RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 02/24/2016

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GAO: CMS Is 'Passive' on Heading Off Fraud
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, AP
While the Government Accountability Office stops short of alleging widespread cheating in President Barack Obama's signature program, investigators found that the administration has struggled to resolve eligibility questions affecting millions of initial applications and hundreds of thousands of consumers who were actually approved for benefits.

TurboTax: Most Uninsured Escaped ACA Penalty
Sarah Ferris, The Hill
A total of 70 percent of people filed an exemption to ObamaCare’s individual mandate, about the same figure as last year, according to TurboTax. The two most common exemptions were related to the cost of coverage. Many people without coverage said they couldn’t afford healthcare plans in their area or couldn’t afford plans through their workplace.

Tom Daschle: Move Beyond 'Cut & Shift' for Medicare
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, in a conversation with RealClearHealth, discusses the options policy makers have to improve long-term health care. He also calls for moving beyond policies that cut Medicare costs and shift them from the federal government other parties.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies believe it’s important to take medications as directed by your doctor for the best health and safety. Learn more.

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Clinton Hitches Her Campaign to Obamacare
Alison Kodjak, NPR
The term Hillarycare was coined back in the 1990s, when Clinton tried and failed to restructure the U.S. health care system during her husband's first term as president. It was supposed to be an insult, but now she's embracing it. That's because Clinton-the-presidential-candidate has made the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — the center of her health care plan.

Clinton’s 'Public Option' Isn't Politically Viable
Caitlin Owens, Morn. Cons.
Hillary Clinton is beginning to better answer the question of how she would significantly improve Obamacare. The only trouble is that most of her ideas are also political nonstarters. Clinton on Monday updated her website to include health policy ideas that would build on the Affordable Care Act and reduce the number of uninsured.

Bad Debt Is the Pain Hospitals Can't Heal
John Lauerman, Bloomberg
Hospitals have long struggled to collect bills when patients aren’t covered by insurance -- creating delinquent accounts. The Affordable Care Act was supposed to relieve some of that strain by helping pay for coverage for millions of Americans and expanding Medicaid in some states to cover the poor. Yet while millions of people have gained coverage since Obamacare became law in 2010, there’s also been an increase in insurance that comes with high deductibles and cost-sharing.

Many Hospital Staff Not Immunized against Flu
Wood & Tranquilli, PI
In the Philadelphia region, where many hospitals have mandated the vaccine, the average topped 86 percent in the 2014-15 flu season, the most recent year for which federal data are available. Several institutions - Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Abington Memorial, and Lansdale Hospital - reported that nearly all of their workers were immunized. The hospitals made rare exceptions for medical and religious reasons. At some suburban hospitals, however, plenty of workers are dodging the needle.

Most Drug Makers Report Incomplete Side Effects
Silverman, Pharmalot
At issue is the Adverse Event Reporting System maintained by the Food and Drug Administration. The database is the key method for collecting side effect data. Both doctors and consumers can voluntarily report problems to the agency or a drug maker. But drug companies are also required to investigate and report side effects that may be attributable to their products.

Senators Seek to Block Doctor Shopping for Opioids
Zanona, Roll Call
Bipartisan legislation aimed at blocking Medicare recipients from shopping for doctors and pharmacists likely to prescribe opioids could help address the national prescription drug abuse epidemic, Senate Finance Committee Democrats said at a hearing Tuesday. But they urged Republicans to broaden their approach to encourage more addiction treatment.

Shortage Of Addiction Counselors & Opioid Crisis
Emily Corwin, NPR
Each year, roughly one of every four substance-abuse clinicians nationally chooses to leave the job, according to recent research. And that's not just turnover — leaving one job for another in the same field. As an Institute of Medicine report documented in 2006, there's been a shortage of addiction workers for decades. And the demand is only increasing; the Affordable Care Act and other federal laws have given millions more people insurance to help them pay for those services. If only there were enough counselors to treat them.

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies believe it’s important to take medications as directed to make sure you get the right dose at the right time. Following doctors’ directions, remembering to take medicines and disposing of them properly are all important for better health and safety. Learn more.

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