Viewpoints: $4,000 a night for a 'cozy' hospital room; Texas effort to provide women's health care falls short

Published on January 16, 2013 at 2:49 AM · No Comments

Los Angeles Times: First The Cat, Now The Health System Puts The Bit On Me
Call it the $55,000 cat bite. That's the rough total in medical costs (so far) for a cat bite on my hand that turned into an infection that turned into surgery that turned into a week in the hospital. ... But the bill has finally arrived, and I'm a good deal less impressed with the money side of our medical system. Put simply, it's nuts. Case in point: My cozy hospital room at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica was priced at $4,000 a night. Four thousand. You can book a 1,400-square-foot Premier Suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel for less than that. Another case in point: Sixteen bucks for a Tylenol. Actually, not even a proper Tylenol. That's for the generic equivalent. "It's totally crazy," admitted Dr. David Feinberg, who isn't just some innocent bystander when it comes to UCLA's medical pricing. He's the president of UCLA Health System. He runs the place (David Lazarus, 1/15).

The Washington Post: Shining A Light On Medicare Payments
Now costing more than $500 billion per year, Medicare is central to the United States' fiscal predicament. For this complicated problem, there are many complicated proposed solutions. But what if we try something simple, like journalism? ... the press and the public cannot examine the treatments individual physicians billed to Medicare or -; most important -; how much Medicare paid for them. Yet this is a matter of obvious public concern, given that Medicare made $28.8 billion in improper payments in 2011, according to a Government Accountability Office report last February. Media coverage could be a powerful weapon against waste, fraud and abuse, Dow Jones argues -; plausibly, given the Journal's recent work (Charles Lane, 1/14).

The Washington Post: The Rush To Digitize Patient Records Has Not Cut Costs
There is good news on the health-care spending front. According to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the nation's health-care bill grew only 3.9 percent in 2011, the third straight year at that pace -; which is about half the average annual rate between 2003 and 2007. Consequently, health care is no longer consuming a rising share of the overall economy; it's held steady at 17.9 percent of gross domestic product since 2009. ... It's easier to identify factors that did not contribute to the downward bending of the cost curve. Health information technology is a case in point (1/14).

The Dallas Morning News: Texas' Problem With Women's Health Care
Texas lawmakers determined in 2011 that taxpayers should not fund anything even tangentially related to abortion services, so they passed legislation designed to deny funds to the national reproductive health-services provider Planned Parenthood. As a result, the state said goodbye to federal funding that paid tens of millions of dollars for low-income women's reproductive health services -; none of which were abortion-related to begin with. ... the result has been a waste of public money, enormous cuts in health care funding and creation of an informational black hole for low-income women seeking health services (1/14).

Kansas City Star: Brownback's Shell Game On Mental Health Funds
For Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a wakeup call. He has announced a renewed focus on serving people who are mentally ill and resistant to treatment. It's a good idea, and one that families of mentally ill Kansans have been requesting for years. Both Kansas and Missouri desperately need crisis stabilization clinics -; a middle ground between outpatient treatment and hospitalization. But the governor's plan is deficient in two respects (1/14).

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