Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama on Health care

Check out this video of President Obama's discussion with George Stephanopoulos regarding how his administration will look at managing health care costs and improving quality.

Share your thoughts with us.

What stimulus package could mean for health care

With the House and the Senate working this week with the stimulus bill proposed by Barack Obama, many changes could come about for health care in the United States. One of the biggest is that newly unemployed individuals would be eligible for Medicaid.

Other incentives proposed with the $117 billion proposed for health care spending:

•$87 billion dollars to help states pay the costs of Medicaid, which provides medical care for the poor and disabled.

•$29 billion to help the unemployed pay for private insurance.

•$20 billion to implement new healthcare technologies, such as electronic medical records, aimed at improving care and cutting costs.

For more on the recent proposal, read the article here at the Christian Science Monitor.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Expanded Coverage of Cancer Care Still an Issue

Yesterday we posted that Medicare has decided to expand coverage for cancer drugs because of the increased cost of care. Part of the policy allows coverage of cancer treatments that have not yet been approved by the FDA. Today I came across several more posts from AAARP Bulletin Today and TopNews. What is your take on the policy? Do you support it?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Medicare opens more coverage to cancer drugs

In the New York Times today, they looked at the new coverage of drugs for cancer that have not been approved by the FDA. Doctors see the use of these drugs as a way that patients can receive more up-to-date care. It also enhances the understanding of which treatments work for cancer. For the full article, read here.

More Works to Face Higher Healthcare Costs in '09

From the,

A growing number of workers in 2009 will pay more for health benefits -- and in some cases receive less coverage -- as their employers grapple with the financial fallout of rising medical expenses and diminished revenue and profits, recent surveys of human resource officials show.The Corporate Executive Board found in its survey that a quarter of officials from 350 large corporations said they had increased deductibles an average of 9% in 2008. But 30% of the employers said they expected to raise deductibles an average of 14% in 2009. Mercer, a global benefits consulting firm, surveyed nearly 2,000 large corporations in a representative poll and found that 44% planned to increase employee-paid portion of premiums in 2009, compared with 40% in 2008.

Three huge reasons why this is happening:

1. Employers are curbing their spending on coverage
2. More people are without health benefits
3. Most cannot afford COBRA

What others can you add to the list?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Florida to receive more healthcare money

According to the ABC News affiliate in Tampa Bay, Florida will be receiving at least $4.3 billion more in federal Medicare funds. The Florida congressman Kathy Castor has been working for this extra money for over a year, and believes that it will create and preserve jobs in Florida.

Source: ABC Action News

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Electronic prescription physicians to receive bonus

According to this article at the Kaiser Network reports that Medicare will start giving bonuses to physicians who begin to use electronic prescriptions.

This month, Medicare began to pay physicians bonuses for the use of e-prescribing, and some private health plans have begun to offer extra reimbursements to physicians who adopt the practice. In addition, a coalition of technology companies has begun to provide e-prescribing software at no cost to encourage physicians to adopt the practice.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama to Cut Medicare Advantage

According to this post on, Obama has claimed in a recent interview on ABC’s “This Week” that Medicare Advantage is an example of an initiative that does not work, and so eliminating it altogether would free up $200 billion that can be used on expanding health care.

Obama later mentions,

“We are spending a lot of money subsidizing the insurance companies around something called Medicare Advantage, a program that gives them subsidies to accept Medicare recipients, but doesn’t necessarily make people on Medicare healthier.”

Do you think getting rid of Medicare Advantage will help solve our national health care dilemma?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Early opt-in for Medicare?

Over 5.1 million Americans between the age of 55 and 64 are currently uninsured. The Dallas Morning News recently took a look at what would be the benefits of changing Medicare so that they could be insured under this policy. If these individuals were allowed to enroll, they would pay higher premiums than the seniors enrolled in the program. In addition to these individuals being insured, the medical care would also allow them to stay healthier and productive longer.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Drug Marketing Blow Out: Eli Lilly Fined $1.5B

Eli Lilly has been fined the largest amount for marketing fraud in US History, for their “off-label promotion” of the drug Zyprexa. According to, The company had promoted the drug as a treatment for dementia, including Alzheimer’s dementia in elderly people - for which it was never approved, the statement said. The company pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge as part of the settlement, it said in a statement. The sum includes a criminal fine of $515 million, which the Justice Department called “largest criminal fine for an individual corporation ever imposed in a United States criminal prosecution.”
What do you think of this settlement? As a marketer, how would you have done things differently? Share with us here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Medicare changes urged

The outgoing Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt believes Obama and his administration should do something to fix Medicare, as it could become a problem that could kill the US economy. He believes it is currently an unsustainable economic problem. For more on the story, read this article at Reuters.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Healthcare Cuts Before Obama

At a time when the economy is sinking, jobs are diminishing and the poor are being locked out of health care that they so desperately need--many struggling states are cutting health care. With rising costs and corrupt state governments, these states are in a financial firestorm that has left the neediest individuals and families without the health care that they so desperately need. Look at this list from

Illinois' senior citizens are facing the traumatic prospect of being moved from nursing homes teetering on the edge of bankruptcy as the homes wait for months to be paid by the floundering state government.

