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Congress Shouldn’t Punish Patients to Help Insurers [Opinion]

Point well made…

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The first rule of health care is supposed to be: “First, do no harm.” That is to say, health care should always benefits patients, never harm them.

But patients are being punished, often long after they get their care. They are often being hit with big, unfair medical bills. This can happen even when the patient is insured and thinks she is going to an in-network provider or hospital. An anesthesiologist, for example, might be out-of-network, allowing the insurance company to refuse to pay. The patient ends up owing the entire bill.

This is unfair. But Congress should fix the problem, not make it worse. And at least one proposal now under consideration in the House of Representatives would make things worse.

Rep. Bobby Scott’s Education and Labor Committee proposal would impose a form of price control. It would cap out-of-network charges at the in-network rate. This may sound good at first, but it lets insurers off the hook for a problem they created, while it punishes doctors.

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First, remember where this problem started. Insurance companies basically wrote ObamaCare, the law that mandated everyone carry health insurance coverage. When the government mandates your product, that’s clearly good for business. The law led to higher premiums, year after year, and led to costly regulations that made consumers pay more without making them any healthier.

These companies are still trying to shape public policy to their benefit. Health Insurance companies and their army of lobbyists in Washington spent approximately $74 million last year to influence lawmakers, according to OpenSecrets.org. They know how to game the system.

Second, keep in mind that once out-of-network costs are capped, insurance companies will be able to squeeze in-network reimbursements down. That may sound like good news for patients, but it isn’t.

Doctors and hospitals will be forced to accept less and less in return for their services. We’re already seeing rural hospitals closing down, with 64 shuttering between 2013 and 2017. Expect to see many more facilities close if this bill moves forward.

As for doctors, they’re already working for less than they deserve. Average pay is on the downswing. If this trend continues, we could see doctors decide to retire instead of accepting artificially low pay rates. A group of doctors is warning just that in a joint letter to Congress. Price caps “could lead to market consolidation and artificially low payment rates,” they write.

We can’t improve American health care with fewer doctors and fewer hospitals. That would just mean much worse care for everybody.

It would be better to begin to unwind the connections between government and health insurers, so a true market could begin to function. Instead of mandating coverage, the government could empower consumers to make choices. Doing so would help make more choices available, so patients would have access to larger networks. To its credit, the Trump Administration is taking steps in this direction.

But the Administration shouldn’t be swayed by the inside Washington push to simply “do something” about surprise medical bills. Doing the wrong things would do more harm than good.

Big insurance companies rake in record profits — more than $1 billion per quarter in many cases, while patients go broke paying bills. We need to put an end to surprise medical billing. But also make sure the solution doesn’t punish those who had reason to believe they were using an in-network provider.

Bryan Crabtree, is author of the book, “The Trump In You: Acting Like Trump Is Actually A Good Thing.” He is host of The Bryan Crabtree Show in Atlanta Georgia on WGKA, AM 920 and WAFS, biz1190 as well as the publisher of Talk40.com

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Six Foot Social Distancing Rule Has Murky Origins, Says Former FDA Chief

So…was it all just made up?

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At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were plenty of precautions and guidelines being slung about, some a little more diligently than others.

This was a novel virus, after all, and the guidance of our experts was expected to shift somewhat as we learned ever more about the way this strain of coronavirus was going to behave.

But, as we’re finding out now, some of these suggestions may have come right out of thin air.

Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), admitted during an interview on Face the Nation that the six foot social distancing rule recommended by public health officials for months on end was actually “arbitrary in and of itself,” and he noted that “nobody knows where it came from.”

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Speaking with Face the Nation’s Margaret Brennan, Gottlieb discussed the rules and risks early in the pandemic, explaining that the Trump administration shifted its focus to the impact lockdowns and rules would have on the economy and children.

The admission came during a conversation about bringing children back into the classroom.

“And in fact, when the Biden administration wanted to open schools in the spring, this past spring, they got the CDC to change that guidance from six feet to three feet,” Gottlieb continued, admitting the original guidance was “arbitrary” and had unknown origins.

