New Dept. of Labor ruling: Minimum wage for home health in all 50 states.

In case you missed it, the Obama administration has issued a rule that will mandate a minimum wage for “direct care” workers (i.e., home health caregivers), extending the rule to all 50 states, including 29 states that currently do not have such regulations.

A map at the Department of Labor website indicates the states (in gray) that will be most affected by the rule. Continue reading

Using Health Records to Segment Society

An article this morning (Obamacare Will Question Your Sex Life) warns that Obamacare will require physicians to ask patients a wide variety of personal questions not relevant to the physician’s specialty or to the patient’s condition.  The information will be stored in the patient’s electronic health record which will, in turn, become part of a giant national electronic database. Continue reading

C-TAC Hosts DC Conference

The C-TAC website. (No link; they don’t need the additional traffic.)

Last Friday’s March for Life was a reminder that many Americans understand a fact that is lost to those inside the Beltway:  that protection of human life, grounded in Judeo-Christian principles, has been the foundation of American civil society for over two centuries.  By way of contrast, tomorrow an organization called C-TAC, run by right-to-die activists, will begin a two-day conference uniting pragmatic ethicists, political progressives, consumerists and crony capitalists at, appropriately, the National Academies of Science.

C-TAC (the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care) was founded by social marketer Bill Novelli; death-with-dignity activist Myra Christopher of the Center for Practical Bioethics (CPB; formerly known as Midwest Bioethics Center); and former Evan Bayh adviser Tom Koutsoumpas, now at ML Strategies.  The American Bar Association, while not a coalition member, had a hand in development of C-TAC through Charles Sabatino, who is director of ABA’s Commission on Law and Aging.

C-TAC co-founder Myra Christopher of the Center for Practical Bioethics

Bill Novelli is former AARP president, and is also a co-founder of the huge public relations firm Porter Novelli – the firm that made the news last year when it won a $20 million contract from HHS to promote Obamacare. (Porter Novelli handles C-TAC’s press releases.)

Myra Christopher’s claim to fame is that she helped attorney William Colby argue for the death of Nancy Cruzan, and later advised Senators Danforth and Moynihan in crafting the Patient Self-Determination Act.

As Partnership for Caring transitioned to Last Acts Partnership, Tom Koutsoumpas moved to Chairman and Rev. Jeremiah Wright was added to the board of directors. (Website has been removed; this is the web page as it appeared archived in 2005. IRS Form 990 confirms they were both on the board.)

Tom Koutsoumpas was on the board of Partnership for Caring, and appeared on the website as chairman in 2004 as the organization transitioned to Last Acts Partnership and added Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the board.  (Partnership for Caring had been known as Choice in Dying in the late 1990s; before that, it was known as the Society for the Right to Die.)

All of these founding members happen to have been key players in the 1990s death-and-dying project called Last Acts – a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project that collaborated with George Soros’s Open Society Institute, until Not Dead Yet raised protests, and funding was cut shortly thereafter.   In fact, C-TAC bears a striking resemblance to Last Acts.

Two years ago a two-day celebration of “the Legacy of Nancy Cruzan” brought together a number of people who would go on to launch C-TAC

C-TAC operated “largely under the radar” for about a year (as reported by one liberal blogger in-the-know).  By September 2011 their strategic plan included “SWAT Teams” to “respond to questions from the media as well as any attacks”  It is not clear whether this was in preparation for a specific “attack,” or whether they were just paranoid in general.  The worry about “questions from the media” was clearly a ruse, because Christopher has a long history of using the media to foist her propaganda on the public.  In 2000, for example, she and Partnership for Caring collaborated with Bill Moyers on a public television series, by which they were able to generate news stories, magazine articles, photo ops with members of Congress, and establish a community organizing network.  They can always count on newspapers to carry their message.  Susan Tolle –  developer of POLST, a major contributor to Oregon’s guidebook to the Death with Dignity Act, and a board member on one of Christopher’s projects – boasted in a CPB publication:

“Our use of data with the news media often precedes efforts to bring about change in other settings. . . .  If data have not been presented effectively to a wider audience, we are unlikely to be of tremendous influence to legislative bodies. . . . There is no doubt that The Oregonian has made a huge difference.”

What is C-TAC’s objective?  According to Diana Mason, WBAI radio host and president of the American Academy of Nursing, “C-TAC was formed to reframe the discussion” in response to what she termed “fear-mongering” and “’death panel’ rhetoric.”  Blogging at Disruptive Women in Health Care, Mason reported that C-TAC was ready to “take back the conversations with the public about choices in dying.”

