Archive for April, 2012

Community Needs Assessment and Its Implications

Earlier this week there was an article in North Carolina about a patient who was unemployed and had mounting medical bills that the hospital allegedly would not negotiate a discount or payment plan. The hospital is a non-profit tax-exempt organization as permitted under the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). Therefore, the hospital is not required to pay taxes. However, the hospital must provide services to the community to support its charitable purposes. Over the last several years there has been an increased scrutiny on tax exempt hospitals to determine whether the facility is acting “for profit” or if it is in fact satisfying the charitable objectives and purposes which afford it the tax exemption. In fact, several hospitals lost their tax exempt status as a result of this increased scrutiny.

In order to address the tax exempt objectives of ensuring hospitals provide care to all patients and meet the needs of the community, the Patient Protection and …

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A tweet here, a tweet there . . . many uses of Twitter in healthcare

I’m sure most of you have heard of Twitter, the microblogging social media service that allows users to send and view up to 140 characters.  Unless a “tweet” is protected (whereas only registered users of a certain group can see the information), “tweets” are otherwise public and available real-time to anyone.   Once you sign up for a Twitter account, you can “follow” people, organizations, government offices, and even the White House.  Some of you might have heard of Twitter being used by celebrities to put forth information about their “excursions” . . . while others might have heard how effective of a tool it was during several recent Mid East revolutions (in Egypt and Tunisia, for example).  Suffice it to say, Twitter also actually has several implications in healthcare.  In fact, as a free platform that is easily accessible and managed in desktop and mobile environments, Twitter has several diverse applications within an organization.

As a …

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The Supreme Court Dancing with Dragons

Reading the transcripts of the arguments before the Supreme Court around the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance gave me the same feeling I got when reading the Game of Thrones. For readers who may be unfamiliar with the book or the HBO series, Game of Thrones is a fantasy loosely based on medieval England and the world around England at that time, but with fire breathing dragons and zombies.  The discussion before and with the Supreme Court Justices seemed loosely based on the Affordable Care Act and the health care delivery system, but the discussion contained a couple of zombies and a least one dragon.

There are three fundamental issues that the discussion with the court danced around but only occasionally enunciated. First, the only mechanism for privately financing health care is health insurance.  Private savings are simply inadequate to cover costs of episodes of care for even moderately severe conditions. The only alternative to a …

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The Path of Least Resistance….or Fiduciary Responsibility

Are those broken eggs in your basket? It’s a great time to check!

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Is the Individual Mandate really a new idea?

In all the coverage of the Healthcare showdown at the US Supreme Court, I have found one topic particularly interesting. It is the idea that the individual mandate may not be as new and renegade as one might think. There are in fact arguably many other individual mandates to which the US population is already subjected without much protest. One of which has to do with government subsidized health insurance! The next time you take a look at your paycheck stub make sure you pay special attention to the deduction for Medicare tax withheld.

That’s right, even if you don’t purchase health insurance for yourself, you are still paying monthly for a Medicare recipient’s health insurance. Therefore, why is it so unconscionable that you would be asked by the government to pay for your own insurance or pay a fine? One reason is the method in which Congress choose to achieve each. Medicare is a withheld tax, much like other mandated programs such as Social Security. …

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NFIB vs Sebelius: The Supreme Court and ObamaCare

Last month, ObamaCare had its day (or days) in court. The case … NFIB, et.al. vs. Kathleen Sebelius, et.al. will be the most celebrated Supreme Court cases in modern history.

The Supreme Court heard six hours of oral arguments over three days. That is unprecedented.

There are 26 states that are suing the federal government. That is unprecedented.

The Supreme Court’s decision will impact over twenty percent of the US economy. That is unprecedented.

But what happens if the Supreme Court does strike down all or part of ObamaCare? We better have “Plan B” ready to go.

We all know that our healthcare system is broken. However, we can’t all seem to agree on how we reform or transform our healthcare system. Here is my short list of those things that the Congress should consider if the Supreme Court strikes all or part of ObamaCare:

• Make significant changes to the way we litigate medical professional liability cases. Physicians today order too many tests, prescribe …

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Healthcare Gets Front-Page News… Again

Healthcare took center stage again last week as the Obama administration’s healthcare law endured three days of questioning from the Supreme Court to determine if the insurance requirement mandate is unconstitutional. If so, it potentially puts the entire bill at risk. The healthcare industry, along with consumers, will watch closely as the June decision will have lasting implications on our future. But, regardless of your political persuasion, or opinion of Obama care, there is no doubt that the debate has forced an even bigger spotlight on our broken healthcare system.

Healthcare is personal. It’s one of the few political issues that go to the heart—quite literally—of Americans, not to mention their wallets. So it’s no surprise that people are passionate and vocal about it. And that’s a good thing. Impassioned people can make great change. We live in an age of the “empowered consumer.” These consumers, armed with knowledge, and powered by the latest …

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