Contents tagged with health care

  • Senate Finance Committee Workgroup on Healthcare Cost hears testimony from state agencies

    Tags: health care, jean klewitz, 85th texas legislature, Tom Banning

    By Jean Klewitz

    Health care costs are back on the docket as lawmakers finish the third full week of the 85th Texas Legislature. Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has convened a workgroup to come up with ways to control rising health care costs for state programs and that group met for the first time on Friday, Feb. 3, hearing testimony from state agencies and a variety of stakeholders for more than six hours.

    Orthopedic surgeon and chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD, R-Georgetown, presided over the seven-member panel. “Health care costs in all these programs and across all our state agencies continue to skyrocket and crowd out other priorities like education, transportation, and public safety,” he said as he opened the hearing.

  • Wal-Mart: The future leader of low-cost care?

    Tags: fragmentation, health care costs, medical home, wal-mart, family physician, health care, debate

    Save money. Live better. It’s Wal-Mart’s corporate motto, but put it in the context of health care and add a third line targeted at improving care for individuals and you’ve got something awfully close to Don Berwick’s triple aim for health care reform. If cost is the real cancer in the U.S. health care delivery system—and we think it is—why not look to America’s low-cost leader for the cure?

    When reports started hitting the news this week about a request for information Wal-Mart sent out to its vendors in late October announcing the mega-retailer’s intent to “build a national, integrated, low-cost primary care health care platform that will provide preventative and chronic care services that are currently out of reach for millions of Americans,” alarms went off in health policy circles across the country.

    The company has since backpedaled on the statement of intent. John Agwunobi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., head of Wal-Mart’s health and wellness division, released a statement on Nov. 9, 2011, saying, “We are not building a national, integrated, low-cost primary care health care platform.”

  • Payment Reform recap: Demonstrating value

    Tags: health care reform, medical home, practice transformation, family physician, health care, debate, payment

    Following the most basic model for success in business means minimizing overhead and maximizing revenues, Dr. Mark Laitos pointed out at TAFP’s Payment Reform Summit last Saturday. For doctors in private practice and other health care providers, this means billing for as many relative value units, or RVUs, as possible at the best conversion rate, and maximizing ancillary revenue, when possible.

    And while this strategy is simple enough, Laitos said it has reduced the “proud field” of medicine to “conveyor belt medicine.” Worse, as payers – including health insurers, employers, and patients to some extent – strive to minimize RVUs, the solution to the cost crisis in a fee-for-service system is to slash payment to physicians and deny care to patients.

    Of course neither patients nor doctors (nor the organizations that advocate for them) would allow this to happen considering the scale needed to rein in escalating health care costs. The solution, then, as speaker after speaker suggested, is to trade the volume-based model for a value-based model. This is also the cover story of the latest Texas Family Physician magazine.

  • With Texas health care in the spotlight, opportunities abound

    Tags: budget, media, legislature, health care, debate

    As could be expected, Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to seek the Republican nomination for president has intensified state and national media scrutiny of Texas’ health care record, particularly regarding the uninsured, Medicaid, health care costs, and our medical liability climate.

    TAFP has long been on record in our public positions—from “Fading Away” to “Fractured” to “The Primary Solution”—that starving down our primary care infrastructure and the continued fragmentation of care across the spectrum of settings  transcends moral concerns and translates into very real economic consequences that threaten everyone from local taxpayers to employers and families. We have been equally ardent in our position that a vibrant primary care delivery system operating in a healthy liability climate is the solution to the crisis facing our health care delivery system.

    Armed with these resources, TAFP’s physician leaders, lobby team, and advocacy staff have routinely briefed top Texas political and health care writers, as well as legislators and their staffs, particularly leading up to and during legislative sessions. Now TAFP has been called upon for similar briefings and interviews by a rapidly growing body of national writers from media outlets as diverse as CBS News, NBC News, NPR, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Kaiser Family Foundation and Politico, the Hill, and others.

  • Bending the cost curve

    Tags: academy update, health care costs, reform, health care, policy

    Now comes the hard part

    By Tom Banning
    TAFP Chief Executive Officer/Executive Vice President

    If one accepts the premise that politics drives health care policy, then it would follow that flawed politics produces flawed policy. Those hoping for a vigorous and thoughtful debate on health care reform—what works and how to pay for it—are instead forced to settle for media theatrics and hyperbole that come dangerously close to the level of UFO conspiracies.

    The town hall debacles and orchestrated lunacy during the August recess have dispelled any lingering hope that Congress can move away from the partisan bickering and sniping that has increasingly characterized what passes for debate in one of the world’s greatest deliberative bodies. Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, with the blessing and encouragement of their caucus’ political consultants, talk not in terms of medical economics and policy options for improving our health care system, but rather in calculated polling and focus-group-generated strategies designed to fire up their respective political base and confuse and scare the public to meet their own political objectives.