HCAO News

President Jimmy Carter: "A Call To Action

The Diane Rehm Show
March 26, 2014

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter speaks during an interview on Monday March 24, 2014 in New York.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter speaks during an interview on Monday March 24, 2014 in New York.

Diane Rehm:  Briefly, how do you feel about the Affordable Care Act?

President Jimmy Carter:  I was disappointed the way it was done and the complexity that it assumed. Instead of taking a leadership role from the White House and saying, “This is what we think is best,” they had five different congressional committees do it and it got, I think, the lowest common denominator, which is the most complex system. I would really have favored just the expansion of Medicare to include all ages, rather than just to deal with old people.

Video (38 second clip of quote above; also full 51 minute video):

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Comment by Don McCanne (Quote of the Day)

Characterizing the Affordable Care Act as “the lowest common denominator - the most complex system,” President Jimmy Carter tells us that he would have favored “the expansion of Medicare to include all ages.”

He’s right, and here’s why.

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Concerns about cancer centers under health law

by RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press
Updated 5:05 pm, Tuesday, March 18, 2014

This photo taken Feb. 24, 2014, provided by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, shows Dr. Willie Underwood, a urologic oncologist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, examining patient Richard Waldrop at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, in Buffalo, N.Y. Cancer patients relieved that they can get insurance coverage because of the new health care law may be disappointed to learn that some of the nation’s best cancer hospitals are off limits. Only four of 19 nationally recognized comprehensive cancer centers that responded to an Associated Press survey said patients have access through all the insurance companies in their state’s exchange, or primary market. Photo: Bill Sheff, AP

This photo taken Feb. 24, 2014, provided by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, shows Dr. Willie Underwood, a urologic oncologist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, examining patient Richard Waldrop at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, in Buffalo, N.Y. Cancer patients relieved that they can get insurance coverage because of the new health care law may be disappointed to learn that some of the nation’s best cancer hospitals are off limits. Only four of 19 nationally recognized comprehensive cancer centers that responded to an Associated Press survey said patients have access through all the insurance companies in their state’s exchange, or primary market. Photo: Bill Sheff, AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some of America's best cancer hospitals are off-limits to many of the people now signing up for coverage under the nation's new health care program.

Doctors and administrators say they're concerned. So are some state insurance regulators.

An Associated Press survey found examples coast to coast. Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is excluded by five out of eight insurers in Washington's insurance exchange. MD Anderson Cancer Center says it's in less than half of the plans in the Houston area. Memorial Sloan-Kettering is included by two of nine insurers in New York City and has out-of-network agreements with two more.

In all, only four of 19 nationally recognized comprehensive cancer centers that responded to AP's survey said patients have access through all the insurance companies in their states' exchanges.

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When the US Health Care System Keeps Killing, Who Still Cares Enough to Fight?

Published on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 by Common Dreams
by Donna Smith

We can tally the deaths that we know are caused by denials of care or medical errors in the U.S. health care system, and those numbers are horrifying.  Yet most of the American public doesn't pay much attention to the issue, and many only gripe about the health care system when their costs for maintaining health coverage or getting care exceed what is available in their personal budgets.  We live in a highly individualistic and selfish society when it comes to many of life's most essential needs.  And unless we can figure out a way to reward most Americans for having a sense of empathy toward those who are sick or weak, I am afraid it will be difficult to protect our current social safety net programs (including Medicare) or to reinvent our health care system without profit and business success as its primary motivations.

I work for a small non-profit that supports single-payer reform in health care financing.

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Health Cost Growth Is Down, Or Not. It Depends Who You Ask.

Mar 05, 2014 | Drew Altman for the Kaiser Family Foundation

Studies show that health care costs have been rising more slowly than at any time in the last fifty years, but the American people think they are rising faster than ever. Who’s right, the experts or the public? They both are, they just look at the problem from different perspectives.

The most recent government study of national health spending was published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and found that health spending grew by a very modest 3.7 percent in 2012, the fourth straight year of historically low increases in spending.  Our annual survey of premiums for employer based health insurance in 2013 told a similar story. Premiums rose just 4 percent.  There is debate among experts about how much of the slowdown is due to the weak economy and how much is due to changes in the health care system but everyone agrees both factors have played a role.  The government report says the slowdown is mainly due to the economy.  Our own analysis also found that the economy explains most of the diminishing rate of growth but changes in health insurance and health care have also played a significant role.  There is uncertainty about when and how rapidly costs will accelerate when the economy improves, but no one disputes that the slowdown is real.

No one that is except the American people, who see health costs from a different perspective.  In our monthly tracking poll, almost sixty percent of the American people said “the cost of health care for the nation has been going up faster than usual in recent years”.  Less than a third say costs have been going up “about the same as usual” with just 4 percent saying they were growing “slower than usual”.  No one (correctly) said they were going down.

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Kitzhaber: State may sue Oracle in light of 'sobering' Cover Oregon report

by Dennis Thompson, Portland Business Journal, March 20, 2014

Gov. John Kitzhaber today accepted blame for the Cover Oregon debacle, while outlining steps he is taking to help Oregonians enroll in health insurance and to hold Oracle Corp. accountable for its work building the site.

Kitzhaber said the independent assessment by First Data “offers a very credible and sobering critique” of the mistakes that caused officials to think the Cover Oregon web site would launch on time Oct. 1.

Kitzhaber has discussed with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum “the full range of legal options” regarding Oracle, the software company hired to develop the site.

Read more.....

Dembrow’s Healthcare Study Imperiled by Lack of Private Funds

With less than a year before results are needed to inform the 2015 Legislature, an academic study to analyze the best means of providing universal healthcare to Oregonians has not begun and fundraisers are far short of their goal of $200,000 to $600,000 in private donations.

by Christopher David Gray for The Lunc Report 3-19-14

The universal healthcare study that the Oregon Legislature authorized in 2013 has run into roadblocks to funding, and if money for the study is not raised soon, a comprehensive analysis may be impossible before the 2015 session.

Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, told The Lund Report after a town hall meeting Monday that the study would need nine months to complete. With the next session just 11 months away, researchers would need to begin in May but fundraisers are nowhere close to their goal of $200,000 to $600,000.

Dembrow’s study, laid out in House Bill 3260, relies on private money organized through the Northwest Health Foundation on behalf of the Oregon Health Authority, which will then contract for the research.

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The state's Cover Oregon review is expected soon

The consulting firm hired by Gov. John Kitzhaber to review what went wrong with the Cover Oregon health insurance exchange debacle has completed its report, which should be released as early as Wednesday or Thursday, officials say.

As the public awaits the report, conducted by Atlanta-based First Data, here's some background on the Kitzhaber-initiated review of how the exchange went off the rails.

On Dec. 13, Kitzhaber's office announced "initial steps for an independent review of every stage of the development of the Cover Oregon website." 

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Obamacare subscribers: Beware of high deductibles

Wendell Potter

Wendell Potter

Commentary: Coverage 'not as affordable as many people need it to be'
by Wendell Potter
Public Integrity, March 17, 2014

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last Thursday rejected the notion that Democrat Alex Sink’s narrow loss to Republican David Jolly in last week’s special election in Florida — in a congressional district that Republicans have held for half a century — was a referendum on Obamacare.

“I’m very proud of our House Democrats, not only how they’ve embraced the Affordable Care Act … but how proud they are of it,” Pelosi said. “I think the Republicans are wasting their time using that as their election issue and they will find that out.”

Pelosi went on to say, however, that, “there are some things (about the law) that need to be fixed.”

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