“The six feet was arbitrary in and of itself, nobody knows where it came from,” he said. “The initial recommendation that the CDC brought to the White House and I talk about this was 10 feet, and a political appointee in the White House said we can’t recommend 10 feet.”

One can only imagine how things would have turned out differently for the restaurant and live music industries had there been an understanding that this number wasn’t based in absolute science.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were plenty of precautions and guidelines being slung about, some a little more diligently than others. This was a novel virus, after all, and the guidance of our experts was expected to shift somewhat as we learned ever more about the way this strain of coronavirus was going to behave. But, as we’re finding out now, some of these suggestions may have come right out of thin air. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), admitted during an interview on Face the Nation that the six foot social distancing rule recommended by public health officials for months on end was actually “arbitrary in and of itself,” and he noted that “nobody knows where it came from.” Speaking with Face the Nation’s Margaret Brennan, Gottlieb discussed the rules and risks early in the pandemic, explaining that the Trump administration shifted its focus to the impact lockdowns and rules would have on the economy and children. The admission came during a conversation about bringing children back into the classroom. “And in fact, when the Biden administration wanted to open schools in the spring, this past spring, they got the CDC to change that guidance from six feet to three feet,” Gottlieb continued, admitting the original guidance was “arbitrary” and had unknown origins. “The six feet was arbitrary in and of itself, nobody knows where it came from,” he said. “The initial recommendation that the CDC brought to the White House and I talk about this was 10 feet, and a political appointee in the White House said we can’t recommend 10 feet.” One can only imagine how things would have turned out differently for the restaurant and live music industries had there been an understanding that this number wasn’t…

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Vaccine Producer Says School-Aged Children Should Get COVID-19 Shots

And the FDA may not be too far behind.

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As a great many of our nation’s children begin to shuffle back into the classroom this month, there are concerns among come that they could create a COVID super spreader event simply due to their inability to yet be vaccinated against the illness.

But all that could be changing soon, as Pfizer declares that their vaccine is safe for children aged 5-11.

A smaller dose of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine is safe and generates a “robust” immune response in a clinical trial of kids ages 5 to 11, the drugmakers announced Monday.

The news couldn’t come any sooner for parents anxious to get their children vaccinated as kids start the new school year with the delta variant surging across America. Children’s Covid cases remain disturbingly high with 243,000 new infections during the week ended Sept. 9. — the second-highest number of kids’ cases since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the most recent data from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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How quickly could these shots be approved by the FDA?

The data, which included more than 2,200 children, will be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration and other health regulators “as soon as possible,” the companies said. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said last week the company could submit data on children ages 5 to 11 by the end of this month. If the FDA spends as much time reviewing the data for that age group as it did for 12- to 15-year-olds, the shots could be available in time for Halloween.

The announcement could renew the debate over whether or not COVID-19 vaccines should be mandated in schools – a point that has been hotly contested over the course of the last several months.

As a great many of our nation’s children begin to shuffle back into the classroom this month, there are concerns among come that they could create a COVID super spreader event simply due to their inability to yet be vaccinated against the illness. But all that could be changing soon, as Pfizer declares that their vaccine is safe for children aged 5-11. A smaller dose of Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine is safe and generates a “robust” immune response in a clinical trial of kids ages 5 to 11, the drugmakers announced Monday. The news couldn’t come any sooner for parents anxious to get their children vaccinated as kids start the new school year with the delta variant surging across America. Children’s Covid cases remain disturbingly high with 243,000 new infections during the week ended Sept. 9. — the second-highest number of kids’ cases since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the most recent data from the American Academy of Pediatrics. How quickly could these shots be approved by the FDA? The data, which included more than 2,200 children, will be submitted to the Food and Drug Administration and other health regulators “as soon as possible,” the companies said. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said last week the company could submit data on children ages 5 to 11 by the end of this month. If the FDA spends as much time reviewing the data for that age group as it did for 12- to 15-year-olds, the shots could be available in time for Halloween. The announcement could renew the debate over whether or not COVID-19 vaccines should be mandated in schools – a point that has been hotly contested over the course of the last several months.

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