California Healthcare News first published this article on October 10, 2017.
“Art is the tree of life. Science is the tree of death.” — William Blake
When President Obama signed the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010, the word “death” appeared in the 903 pages of Public Law 111-148 a mere fifteen times. However, the concept of death plays an integral role in defining the institution of health care in the United States, often in the form of increased funding from or on behalf of a health care provider to forestall its inevitable arrival. At the same time, health care has an abundance of codified rules and regulations, and hospitals and providers must adhere to a stringent standard of care governing the provider-patient encounter. Within this equation, death is a total wild card, and the inestimable stress it places upon our health care system remains completely unpredictable.
A Matter of Life and Death
If health care’s primary function is to challenge death, Medicare bears the brunt in this modern age, especially when it comes to crafting the rules that govern care for nearly one out of every five U.S. residents, not to mention the additional 22% of the population who receive benefits under state Medicaid programs. Between federal statutes, federal regulations, administrative decisions and Medicare’s online billing manual, it was likely easier to procure a second coin for a return trip with Charon back across the rivers Styx and Acheron than it is to actually understand the infrastructure within which the United States spent $646 billion for Medicare and $545 billion for Medicaid in 2015, the equivalent of 40% of the national health expenditures for that year. … Read more →