One page from C-TAC’s Strategic Plan, complete with “SWAT Teams.”
[click image to enlarge]

“Choices in dying” is one part of the agenda, but C-TAC’s objective is much broader.  For one, they plan on “changing the health care delivery structure.” They are working with the new Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) at HHS; one of their board members just won $13 million in taxpayer money from CMMI to test a new intervention.

C-TAC likes to talk a lot about honoring a person’s values, but clearly they are in the business of shaping the public’s values and behaviors.  One of the stated goals in their Strategic Plan is (emphasis added)

“Improve the social, policy and health system environment and norms for quality advanced illness care.”

To accomplish that goal, C-TAC plans to

 1. Coordinate public engagement, policy advocacy, clinical model development, and provider education/support to optimize timing, sequence, and priorities to achieve greatest impact.

2. Utilize mass and social media and policy channels to create positive change in normative and expected behaviors regarding advanced illness”

[emphasis added]

Putting aside their lack of a solid definition for the term “advanced illness,” the problem here is that C-TAC clearly intends to impose its own values on the public in terms of defining “quality,” “positive change” and “normative and expected behaviors.”  This is a little troubling coming from an organization whose founders can’t even get it right when it comes to what “ordinary care” means (hint:  nutrition and hydration).

Get the picture? A C-TAC presentation showing that frail, elderly patients are a “cost to society.”
[click to enlarge]

Nor do the C-TAC founders understand the meaning of the word “person.”  According to their definition, a person ceases to be a person when he or she loses cognitive capability – as a number of them would argue in the cases of Nancy Cruzan, Hugh Finn, Robert Wendland, Terri Schiavo, and countless others.  So it is not surprising to learn that two years ago a two-day celebration of “the Legacy of Nancy Cruzan” served both as a reunion for old Partnership for Caring alumni, and a convening of agents who would go on to launch C-TAC.

It would be nice if these bioethicists, statists, and crony capitalists would not use taxpayer dollars to impose their values and agenda on the public, but to obtain government funding is one of their objectives.  And of course, if all goes as planned, with the government money will come regulations and guidelines that will further operationalize their “better-off-dead” values and pragmatic ethics.  Let’s hope they fail.

ObamaCare’s $1 Billion Community Organizing (and rationing) Project

Here’s a scheme that’s sure to fundamentally transform America’s health care system, from top down and bottom up. The Administration is pairing Alinsky-style organizing with Berwickian rationing, and using your tax dollars to do it.

In a series of YouTube videos posted last fall, Joanne Lynn, MD (right-to-die activist, bioethicist, and wife of Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State) described a $1 billion “care transitions” project that was established via Section 3026 of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

The new Innovation Center at CMS is spawning community-based organizations through the federal QIO network. CFMC – the Colorado QIO – is the National Care Transitions Quality Improvement Organization Support
Center (Integrating Care For Populations and Communities, or ICPC).  The map above is by Traci Archibald, MBA, presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society)

Lynn explains that “care transitions” means “how you move across settings” in healthcare. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at HHS has been bothered that their clientele — elderly, frail fee-for-service patients — keep going back to the emergency room after they are discharged from the hospital. According CMS, “unnecessary hospital re-admissions” cost roughly $12 billion a year. Supposedly one in five patients returns to the hospital, but Lynn remarks that “in some areas, even higher rates apply; some populations certainly return more often.”

The answer: Use the federal government’s QIO network to establish community-based organizations for health care (re)distribution.

In response to the perceived crisis, CMS is starting with one billion dollars to change health care delivery systems across the country. Lynn says half a billion for “Community-Based Care Transitions Program” (CCTP), and the other half billion goes to “Partnership for Patients.” (Elsewhere, CMS describes CCTP as a sub-project of Partnership for Patients.) Lynn calls CCTP a “marvelously fertile endeavor,” and hopes that the CCTP demonstration project will spawn thousands of coalitions across the country:

“. . . [CCTP is] a very interesting program; half a billion dollars over five years, trying to have leadership organizations in the country – leadership communities, really – figure out how you can build community, . . . reduce the rate of hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations, by involving community-based organizations….”

These test sites will be the foundation for a permanent restructured delivery system over the next few years.

The Partnership for Patients “stakeholders”: left-wing nonprofits, crony capitalists, big labor and big government. (Graphic: from National Quality Forum presentation, April 2012)

Though the coalitions are local, the federal government determines which organizations are allowed on the team. Lynn says that to qualify for funding, the lead organization must be

“. . . a community-based organization which has adequate representation of the provider stakeholders and adequate representation of the consumers on its board – so it’s a very special organization – Medicare has determined that public organizations like a Department of Health can qualify, and that Area Agencies on Aging can qualify, but you’ll have United Way agencies and others that might be able to do this

The end result will be a coalition with clout.

