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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

For-Profit Hospitals Mark Up Prices Because There’s Nothing to Stop Them

Using 2012 data provided by 4,483 hospitals to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Bai and Anderson found that those 50 had an average markup of 1,013 percent over what Medicare pays for the thousands of items on hospitals’ “chargemasters.” (Chargemasters are lists of all the items and services hospitals bill for. Hospitals set their own charges. Few states set any limits on what hospitals can charge.) That’s almost three times the average markup at the other 4,433 hospitals. The average markup for all those other hospitals—most of them nonprofits—was 340 percent.

Of those high-markup 50, more than a fourth of them are owned and operated by Nashville-based Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). But with 14 hospitals on the list, HCA was just in second place. A full half of the top 50 are owned by HCA’s biggest rival, Community Health Systems, a Franklin, Tennessee company that operates 199 hospitals in 29 states. More here. Truthout

FYI: Community Health Systems owns Deaconess Hospital in Spokane.

H/t Sam Crawford

Gov calls for pension, health care reforms

OLYMPIA — The state should cut off automatic increases to some state retirees and keep others from retiring then being rehired for their old jobs, Gov. Chris Gregoire said today.

It should also revamp health insurance programs to find savings from large purchase and reductions in unneeded services, she added.

Gregoire unveiled several proposals Monday afternoon that she said could spell big savings over the next two-year budget cycle and beyond. It’s part of a slow roll-out of her fiscal 2011-13 budget, which will continue Tuesday and wrap up with a full budget book Wednesday.

Among the proposals floated Monday were an end to automatic increases to most of the retirees on the state’s oldest pension systems, PERS 1 and TRS 1. The increases were passed by the Legislature in 1995 as protection against inflation, but with inflation low, Gregoire is calling for the state to go back to the old system of letting the Legislature vote on any adjustments it sees fit.

Who stands to gain or lose?

Good afternoon, Netizens…


Once again cartoonist David Horsey takes a look at the Health Care System, at least as it is sometimes presented to us. While I only know a very few people who fit into the category of the woman on the left, I presume she must either be a government employee of some kind (including elected positions), a person retired from such companies as Burlington Northern, certain union employees (although those numbers have been steadily dropping in recent years) or gifted with exceptional health and wealth. In short, she is probably not representative of anyone we know personally.


What is not in the picture are the escalating numbers of people who have no insurance whatsoever, because they cannot afford it, or it is one of the faceless population that, because they have no health insurance, have lost their homes and life savings because of unexpected medical expenses. What seems so tragic is no one else in the picture, perhaps even including President Obama, have ever found themselves in such dire circumstances.


They all have health insurance. If they all lost medical insurance coverage, we might have a chance of passing Universal Health Care Insurance into law. Otherwise, nobody in the picture probably gives a damn about the uninsured.


Dave