Hey! Old Farts! Listen Up!

How long have the Repubs been slobbering all over Medicare with their version of a better idea—-privatization?

For me it was with Reagan and his attempt to privatize the entire government as payback for all the support from the different industries.  Bush1 was no better.  We got a break during the Clinton years…..and then came another Bush2 and the same idea.  Obama years were pretty quite and then 2010 happened and the GOPers in Congress started thumping their chests again…..

And now we have a GOP House….a GOP Senate…..a GOP president and a SCOTUS with NO balls…..

How safe is your Medicare?

Maybe not as safe as you think……

Is Paul Ryan’s years-long dream of gutting Medicare about to come true?

With Republicans set to control both houses of Congress and the White House, Ryan (R-Wis.), who will serve another term as House speaker, “senses his moment,” as Salonobserves.

The Donald Trump transition website states that the administration will “modernize Medicare”—a euphemism, according to Jonathan Cohn and Jeffrey Young at the Huffington Post, that corresponds exactly to what Ryan has in mind.

Speaking Thursday on Fox News‘s “Special Report,” Ryan said, “Medicare is going broke, Medicare is going to have price controls because of Obamacare,” adding, “You have to deal with those issues if you are going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Medicare has serious problems [because of] Obamacare.”

Source: Is Paul Ryan’s Dream of Gutting Medicare About to Come True? | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

How will this battle play out?

Check it out for yourself…….

House Speaker Paul Ryan proposed to privatize the current Medicare system, within the earliest days of the impending Trump administration.

As Members of Congress hastily hash out their opinions and post their announcements, TPM will track what they’re saying, charting whether candidates favor, oppose or release a foggy statement on the privatization and dismantling of Medicare.

The list will be updated as members of Congress release their opinions or figure out how they really feel about Ryan’s proposal.

Source: Your Medicare Phase Out Checklist

Your stupidity at the polls has consequences…….are you happy now?

The Vacu-Suck!

The weekend and I attempt to bring a little humor and enlightenment into my readers lives…..I remember back in the days when an instrument of sexual pleasure was sold as the Swedish Penis Pump….and then in the early days of the 21st century the Penis Pump became the Vacu-Pump….same product but with a new ad campaign….I know….what the Hell am I going on about?  Right?

On the surface this is NOT a big deal…but that is only on the surface.

Just stay with me a few more moments…..and the government spends a lot of wasted cash on superfluous things…..crap they right off on MediCare or MedicAid………but this is beyond moronic and just chaps my butt…….

Newser) – Between 2006 and 2011, Medicare spent $172 million on penis pumps, according to a report out yesterday by the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services. That figure is outrageous for a reason other than that you might think. As NBC News reports, penis pumps, more properly known as vacuum erection systems, are actually one of the “few viable treatment courses” for men with erectile dysfunction, per the National Institutes of Health. So it’s not the coverage of the item for some 474,000 men over those six years that’s the problem, but the amount that was spent: Each claim cost Medicare an average $361—more than double what the pump would have cost if the user just bought it online. (And OIG verified this by … Googling. It reports that “research on 22 different Web sites yielded pricing information for 105 VES … the average Internet price … was $164.74.”)

And if Medicare had adjusted its “grossly excessive” coverage amount to be in line with what a non-Medicare consumer pays (and, the report noted, what the Department of Veterans Affairs pays), the government would have spent an average of $14.4 million less per year for each of the years under review, reports Reuters. And the savings wouldn’t end there. Beneficiaries are responsible for 20% of the cost of the pump, plus any unmet deductible, which worked out to an average $90; a Medicare fee adjustment would have saved them roughly $3.6 million a year. It could have come to pass, had the issue been dealt with when it previously came up—in 1999, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services suggested changing the VES fee schedule, reports the Washington Free Beacon.

Now, if you can, justify this for me….please.

Hospice–The Newest Con

I have a bit of experience on this subject…..my late father was tended to by a hospice company in the last year of his life…..he was not dying at the time…..but he needed help and hospice was gladly there to lend a helping hand…..at least we thought it was their plan.

Once you go on hospice you lose your doctor and have to use the hospital that they deem worthy…..and they happily do anything they can to help….as long as social security can be billed……

I was not going to make a deal out of what I thought of them but after I read this piece I felt like I had to say something…..