The coalition will have its own board and will funnel large amounts of money. The organization is paid a flat rate per person, but then the organization decides how to allot the funds, determining which patients will receive more services, and which patients will get less. Lynn explains:

The community-based organization is the one that will get paid; they must be working with one or more hospitals. It’s an advantage to be working with hospitals with high re-admission rates. You submit an application that gives a blended rate, that says for every patient in our target population, we will be paid a certain amount, and then we will figure out, within ourselves, the patients that need a whole lot of services, and the patients who need less.

Joanne Lynn is not just a random observer. Lynn is an insider. She spent about a year advising CCTP’s headquarters in Colorado. During the mid- to late-‘90s she collaborated with Donald Berwick and his Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement in projects aimed at decreasing hospital admissions by increasing the use of living wills and other advance directives. (Not surprisingly, before he left CMS, Donald Berwick was one of CCTP’s principal champions.) Lynn is probably best known for devising “Medicaring,” a program that manipulates Medicare reimbursements to discourage chronically ill patients from requesting life-saving measures.

Lynn recognizes that developing coalitions across the country will be tricky. She warns that people will be suspicious at first. She advises,

You need to build a level of trust, and then you need to govern by consensus, probably, for a while; and then figure out . . . what’s the governing board really going to look like; are we going to incorporate; are we going to be able to take on grants or funding; are we going to be able to take on the management of any records, or monitoring the situation, or speaking to the public? You have to think a couple years down the road.

This is where the Alinsky-style organizing comes into the picture.

Organizing for Health poster, originally posted at the website of  Colorado Foundation for Medical Care (CFMC)

The QIO for Colorado  Colorado Foundation for Medical Care (CFMC) – brought in Organizing for Health to help train and recruit organizers for coalition building via an online seminar that ran from February through May of this year.  CFMC is the national coordinating center for a CMS program called Integrating Care For Populations and Communities (ICPC), and as such CFMC helps community-based organizations apply for the CCTP program.

Organizing for Health is spearheaded by Marshall Ganz and his department at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  From the Organizing for Health website:

Building on experience with Marshall Ganz, known for his campaigns with Cesar Chavez and California’s migrant grape workers in the 1970s, and Barack Obama’s 2008 grassroots presidential campaign, Kate Hilton, JD, MTS, is leading a team focused on supporting the capacity of leaders to organize and create sustainable conditions for transforming health and care.

For the record: Ganz focused on faith-based organizing, and his proteges at Organizing for Health specialize in leveraging faith-based organizations as well. The two trainers for the CFMC series – Kate Hilton and Ella Auchincloss – picked up community organizing experience while working for the Episcopal Church. Kate Hilton, the daughter of a hospice doctor, brings conflicts over end-of-life decisions into the debate. She has done community organizing through Donald Berwick’s Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the Mott Foundation, National Council of La Raza, and The Middle East Initiative at Harvard University.

Ella Aunchinloss, director of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizing at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, stressed throughout CFMC’s four-month training series that there are many “change theories,” but community organizing involves using resources to build power, with emphasis on collective action.

A slide from the CCTP training session conducted by Organizing for Health

“If the change you want to see involves mobilizing people and involves mobilizing all of the resources available by virtue of that collective, then you’re using the right theory of change for the challenge that you face. To give you an example, if you wanted to find a cure for cancer, organizing as a theory of change may not be the right theory. . . .If there was a scientific breakthrough that did involve the use of a scarce resource of, say, some sort of or drug protocol, you might consider using community organizing in order to shift the power dynamics that make that drug protocol either scarce or scarce to your community.”

Slide from Organizing for Health training. The “opposition” were two physicians who wanted to care for sick patients.

In one session, participants were taught how to “map actors.” They were taught how to identify constituents (Auchincloss reminds the organizers that “patients are not constituents”), and and how to target supporters and competitors who have resources to which the movement wants access. Mapping also includes identifying who is the “opposition.” Auchincloss turned to one of the QIO members to provide a real-life example of mapping actors. It turns out the “opposition” was a team of physicians who said they were there to treat sick people. Doctors do usually treat sick people; that’s a good thing. Nevertheless, the physicians were identified as resisters because supposedly they just wanted to make money.

Hilton and Auchincloss, in the footsteps of their mentor Ganz, taught the organizers to begin their public relations campaigns with a “story of self”, a personal anecdote that will tug at their audience’s heartstrings, or conjure a fear. Organizers were told to cull their community for stories of “intolerable situations” to “create a compelling story or narrative of why people need to take action.” The series ended on May 24 with a call to action: “Contact a patient or family representative in your community by June 15th to learn what you can about their experiences.”

Sharpen your discernment skills; the propaganda blitz is on its way.