Healthcare Business News

Ryan misses the mark, and other letters

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: August 18, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

Regarding “Exclusive interview: Rep. Paul Ryan discusses need for 'market-based' health reform” (, Aug. 14), Rep. Ryan's premium support proposal as a solution to Medicare's financial problems misses the mark. All such subsidies, whether they are premium supports or tax credits, serve to drive prices higher, not lower.

While this proposal has the initial effect of lowering the government's Medicare outlay from $15,000 per beneficiary to $9,500, it is only a matter of time until inflation adjustments bring the outlay back to its original level, presuming the premium support is not capped at some arbitrary level in the future.

The amount the premium support falls short of providing a Medicare-equivalent benefit shifts cost from the public to the private sector, and a capped premium support would result in a much larger shift as there would be no offsetting inflation adjustment.

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Imposing the premium-supported benefit package as the second lowest in a region will set a floor below which few, if any, commercial carriers would be willing to go. How does this create market competition? Premium supports do not reduce health insurance premiums. They neither lower the cost of healthcare, nor avoid higher deficits/taxes. Premium supports are little more than an interesting approach to kicking the can a bit further down the road.

Dave Cluley
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Patient-friendly apps needed

Regarding “Power to the patients” (IT Everything blog, Aug. 10), in addition to uploading data to an electronic health record, patients want to be able to download data from an EHR so they can share laboratory results and medical imaging studies or other data with physicians and specialists of their choice. Healthcare providers shouldn't miss the ability to woo patients by empowering them to access their own health record. As with all apps, an intuitive workflow is essential to winning patient loyalty. Just think of how many apps you have uninstalled because they weren't easy to use. Data privacy and security also must be guaranteed. Healthcare providers should be looking for technology that delivers integrated patient access to financial and health records. This makes it easy for patients to update demographics, view bills and share laboratory reports and medical imaging studies with other physicians. Increasingly, patients want to play a role in managing their own healthcare. And that requires safe and easy electronic access to their medical records.

Cristine Kao
Carestream Health
Rochester, N.Y.

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