Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's Enough to Make You Sick . . .

One of our local weeklies ran an article on the woes of our taxpayer funded, "charity" hospital. Grady Hospital has been in the news quite a bit over the last few years and even more so as they face a serious funding crisis.

While the issue of Grady is local, it is reflective of what ails many of the public supported hospitals in cities all across the country.

Too many non-paying patients.

He’s supposed to be on medication for high blood pressure, but hasn’t taken it in several months because lately he can’t afford it. He’s self-employed and, like many carpenters, roofers, plumbers, electricians, painters and contractors everywhere, he doesn’t have insurance. Fully 33 percent of Grady’s patients are uninsured.

There are many ways to control hypertension, including meds. Hypertension meds are among some of the lowest priced and many are on the $4 generic list at Wal-Mart & Target.

Additionally, there are programs available for those who cannot afford medication that allows them to receive their meds at little or no cost.

The problem with Grady is the same problem that would affect any business. When fully one third of your clients do not pay their bills any business would have a problem staying open.

I found this comment noteworthy.

some hospitals and health care systems, like Grady, are fighting for their lives, while private American health care systems open state-of-the-art hospitals overseas.

Private American health care systems are operating overseas hospitals.

This is going to take a bit more research.

And what about this two-tier health system?

Overseas, the poor go to public hospitals, so the private American outfits cater to burgeoning middle classes—like India’s call center workers, who are provided insurance by their American employers.

Michael Moore must have missed this in his documentary.

the greatest irony of all may be how Medicaid, a national health coverage plan designed to pay for the care of those who cannot pay for it themselves, has become so overburdened and so politicized that even on its best day, filing for Medicaid reimbursement is a bit like playing the lottery

Ah yes, Medicaid. The other taxpayer funded health care system that politicians want to expand.

But much of what ails Grady (and perhaps other public hospitals as well) is poor management.

if an emergency room treats someone whose case is deemed by the CMOs not to be an emergency, the hospital is paid what is called a triage fee—only about $50, says Kevin Bloye of the Georgia Hospital Association—no matter how much time was spent with the patient or how much was done for him.

How many non-emergency situations are being treated at Grady (and other hospitals) where the reimbursement by the taxpayer is only $50?

The apparent waste of taxpayer dollars is enough to make you sick.
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