Viewpoints: N.Y. Malpractice ‘Solution’?; Tap Texas Rainy-Day Fund?; Ariz. Transplant Dilemma Solution?
The New York Times: A Market Solution For Malpractice
Almost every other product Americans encounter is subject to laws that guarantee that the producer suffers when its product is subpar. There's no reason medical guidelines should be any different. With the proper incentives, these private regulators could help President Obama carry out the health care reform he signed into law a year ago (Ronen Avraham, 3/28).
NY Daily News: The Health Courts Prescription: To Truly Attack Defensive Medicine, Go Beyond Malpractice Caps
[Gov. Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team recommended] a cap of $250,000 on the pain and suffering portion of awards and establish a no-fault fund for babies born with brain damage. These are worthy proposals, but they don't come close to addressing the magnitude of potential savings, because they don't confront the underlying cause of defensive medicine. That's the costly extra spending on tests and procedures that have minimal if any medical value, but are ordered by doctors simply to protect themselves in case they get sued (Phillip K. Howard, 3/28).
Houston Chronicle: Sick Kid? Suck It Up
So let's apply some of that homespun common sense to what is known as the Texas Rainy Day Fund. Gov. Rick Perry says he won't sign a budget for the next two years that dips into the estimated $6.2 billion available from the fund. ... If I were to lose my job and therefore my health insurance and one of my children developed a disease, here is the response suggested by those who don't want to tap the state's rainy day fund: "I'm sorry, darling. I need to hold on to my savings. Maybe I'll take you to the doctor next time you get sick" (Rick Casey, 3/28).
Houston Chronicle: Our Deadly, Costly Choices
Last week, Texas state budget writers declined to include $19.2 million in additional funding for the Texas HIV Medication Program, which pays for essential medications for about 14,000 low-income Texans and is currently funded at $109 million. ... the program will have to be drastically restructured to accommodate the expected 14 percent growth in participants over the next two years ... the case for allocating priority funding for patients with HIV and AIDS is particularly strong when one considers both the human and economic costs of failing to do so (3/28).
The Arizona Republic: Brewer Moves In Right Direction
A tiny ray of hope is finally glimmering for 98 Arizonans who need lifesaving treatment. Gov. Jan Brewer is looking at restoring transplant funds that were cut off Oct. 1. ... Brewer refused to resume transplants because the state Medicaid program, AHCCCS, faces a huge shortfall. But now, there are ways to fill the gap, including a proposal from health-care organizations that would bring in more federal dollars through a special assessment (3/29).
San Jose Mercury News: Health System Threatened By County Plan
[O]n Tuesday [Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith] will attempt to severely weaken the county's health and hospital system, perhaps crippling its ability to deal with health care reform, without even a public discussion. Smith's proposal appears to put him in charge of the system ... Many county workers wish Smith had listened to the consultants, who had convened stakeholders to figure out how to take advantage of federal health care reform and care for the additional 20,000 patients expected when insurance is available (3/28).
Kaiser Health News: The RUC Providing Valuable Expertise To The Medicare Program For Twenty Years
The American Medical Association and national medical specialty societies created the AMA/Specialty Society RVS Update Committee, also known as the RUC, to ensure that clinical expertise was utilized in this payment system. ... At no cost to taxpayers, these practicing physicians generously volunteer their time; collect data; pour over detailed itemizations of each individual supply item or task performed in physician offices; and debate how these resource costs compare to other established procedures (Dr. Barbara Levy, 3/28).