his 36 page cover story for Time magazine, Steven Brill joined Hardball on
Monday night to discuss his medical findings.
the seven months Brill took to research eight cases - with corresponding
hospital bills, he uncovered some atrocious charges , for example, Gauze pads
were charged $77 a box, A single diabetes test strip was charged $18, $50 for a
Tyenol which meant a 10,000% mark up.
patient paid $474,000 for a month in a Texas hospital when he was treated for
pneumonia. Only 20% was covered by his insurance. Brill lays the blame on
marked up prices by the manufacturers and hospital administration. The
non-profit hospitals made higher profits.
to him the wrong issue is under fire - instead of who should pay the bill, it
should be why are bills so high?
the past few decades we've enriched the labs, drug companies, medical device
makers, hospital administrators and purveyors of CT scans, MRIs, canes and
wheelchairs," Brill writes. Meanwhile "we've squeezed everyone outside the
system who gets stuck with the bills."
He questioned President Obama's Affordable Care Act's
ability to fix the chaos. Obamacare required all citizens to obtain health
cover or pay a penalty, states setting up health exchanges - where people could
buy health insurance and letting young adults stay on parents cover for longer.
Insurers could not refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Would
all this save costs was Brill's contention.
"The fair thing to say is [the Obama
Administration] tried," he told guest host Michael Smerconish, but
added ACA "did nothing to cut the profits of everyone involved. In fact, if
anything, it's going to add to the profits because it will put more people into
health care, which is a good thing—they're going to have insurance-but
the taxpayers are going to subsidize that insurance."
that one reason why the ACA passed because "it didn't do anything to cut into
profits of the drug companies, of the hospitals, the exorbitant prices that
your local, non-profit hospital makes."
Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, who worked on the
Affordable Care Act as a senior adviser for health reform at the Department of
Health and Human Services, said Obamacare had some steps to curb the problem
but acknowledged that more could be done. She pointed to ACA's expansion of
bundled payments, where one could pay a flat fee per episode of care, rather
than Medicare receiving separate bills from each provider. Tanden argued
that would help create incentives to lower the price of individual items.
should take additional steps...but it's not that we haven't done anything," said
Hannah Punitha (IRDA
Licence Number: 2710062)
Aliyah Frumin, March 2013