In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 6, 2011 / 4 Tammuz, 5771

Shamefully, Medicare and Medicaid Are Being Abandoned By President Obama and Both Political Parties

By Ed Koch

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I've been told by a knowledgeable friend that doctors throughout the country are notifying patients that they will no longer accept Medicare payments for services rendered because they believe those payments are inadequate. When a physician does not accept Medicare and the patient is not otherwise insured — which is common — the patient is required to pay the full bill. Many patients are willing to go out of pocket rather than lose the services of the doctors who currently provide their medical care.

I have also been told that if a Medicare patient who pays out of pocket is admitted to a hospital, the patient will no longer be covered by Medicare's hospital coverage and will find the hospital billing him or her directly. This is crazy, since hospital bills often run not only into the tens of thousands, but often into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

These problems will likely get worse. President Obama's universal health coverage law provides for a $500 billion reduction in Medicare funding over a 10-year period. It is reasonable to assume more doctors will leave the system and require patients to pay their bills out of pocket. This matter must be addressed. If we are to seek ways to penalize physicians who reject Medicare and Medicaid patients, we must be sure to provide reasonable fees for both programs.

For a time, the Obama administration appeared to agree, as reported in The Times of June 27, 2011: "Alarmed by a shortage of primary care doctors, Obama administration officials are recruiting a team of 'mystery shoppers' to pose as patients, call doctors' offices and request appointments to see how difficult it is for people to get care when they need it. The administration says the survey will address a 'critical public policy problem': the increasing shortage of primary care doctors, including specialists in internal medicine and family practice. It will also try to discover whether doctors are accepting patients with private insurance while turning away those in government health programs that pay lower reimbursement rates."

The Times went on: "According to government documents obtained from Obama administration officials, the mystery shoppers will call medical practices and ask if doctors are accepting new patients, and, if so, how long the wait would be. The government is eager to know whether doctors give different answers to callers depending on whether they have public insurance, like Medicaid, or private insurance, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield."

The Times also reported: "Most doctors accept Medicare patients, who are 65 and older or disabled. But many say they do not regard the government as a reliable business partner because it has repeatedly threatened to cut their Medicare fees. In many states, Medicaid, the program for low-income people, pays so little that many doctors refuse to accept Medicaid patients. This could become a more serious problem in 2014, when the new health law will greatly expand eligibility for Medicaid."

The Times reported, "The calls are to begin in a few months."

I was therefore shocked to read in the Times of June 29, 2011, "The Obama administration said Tuesday that it had shelved plans for a survey in which 'mystery shoppers' posing as patients would call doctors' offices to see how difficult it was to get appointments. 'We have determined that now is not the time to move forward with this research project,' the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement late Tuesday."

A telling line in the Times article was "The decision following criticisms from doctors and politicians represents an abrupt turnabout." The Times reported, "Having coverage is not the same as having ready access to care — a fact demonstrated in Massachusetts, which has come closer than any other state to the goal of universal coverage. A recent survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that about half of family doctors and internists were not accepting new patients."

Who deserves the greatest blame for this scandalous state of affairs? Is it the physicians, or the politicians protecting them, or the Obama administration which has flinched so often when legislating into law the current universal health care legislation? I believe it is the Obama Administration and the Congress who deserve the blame.

The Obama administration flinched and gave in to the prescription drug industry depriving Medicare of the right to distribute prescription drugs to beneficiaries and to seek volume discounts in drug purchasing. Volume discounts — which are used by the Veterans Administration — could save up to a trillion dollars over a 10-year period. The administration also flinched by not allowing a "government option" for healthcare coverage. Why is it the U.S. unlike every country in Western Europe, Canada and Japan and other countries, has been unable to successfully take on the special interests in the field of medical care?

The reports in today's Times of July 5th are adding to the alarm that more doctors may join the movement not to serve Medicare and Medicaid patients since, "Obama administration officials are offering to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid in negotiations to reduce the federal budget deficit, but the depth of the cuts depends on whether Republicans are willing to accept any increases in tax revenues."

The Obama administration defends the offer to further reduce federal funding to Medicare and Medicaid, with The Times reporting, "Administration officials and Republican negotiators say the money can be taken from health care providers like hospitals and nursing homes without directly imposing new costs on needy beneficiaries or radically restructuring either program." Add these proposed cuts to the $500 billion cut already in the Obama budget, and doctors and patients indeed have to worry. Based on past performance, the Congress will not adequately finance these programs.

At some point, doctors who have families and expenses and a lifestyle may conclude that they can bear no further cuts to income and leave the profession, and they may be right. The federal government, like the health insurance industry, has the obligation to treat doctors fairly in setting fees if doctors are to accept those fees and be available. Putting a budget together requires setting priorities: surely Medicare and Medicaid are top priorities.

Of course, doctors have to be paid fair fees by the government, as do the insurance companies. If the fees are not fair, too low (doctors say some fees don't pay the office costs), the federal government has an obligation to raise them. Of course, prescription drug companies have to be paid fair fees for their products. But when advertising costs are twice that of research and development, there is something wrong with the pricing of prescription drugs. The federal government has a role to play in fixing those prices. In Canada, the prices require governmental approval, and are up to 50 percent less than those charged in the U.S. Also many drug companies are indebted to the U.S. government for its basic research in developing drugs on which the companies profit. Does the U.S. government and taxpayer receive their fair share of the profits that will ultimately be made?

What is lacking in this whole tawdry business is leadership on the part of the Obama administration. What is clearly present and regrettable is the political fear displayed by that administration and the lack of courage on the part of the Congress. What is shocking is the greed of the prescription drug companies. We, particularly those on Medicare, look to our doctors to work their magic and extend our lives. We look to the government to keep our Medicare programs viable. The poorest of our population on Medicaid are even more vulnerable and dependant on both doctor and government. However, doctors should not expect their medical practices to become simply charities borne by them. There are roles for government to assume, surely Medicare and Medicaid are appropriate roles for the government to administer.

Shamefully, Medicare and Medicaid are being abandoned by President Obama and both political parties.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Edward I. Koch, the former mayor of New York, can be heard on Bloomberg Radio (WBBR 1130 AM) every Sunday from 9-10 am . Comment by clicking here.


© 2011, Ed Koch