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Health Care Costs

  • Spending Deals Signal End of Unpopular Obamacare Cost Checks  Politico by Jennifer Haberkorn — Republicans and Democrats finally found something they can agree on about Obamacare: killing unpopular policies that were supposed to pay for the law or reduce health costs. The recent congressional spending deals repealed or delayed several Obamacare taxes, as well as a Medicare cost-cutting board. Removing those powerful levers, which terrified health providers and unions, is not a good omen for efforts to control health spending, which is expected to surge in the next few years. "This was a skillful effort by the groups that would have faced the sharp end of these measures," said John McDonough, a former Senate HELP Committee aide who helped draft the law, who is now a Harvard professor of public health practice. "The reason people got so exercised ... is not because they wouldn't have been effective. They would have been effective."

  • The U.S. Health Care System Needs More Skills for Paying Bills, Study Shows  Los Angeles Times by Karen Kaplan — Health care in the United States is really expensive, and one of the reasons is that managing health care bills is really, really expensive. Just how expensive? At one large academic medical center, the cost of collecting payments for a single primary-care doctor is upward of $99,000 a year. And billing for primary-care visits is a bargain compared with billing for trips to the emergency room, a hospital stay or a surgical procedure, according to a report published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers from Duke University and Harvard Business School figured this out by reconstructing the entire life cycle of a medical bill — from the time a patient makes an appointment until the time the health system pockets the money for the services rendered.

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