Trust: The central issue in health care reform

Marion Mass, M.D. and Craig M. Wax, D.O.

$6.1 million per year represents an increase in 12% of the take home pay that Gene Woods received from public non-profit Atrium Health system last year.  During this 6.1 million dollar year the following remarkable events happened:

 A group of over 80 physicians accused Atrium of monopolistic and anti-competitive behavior and left, starting independent Tyron Medical Partners

Atrium terminated its 40+ year contract with anesthesiologist group Southeast, and replaced them with another.   This move spawned lawsuits now pending in North Carolina Business Court, and spilling into public view.   One Southeast anesthesiologist boldly wrote to the Charlotte mayor, “we think that this decision puts our community members at risk.” The anesthesiologists “believe that the community should know about this, and that they should be able to weigh in on the decision,” the physician wrote.

 In November,Atrium said that personal information for more than 2 million of it patientsmay have been compromised in a data breach of billing information, includingaddresses, dates of birth and Social Security numbers. Oops.

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Insurance Networks are a Bug, Not a Feature: Practicing Physicians Ask Senate HELP Committee to Protect Patient and Physician Choice

The Senate HELP Committee, led by Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray, have asked for feedback on the draft of an ambitious “Lower Healthcare Costs Act of 2019.”

Tuesday, June 4, Practicing Physicians of America (PPA) will present, in Washington DC, a memo co-authored by PPA co-founder Marion Mass, MD and Vice President for Health Policy Craig M. Wax, DO.

The memo begins:

Writing on behalf of Practicing Physicians of America (PPA), we are grateful for and commend the HELP Committee’s efforts to introduce legislation aimed at reducing the varied costs of healthcare services and insurance by increasing the transparency of pricing across this sector of the economy.

It is our position that allowing market competition, with its attendant disciplines and efficiencies, can become the self-sustaining model for the delivery of medical services in the United States. Therefore, with the Lower Healthcare Costs Act of 2019 now under discussion, we offer comments and recommendations beginning on the next page.

Read the full memo at: https://ip4pi.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/ppasenatelhca060319.pdf

Or click on the image below:

Stop the Rush to Legalize Cannabis/Marijuana

Dear Governor Murphy:

I am opposed to the rush to legalize cannabis or marijuana in New Jersey, without research, trials, adequate review of history, and consideration of risk of collateral damage. With the current heroin, fentanyl, opiate crisis, it is foolhardy to rush into legalization of a gateway drug like cannabis or marijuana. At this time the hurry seems to be all about tax revenue, with no concern for the heath and welfare of the citizens of New Jersey.

https://nypost.com/2019/03/19/stop-ignoring-the-brutal-downside-of-legal-pot/

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or for ongoing discussion.

Best wishes for good health,
Craig M. Wax, DO
Family Physician

P.S. Please see below note in agreement from my fellow NJ physician colleague, Dr. Rob Pedowitz.


The Legalization of Marijuana Is All about the Money!

Dear Fellow Physician,

As a concerned physician and NJ Resident, I am writing today to ask for your assistance on defeating a very significant legislative bill, “The Legalization of Recreational Marijuana,” S2703, due for a floor vote on Monday, March 25, 2019 in Trenton.

Regardless of your political affiliation or personal beliefs, the decision by the legislature to move forward quickly with trying to pass this bill without consulting the medical community, or without fully exploring the legal, social, psychological, financial, and medical aspects of this issue may have significant repercussions. We have fought hard the last few years to battle the opioid epidemic, and though marijuana has many benefits for medicinal purposes, there are very little proven benefits when used recreationally. To legalize marijuana and make it readily available to the public, would only provide an easier gateway for people to desire stronger drugs, including prescribed opiates, heroin, and other psychoactive drugs. There are recent reports of other countries and in several states in the U.S. where people who smoke marijuana are now seeking more potent forms of cannabis, which are causing serious psychoactive complications. Treating mental illness has been difficult in NJ and the rest of this country, and if not properly regulated, we can have a worsened mental health crisis. We also may have to deal with worsened air pollution, which is already a problem in NJ as we have very high rates of asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Additional concerns for the medical community include determining evaluating employees and potential new hires for whether they may be under the influence of marijuana. Since the metabolites of marijuana can stay in the body for at least 72 hours, drug tests may be positive, even if a person did not use marijuana on the day of question. However, we may not be able to fully determine whether or not an employee is under the influence or not. Better testing and better guidance is needed for both the medical community and for employers.

