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HomeHealth InsuranceReaders Slam Hospital Monopolies and Blame the Feds for Understaffed Nursing Properties

Readers Slam Hospital Monopolies and Blame the Feds for Understaffed Nursing Properties

Letters to the Editor is a periodic characteristic. We welcome all feedback and can publish a range. We edit for size and readability and require full names.

Why Hospital Monopolies Are a Unhealthy Concept

I lately learn the article about Ballad Well being by Brett Kelman and Samantha Liss relating to the Mountain States Well being Alliance and Wellmont Well being System merging to create Ballad Well being, upon state approval (“These Appalachia Hospitals Made Huge Guarantees to Achieve a Monopoly. They’re Failing to Ship,” Sept. 29). Effectively, it was accepted, and right here is one more reason that monopolies are a foul concept. My husband is a trainer in Tennessee, and it difficult our open enrollment choices for 2024 insurance coverage. We have now used BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, a broadly chosen insurer in our state. We have been despatched notification that Ballad Well being and BCBST have been in negotiations and that there was a excessive likelihood that Ballad will quickly be an out-of-network supplier for these with BCBST plans. Fortunately, the varsity district affords Cigna insurance coverage as properly, however not all suppliers settle for that insurance coverage (as I stated, BCBST is a large insurer on this space).

Please clarify to me how it’s OK for a monopoly to determine to not be in-network with any well being plans. They need to be required to be in-network with any insurer from this space. I discover this very upsetting. I shouldn’t have to fret that if a catastrophic occasion have been to occur that my insurance coverage protection can be decreased to 60%-40% from 80%-20%, all as a result of my solely possibility for emergency care (Ballad) selected to not negotiate with the most important insurance coverage supplier in my space. Simply meals for thought.

— Kimberly Ensor, Johnson Metropolis, Tennessee

On X, previously often called Twitter, a person whose tagline is “a one-woman wrecking ball” had this to say about nursing house employee shortages:

That is DEVASTATING! If CMS is saying they can not establish a protected nursing employees stage for residents than how can surveyors maintain houses accountable? It ain’t occurring anyway. Biden’s coverage is WEAK. CMS is a joke. The gov’t is throwing away $. Wash & repeat

— Politics, Insurance policies & Pop Tradition ✍️ (@out2sea90210) August 29, 2023

— Ashley Thomas, Cleveland, Ohio

The Disaster of Understaffed Nursing Properties

I needed to thanks for offering a platform for dialogue of nursing house staffing (“Unique: CMS Examine Sabotages Efforts to Bolster Nursing Residence Staffing, Advocates Say,” Aug. 29). As a nursing scholar coming into my closing semester at SUNY Downstate, I’ve seen firsthand the destitute circumstances of understaffed nursing houses. Staffing ratios are abysmal and, as I see it, the one answer for the well-being of nursing house residents is a accountable staff-to-resident ratio.

I wholeheartedly agreed with the sentiment of the article: The Abt Associates examine was a shameful try to undermine the motion towards standardized staffing ratios at nursing houses. Folks turn into residents at nursing houses for a lot of causes, however the reality is they’re there, above all, as a result of they want specialised care, which these houses want nurses to offer — providers akin to ventilator care, tube feedings, treatment, steady monitoring, and frequent interventions to stop stress accidents, and a lot extra. There’s something terribly flawed when nursing houses can not present the providers that outline them, particularly when households and residents rely on them to take action.

I do suppose there have been some missed alternatives within the article. For instance, Jordan Rau writes that “motionless residents aren’t repositioned in mattress, inflicting bedsores that may result in an infection.” Whereas this assertion is true, it’s fairly imprecise. Infections are a life-threatening danger related to stress accidents, however the sores themselves are grotesque and painful, some extent I feel ought to have been included to emphasise the injustice of permitting stress accidents to develop and worsen. Well being care employees ought to make each effort to stop them. And nurses ought to perceive their roles as advocates in being a voice for sufferers who’re unable to talk for themselves.

It’s simple for the general public to think about the residents of nursing houses as homogenous and stereotypical aged individuals who have been forgotten as they turned burdensome, which isn’t solely false, however actively dangerous and agist. Folks of all ages and backgrounds reside in nursing houses, and their wants are as various as they’re themselves. The one common commonality they’ve is that they reside in nursing houses and wish respect, dignity, care, and an sufficient variety of nurses and employees to guard these wants.

— Tara L. Clark, Freeport, New York

A union activist who helps a nationwide single-payer well being system additionally weighed in on X:

CMS is the company that’s supposed to guard sufferers. However CMS, as an alternative, follows the bidding of the nursing house business. Disgrace! This is identical company that presides over handing Medicare to the for-profit business.

