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A Look at Types of Universal Healthcare

Posted by Emerald Coast Medical Association on May 17, 2019 6:45:00 AM

Americans all around the nation are giving their support for Medicare for all. On March 29 of this year, we wrote a blog called "Is Medicare For All the Solution?" In case you don't know what Medicare For All is,

"Medicare For All is a universal health care plan that was developed by Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders. This would be built off what former President Barack Obama had with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Medicare For All is a solution that would help give health insurance at affordable rates, covering primary and specialty healthcare, vision, hearing, dental, mental health, addiction services, and many other essential health care solutions."

Niran S. Al-Agba, MD, explains universal health care through the following four points:
1. Most universal health care systems are not highly centralized,
2. Most universal coverage systems offer narrow benefit packages and incorporate cost-sharing for patients.
3. Private health insurance plays a significant role in most developed countries with universal coverage.
4. Countries with universal coverage have strict immigration policies to control health care expenditures.

The Commonwealth Fund recently compared universal health care systems around the globe with the United States single-payer bills proposed in Congress. The country that most resembles the US proposal (where decision making is centralized) is France. In France, the government is responsible for 77 percent of total health expenditures. However, there is an out-of-pocket cost share for patients that is around 7 percent, annually. A few other countries that also use a highly centralized system are the Netherlands, Singapore, and Taiwan. However, these countries have populations that are more similar to that of only one state in the US.

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Topics: News, Medicare, Affordable Healthcare

New Tech Means Better Living

Posted by Emerald Coast Medical Association on Apr 26, 2019 6:45:00 AM

Israel is making a large payment on big data in medical research and treatment. There are plenty of startups and large companies that are parsing anonymized medical data, outcomes and results for patients, and patient data for signs on how diseases develop, how they can be treated, and how they can be prevented. The large payment is a $300 million investment in the big data digitization project. This would help make anonymized data available to researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and medical institutions.

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Topics: Doctor-Patient Relationships, Affordable Healthcare

Big Hospitals Sue HHS

Posted by Emerald Coast Medical Association on Feb 1, 2019 6:00:00 AM

Hospitals are beginning to follow in the footsteps of the American Hospital Association and are suing the Trump Administration for its decision to institute site-neutral payments.

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Topics: News, Insider, Group Health Plan, Medical Law, Medicare, Doctor-Patient Relationships, Affordable Healthcare

Government Shutdown & Healthcare

Posted by Emerald Coast Medical Association on Jan 11, 2019 7:00:00 AM
The government shutdown between President Trump’s administration and congressional Democrats regarding funding of the “border wall” leaves many with questions regarding its immediate impact on changing current healthcare systems. While the ongoing partial government shutdown leaves the majority of the federal government’s public health programs unaffected, the lack of funding to specific departments has the potential to alter some important health-related initiatives.

Due to the passing of five major appropriation bills by Congress, the funding of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs has remained. This funding dampens immediate large-scale negative impacts because many government healthcare programs such as Obamacare, Medicare, and Medicaid are insulated and funded through September. Additionally, two other critical unaffected departments are the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, allowing for the continuation of public health surveillance and significant biomedical research respectively. Unfortunately, other government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration are greatly affected. Due to the Department of Agriculture being completely shut down, the FDA is currently only operating at 60% of regular employees leading to potential problems regarding regulations and mandatory recalls of possible harmful goods.

Another detrimental effect of the government shutdown is an impact on the Indian Health Service (IHS). The IHS receives all of its funding from the recently shut down Department of the Interior, which has had widespread consequences to Native American tribes. The only services that can continue in these areas are “immediate needs of the patients, medical staff and medical facilities” and this lack of funding has been extended to suspending grants and other IHS health programs.

