Skip to comments.Three Reforms to Bring Down Michigan Health Care Costs
Posted on 05/24/2016 9:44:57 AM PDT by MichCapCon
LANSING The federal governments involvement in health care policy has grown dramatically over recent decades. But when it comes to how and where health care services are delivered, and who may or may not provide care, state governments still play a major role one Michigan is performing badly.
That's the message from a panel of experts from Michigan and elsewhere recently assembled in Lansing, who offered some specific reforms that would make care more accessible and affordable in this state.
The panel of four experts assembled for a Mackinac Center event called Free Market Solutions to Problems in Health Care. These scholars and practitioners urged Michigan legislators to loosen scope of practice restrictions on nurse practitioners, facilitate more direct primary care doctor practices, and repeal the states certificate of need law.
Unshackle nurse practitioners
Constance Creech and Thomas Hemphill, both professors at the University of Michigan-Flint, spoke about nurse practitioners.
Nurse practitioners are nurses with advanced degrees and training. Creech, the director of graduate nursing programs, said they need less regulation and more freedom to compete in Michigan. She noted that 40 years of research has shown that the medical care provided by nurse practitioners is just as safe and effective as care provided by physicians. Creech is herself a nurse practitioner.
Michigan imposes the most restrictive form of regulation on nurse practitioners. While 21 states allow full practice (where nurse practitioners can independently manage patients and almost fully prescribe medicine), and 17 states have reduced practice (where they can prescribe some medications and oversee patients with some limitations), Michigan is one of just 12 states that impose a restricted practice regime on these highly trained medical professionals. In these states, nurse practitioners are barred from independent practice, having instead to operate under the supervision of a licensed physician.
Michigan is one of the regulatory dirty dozen, said Hemphill, a professor in the university's school of management.
He noted that in Michigan, nurse practitioners cannot prescribe pharmaceuticals or fully practice, even though the evidence shows they can do so safely. In studies comparing full practice states and restricted states, the evidence shows no health and safety differences for patients and no evidence that insurers see a difference in care provided by a doctor or nurse. And though parts of rural Michigan face a shortage of physicians, special interests are working to prevent changes to protectionist laws that freeze out the nurse practitioners who could fill the gap.
House Bill 5400, sponsored by Rep. Ken Yonker, R-Caledonia, is sitting in the House Health Policy Committee. It would make Michigan a full practice state. Medical groups have worked against the bill, and it hasnt moved.
Nurse practitioners are a highly competent, cost-effective yet underutilized health care professional, Hemphill said. Full practice legislation would go a long way toward solving [many] health problems.
Expand direct primary care
Dr. Richard Armstrong, a general surgeon who practices in the Upper Peninsula, spoke about another innovation, called direct primary care.
This is an agreement between a patient and a doctor, who for a flat monthly fee delivers a menu of medical services, including easy access to by phone or email. One doctor who operates a direct primary care practice in Brighton was in the audience for the panel, and Armstrong cited the amounts he charges to illustrate the benefits. The charges are extremely reasonable because no insurance company middleman is involved. The direct also means the customer pays his or her own bills for routine services.
His or her very low bills, that is: This doctor charges $50 per month for an individual and $135 for a family of four. The fee covers annual exams, up to 25 office visits, and almost anything that can be done in a doctors office. Prices for exams and procedures are often as little as 10 percent of the cost through traditional insurance.
Direct primary care sidesteps government policies that have created a nearly impenetrable and extraordinarily expensive system of middlemen and third-party payers, which has also generated perverse incentives for providers and patients alike, further crippling the nations health care delivery system.
There has been an incredible increase in overhead related to bureaucracy for doctors, Armstrong said. The average time with a primary care doctor in the United States is down to eight minutes. But, he added, direct primary care doctors can answer many questions by email and phone and spent much more time in the office with the patients who need it.
On this one, Michigan is actually ahead of the game rather than playing catch-up, thanks in part to a 2014 law that explicitly excludes direct primary care from the comprehensive regulatory regime the state imposes on health insurance.
The sponsor of that law, Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton, is working to open the door wider with a new bill that would permit a direct primary care option to be included in the states medical welfare system (Medicaid). And federal legislation is being considered that would allow it for Medicare services.
Get rid of CON
Finally, the panel addressed certificate of need laws. Thomas Stratmann, a professor of economics at George Mason University and a scholar at the Mercatus Center, has extensively studied the effect of these laws. His conclusion is that they fully live up to their acronym CON.
Stratmann said CON regulations limit peoples ability to obtain the care and treatments they need, have no public health or safety justification, make the public less safe, result in unnecessary deaths, and limit medical innovation and the provision of cost-effective medical care. Michigans CON law rations facilities and technologies such as MRI and CT scanners, surgery centers, hospital beds, and much more.
The law requires would-be providers who want to open or expand a facility or add new diagnostic tools to apply for permission from a board whose members often include competitors. Applicants must also pay a nonrefundable fee of up to $45,000. There is then a public hearing, where incumbent providers who would prefer not to have any new competition have an opportunity to protest. Then there is a fact-finding report by a state agency.
