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Direct primary care debate resurfaces

Several health care professionals and one patient urged lawmakers Wednesday morning to support a measure authorizing direct patient care agreements in Montana, reviving a debate that has surfaced in the Legislature at least twice in the past.

Sen. Cary Smith, R-Billings, introduced Senate Bill 101 to members of the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee, stating that the legislation would help strengthen relationships between health care providers and their patients and give Montanans access to another option for affordable health care.

“One of the really, really high costs of health care is insurance, and one of the things that adds a lot of bureaucracy and complexity to having a relationship between a physician and a patient is government regulation, state regulation,” Smith said. “This bill makes it clear that in this type of arrangement, you don’t have that problem.”

Read the full article at the Montana Free Press.

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States are suspending Certificate of Need laws in the wake of COVID-19 but the damage might already be done

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, 24 states that have CON laws on the books have suspended some portion of them or enabled emergency provisions.

Even though many states are reacting quickly to try to alleviate strains on their medical systems, much of the damage from these CON laws has already been done. For example, on March 20, the New York governor suspended CON laws giving providers less than a week to ramp up before capacity was reached—nowhere near enough time to effectively increase health care capacity.

This is one reason the laws should not exist in the first place. Providers know whether there is a need for services or facilities. Allowing them the flexibility to respond in a pandemic is obvious, but they should have the same flexibility year-round.

Read the full article at Pacific Legal.

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Direct primary care for the vulnerable

Direct Primary Care (DPC) is not really a new model for health care in Texas. Long before employer-based insurance (with the safety nets for the elderly and disabled, Medicare and Medicaid) became the standard, patients paid doctors for their care. There were no middlemen—only the patient and the physician, and they made the decisions.

DPC seems innovative now because we have moved so far away from that model. Government regulations combined with ever-more complex insurance standards have put third-party payers in charge of the decision making.

The current system frustrates not only patients but also physicians. No health care provider wants to be second-guessed by middlemen behind a computer screen hundreds or thousands of miles from the examination room. No doctor wants to be limited to a maximum number of minutes of face time per patient, because human beings and their ailments are rarely so conveniently compartmentalized. And doctors and patients alike want the ability to follow up on treatments to ensure the best health outcomes possible.

DPC practices seek to resolve the flaws of our current health care system by providing transparent pricing and strength­ening the doctor-patient relationship. Direct care has gained momentum in primary care, surgery, pharmaceuticals, and dentistry. Direct care functions differently in each setting, but the central idea is that third-party payers are not involved, and prices are known before the patient sees the medical professional.

Read the full article at The Item.

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Op-Ed: Debunking the ‘Trump Doesn’t Have a Health Care Plan’ Myth

My Democrat friends foisted this refrain upon me after I attended President Trump’s announcement of his health care plan in North Carolina. I posted about it on social media, along with the transcript of his speech and the outline of his plan. How could they claim he didn’t have a health care plan? It was there in writing. Apparently, that wasn’t enough, and it wouldn’t be until the government had more control.

“It’s not a ‘plan’ because you can’t sign-up for it,” someone snidely retorted.

I realized then we held two different views of what constitutes a health care plan—and what it means for the American people.

To consider it a “plan,” my progressive friends would need President Trump to create and offer an overarching outline of how the government would run every aspect of the American health care system. In their opinion, anything less than a comprehensive takeover would constitute mere platitudes.

Read the full op-ed at Townhall.com. 

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Opinion: Disappointing Affordable Care Act

By: Brian Blase, former Special Assistant to the President

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, was principally intended to improve health insurance markets for individuals and small businesses, lower health costs, and increase the number of people with insurance. It largely failed. Health insurance markets are only afloat because of massive federal subsidies and premiums and out-of-pocket obligations significantly increased for families. While the ACA has led to about 13 million more people with Medicaid, many more have been harmed. Middle-income families without employer-provided coverage and small businesses and their workers have largely fared worse from higher health care costs as did the nation’s taxpayers who are responsible for funding all of the law’s new spending. (For an in-depth review of the ACA’s performance ten years after its enactment, see this Galen Institute analysis.)

The ACA Damaged the Individual Market for Health Insurance and Harmed Middle-Income Families and Small Businesses

Prior to the ACA, the individual health insurance market—the place…

Read the full opinion at Forbes.com.

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Make Transparent Health Care Prices A Price Of Any Future Aid To The Health Care Industry

The country’s leaders are understandably focused on policies to help American businesses and workers deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus recession. In addition to broad-based relief, Congress has targeted aid to hospitals, health care providers, and clinical laboratories, despite their relative wealth. Two bills enacted in March provided a nearly $175 billion bailout for hospitals and providers.

On May 15, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would add another $100 billion to this bailout and provide substantial taxpayer funds to health insurers through a full subsidy for employee COBRA coverage, an increase in Affordable Care Act subsidies, and a provision that would largely offset any insurer losses in 2020 and 2021 with taxpayer money.

It’s time for Congress to stop focusing its efforts on supporting the wealthy health care and health insurance industries and it’s time for these industries to help American families and businesses and drop their fight against health care price transparency. This starts by equipping Americans—both families and employers—with tools to be better purchasers of health care. Specifically, Congress should lock in the Trump administration’s price transparency rules to end the legal battles over them and to give the American people the information they need to make smarter decisions about their health care and coverage. Enhanced shopping will increase competitive pressures in health care markets and lead to lower prices and enhanced quality of care.

Read the full article at Health Affairs.

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The shocking reason hospitals keep their prices a secret from you

Congress has provided hospitals with nearly $200 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars to help them weather the coronavirus pandemic. House Democrats just passed a bill adding another $100 billion. Now it’s time to stop bailing out hospitals and start helping financially stressed families get better health care at lower costs.

In health care, most prices are hidden. Earlier this month, big, profitable hospital systems were in court to make sure that American patients remain in the dark, challenging a Trump administration rule that would require them to publicize prices, including those negotiated with insurance companies.

No other industry is fighting to hide prices from consumers. When given pricing information, people know how to shop for value. With websites like Amazon and Kayak, Americans use price information to secure the best deals. This forces providers to compete by lowering prices and improving quality. Health-care markets don’t work like this.

Read the full article at the New York Post

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Coronavirus shutdown highlights need for health care reform

The U.S. health care system was broken and expensive before the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) says.

And now, “COVID-19 has exacerbated the brokenness and lack of affordability in healthcare,” David Balat, director of health care initiatives at the TPPF, told The Center Square.

Before Gov. Greg Abbott took steps to close businesses deemed nonessential and suspend elective surgeries to ensure enough hospital beds remained open to treat COVID patients, Balat and several legislators proposed reform measures.

“Texans are largely frustrated by the way we pay for and deliver health care services,” Balat said. “Costs are skyrocketing, people are paying tens of thousands of dollars before coverage kicks in, insurance companies are failing patients, and too many communities are seeing their medical providers close up shop.”

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