Well-known departments and agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs and the Environmental Protection Agency have already been displaying negative aftermath of the government shutdown with all signs pointing to large detrimental effects if this continues for an extended period. Health inspectors at the United States borders and the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office have already faced setbacks causing increased concern regarding possible decreased safety of US citizens. Furthermore, even the National Park Service has ceased all restroom maintenance and trash service due to funding leading to closures of popular parks such as Yosemite and Joshua Tree National Park due to unsanitary conditions.
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Topics: News, Medicare, Affordable Healthcare

Social Determinants of Health Influence in 2018

Posted by Emerald Coast Medical Association on Jan 4, 2019 7:00:00 AM
Social determinants of health (SDOH) started becoming more mainstream of a concern for the greater healthcare system in 2018. An individual's socioeconomic status can put their health at risk. Locally, this has become even more apparent since Hurricane Michael hit the panhandle last October. SDOH is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes.” These conditions can determine the health of people.

People have been living in unimaginable conditions since Hurricane Michael hit on October 10th, 2018. We are now in 2019, and many are still unable to live in their homes. Without proper housing and the many hazardous conditions around the panhandle that extend farther than just at home, there has been an increased rate of injury and illness. This hurricane has provided us with a prime example of social determinants impacting health.

The healthcare system has avoided addressing the issue of social determinants for a long time. In 2018, newly launched initiatives, as well as studies showing the need for these initiatives, have caused the healthcare system to take a new look at social determinants and how to address them.

Factors such as housing, transportation, food assistance, and personal finances have been taken into account to begin the process of reassessing healthcare's take on social determinants. People with limited access to transportation and housing are at a higher risk of injury or illness, especially when they have limited ways to get to a physician. Medicaid plans on helping to offer affordable housing to those who need it. Patients without transportation often forego making an appointment or miss them when they do have them. Uber recently launched a “health dashboard” to provide free rides for those unable to get to a doctor when they need to.

In addition to this, Geisinger Health System started “Fresh Food Farmacy,” which cut costs among diabetic patients from anywhere between $48,000 to $240,000 per member. This caused the risk of serious complications or death for people with diabetes to drop to 40%, a great win for those working with diabetics. Cigna is also planning on offering financial planning services for their group members, as announced in December 2018. Financial stress can take a significant toll on a person’s physical and mental health.

With many physicians claiming social determinants “aren’t their problem,” there is still a long way to go with maintaining equity among Americans. However, now that the panhandle is experiencing even more of these social determinants than usual, we have been provided a new chance to tackle these determinants and make the panhandle a healthier place for everyone. These social determinants will continue to play a significant role in local health for everyone involved with the hurricane, but choosing to see the positive side of this great opportunity is best for our county's health.
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Topics: News, Prevention, Medicare, Doctor-Patient Relationships, Affordable Healthcare

Stress About Care Adds to Patients’ Health Concerns

Posted by Emerald Coast Medical Association on Aug 17, 2018 8:00:00 AM

As medical practitioners, we feel the stress of the nation’s health care issues every day. Continual paperwork, denial of claims, and ever-changing regulations put non-stop pressure on our offices. But the stress of a fractured health care system is impacting our patients’ lives even more significantly.

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Topics: Affordable Healthcare

Will New FDA Guidance Really Lower Drug Prices?

Posted by Emerald Coast Medical Association on Jul 27, 2018 9:22:22 AM

One of the concerns most often voiced by Americans regarding healthcare is the high cost of prescription drugs. Even with insurance, not all drugs are affordable to every patient, while the same exact medication may be much more accessible to those living in other, comparable nations.

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Topics: Affordable Healthcare

CMS Proposal Aims to Improve Doctor-Patient Relationships

Posted by Emerald Coast Medical Association on Jul 20, 2018 9:20:42 AM

In May, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told us that he planned to use his pen to make significant and hopefully positive changes to the healthcare industry in the United States. Staying true to his word, the HHS Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a proposal that could have a drastic, positive impact on doctor-patient relationships in the U.S.

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Topics: Medicare, Doctor-Patient Relationships, Affordable Healthcare

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