This would be like if McDonald's had a say in Burger King openings in the state, Stratmann said.
The main argument in support of state CON laws, which were enacted in the 1960s because of a since-repealed federal law, was that too many medical facilities means excess capacity and waste. But by the 1980s, the feds had changed their minds, finding that such laws were unnecessary and harmful. But only 14 states have eliminated their laws.
Studies show that CON laws reduce medical inputs like beds and MRI machines and the number of hospitals by around 35 percent, which leads to a reduction in the use of medical services.
The laws are designed to limit competition for current medical providers, Stratmann said. To be very clear, there is no public health or safety reason for CON laws, he added.
There is also no economic reason for the laws: The Mercatus study Stratmann co-authored found that people in CON states frequently go to non-CON states to get scans and other services, which suggests that Michigan may be missing out on economic activity that could be conducted here. The study also found that the number of MRI, CT and PET scans paid for by federal Medicare coverage is much lower in Michigan than in states without CON laws.
That could mean people are either traveling elsewhere for these potentially lifesaving diagnostic procedures or doing without them.
The panelists all acknowledged that the federal government has increasingly regulated health care. But there are critical medical services that Michigan is overregulating in ways that are harmful, not helpful. Straightforward reforms in these areas could lower costs, increase access, provide better services and even turn Michigan into a medical services destination.
One more- get government out of medicine and health care.
All health care providers must post their costs
Allow competition and a market based system
Get government completely out of the health care business
Must we enact these reforms to find out what's in them?
Dejavous all over again...........
The government-corporate-insurance triad is the root cause of of the wreck of the healthcare industry that has been foisted upon us today. Those three agents are solely responsible. The only people who would take exception to that are those who are a part of it.
reforms? More legislation is not the answer. GOVERNMENT, GET OUT OF OUR DAMN WAY!
Allow Michigan Upper peninsula residents to utilize medical doctors in Wisconsin. Here in the UP the medical facilities are basically being bought up by out of state medical providers. Marquette medical Clinics are now part of Duke Lifepoint out of North Carolina. Basically the UP of Michigan has medical care regions. Aspirus of Wausau is taking over the Western UP - Iron, Gogebic and Ontanogon Counties. Duke Lifepoint is taking over the Calumet,Baraga, Houghton, Marquette, Alger, Luce and Keweenaw Counties and is operating satellite clinics in Iron and Dickinson Counties. Dickinson County medical services are joining Bellin Hospital Green Bay wis. Delta and Schoolcraft Counties are jointly owned by a Catholic Order of Sisters. Menominee County all medical services are in Marinette Wis and are operated by Aurora healthcare out of Green Bay/Milwaukee. Mackinac and Chippewa counties jointly by the Chippewa memorial hospital (Sault sainte marie) and Mackinac straits (st. Ignace) Hospital with the Objiwa nation of Indians in partnership. the oddity is that medical services for referrals are being sought after in Wisconsin because Grand rapids,Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro facilities are anywhere from 4 - 13 hours drive away from points throughout the UP of Michigan. Medical care services are becoming regional and across state lines
Certificate of need laws need to be tossed in the trash.
Nurse practitioners should be able to go independent after two years of practice.
Any operation larger than 200 beds needs to have fee caps of 120% of Medicare allowed charges.
1. All health care providers must post their costsHow do you mandate/enforce #1 and implement #3 at the same time?
2. Allow competition and a market based system
3. Get government completely out of the health care business
price ceilings never help the people they claim to be trying to help and always lead to rationing.
The three reforms described in the article are all examples of reducing or eliminating governmental red tape and restrictions. There was a time when repealing restrictive regulations and expanding freedom of market choices was considered a good thing around here.
Each of the three proposals described in the article is an example of eliminating existing government restrictions in the medical market place. How do you consider any of the proposals to constitute more legislation? Repealing unnecessary and harmful regulations is a perfect example of government getting out of the way. What do you find objectionable about the proposals described in the article?
Enforcement of fraud and GAAP laws does not equal government involvement in health care.
They can either meet the price or break apart.
By the way, I live in Florida and the price of electricity is regulated. Price regulation can work.
No, but forcefully requiring providers to post a price list of the services and setting up the bureaucracy to monitor the postings does.
Like every other business in America? Are you really that thick?
Now go Google the Sherman, Clayton and Robinson-Patman Acts and ask why are medical health providers and medical insurance provided not prosecuted.
Yes, utilities and other government sponsored monopolies are often price regulated. Electricity rates are regulated in many states. Applying principles for public utilities or other government sponsored monopoly operations to the healthcare market would be an extremely poor strategy for implementing any kind of meaningful reform. But it might be a good formula for making obamacare seem like a viable alternative by comparison.
Add NEW requirements (and implement the bureaucracy to enforce them) OR reduce regulation and enable free markets to operate and get government out of the way. But try to do both, and you set yourself up for failure. By the way, point number 2 from your original post would obviate the need for requiring point number 1. In a free market, providers would communicate prices and consumers would act accordingly. There is no need to mandate the requirement.
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