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Health Management Technology News
  April 15, 2014
In this issue:

 American-style healthcare system pushed in Canada

 Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide sign-up

 Kathleen Sebelius: Timing of rollout ‘flat out wrong’

 Is the NHS institutionally racist?

 U.S. healthcare usage and spending resumes rise in 2013

 Is Carolinas HealthCare appeal a signal for future litigation?

 China detains 160 in Shanghai healthcare scam

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American-style healthcare system pushed in Canada

During the year leading up to the 2008 presidential primaries, my insurance industry colleagues and I were working hard to influence the debate on health care reform.

Our number one objective: make Americans so afraid of “heading down the slippery slope toward socialism” that no candidate would even consider supporting a Canadian-style, single-payer health care system.

Leading the scare campaign behind the scenes was the trade association, America’s Health Insurance Plans. With help from a right-wing Canadian outfit called the Fraser Institute, which has received funding from the Koch brothers and other American donors, AHIP put together a three-ring binder of talking points for insurance company executives to use in speeches and media interviews.

The contribution from the Fraser Institute, a long-time advocate of privatizing the Canadian system, was a handful of selective statistics and anecdotes designed to create a negative perception of single-payer health care.

At the time, I had done no research of my own about the Canadian system. I hate to admit it, but I had outsourced my thinking to the Fraser Institute. I also hate to admit that I was willing to do that out of self-interest. If the U.S. adopted a single-payer system, I would be out of a job.

Read the full article from The Center for Public Integrity here  

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Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide sign-up

Register your company in Health Management Technology’s Resource Guide (July 2014 issue) and be listed within 3 categories for free!

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Kathleen Sebelius: Timing of rollout ‘flat out wrong’

On Sunday, former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took a moment to reflect on the rollout of

The website garnered negative press in the fall of 2013 when users complained of significant technical issues and glitches with the exchange following the website’s Oct. 1 launch. Sebelius told NBC’s Meet the Press that the Obama administration’s own belief that the website would be ready by its Oct. 1 launch date was “just flat out wrong.”

The website, which was envisioned to be the “one stop shop” for all healthcare needs, became a complete disaster because it was not 100 percent ready for the public. It was, without a doubt, a complete embarrassment for the Obama administration, Sebelius and the website’s team of developers.

“Well, I think there’s no question — and I’ve said this many times — that the launch of the website was terribly flawed and terribly difficult,” Sebelius said.

Read the full article from The State Column here  

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Is the NHS institutionally racist?

I have bookshelves of reports detailing the unfair treatment many NHS Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff receive in recruitment, promotion, training, discipline and pay. The Snowy White Peaks of the NHS suggests such unfair treatment extends to every level of leadership and governance of the NHS, with important adverse consequences for patients.

Latest statistics show that 20% of nurses and 37% of doctors in the NHS are from BME backgrounds. Yet just 6% of senior and very senior managers in the NHS are from a BME background and just over 7% (and falling) of NHS trust board members are in this category.

It's worse in London. Over two fifths of London's population and its NHS staff are from BME backgrounds, yet just 8% of NHS trust board members are. London currently has just one BME trust chair and not one BME chief executive. Almost two fifths of London's NHS trust boards have no voting BME members at all. The proportion of trust board members from BME backgrounds has actually fallen in recent years while the proportion of BME staff and local populations has grown. The likelihood of white staff in London are three times more likely to become senior or very senior than BME staff.

The inevitable impact on staff morale is that a quarter of BME staff consistently report they are discriminated against and that they are denied a fair opportunity to develop their career. If BME staff are treated unfairly, patients pay a price. When panels appoint "people like us" during recruitment and promotion, then patients may not get the best possible staff. When BME staff are treated unfairly once employed, there is a cost to those staff, to their employers and most importantly to patients.

Read the full article from The Guardian here  

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U.S. healthcare usage and spending resumes rise in 2013

Americans used more health services and spent more on prescription drugs in 2013, reversing a recent trend, though greater use of cheaper generic drugs helped control spending, according to a report issued on Tuesday by a leading healthcare information company.

Spending on medicines rose 3.2 percent in the United States last year to $329.2 billion. While that was far less than the double-digit increases seen in previous decades, it was a rebound from a 1 percent decline in 2012, the report by IMS Health Holdings Inc. found.

Among factors driving the increased spending were the cost of new medicines, price increases on some branded drugs, a $10 billion reduced impact of patent expirations compared with 2012, and the first rise in the use of healthcare services in three years, IMS found.

IMS compiles and provides data on prescription drug use and trends for the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry.

The relatively small spending increase was helped in part by greater use of cheap generic drugs, which edged up to 86 percent of all prescriptions filled in the United States from 84 percent in 2012, despite fewer major new generic drug introductions compared with the impact seen in 2012.

Healthcare utilization was up across the board, with rises in doctor office visits, hospitalizations and volume of prescriptions filled, IMS said.

The increased use of healthcare services does not reflect those newly insured under the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, which did not fully kick in until this year. But it could be reflective of declines in unemployment, with more people gaining employer-based health insurance, and recent gains in consumer confidence.

Read the full Reuters article here  

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Is Carolinas HealthCare appeal a signal for future litigation?

Carolinas HealthCare System’s request that an S.C. Administrative Law judge reconsider his decision to allow Piedmont Medical Center to build a Fort Mill hospital may signal the system’s strategy for appealing in state or federal courts, legal experts say.

Attorneys for Carolinas HealthCare, the parent company of Carolinas Medical Center, argued in an appeal filed last week that by ruling in favor of PMC, Judge Phillip Lenski “unconstitutionally engaged in economic protectionism that violates the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the basic tenets of the free market system.”

On April 1, Lenski overturned a 2011 decision by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control that gave CMC permission to build the Fort Mill hospital. Lenski said allowing the Charlotte-based hospital system to build the Fort Mill hospital would cause Piedmont economic harm, reduce the number of Piedmont patients, and affect the Rock Hill hospital’s ability to provide quality healthcare.

Under the state’s certificate of need program, Lenski was allowed to consider economic harm to Piedmont in determining who should build the hospital. But attorneys for Carolinas HealthCare argue Lenski placed too much weight on the issue.

The appeal says “the entire basis of (Judge Lenski’s) order is to protect Piedmont from perceived adverse effects of competition from an out-of-state hospital and to reduce the number of South Carolina residents who voluntarily seek healthcare from Carolinas HealthCare hospitals in North Carolina.”

Read the full article from Herald Online here  

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China detains 160 in Shanghai healthcare scam

Chinese authorities have detained 160 members of a criminal gang in the eastern city of Shanghai after the group swindled patients by luring them to fake medical clinics and selling them over-priced drugs, Shanghai police said on Tuesday.

The gang cheated over 500 victims out of 1.7 million yuan ($273,400), employing corrupt doctors to inflate drug prices and prescribe large amounts of medicines to patients, the city's police department said in a posting on its official microblog.

Corruption in China's healthcare system is rife, with a scarcity of doctors and bribery pushing up the cost of care and creating tension between healthcare workers and patients.

Providing affordable, accessible healthcare is one of the key platforms of president Xi Jinping's new government, with China's healthcare bill set to hit $1 trillion by 2020, according to a report from McKinsey & Co.

Over 600 Shanghai police launched a sting operation on April 2, after seven months of investigation, detaining 160 suspects in raids on gang members' homes around the city and seizing crates of medicine and fake firearms, the statement said.

The gang would lure patients into four fraudulent clinics, by placing people at hospitals and metro stations to praise the quality of the care. Unqualified doctors would then sell them drugs at prices often inflated over 10 times the real value.

Read the full article from Yahoo News here  

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