South Carolina has cut treatment for low-income women under 40 with breast or cervical cancer and stopped providing nutritional supplements for people with kidney failure.

In southern Nevada, cancer patients without health coverage no longer have a place to get chemotherapy after the state's largest public hospital stopped providing outpatient oncology services.

Will the Obama administration be able to save these state's health care systems with new initiatives? How can this situation be remedied?

No new Medicare enrollees for WellPoint

Due to complaints about WellPoint denying prescription drugs to elderly patients, The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services will not allow the to enroll any new patients. They also frequently overcharged their patients.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How Needle-Exchange Programs Work

Needle exchange programs have been able to reduce the spread of of HIV/AIDS among drug users. The Federal government bans funding of these programs even though they've been proven effective. Learn how these programs work in this short video from the Wall Street Journal.

Do you think that the Federal government should support these programs? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New rating system fo nursing homes

A new five star rating system for nursing homes that participate in Medicare or Medicaid is now in use. An algorithm rates the composite value of the nursing home by judging health inspection results, nurse staffing data, and quality measures. Over 15,800 nursing homes have been evaluated. Read more here at Emax Health.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Personal Health Records pilot launching in Arizona and Utah

According to Exam Health, The Center for Medicare and Medicaid services will be launching a new pilot program in Arizona and Uta called "Medicare Choice Personal Health Records." This program, new to Medicare beneficiaries, will regularly update existing health records with Medicare claims. For more on the program, read here.

Report Finds People Living on Unemployment Benefits Can't Afford COBRA

ABC's Lisa Stark reported today that most unemployed individuals and families are unable to afford the COBRA coverage for health insurance. COBRA allows laid-off workers to continue with their employee-provided health insurance. Many times this health insurance is far too costly to continue as making housing and food payments come first in the family budget. According to the article, Families USA found that workers nationwide would have to spend an average of 30 percent of their unemployment check to pay for insurance coverage for an individual, and an astonishing 84 percent of their unemployment check for health insurance for a family.

What do you think can be done to reduce the cost of this coverage? Will Daschle's appointment foster in a new wave of health insurance reform? Share your thoughts.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Daschle & Gupta: U.S. Healthcare Dream Team?

Pia Sawhney's article on The Huffington Post discusses how our health care may or may not be saved by Tom Daschle and newly appointed Surgeon General Dr. Sanjay Gupta. With President-Elect Obama's Universal Healthcare on the table, many are wondering just how much influence these new appointees with have on United States Healthcare. Read what she has to say and form your own thoughts. We'd love to hear your comments and suggestions for the state of health care in the U.S. please post here!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Health officials propose new rules for PET scans

PET scans, which can be used to help determine a course of treatment for cancer patients, may soon be allowed to be used more often. Currently PET scans are covered; however, patients and doctors must enroll in a special registry. The new proposal would allow for patients to undergo one treatment without having to enroll. Breast cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma will, however, not be covered by this new proposal. Read more here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New York hospitals accused of Medicare fraud

According to Fierce Health Care, seven New York hospitals have been accused of Medicare fraud. In total the fraud amounts to $50 million as a result of paying kickbacks to get more patients into treatment programs.

One of the hospitals is accused of paying people to search homeless shelters for patients to stay three days in detox. Worse still, the seven hospitals involved were part of a government treatment program, but they didn't have a state license as required.

U.S. Healthcare Spending Slows

With the rocky economy, more individuals and families are spending less on healthcare coverage and costs. The LATimes covers this stating that, the mild slowdown -- due in part to less growth in drug spending -- was a rare bit of good news as Washington policymakers begin to debate how to reshape the nation's healthcare system, a top priority of congressional Democrats and the new administration.

So good news may come out of this minor slow down. What areas of healthcare do you think are slowing the most?

Do you think we'll see a rise in healthcare in 2009? We'd like to hear your thoughts.

Monday, January 5, 2009

PHR Now Available to Arizona and Utah Seniors

PHR, Personal Health Records are now available to Arizona and Utah seniors under a pilot program through Medicare. This program would allow seniors to have an outside organization (one of four) to keep their health records electronically. This program will likely reduce confusion over care and will help hospitals better serve the individual.

Mike Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services, stated in a press release, "This pilot is a major step forward for Medicare. It will provide information and tools that will empower consumers to manage their health better. Importantly, the pilot provides beneficiaries with a choice of products to meet their individual needs."

The outside organizations chosen to start the program are

  • Google Health
  • HealthTrio
  • PassportMD

For more information please click here.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Medicare News: California and Florida Medical Suppliers Cut Off

According to Bloomberg News, nearly 1,139 Californian and Floridian suppliers lost their billing privileges because of suspected or found fraudulent activity. These areas are a particularly prone to fraud as the prevalence of Medicare participants is higher due to an increased population of senior citizens.

Because of this rise in fraud, Medicare has started to initiatives to combat the fraud. Read here for more information on this angle.

So good news and bad news to get us started for 2009. Let's hope that the fraudulent claims and those behind such claims will be swiftly put away before they take more money from a program that serves our greatest population.