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 JOIN YOUR LOCAL ACTION TEAM!         INNER CITY BLUES FESTIVAL

Health Care for All Oregon is a grassroots coalition of over 100 organizations that are determined to create a better way of financing health care for every person who lives or works in Oregon.  Our mission is to provide publicly funded, privately delivered, high quality, affordable, universal health care to everyone. People will be free to choose their medical provider to give them the care that they need, free to choose their career, job, and time of retirement independent of health care costs.  We believe that health care is a human right.  The care we receive should not be dependent on what we can afford.  It is time we joined the rest of the free world and provided ourselves with publicly funded health care just like we do for education, libraries, fire fighters, and police.

Fed war on health care spending abuse needs to include Medicare Advantage

Commentary: Obama administration bragging about anti-fraud efforts, but Center report showed bigger dollars are being lost elsewhere

by Wendell Potter
The Center for Public Integrity, March 23, 2015

The Obama administration went to great lengths last week to inform us that it recovered $3.3 billion in fraudulent payments to Medicare health care providers in fiscal year 2014. Officials even went so far as to give an advance copy of their report to The Wall Street Journal, which, like the Center for Public Integrity, has been investigating Medicare fraud and abuse.

In a story that appeared in the Journal before the official release of the report, WSJ reporter Stephanie Armour wrote that the recovery “was part of an effort by the Obama administration to improve enforcement and prevent abusive billing practices.” That effort is run jointly by the Department of Health and Human Services the Justice Department.

HHS secretary Sylvia Burwell was quoted in the story as saying that “we’ve cracked down on tens of thousands of health care providers suspected of Medicare fraud,” an effort she said is helping to extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund.

That’s good news, of course. Taxpayers benefit when doctors and other health care providers get caught trying to rip off the government.

But when it comes taking on big and well-connected insurance companies that have been ripping off the Medicare program for years, the administration has been far less aggressive in catching, much less punishing, the abusers.

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Exploring the link between health care and poverty

The economic framework of the medical care system makes these patterns unlikely to change without new incentives to treat the poor and address overall health. As long as health care is viewed as a commodity and corporate providers see financial success as the main goal, poor neighborhoods will be underserved.

by Lillian Thomas, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
June 14, 2014 3:15 p.m.

Richard "Buz" Cooper of New York has practiced medicine for five decades. Recently, he had prostate surgery and reflected on the difference between a recovery in Manhattan, where he lives, and one in Queens.

"I had a catheter," said Cooper, 77. "I'm a doctor so I know about catheters."

He rearranged his bathroom to keep the supplies sterile.

"My bathroom window looks across at Queens," he said. "I was thinking there is some guy in Queens who had the same surgery, who lives in a fourth-floor walk-up that he shares with five unrelated people. They all share the bathroom. He's never used a catheter. He puts the stuff in the bathroom. Some other person pushes it out of the way. He doesn't bother changing his catheter bag. He winds up back at the hospital.

"I had an uneventful recovery. He was back at the hospital with complications."

Cooper has studied the connection between income and health, and like others has come to this conclusion: Poverty makes people sick.

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How American health care turned patients into consumers

     Dr. Philip Caper

     Dr. Philip Caper

by Dr. Philip Caper, Special to the BDN
Bangor Daily News, March 19, 2015

A clash of cultures is rapidly developing among those of us who see the mission of the health care system to be primarily the diagnosis and healing of illness and those who see it primarily as an opportunity to create personal wealth.

The concept of health care primarily as a business is uniquely American, and it has gained ascendancy during the last few decades. While there have always been a few greedy doctors, businessmen-wealth-seekers — not doctors — now dominate the medical-industrial complex. They include for-profit insurance, medical device and pharmaceutical companies as well as for-profit and nonprofit corporate providers of health care services, such as the three large hospital systems in Maine.

Partly because of the Affordable Care Act, they also include a rapidly growing army of lawyers, consultants and policy wonks who are creating lucrative businesses helping hapless “consumers” — formerly “patients” — “navigate” their way through the grotesquely byzantine maze our health care system has become.

This shift in emphasis from patient care to money profoundly has affected the practice of medicine and resulted in the clash of cultures within health care. As increasing numbers of “providers” — formerly “doctors” — become employees of large health care corporations — formerly community hospitals — we have come under increasing pressure to diagnose profitable diseases and order profitable tests and procedures without enough regard to the benefits or harm accruing to patients. Hospital “CEOs” — formerly “administrators” — trained in the ethics and practices of business rather than health care are incentivized to configure their “product lines” — formerly “services” — to produce the largest “profits” — formerly “margins.”

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Here’s how medical debt hurts your credit report


by Corey Stone
For rhe Consumer Protection Bureau, Dec. 11, 2014

Since September 2013, debt collection has been the top complaint at the CFPB. Among all debt types, medical debt tops the list. When a debt is past due, a collector may report the account to a credit agency. This would appear as an account in collection, often resulting in a credit score drop.

A staggering 52 percent of all collection accounts on credit reports are medical. An estimated 43 million consumers with a credit report at a nationwide consumer reporting agency have one or more medical accounts in collection. Here’s how you can keep medical debt in check.

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Medicare at 50 — Moving Forward

The New England Journal of Medicine: Health Policy Report
David Blumenthal, M.D., M.P.P., Karen Davis, Ph.D., and Stuart Guterman, M.A.

As Medicare enters its 50th year, this popular federal program faces profound challenges to itseffectiveness and sustainability in future decades. In this report, we review these problems, building on the issues raised in our earlier article. 1 We also review several options to strengthen the program and enhance its viability.

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