In the news

HCHP members are frequent contributors to local news on health care issues. Recent appearances can be found here.

'Medicare for All' the moral choice

By Tom Hayhurst, M.D.
The (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Journal Gazette, April 16, 2019

I note that a federal judge recently made a decision potentially invalidating the Affordable Care Act. President Donald Trump subsequently stated he fully supported repeal of the ACA. He went on to tout what he described as a much better health care plan but offered no details.

Repealing the ACA would leave more than 20 million of our currently insured fellow citizens without adequate health insurance. Having reviewed his website, I am not aware of the position of Rep. Jim Banks regarding this matter, which is important to many citizens of northeast Indiana.

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Indiana AG shouldn't be cheering decision that could hurt Hoosiers

By Editorial Staff
The (Bloomington, Ind.) Herald-Times, June 23, 2018

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill has claimed victory for the state based on an action that could cost 1 million Hoosiers health insurance.

As covered in a guest column by Dr. Rob Stone in the Tuesday H-T, the issue in play here is the recent announcement that the Department of Justice will stop defending core provisions of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

One provision is the guarantee that those with pre-existing medical conditions could get insurance coverage without paying exorbitant premiums.

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Lawsuit will hurt health of Hoosiers

By Rob Stone, M.D.
The (Bloomington, Ind.) Herald-Times, June 19, 2018

Did anyone see the news release from the Indiana Attorney General's office on Feb. 27 this year? The one where AG Curtis Hill announced that Indiana "has joined a 20-state coalition urging a federal district court in Texas to hold the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate is unconstitutional."

In a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Mr. Hill went on to crow, "The whole house of the Affordable Care Act must come crumbling down."

I admit I was not paying attention, either, until June 7 when the nation's top lawyer, Jeff Sessions, announced that the Justice Department would not defend this lawsuit that Indiana is pursuing. The lawsuit aims to void the Affordable Care Act and crucial provisions in it that protect consumers with pre-existing medical conditions.

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Docs talk single-payer at forum

By Ashley Sloboda
The (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Journal Gazette, May 7, 2018

Dr. Jon Walker didn't pressure his audience of about two dozen Sunday to agree with his case for a single-payer health care system, also known as Medicare for all.

"You don't have to accept this," he said.

He did, however, encourage those at the Allen County Public Library meeting room to research the topic. He and others said they want the single-payer model to be considered.

"What we want is a discussion," said Dr. Alison Case, who joined Walker as a panelist during a forum sponsored by Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan.

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Help examine health care options

By Elaine Fazzaro And Edith Kenna, ACSW, LCSW
The (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Journal Gazette, May 3, 2018

We are all tired of still having to talk about health care, but many are still struggling with this broken health care non-system that fails to provide reasonable access or affordable medical care when needed.

Health care is one-sixth of our gross domestic product, and one might think that, because of that, we might want to do a better job.

As Warren Buffett has said, “Health care is the tapeworm in our economy.” And America is being eaten alive.

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Trump is right: Negotiate for lower drug prices

By Rob Stone, M.D., Chris Stack, M.D., and Fran Quigley
Indianapolis Star, Jan. 4, 2018

All Hoosiers have seen the headlines about drug price increases, and too many of us see the struggle first-hand. A vial of insulin can cost a person with diabetes 10 times as much as it did in the late 1990s.The price of an EpiPen has risen 450%. Some new treatments for cancer and other diseases are priced as high as $750,000, even when taxpayers paid for the most critical research to develop those drugs.

One of every five Americans report either skipping medicine doses or failing to fill prescriptions each year due to cost. As physicians and a lawyer working on health-care access in Indiana, we have talked with people who have suffered strokes after they could not afford to fill their doctors' prescription for blood pressure medicines. We have talked with mothers who have lost adult children who had been forced to ration their insulin.

Americans are outraged, and rightly so. In poll after poll, strong majorities of people across different political parties agree that our government needs to do more to rein in drug pricing abuse.

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Three Doctors on What Works and Doesn't Work in U.S. Health Care

By Scott Simon
NPR Weekend Edition, July 8, 2017

Doctors Julie Gunter, Rob Stone and Gary Sobelson talk with Scott Simon about the problems with American health care and what they think of the current Republican health care plan. Dr. Stone advocates for improved Medicare for all as a solution.

Click here to read a transcript of this interview.

Medicare an ideal model of coverage for everyone

By Edith Kenna, ACSW, LCSW
The (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Journal Gazette, June 5, 2017

Imagine my delight in meeting Dr. William Hsiao, the rock star of health care reform and the man who developed Taiwan's system in 1995.

In preparation for his work, Dr. Hsiao studied the systems of several high-income countries and settled on the Canadian system as his model. Taiwan's system is a single-payer, universal system of care. It offers choice of doctors and hospitals, and there is competition between public and private hospitals.

Taiwan's system covers prevention, primary care, hospitalization, mental health, vision, dental, home health and long-term care.

There are small copays for service; $4 for outpatient care, 10 percent for hospitalizations of fewer than 30 days, and 20 percent thereafter. There are caps on copays to prevent bankruptcy if someone is seriously ill. Ninety-nine percent of Taiwanese are enrolled, and it took one year to operationalize.

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Feds forced changes in Pence's HIP 2.0 plan

By Lauren Slavin
Herald Times (Bloomington, Ind.), Jan. 30, 2015

In a rare moment of agreement, the state government and health care advocates have both praised the federal approval of a waiver to extend state Medicaid through the Healthy Indiana Plan, now called HIP 2.0.

