Stat says while the insurance industry is still trying to convince the public Medicare Advantage saves taxpayer money, experts point to federal data proving the opposite. Also: CommonSpirit Health’s loss of $2 billion, a hospital chain making money off a poor neighborhood, more.
Insurer Report On Medicare Advantage Savings Is Misleading, Experts Say
The health insurance industry is continuing its campaign to convince the public that Medicare Advantage saves taxpayers money, but experts say federal data still concludes the exact opposite — and that the program as currently designed is a drain on Medicare’s trust fund. (Herman, 9/26)
In other health care news —
CommonSpirit Health Loses Near $2B In 2022
The Chicago-based company’s performance during the fiscal year that ended June 30 compares to a $5.19 billion net gain during the prior 12-month period. Operating expenses were up 9% to $35.2 billion and revenue rose 2% to $33.9 billion. CommonSpirit cited elevated labor costs, higher prices due to inflation, lower patient volumes and reimbursements that didn’t keep pace with expenses as challenges. (Hudson, 9/23)
The New York Times:
How A Hospital Chain Used A Poor Neighborhood To Turn Huge Profits
In late July, Norman Otey was rushed by ambulance to Richmond Community Hospital. The 63-year-old was doubled over in pain and babbling incoherently. Blood tests suggested septic shock, a grave emergency that required the resources and expertise of an intensive care unit. But Richmond Community, a struggling hospital in a predominantly Black neighborhood, had closed its I.C.U. in 2017. It took several hours for Mr. Otey to be transported to another hospital, according to his sister, Linda Jones-Smith. He deteriorated on the way there, and later died of sepsis. (Thomas and Silver-Greenberg, 9/24)
The New York Times:
They Were Entitled To Free Care. Hospitals Hounded Them To Pay
In 2018, senior executives at one of the country’s largest nonprofit hospital chains, Providence, were frustrated. They were spending hundreds of millions of dollars providing free health care to patients. It was eating into their bottom line. The executives, led by Providence’s chief financial officer at the time, devised a solution: a program called Rev-Up. Rev-Up provided Providence’s employees with a detailed playbook for wringing money out of patients — even those who were supposed to receive free care because of their low incomes, a New York Times investigation found. (Silver-Greenberg and Thomas, 9/24)
Embedded Bias: How Medical Records Sow Discrimination
David Confer, a bicyclist and an audio technician, told his doctor he “used to be Ph.D. level” during a 2019 appointment in Washington, D.C. Confer, then 50, was speaking figuratively: He was experiencing brain fog — a symptom of his liver problems. But did his doctor take him seriously? Now, after his death, Confer’s partner, Cate Cohen, doesn’t think so. Confer, who was Black, had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma two years before. His prognosis was positive. But during chemotherapy, his symptoms — brain fog, vomiting, back pain — suggested trouble with his liver, and he was later diagnosed with cirrhosis. He died in 2020, unable to secure a transplant. Throughout, Cohen, now 45, felt her partner’s clinicians didn’t listen closely to him and had written him off. (Tahir, 9/26)
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