Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why are emergency rooms disappearing across America?

The number of emergency rooms has fallen by more than one quarter over the past 20 years, yet visits have steadily risen over the same period, causing backlogs in remaining ER's that leave patients waiting sometimes for hours.

According to a first-of-its-kind study by the American Medical Association, from 1990 through 2009, the number of urban ER's fell from 2,446 to 1,779, a drop of 27 percent. The biggest reasons for the decline, the study's authors found, were market forces; most of the emergency rooms that were closed were being operated by for-profit hospitals. As healthcare became more expensive - and as the economy grew progressively worse in the past few years - profit margins fell. Closing ER's seemed like the easiest way for hospitals to save money.

And yet, over the same period, emergency room visits climbed by 35 percent, Dr. Renee Hsia, an emergency physician at the University of California, San Francisco, who worked on the study.

"This shows that the market forces very much are at play in our healthcare system," she told Reuters. "My opinion is that when we rely on a market-based approach, we can't expect resources to be distributed in an equitable fashion."

Hsia says other studies show that ER overcrowding affects how well patients do. She also said when things are left up to market forces, "these are the effects that we see."

Hsia herself may be a victim of the very market forces she decries, for truth be told, part of the problem with access to emergency rooms is the health care system itself. Without better education of, and access to, more natural treatments and less reliance on traditional medicine - when tends to worsen the overall health care system - then perhaps ER visits would decrease to the point where overcrowding would become a thing of the past.

In one New York study of women emergency room patients, 56 percent had tried alternative medical treatments, and an astounding 87 percent of them said such treatments were effective. They included chiropractic care, massage therapy, herbs, meditation, and acupuncture. Yet, the effort continues to criminalize alternative medical treatments and practitioners.

The phrase "home remedies" should not carry negative connotations. The fact of the matter is, natural health care provides a wealth of safe, viable options for medical consumers. Sticking to the current system, as evidenced by ER overcrowding, is just another sign the old system is failing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Governor of Idaho signs sweeping new order banning Obamacare

In another blow to the federal healthcare "reform" monstrosity known as "Obamacare," Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, a Republican, has signed an order banning portions of law.

State Republicans had already passed a so-called "nullification" bill, which Otter said would have been too restrictive in terms of offering state residents better choices, and opted instead to sign an executive order that he said would negate that issue.

"The (Republican) bill went further than what the authors intended it to do," Otter said. "It basically said you couldn't plan anything that looks like 'Obamacare.'"

In a letter to state Attorney General Lawrence G. Wasden, Otter said the legislation "can impose regulations and requirements that discourage or make it impossible for insurers to offer affordable health coverage to individuals and small employers in Idaho."

The Idaho governor's order is the latest in a list of legislative actions taken by states against the measure. As of this writing, 28 states are plaintiffs in lawsuits aimed at stopping the implementation of Obamacare on some level.

Federal courts have ruled both ways on it, but one of the most recent rulings, by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida said the law was unconstitutional, saying no American should be forced into buying health insurance.

"I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the act with the individual mandate," Vinson wrote. "That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and inequities in our health care system. The health care market is more than one-sixth of the national economy, and without doubt Congress has the power to reform and regulate this market. That has not been disputed in this case."

"While the individual mandate was clearly 'necessary and essential' to the act as drafted, it is not 'necessary and essential' to health care reform in general," he continued. "Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional, the entire act must be voided."

If anything Obamacare perpetuates corporate health care and Big Pharma, which both work in collusion to keep a "medical consumer" mentality within the industry. That forces most people to remain hooked on a system that does not promote healthier lifestyles which would, in turn, require less dependence on the healthcare industry in the first place.

Whether the issue is the "must-buy-insurance" mandate, the top-heavy and expensive new rules and regulations or the law's reliance on a failed system, Obamacare is an abomination. So, any setback the law suffers is a good thing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Obamacare failure now evident as health care costs rise nationwide

President Barack Obama's signature health care law was supposed to accomplish a couple of things. First, it was supposed to ensure that all Americans had access to quality healthcare; and second, it was supposed to reduce overall healthcare expenditures.

In a word, the law - while admittedly not yet fully implemented - has not led to either goal, and in fact, costs overall are skyrocketing.

These claims were substantiated in a recent subcommittee hearing of the House Education and Workforce Committee. Brett Parker, a finance officer for a small business in New York City, in testimony before the subcommittee, said the law hasn't "locked in costs, and instead increased them, while loading job creators with mandates, regulations, new taxes and burdens."

"Rather than solve the problems in the health care system, [the law] ignores costs and instead redistributes money from producers in order to fund vast new entitlements and expand old ones - this was not an improvement over the status quo, it was a step backwards," Parker told lawmakers.

Costs for health insurance, medical services, medicines - all of it - continue to rise, despite the massive piece of legislation that is "Obamacare." And, as they do, all Washington can do is argue over why.

But maybe rising costs shouldn't surprise us. After all, there were a few models on which to base portions of Obamacare before the latter was unfairly put upon Americans more than a year ago.

In Massachusetts, under former governor and prospective GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, a healthcare measure was passed that included an individual mandate (under threat of penalty) and other provisions similar to Obamacare. The law was supposed to accomplish the twin goals of ensuring all state residents and lowering health insurance and actual costs. "Every uninsured citizen in Massachusetts will soon have affordable health insurance and the costs of health care will be reduced," Romney wrote in The Wall Street Journal. Neither goal reached fruition.

In fact, current Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and current state lawmakers are still dealing with rising healthcare costs. But didn't "RomneyCare" solve those problems?

About as well as Obamacare has solved the nation's healthcare delivery and cost problems.

The keys to lowering your healthcare costs remain the same as they always have: you've got to improve your lifestyle. That starts with a better diet, getting enough exercise, a good regimen of supplements, and plenty of rest.