Democrats hammer Republicans on lawsuit seeking to void Obamacare (without mentioning it by name)

Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) are in close re-election dogfights in red states, and Republicans recently filed a lawsuit that just might help them keep their jobs.

Manchin’s and Donnelly’s opponents (Patrick Morrisey and Mike Braun, respectively) have voiced their support for a lawsuit filed by 20 Republican state attorneys general seeking to void the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The patient protections in the name include prohibiting health insurance companies from discriminating against patients with pre-existing health conditions.

Donnelly and Manchin are calling them out on it without explicitly mentioning PPACA: a law whose actual provisions are popular with voters even though its name and especially its nickname (Obamacare) are not.

 

 

GoFundMe CEO: 1/3 of crowdsourcing campaigns are for medical bills

The U.S. healthcare system is so broken and so unaffordable that Americans are turning to crowdsourcing campaigns on websites like GoFundMe to get help paying their medical bills.

GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon recently told Minnesota Public Radio that 1 out of 3 GoFundMe campaigns are started by people asking for help paying their medical bills and that those campaigns raise more money than any other type of campaign on GoFundMe.

 

 

Women are dying needlessly during childbirth in U.S. hospitals

The vast majority of women in America give birth without incident. But each year, more than 50,000 are severely injured. About 700 mothers die. The best estimates say that half of these deaths could be prevented and half the injuries reduced or eliminated with better care.

Instead, the U.S. continues to watch other countries improve as it falls behind. Today, this is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth.

USA Today, 7/27/2018

The methods to prevent these deaths are not mysterious, complicated or expensive. They just aren’t being practiced.

Freestanding ERs confuse patients — especially when they get the bill

So, when you think of an emergency room, you probably picture the part of a hospital where ambulances bring people who need immediate, life-saving measures.

You probably don’t picture a small facility in a strip mall “next to a nail place.” That’s something altogether different, isn’t it? Like an urgent care, perhaps.

Not according to the bill.

Freestanding emergency rooms are popping up all over the country. While many of them are operated by hospitals, some are operated by independent companies, including the largest provider, Adeptus Health. Some sticker-shocked patients complained in a lawsuit.

The suit targets Adeptus Health, the largest provider of freestanding ERs in the country, claiming that Adeptus “actively conceals its billing practices” and operates a business model meant to “trick patients into believing that its centers are appropriate for non-emergent care for the purpose of extracting extravagant fees.”

NBC News, 4/25/2017

The lawsuit might be a moot point. According to The Dallas Morning News, Adeptus Health filed for bankruptcy in April. Even without Adeptus Health in the picture, many freestanding emergency rooms will continue to operate.

What about EMTALA?

There’s another significant way in which freestanding emergency rooms can differ from hospital emergency rooms. The federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) does not apply to them, meaning federal law doesn’t require them to accept all patients regardless of ability to pay. Some states have passed EMTALA-like laws for freestanding emergency rooms, but some have not.

So, are these facilities really emergency rooms, or are they merely urgent care facilities gouging non-emergent patients with ER-like prices? It’s an important reminder to be really sure about the level of care you are seeking before you receive it…or else you could pay a hefty price.

 

Health policy wonks of all stripes agree: GOP health plan is terrible

Despite the terrible news, I was heartened to see the phrase “healthcare policy wonks” in this article. It’s a shame these wonks weren’t included in writing the Republicans’ American Health Care Act (AHCA).

Experts from across the ideological spectrum who actually understand health care policy know that the GOP’s health care plan doesn’t pass muster.

Here are a few objections.

From the left

The repeal bill will transfer money from low-income and middle-class Americans to millionaires.
Topher Spiro and Harry Stein, Center for American Progress

From the center

Some parts of the country will see very large financial hits even if they retain coverage.
Matthew Fiedler, Brookings Institute

From the right

The flat credit will price many poor and vulnerable people out of the health insurance market.
Avik Roy, Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and health policy adviser to Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, and Mitt Romney presidential campaigns

This bill misses the mark primarily because it fails to correct the features of Obamacare that drove up health care costs.
Edmund F. Haislmaier, The Heritage Foundation