Since there is much still to discuss and much more that needs to be decided, we need to defeat this bill. It is imperative that you call your local State Senator AND Assembly Representative today or Friday. There is still a lot of legislators on the fence and the vote can sway one way or the other. From my discussions with numerous legislators, they were very honest and said that this issue is “ONLY ABOUT MONEY.” They were very clear that the decision to pass this bill only comes down to money – taxes and revenue. In addition to contacting your local legislators, I also urge you to contact a few “key” State Senators who are on the fence but leaning to vote against the bill.

Please call:

Declan O’Scanlon (R) – Holmdel, (732)444-1838
Vin Gopal (D) – Freehold/Ocean/Tinton Falls, (732)695-3371
Paul Sarlo (D) – Passaic, Wood-Ridge, (201)804-8118
Joseph Lagana (D) – Paramus, (201)576-9199

You do not need to have a political background to contact a legislator. Just look up their contact information and call them up. Tell them who you are and that you are a physician, and if you are in their voting district (this matters A LOT!). Please do NOT state you represent any organization or hospital or group, as this will not be helpful or necessarily accurate.

Please contact me individually if you have any questions.

Thank you for your assistance on this vital issue!

Sincerely,

Rob Pedowitz, DO

Physicians: See the movie that hospitals don’t want you to see

SNEAK PREVIEW!

Do No Harm: physician suicide documentary

Angelika Film Center
18 Houston Street New York City
Wednesday September 12th 7:00pm
Thursday September 13th 7:00pm

In honor of Suicide Awareness Month- a special medical community SNEAK PREVIEW screening of the groundbreaking documentary film “Do No Harm.” Two time Emmy winning filmmaker Robyn Symon follows four people bonded by tragedy on a mission to expose a toxic medical culture beginning in medical school that puts the lives of doctors and patients at risk.

2 NIGHTS ONLY.

JOIN US LIVE: For a panel discussion following the movie with filmmaker Robyn Symon and stars Dr. Pamela Wible, John and Michele Dietl and others.

Password for tickets: DNH

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/do-no-harm-documentary-film-about-the-hidden-epidemic-of-physician-suicide-tickets-48224914016

Confusion Clouds HHS Cybersecurity Plans

Today’s article about HHS cybersecurity planning, published in Becker’s Hospital Review, reports on a yet another policy failure courtesy of the bloated bureaucracy in DC. The federal government is so big that it doesn’t know what departments it has or how it’s spent our money.

In April 2017 HHS announced the planned formation of a Healthcare Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (HCCIC). 14 months later, you’d expect that the HCCIC would be off an running, especially given the massive patient data breeches and ransomware attacks that have become all too common. Wrong. Instead massive confusion surrounds the status on the HCCIC. Congress is looking for answers and HHS seems to have few answers.

One telling quote from Becker’s:

Stakeholders have informed our staffs that they no longer understand whether the HCCIC still exists, who is running it or what capabilities and responsibilities it has,” the lawmakers wrote, noting HHS has provided only vague responses to requests for clarification on these issues.

Mix in to this milieu the fact that there are already existing government agencies tasked with similar responsibilities. Government inefficiently at its worst.

Read more at:

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/cybersecurity/congressional-leaders-to-hhs-it-s-unclear-if-troubled-cybersecurity-center-still-exists.html

“Continuing Board Certification” sounds swell but harms patients.

Dr. Walter Wood writes:

I board certified prior to 1991 and have “lifetime” certification equivalent to an academic degree. I can attest that my younger colleagues and their patients are being harmed by costly and time consuming “requirements” to participate in “re-certification” and “maintenance” of certification, soon to be renamed “Continuing Board Certification,” which is not needed and not only does not help patients but harms them. Patients in need are harmed when a doctor is not taking care of patients because the doctor is busy preparing for or repeatedly jumping through hoops such as what lawyers experience once in a lifetime with their bar exam. I was somewhat stunned that an anti-trust judge thought it was necessary to demonstrate “harm to consumers” as a result of the egregious behavior of the ABMS and its colluding member boards. That judge needs to be asked whether s/he repeats the bar exam every ten years.

Walter Wood, MD, FAAD

P.S. I have posted these comments at certificationharm.org.