Pope Urges Lawmakers to Protect People with Healthcare Laws

November 17, 2017

Pope Francis asked lawmakers to be sure healthcare laws protect "all," not just the privileged population.

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Pope: Protect All With Healthcare Laws

On Thursday during a medical association meeting at the Vatican, Pope Francis asked lawmakers to be sure health care laws in developed countries protect the "common good," voicing disappointment in the fact that only the privileged can afford top-end medical care.

The meeting was timely as lawmakers have been in the headlines debating how to improve health care in America for months.

"Increasingly, sophisticated and costly treatment are available to ever more limited and privileged segments of the population, and this raises questions about the sustainability of health care delivery and about what might be called a systemic tendency toward growing inequality in health care," the pope said.

Pope Francis went on to cite wealthy countries willingness where health care access risks being more dependent on people's money than on their need for treatment, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Study: ACA Medicaid Expansion Led to Smoking Cessation

A new study from the University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health found Medicaid expansion under the ACA led to a higher rate of smoking cessation by low-income adults.

The study, which looked at data from 2011 to 2015, found Medicaid expansion increased the likelihood that low-income adult smokers would quit by 2.1 percentage points. Smoking is responsible for 9 percent of annual health care spending in the U.S., and 30 percent of low-income adults smoke cigarettes, double that of the U.S. average, according to the study.

The study included 36,000 low-income adults ages 18 to 64 without children. Researchers compared their answers to smoking-related questions among residents in the 31 states that had expanded Medicaid coverage with residents in the states that did not.

AMA Adopts New Policies at 2017 Interim Meeting

During its annual interim meeting, the AMA's House of Delegates voted to adopt new policies concerning emerging health care topics.

The AMA voted to keep Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents out of medical facilities, to put added pressure on insurers that delay patient treatment, and to treat opioid addicts in correctional facilities, among other things.

Treating incarcerated opioid addicts is the AMA's latest move in its effort to quell the nationwide epidemic. "Patients with opioid use disorder should not have their treatment interrupted once they enter prison. Access to evidence-based care is crucial to treatment, no matter what the setting," said Patrice A. Harris, M.D., chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force

California Fines Anthem for $5 Million

On Wednesday, California's State Department of Managed Health Care fined Anthem Blue Cross $5 million for failing to resolve consumer grievances in a timely manner.

Prior to this latest fine, California had already fined Anthem more than $6 million for grievance violations since 2002. California identified 245 grievance violations during investigations of consumer complains at Anthem from 2013 to 2016.

"Anthem Blue Cross' failures to comply with the law surrounding grievance and appeals rights are long-standing, ongoing and unacceptable," said Shelley Rouillard, director of the Department of Managed Health Care to Kaiser Health News.

In a statement, Anthem acknowledged there are some legitimate findings in the latest audit, but strongly disagreed with California's assertion that the problems are ongoing, according to Kaiser Health News.

Quote of the Week:

Ancillary Services: To Add or Not to Add?

"Physicians are horrible at business. Physicians make the worst business decisions that you can imagine. They don't do the proper homework."

Sean Weiss, a practice consultant with DoctorsManagement.