But after reviewing the plan, those who worked to push the process to bring health care to low-income Hoosiers have two lingering questions: What took so long, and why?

"On many different levels, I think this is a wonderful thing. It doesn't change the fact we could've had this all 13 months ago," said Rob Stone, director of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan. "I remain skeptical that this plan is any improvement on traditional Medicaid."

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Dr. Rob Stone on Indiana's substitute Medicaid expansion

By Alycin Bektesh
WFHB 91.3 Radio (Bloomington, Ind.), Jan. 28, 2015

Alycin Bektesh: In his announcement yesterday, [Gov.] Pence called the updated Healthy Indiana plan a model for Medicaid reform across the nation. Dr. Rob Stone, director of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, agreed that other states might try to emulate Indiana’s model, but said that in the end it would not be a victory for those seeking coverage.

Dr. Rob Stone: In all these other states they don’t have to deal with these premiums and lockouts and all this stuff. Everybody else has taken a much easier path, and we in Indiana have chosen to take this much more bureaucratic path, more complicated path, all in the name of somehow, supposedly, when people make these small payments then they’re supposedly better health care consumers. There’s really no evidence to prove that, and I think it’s just unnecessarily bureaucratic, which I think is a little bit of an irony since the Republicans are always the ones who are saying, you know, that government bureaucracy needs to be cut and avoided, but they’ve set up this really bureaucratic system.

Apparently Indiana is the only state that has that, and now I’m sure other states will ask for that, because there are a number of other states that are basically politically controlled by the Republicans who, up to now, haven’t completed their application for waivers. Many, of course, are not doing it at all. But there are a number of others that are looking for waivers and they may follow this path. That seems to have been the final point where HHS [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] gave up something, set a precedent. You know, maybe, I wish they hadn’t done that.

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High medical bills pay middlemen

By Jonathan D. Walker, M.D.
The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Sept. 28, 2014

I was at a restaurant in Boston, sitting next to some high-powered business professionals. I heard words like “hospital network,” “insurance” and “pay structure” coming from their table, so I had to eavesdrop.

It turns out they were bankers whose expertise was helping hospital systems collect the money they are owed.

You need to understand that billing for health care services has become a specialty unto itself - the whole process is a giant mess. This is because there are so many different insurance companies with so many different plans and rules and networks that it is impossible to know how to get paid.

Plus, the for-profit companies that create these plans are obligated to place their shareholders over patients - they do all kinds of things that range from incompetent to nefarious to create obstacles that make it hard for providers to get reimbursed.

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HIP Replacement 2.0, or 'Onward with Healthcare Expansion'

By Rob Stone, M.D.
Herald-Times (Bloomington, Ind.), June 30, 2014

Grassroots activists across the state, including Bloomington-based Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, have been working for the past 20 months to build support for the expansion of Medicaid to low-income Hoosiers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Our goal is now in reach. Gov. Mike Pence unveiled his new version of the Healthy Indiana Plan, dubbed HIP 2.0, and it appears that it may accomplish exactly what we have been asking for - coverage for 300,000 to 450,000 Hoosiers currently without health insurance.

The public comment period has now closed and the formal application will be submitted to Health and Human Services by the end of the month. Coverage will begin some time in 2015.

We are proud of all we have done. Working with a broad coalition, Cover Indiana, we delivered over 10,000 petition signatures to the governor on Feb. 19, just before he traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with Secretary Sebelius, along with a letter signed by bishops and other religious leaders around the state, and copies of city and county council resolutions (including Bloomington’s) calling for Medicaid expansion. We provided all that information to Secretary Sibelius too. Newspapers across the state printed our letters and op-eds. Legislators and the governor heard our message.

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Medicaid expansion focus of rally at Statehouse

By Dann Denny
Herald-Times (Bloomington, Ind.), Nov. 19, 2013

Physician Rob Stone is among a group of Medicaid-expansion advocates who are gathering from 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Statehouse to urge Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana Legislature to expand Medicaid in the Hoosier state.

“We’re aiming for 1,000,” said Stone, a Bloomington physician and director of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan. “I’d be surprised if we get that many, but I’ve love to see several hundred show up.”

It was several weeks ago that Stone suggested having the Statehouse rally, phoning in the idea to a gathering of a statewide coalition called Cover Indiana at the AARP headquarters in Indianapolis. Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan is a member of Cover Indiana, as are groups such as the AARP, United Way of Indiana, League of Women Voters and Indiana Hospital Association.

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Obamacare's pregnant politics

By Dan Carpenter
Indianapolis Star, Aug. 13, 2013

Republicans and their media allies may be feeling heightened urgency as they saddle up Obama-Scare for 2014, according to a guy who has his own reasons for dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act.

“While the Republicans are so incredibly strident about how the ACA will fail, if they really believed it would fail, they wouldn’t make so much noise,” said Robert Stone, M.D., a Bloomington emergency room physician and a high-profile advocate for health-care financing reform. “They obviously fear it won’t fail.”

Stone and his wife, Karen Green Stone, are among the leaders of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Care Plan. He also is a board member of Physicians for a National Health Program. Both these organizations of medical professionals and consumers seek a universal “single-payer” approach on the model of Medicare, which just celebrated its 48th anniversary as one of government’s most popular services after a birth greeted with conservative hysteria.

Obamacare is not the expansion of Medicare; in the eyes of Stone and his troops, it is a gift to the for-profit insurance industry that raises huge cost-control worries.

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