Tom Price Asked Doctors To Tell Him How They Want To Get Paid. That's Ridiculous.
The big health care story last week wasTrump threatening, again, to let the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) implode if Democrats did not work with him to pass his health care reform bill. It's a story worth reporting because it clearly shows that Trump just wants to tick health care reform off his to-do list. Something he can brazenly claim is better than Obamacare, even though it won't be, and that he accomplished quickly and through force.
Meanwhile, while Trump was undermining Obamacare with threats, Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary, the greedy and corrupt, Tom Price, was actively weakening the law. After the Republican health care reform law debacle, Price wasted no time tweaking Obamacare administrative provisions that will most definitely result in fewer people enrolling on the federal exchange. He did this by greatly reducing the annual open enrollment period and placing restrictions on special enrollment periods and requiring documentation for life events such as marriage, birth, and losing workplace health insurance, etc. The new rules also force you to pay the full year's premiums unless you have a life event like new job-based coverage, eligibility for Medicare or Tricare, etc. With this new rule, you cannot stop paying premiums the last few months of the year, as you could under the old Obamacare rules, to save a few bucks. Price and HHS also gave insurers the green light to offer slightly skimpier health plans. Bonus!
But Price's week wasn't done. The former doctor who wants to get rid of Medicare and Medicaid because he believes the reimbursement rates are too low asked doctors for ideas on how they should get paid. Specifically, Price was referring to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), which replaced the old system of paying doctors for Medicare services. MACRA is an attempt to move away from paying physicians based on the number of patients they see (fee-for-service model) and towards a system based on value and quality of services. Therefore, MACRA also requires reports on quality and pays physicians extra for meeting quality standards.
Price portrays MACRAs quality standards as so burdensome to doctors that they could lead to burnout and more doctors leaving the profession. He doesn't support bundled payments and likely doesn’t support value-based health care at all. He uses his credentials as a former orthopedic surgeon to claim he knows better than anyone that value is hard to define and therefore, unfair to pay doctors according to value-based standards.
It's all a crock. Price has shown again and again that he's a snooty (former) doctor that finds every government regulation related to health care payments and quality burdensome. Price wants zero regulation of health care services, and he wants doctors to have the right to charge whatever they want with no connection to results. And last week while Trump was acting like a cartoonish Mafioso, Price quietly and deliberately steered HHS in the direction of little to no regulation and the payment model of their choice.
There's no free market when doctors' services are not subject to scrutiny, and they can decide how and what they want to get paid without sharing their prices in advance. And there will never be meaningful health care reform if we do not restrict the amount we pay to doctors and hospitals for their services. Asking doctors to name their payment method of choice is ridiculous.