September 22, 2013
Re "When less medicine is more," Opinion, Sept. 18 We can save some of the $700 billion a year that Dr. Glenn D. Braunstein says is spent on ineffective care by reforming medical malpractice. Much of the reason doctors run too many tests is to practice defensive medicine. No-fault systems like workers' compensation would greatly reduce healthcare costs and protect consumers. Courts should be involved only when gross negligence is a possible cause. Braunstein also discusses unnecessarily long hospital stays.
September 18, 2013 |
This year, 36.6 million people will be admitted to U.S. hospitals. Each patient will stay an average of 4.8 days, and the cost for all those hospitalizations will reach into the billions. Is all that time spent in hospitals good for patients? Hospitals, of course, are vital institutions that save lives. When someone needs intensive, around-the-clock care, there is no substitute. But as physicians and hospital staffs know well, the longer a patient stays in a hospital, the more perilous the hospitalization can become.
September 15, 2013 |
Would you be willing to share with your employer how much you eat, drink, smoke or exercise? And would you be willing to make lifestyle changes in return for a break on the cost of your health insurance? The University of Minnesota offered such discounts to its workers. Actions such as completing a health questionnaire, biking to campus or setting personal fitness goals earned insurance discounts beginning at $300. Nearly 6,000 employees accepted the bargain. But do such programs have the intended effect of healthier employees and lower healthcare costs?
August 30, 2013 |
As their session draws to a close, California lawmakers are poised to approve at least two hotly disputed measures that could slow the growth of healthcare costs. One would allow nurses with advanced training to deliver more medical care, and another would open the door to less-expensive versions of pricey biologic drugs. Although the nursing bill was weakened in the face of opposition from doctors, it's still an important step in the right direction. The biologic drug measure, on the other hand, strays off course.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 22, 2013 |
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti emerged from his first labor showdown with some financial concessions on Department of Water and Power salaries but little progress on a key goal: getting employees to pay out of their own pockets for rising health insurance costs. The deal is expected to save $6.1 billion over 30 years, in large part by cutting pension benefits for new hires and having workers go three years without raises, according to budget officials. But the DWP will continue its practice of covering 100% of employees' healthcare premiums, despite Garcetti's call for more concessions.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 17, 2013 |
Ordinarily, I don't spend more than an hour or so at a time in Los Angeles City Hall. I get in and out of there, quick as a burglar, to avoid having my judgment impaired. I thought longingly about that approach on Friday, when I attended a windy public hearing on a proposed new contract for employees of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. For the first two hours, public officials explained the contract, in mostly rosy terms. It wasn't perfect, they said, but pretty good.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 14, 2013 |
SAN FRANCISCO - Officials who oversee the healthcare plans that cover San Francisco public employees this week excoriated Kaiser executives for failing to adequately explain a proposed rate increase but ultimately voted to back it. The city's public workers have seen their healthcare costs spiral while they have accepted pay cuts and furlough days at the bargaining table. In an unusual move, labor unions teamed up with San Francisco's Health Service System earlier this year to demand greater transparency from Kaiser.
June 13, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Sen. Barbara Boxer plans to push for Washington to provide $250 million and perhaps more to help local and state governments pay the cost of healthcare to uninsured immigrants who seek legal status under legislation now before the Senate. Officials from Los Angeles County--home to an estimated 1.1 million people in the country illegally, one-tenth of the nation's total--have expressed concern that local taxpayers will be “left holding the bag” to pay for the healthcare costs.
May 31, 2013 |
The trustees overseeing the finances of Social Security and Medicare issued their latest report Friday, declaring that a) the Social Security Trust Fund is expected to run out of money in 2035, the same estimate as last year; b) Medicare's hospital trust fund is expected to run out of money in 2026, a two-year improvement over last year's estimate; and c) the Disability Insurance Trust Fund is expected to run out of money in 2016, just as projected last year. So, what kind of spin would you put on this news?
May 31, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - In another indication of the impact of slowing healthcare costs, the federal government Friday upgraded its assessment of the financial health of the Medicare insurance program for the elderly and disabled. Medicare's main trust fund will not begin operating in the red until 2026, two years later than projected last year, according to an annual report from the board of trustees that oversees the nation's major entitlement programs. Prospects for the Social Security retirement program, meanwhile, remain largely unchanged from last year, with the trustees estimating that the program's main trust fund, which provides assistance to some 46 million retirees and their relatives, will be unable to pay full benefits starting in 2035.