(Newser) – Hospice care is for the terminally ill, yet the number of “hospice survivors” jumped 50% in California between 2002 and 2012. Something to celebrate? Not quite: A Washington Post investigation into the $17 billion industry now dominated by for-profits reveals hospice companies recruit patients who aren’t dying because they need fewer visits, stay enrolled longer, and make them more money since Medicare pays about $150 a day per patient, whether or not they get a visit. Profits have exploded from $353 per patient in 2002 to $1,975 in 2012 in California—the data “offers a portrait of the industry,” the Post notes—and despite advice from watchdogs, Medicare has kept the financial incentives in place, at a potential loss of billions of dollars a year.

“It must be strange to be told you’re dying and then not die,” says a lawyer who’s filed several suits against hospice companies on behalf of ex-employees who claim some hospices have a “sign everybody up” policy; the companies have denied the claims. But the length of stay is important, too. On average, patients stay at nonprofit hospices for 69 days, and 102 days at for-profits, the Post notes. “If they come in very sick and die right away, it’s difficult to run a business that way,” says a former Delta Hospice worker. The branch she worked at had a survival rate of 63%, but hospices say that’s no sign of fraud. Per a Delta rep: “To state the obvious, terminal prognostication is not an exact science.” Click for the full piece

It seems that the doctor and the nurse that would visit my father missed a septic condition and pneumonia……..after I called the EMTs and admitted him into a hospital (was not their choice) they threatened to tell social security that the house was filthy and dank…..a typical cover your ass move…….but once I got my hackles up they quickly decided that there had been a miss communication or something equally lame.

In closing….it is a racket and social security and Medicare are being bilked out of millions every year….maybe instead of screwing the elderly we should look into these con artists and thieves.  Whatcha think?

Just How Screwed Are Patients?

Back after hurricane Katrina my leg was crushed in a fall……and when I was looking at the bill that the EMs sent to me, which was covered under Workers Comp, I noticed a charge that was not kosher……I was charged $50 for a cervical collar and was never given one…..my leg was broken but I had all my faculties….I told the workers comp rep that was handling my case and was told that it was not important enough to challenge……I asked her just how much money does the service make on gouging?  I never got an answer.

And then I saw this story and it answered my question pretty well…..

  Getting Hodgkin’s lymphoma was bad enough. Then Ohio resident Sean Recchi received his hospital bill: $83,900. You can blame his limited health insurance, but Steven Brill at Time looked behind the numbers to see why MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston charged so much. What Brill found: shocking markups that hiked prices by several hundred percent or more above cost. Queried about the markups, MD Anderson said their billing practices “are complex” and “similar to those of other major hospitals.” Which is exactly what Brill found: “a uniquely American gold rush” of tax-exempt “nonprofit” hospitals across the US that are raking in huge bucks and handing administrators mega-salaries. Among his other findings:

  • Hospitals are forcing Americans to spend nearly 20% of GDP on health care—double the usual for developed countries—and more than the next 10 top-spending nations combined.
  • Each hospital’s internal price list, or chargemaster, is far higher than what Medicare pays for health care. Advocates have started a cottage industry helping people understand and reduce their bills.
  • Brill uncovers huge markups from specific bills, like $4,000 for items like a blanket warmer, marking pen, and surgical gown. Recchi was billed $13,702 for medicine that cost MD Anderson only $3,000 to $3,500.
  • Brill’s first solution: Bring all Americans under the Medicare umbrella, and charge wealthier Americans more for their medical care. At least Medicare forces hospitals to charge the proper rates. Only problem: A massive, single-payer overhaul like that won’t happen anytime soon.
  • Solution No.2: Strengthen anti-trust laws to restrict the power of hospitals; this would give insurance companies more leverage to bargain over prices. Then tax hospital profits at 75%, and tack a surcharge on excessive non-doctor hospital salaries. And ban the chargemaster. Will any of this happen? Probably not, because hospitals are too powerful.
  • Brill’s take on ObamaCare: It’s good for certain things, like curbing some hospital-bill collecting and getting more people insured. But ultimately it’s just bringing more customers into a grossly unfair marketplace.
  • Click for the full article.

We all know that hospitals gouge the patients……and there is little we can do about it…….but crap like this drives all the rising costs of health care……but yet they are seldom held accountable…….why is that?