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bronzekff-300x264President Biden has increased the access and affordability of health care for millions of Americans, issuing executive orders to reopen Obamacare exchanges and review rules or practices that targeted the aged, poor, sick, and chronically ill or mentally ill and hindered them from benefiting from Medicaid.

These were fast, early actions that Biden campaigned on and said that voters wanted him to take with urgency, as he did.

Allowing a “do over” of ACA enrollment will be a boon for millions of the pandemic jobless, many of whom may have lost employer-provided health insurance (which covers more than 150 million Americans, or most of us) and could not afford the daunting prices of so-called COBRA policies. That coverage requires consumers to may their own share of health insurance, plus the big chunk their employers cover, as well as an administrative fee.

kneelady-300x222With so many older Americans entering their later years in better shape than earlier generations and wanting to stay active, knee and hip replacements have become some of the most common surgeries performed in pre-pandemic times. The cost of this work, however, varies greatly. And surgeons may be promoting procedural variants to not only build business but also to increase their revenue for these operations.

Consumers, policy makers, regulators, and politicians may want to keep an eye on developments with patients’ knees and hips as indicators of what may occur in health care finances, especially if hospitals’ case loads return to something of a pre-pandemic norm and because taxpayers bear burdens from so many of the Medicare-covered procedures.

New data is emerging about hospital costs as the institutions, many of them overwhelmed now by the coronavirus pandemic, comply with Trump Administration price-disclosure regulations. These called for hospitals to post online their base costs (as earlier described in the hard-to-read charge master lists) for hundreds of common procedures and medical items, as well as previously secret prices for same, as negotiated with insurers.

gofundme-300x130Modern medicine may be providing patients with significant improvements in key treatment areas, but the cost of care has become so crushing that online campaigns for charitable medical aid have become heartbreakingly common in the United States.

A team of researchers from institutions across the country reported that the well-known GoFundMe website, between May 2010 and December 2018, had provided a platform for more than 1 million aid appeals — with 281,881 of these (26.7%) created to cover individuals’ health care–related costs.

Most of the fund-raising sought to assist cancer patients, with individuals suffering trauma and injuries, or neurological disorders trailing in number of campaigns. As the authors observed in their published study of these pitches:

coronashot-300x178President Trump’s health leaders, racing toward the exits after their boss incited an end-of-term insurrection at the Capitol, acted to sow their own destructive confusion.

They left the incoming Biden Administration with new fury and frustration surrounding the efforts to get hundreds of millions vaccinated against the increasingly deadly coronavirus.

This wasn’t a juvenile prank like pulling “w” keys off White House computers. It was yet another incomprehensible bungle in what has been a shambolic federal response to the pandemic. It occurred as the nation keeps shattering records for coronavirus deaths, infections, and hospitalizations. As CNN reported:

covidshotlines1-300x170As the nation recoils from the deadly insurrectionist attack on Congress and the United States Capitol, a direct line also must be drawn to the huge health harms that President Trump and his administration incited with a flood of falsehoods, relentless attacks on science and expertise, and the reckless politicization of public health.

This administration will leave office with the nation hurtling toward 400,000 coronavirus deaths and 22 million infections. The disease is unchecked. New cases and hospitalizations are breaking records by the instant. The situation is likely to worsen significantly before it improves, experts warn.

The best efforts to battle Covid-19 also — due to a shambolic and too often counter-factual federal response — must combat the misinformation, mistrust, and animus sown during a needlessly destructive presidential term.

dcemptystreets-300x200Auto insurance companies and agents may have sent customers cards, fridge magnets, or calendars as part of their holiday cheer. But tens of millions of motorists may wish to demand more — both much more, and less.

Consumer advocates say the coronavirus pandemic has curtailed driving and claims for wrecks enough still that auto insurers — who are raking in big profits — need in the new year to fork over more refunds or premium reductions, the New York Times reported.

The newspaper reported that advocacy organizations like the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Economic Justice, have investigated and “found that car crashes remained ‘well below’ 2019 levels”:

compare-202x300A lot of people in health care across the country are firing up their computers to dig into long-sought, confidential information from hospitals about their prices and deals they cut on them with an array of parties.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, the Trump Administration successfully battled with hospitals to get them to disclose previously secret pricing data, in the hopes that disclosing this key information will benefit the U.S. health care system, notably in curbing costs. Here’s why, as the newspaper reported:

“T]hose who pay for health-care premiums and medical bills — employers, workers and patients — were long in the dark about wide price differences among hospitals for the same service in the same city, according to research and efforts by large employer groups to compare prices. Hospital prices are under intense scrutiny as the sector consolidates and research points to price increases after mergers, but without the quality gains that hospitals often cite as rationale for the combinations.

artjanlett5-300x164In yet another instance of disregarding fact-based advice, the Trump Administration, after hearing public comments and assembling a panel of diet and nutrition experts, has rejected their  recommendations on how the federal government should update its counsel to Americans about optimizing their eating.

The federal advisories, refreshed every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will stay mostly the same, with the administration turning away experts who told the government that it should urge the public to reduce consumption of sugar and alcohol. USDA did tweak its guidelines for babies and toddlers.

But the agency decisions were a disappointing turn in a periodic process that affects real people’s lives, experts said, with the New York Times reporting:

walmartlogo-300x117The stain of the nation’s opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis has spread now to Bentonville, Ark., as federal prosecutors have sued Walmart, accusing the nation’s largest retailer of improperly allowing its pharmacists to fill millions of suspicious prescriptions for potent painkillers.

The pharmacists themselves complained to their corporate bosses that they were delivering opioids in far too great quantities to too few customers in out-of-the-way places, prosecutors contend. The warnings were ignored.

Instead, Walmart operated too lax a system both to monitor its outlets’ dispensing of drugs and to provide legally required warning information to federal watchdogs about potentially problematic sales, the New York Times reported, quoting Jeffrey Bossert Clark, acting assistant attorney general of the U.S. Justice Department’s civil division:

philipesformes-150x150chriscollins-150x150Leave it to the extreme actions of the current White House occupant to disprove Shakespeare and the adage  that the quality of mercy cannot be strained. Some of the dozens of President Trump’s latest acts of clemency, with more likely to be granted, are sending bad messages of who gets ahead in a rapacious U.S. health care system.

Their elected representatives are supposed to be among the chief guardians of Americans’ health interests, which is why President Trump’s excusing of the wrongdoing of a trio of onetime GOP congressman has infuriated many.

Two of the pardoned House members (Duncan Hunter of San Diego and Steve Stockman of Texas) were caught with their mitts in their donations or campaign funds, one spending sizable sums on family vacations, theater tickets, and an extramarital affair.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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