Healthcare Musings from Jim Mueller

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Baby boomers on Medicare, lower income consumers receiving subsidies for health insurance via the Affordable Care Act, and the expansion of Medicaid means the federal government is more involved in health care than ever.  These massive shifts in health care economics are not new topics for blogs or commentary; however, an article titled “Government Money Often Doesn’t Add Up” in the July 10, 2014 edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel compelled me to ask if this is the direction we want our health care system to take?

The article references the $100 billion in estimated over payments by federal agencies in 2013.  Health programs like Medicare and Medicaid were among the top agencies with improper payments.   The improper payments are due to fraud, clerical errors, or mistakes and have decreased since Obama took office in 2010 with $22 billion in over payments recovered last year.

In the same month, the Journal Sentinel published an article titled “Doctors Feel the Pinch” which described how Wisconsin has some of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the United States (7/20/14).  This affects the availability of primary care physicians for low income areas of Wisconsin primarily on Medicaid as they cannot operate on such narrow margins. And just this morning we were told that the undercover investigators for the Government Accountability Office were able to get health insurance subsidies on the public exchange using fake identities.

The federal government’s increasing involvement in our health care system has financial, social, and economic effects on our state.  Typically, poor performance is not rewarded with greater responsibility.  I would ask all of us to reflect on the past and be a greater part of the future.  This is our state, our country, and it is up to us to pave the way.  Your thoughts?