studied the new reforms say the truth is out there, but it can be hard to find.

Four out of 10 surveyed believed the health care law would require Americans to provide a government ID card to get hospital care. (It doesn't.)

Almost as many believed that committees would review medical histories of some people and decide whether they can get medical care paid for by the government. (That's also untrue).

Six in 10 think the law increases the federal deficit. (The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects the law will shrink the deficit.)

"The great irony is the law was designed to avoid a government takeover," said Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University who specializes in health care reform and policy. "It's a law that is intended to make private insurance work and it's troubling that it's being attacked as a (government) takeover of the markets

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Healtrh reform drives cost acutting

SAN DIEGO 10/23/2010 — According to Van Gorder of Scripps Ihnstitute of San Diego.
"....the health reform plan, signed by Obama this year, was health insurance reform. It was not a reform that went to the heart of escalating health care costs.

But now Scripps Health, which runs 5 hospitals and 20 clinics in the San Diego area, is in the midst of a corporate restructuring they claim will make a big difference in cost. CEO Chris Van Gorder, in fact, believes their reorganization will eventually save $150 million a year.

Scripps Health was built from the union of several large hospitals. But the vertical corporate structure, in which each hospital had a chief operating officer who ran the place, remained intact. That meant every hospital within the system did things in a different way. They used different staffing levels and different materials. And that has required different levels of funding.

“We know, for example, that at one of our hospitals an open-heart case costs $3,000 more than it does to do the same kind of operation at another one of our hospitals,” said Van Gorder.

He said they’re trying to solve that problem by getting horizontal, in a corporate sense…. by getting rid of the silos and putting everything in one bin.

Van Gorder said the company has reassigned the top managers of its five hospitals to make them responsible for operations across the system. The goal is to standardize hospital operations and bring best practices to each site. This even applies to serving coffee.
“We’re spending $680,000 dollars a year for coffee and we’re using 15 different brands,” said Van Gorder. “If we standardize and buy at a larger scale we can get better buying power.”

Scripps claims it can save $200,000 dollars on coffee alone.

But if this is such a good idea, why didn’t Scripps do it five years ago? Van Gorder says strained relations between Scripps doctors and the company administration in the past have made it difficult to make dramatic changes.