Thursday, February 10, 2011

Don Berwick vs Congress

 

Don Berwick MD must have been on call last night.  His testimony at the  Senate Ways and Means Committee was a good thing for those wanting to repeal the Health Reform Law.

When faced with specific questions regarding the costs of reform, and it’s impact upon availabilty of care providers he failed to deliver answers, stating that was not his area of expertise.  It’s obvious Dr. Berwick never ran his own medical practice.  He seemed more bent on the propaganda and rhetoric of the Obama administration, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid..

It unfortunately does confirm that some doctors know bupkas about finances. and not just those in private practice.

 

He even went so far as to tell the committee that they would like the system once it was in place for several years.  Most of the changes will not occur in 2011 and only begin to create an impact in 2013.  I agree with some of the utopian ideals that Dr Berwick espouses, however it is obvious that neither side has drilled down on the impact of true costs to patients, employers, or care providers  The bureaucracy will be stultify everyone concerned.

Even Berwick states that early predictions are way off. 

The healthcare reform law, beating the Medicare actuary's predictions, has so far strengthened the privately-run Medicare Advantage program, Medicare chief Don Berwick testified on Thursday. Enrollment is up six percent while premiums are down six percent, Berwick told the House Ways and Means Committee.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services actuary had predicted that Medicare Advantage enrollment would drop 7.4 million over the next few years - starting this year - and that premiums would rise. Berwick said the initial results show that the prediction was incorrect. "I have the facts on the ground before me now," Berwick said. "The facts are that Medicare Advantage is looking stronger and stronger."

Can it keep up?: Berwick said he doesn’t know how long Medicare Advantage plans will continue to grow. “It looks like the industry thinks there’s a good future for Medicare Advantage,” he said, adding that he hopes it will keep expanding or at least stabilize.

So how can anyone predict where this will be in 2020 ?

High-risk enrollment low: If Medicare Advantage was the good news for the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday, then high-risk insurance pool enrollment was the bad. Enrollment over the past three months is up 50 percent to 12,000 - well short of the 375,000 originally predicted by the end of 2010. HHS said the low enrollment is consisent with the experience of the Children's Health Insurance Program, and they unveiled new tools on Thursday to help boost the high-risk program's visibility.

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