HealthCare Policy Roundup 05-04-09

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GREAT article in the LA Times explaining the balance billing issue in California and how the California Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw balance billing will have on emergency medical care. Previous post I wrote about the topic is here. Two great quotes:
“ER docs are everybody’s hero — until we send a bill.”
“California has decided that the insurance man is more important to the patient than the doctor.”
Ya reap what ya sow.

This article in Yahoo News notes that the Sussex Health Center ED in Canada was closed for two nights when the ED physician in Sussex was sent to St. John Regional Hospital to cover a staff shortage. St. John is a Level 1 trauma center needing 22 emergency physicians, but only 9 positions are filled.
The New Brunswick Health Minister is trying to avoid “issues” that prevent vacant emergency physician positions at St. John Regional Hospital from being filled. Apparently money is available, but still no one wants to work there.
Still think health care is a “right”? How should the Canadian government enforce the “right” to health care for Canadian citizens when no doctors choose to provide that “right”?

An editorial in the Pennsylvania Patriot-News written by an emergency physician uses the number of defendants in Pennsylvania medical malpractice cases to debunk Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s assertions that the Pennsylvania malpractice lawsuit crisis is over. Almost 40 Pennsylvania hospitals/maternity units/medical facilities have closed in 10 years. This physician attributes “shotgun” lawsuits – where plaintiff attorneys file lawsuits against any medical provider involved with a patient’s care – as a driver behind the continued crisis.

Galveston’s UTMB Hospital campus having difficulty re-opening its emergency department, stating that doing so involves “more than meets the eye.” See previous post I wrote here. A Texas Faculty Association blog entry questions whether UTMB’s delay in re0pening the emergency department is financially motivated. A commenter stated that the hospital is now “in the black” and making “more profit than ever before.” Another commenter noted how the Urgent Care Clinic has “24/7 CT scans, ultrasound and MRI” and routinely works up “surgical emergencies like appendicitis or head/cspine trauma.” A commenter on the post calls the UTMB’s actions “morally repugnant.”
Goes back to the question – why should hospitals be required to foot the bill for unfunded care any more than grocery stores, hotels, restaurants, or attorneys should be required to foot the bill for patrons who have no money? Times are a-changin’.

Drunk driver in pickup truck crashes into Bismarck, ND emergency department. Damage estimated at $100,000. Nurse making coffee thought noise from crash was her “blowing up the microwave.”
At least they didn’t have to transport the driver very far for treatment.

Legislation that would lift Nevada’s $350,000 malpractice lawsuit damage cap in cases of “gross negligence” has passed State Assembly and is heading to State Senate.
When a couple of Nevada doctors allegedly cause hundreds of cases of Hepatitis C in patients by re-using syringes and single dose vials of medication, one can see the impetus for the legislation.
Others call the legislation the “Drive doctors out of Nevada” bill.

A look at emergency medical care in Jakarta, India and a commenter that warns not to emulate the system in the United States.

1 Comment

  1. Lisa Kilburn on

    Jakarta is in Indonesia not India. Different political structure, different governments, and presumably different health care system.

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