— Kay Tillow (@KayTillow) August 29, 2023

— Kay Tillow, Louisville, Kentucky

Avoiding Monetary Break for Growing older Elders

As Jordan Rau and Reed Abelson establish (“Dealing with Monetary Break as Prices Soar for Elder Care,” Nov. 14), too lots of in the present day’s older adults are falling via the cracks. They might wrestle with every day actions and declining well being however don’t essentially want 24/7 nursing house care.

Throughout the patchwork of long-term care, the Program of All-Inclusive Look after the Aged is underutilized. PACE affords built-in care via its campus-based mannequin, the place members can obtain complete, coordinated medical care and social providers in a mixed Medical Clinic and Day Middle, whereas additionally receiving at-home assist with important duties like dressing, bathing, and consuming.

This care is free to our dually eligible members who’re by no means saddled with copays, out-of-pocket prices, or deductibles. PACE has saved states 1000’s yearly per participant. Additional, members are grateful to remain at house and stay engaged with household and associates.

PACE acts as a crucial security internet for low-income seniors, so that they and their households aren’t pressured into monetary damage. For these not Medicaid-eligible, it prices lower than the nursing house different.

To shut our system’s gaps and decrease spending, applications like PACE have to turn into a extra distinguished a part of the dialogue. Policymakers ought to broaden entry to PACE providers so extra folks can profit from this profitable mannequin of senior care.

— Richard Fish, CEO of One Senior Care, Erie, Pennsylvania

JoAnne Dyer echoed the dire warning concerning the draining value of long-term care in an X publish:

One thing scary that you simply’re most likely not desirous about however you most likely needs to be desirous about. Lengthy-term care can bankrupt you. Sure, you. You along with your financial savings account and your 401k.

— JoAnne Dyer (@7Madronas) November 15, 2023

— JoAnne Dyer, Seattle

Extra Energy to Suzanne Somers

Age 76 is fairly lengthy to battle an aggressive, metastatic breast most cancers with out chemotherapy (“Suzanne Somers’ Legacy Tainted by Movie star Medical Misinformation,” Oct. 18). I’d say Suzanne Somers proved her level! None of us lives without end. I bought a lumpectomy in 2015 and refused tamoxifen. Chemotherapy wasn’t wanted. I refuse mammograms and gynecology. I’m doing properly. I discovered Ms. Somers’ ebook on most cancers, known as “Knockout,” very informative. I didn’t purchase into the dietary supplements angle, but it surely empowered me in my very own battle, when there have been no solutions, to ask questions and analysis. High quality of life is extra essential.

— Kerry McCracken, Milan, Illinois

A Las Vegas reader reacted on X to the identical article printed by the Los Angeles Instances, certainly one of KFF Well being Information’ media companions:

Ruthless Progressives and their company media trolls will proceed to hate you lengthy after you are lifeless and buried. #hate #corporatemedia #disinformation

— Grant David Gillham 🐎🗡️🌊🛩🔫🇲🇽🏍⛳🎸 (@CaptG2) October 19, 2023

— Grant David Gillham, Las Vegas

Over-the-Counter Narcan a Huge Leap for Humankind

Thanks for sharing your article highlighting boundaries to accessing Narcan (“Narcan, Now Accessible With out a Prescription, Can Nonetheless Be Onerous to Get,” Oct. 11). Whereas some specialists have questioned the importance of creating Narcan accessible over-the-counter, I firmly consider this growth is a significant milestone in our ongoing battle towards opioid-related fatalities.

One might argue that this alteration is merely a “tiny, tiny child step” and never deserving of applause; nonetheless, I’d contend that each optimistic change, irrespective of how small or late within the recreation, is a crucial half of a bigger answer. Making Narcan accessible and not using a prescription is a tangible acknowledgment of the urgency of the opioid disaster and a recognition of the necessity for swift, accessible interventions.

Narcan’s OTC standing may help cut back the stigma surrounding opioid overdose and encourage open conversations about habit and hurt discount. It sends a message that saving lives is a precedence, and it encourages people to be ready to behave in emergencies.

Nonetheless, there are actually challenges associated to affordability of OTC Narcan. Whereas $45 isn’t a super price ticket, group teams, first responders, state and native governments, and hurt discount teams — lots of whom might buy Narcan in bulk — should buy Narcan for a cheaper worth, $41 per two-dose carton.

Additionally it is essential to proceed educating pharmacists on the usage of Narcan. Solely 19 states require that pharmacists full a coaching course previous to meting out naloxone in any capability. All pharmacists, particularly these positioned in areas with excessive charges of opioid deaths, have to be firmly outfitted with the required info on administering Narcan to be a trusted supply among the many public. Supplier schooling is a key steppingstone to enhancing entry.

Narcan’s OTC availability represents a optimistic shift in our strategy to combating opioid overdoses, and it’s a step that deserves acknowledgment and assist. Allow us to not underestimate the influence of this alteration and proceed working towards a future the place each particular person has entry to the instruments they should stop opioid-related fatalities.

— Sana Imam, grasp’s scholar at George Washington College, Washington, D.C.

The HIV Prevention Trials Community chimed in on X:

As an over-the-counter product, Narcan ideally would seem on retailer cabinets in the identical manner as ibuprofen and cough treatment.

— HPTN (@HIVptn) October 11, 2023

A ‘Hit Piece’ on Rival Hospital Programs

I lately learn your article of a few years in the past evaluating for-profit versus nonprofit medical faculties (“Montana Med College Conflict Revives For-Revenue Vs. Nonprofit Flap,” June 7, 2021). I’m an anesthesiologist with 24 years of expertise, and virtually each well being care establishment or hospital has turn into for-profit. In truth, most anesthesiology teams are managed by companies like NorthStar Anesthesia, U.S. Anesthesia Companions, and many others. Hospitals have merged into gigantic multibillion-dollar companies like Ascension, Common Well being Companies, HCA Healthcare, and CHI Well being.

So why is it so dangerous to have a for-profit medical college, precisely? Nearly each side of contemporary well being care has turn into for-profit, and people nonprofit establishments have colluded with bigger techniques to close down smaller hospitals. So this clearly is a “hit piece” on the for-profit academic system by their competitor, Touro School and College System.

I’m one of many few medical doctors actually skilled in a nonprofit — known as the U.S. Military, the place I did my residency in anesthesiology at Brooke Military Medical Middle. That is fairly an uninformed and unreasonable article, particularly given the state of the company well being care business that’s pervasive in our nation. Once I left the army for personal follow, I couldn’t consider what was being handed for elective surgical procedure exterior the army.

So let’s not get the pot and kettle confused right here. Calling out a for-profit medical college in an period dominated by giant multibillion-dollar well being care companies is actually the pot calling the kettle black. And the agricultural Montana space is simply as a lot of a deserving space for any medical college — for-profit or nonprofit — as the agricultural state of West Virginia, the place I follow.

— Lance R. Hoover, Morgantown, West Virginia

Medicare Cuts Hurt Seniors’ Entry to Bodily Remedy Care

It’s disheartening to listen to tales of bodily therapists who’re more and more struggling to afford their coaching and value of residing whereas going through decrease pay (“Again Ache? Bum Knee? Be Ready to Anticipate a Bodily Therapist,” Nov. 28). Nobody ought to have to surrender their dream of being a bodily therapist as a result of they fear the pay is unsustainable — particularly at a time when many sufferers have already got restricted entry to remedy care.

Sadly, that’s the truth for a lot of — particularly for the reason that Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Companies lately finalized one more yr of steep fee cuts to bodily, occupational, and speech remedy in its lately launched Medicare Doctor Payment Schedule Ultimate Rule for CY 2024.

CMS’ closing rule features a troubling pay lower of no less than 3.4% to remedy suppliers in 2024. However in some geographic areas, that lower might be as excessive as over 4% due to the extremely technical components CMS makes use of to find out reimbursement. Not solely will this lower weaken the pipeline of recent bodily therapists coming into the sector, however it’ll additionally put important monetary pressure on bodily therapists at the moment working towards, hurting retention, and doubtlessly resulting in follow closings, which all negatively influence affected person entry to bodily remedy.

Bodily remedy care is a critically essential non-pharmacological therapy possibility for our nation’s growing older inhabitants. It helps sufferers handle ache, enhance mobility, and shield their independence, whereas avoiding reliance on highly effective painkillers and stopping doubtlessly lethal falls. It even saves CMS cash: On common, Medicare spending for beneficiaries who obtain bodily remedy as the primary therapy possibility is 75% decrease than the whole common spending for Medicare sufferers who bear surgical procedure first.

Although it’s disappointing that CMS didn’t hearken to the affected person and supplier communities when finalizing but extra cuts, there’s nonetheless time for Congress to behave. I urge our lawmakers on Capitol Hill to work collectively and swiftly reverse the intense cuts within the new rule to assist stabilize our nation’s well being care system and broaden entry to bodily remedy take care of sufferers.

— Nikesh Patel, govt director of the Alliance for Bodily Remedy High quality and Innovation (APTQI), Washington, D.C.



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