Yes. But, behind them I suspect is the Emperor.
Paul Atreides, in “Dune.”
More than a year ago I wrote about the capture of the academic process by the Kentucky Governor’s Office where some unnamed individual with clout became “pissed-off” when Dental Professor Dr. Raynor Mullins exercised both his faculty and first-amendment rights to suggest that cutting back on dental and vision services to Medicaid beneficiaries was a bad idea. Everyone involved seemed to know who in Frankfort held the power to intimidate the leadership of our “Flagship University,” but the Governor’s office denied any involvement in the matter. (We have encountered that scenario before, right here in River City!) The University rolled over and dismissed Dr. Mullins.
In response, and to both hold the University accountable and presumably to shine a bright light on what actually appended, Dr. Mullins filed a lawsuit against the persons of the Vice President for Administrative and External Affairs and the Dean of the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. In my earlier commentary, I opined that perhaps under oath that the truthfulness of the allegations would come out– or not! It is not clear to me that any such disclosure happened. The University requested of Federal Judge Robert Wier a summary judgement (dismissal) of the case against it which was denied. As I understand it, before the case was to go to a jury trial, a private settlement was reached without any admission of guilt. I do not know how much pre-trial discovery was done. Today’s reports in the Lexington Herald and Courier-Journal do not refer to any information from depositions taken under oath. Often such settlements include clauses of confidentiality that hide embarrassing findings from public view. Is it conceivable that court records might be sealed? Is it possible that we may never know to whom the UK officials caved?
What is just as disturbing as not ever knowing the identity of the bully is the claim that communication within the University and with the Governor’s office in this matter was conducted using personal e-mails. The use of personal electronic devises and emails to skirt open-meeting and open-record laws is an emerging threat to the ability of the public to hold its government accountable.
The University of Kentucky does not come off looking good in this matter. It seemingly admits no guilt at all, but some UK entity now has a 6-figure settlement to pay with legal fees to boot. Dr. Mullins is taken back in to the faculty. Transparency disappears. No one is held accountable. Dr. Mullins may not have achieved all his goals, but in my view, he stood up to the state agency that is the University of Kentucky and won!
Peter Hasselbacher, MD
Emeritus Professor of Medicine,
University of Louisville
Dec 10, 2018
[If anyone has public court documents or other information that might shed light on this sad affair– or for that matter correct any misunderstanding of mine– I hope they will communicate with me confidentially or with the email link found in the side-bar of this website.]
Here is a copy of Judge Wier’s opinion of 9-28-18
Much remains to be worked out. University of Louisville Hospital Profitable but CHI and KentuckyOne Health suffering major financial losses.
Claimed to be effective as of Dec 14, an initial document initiating the separation and anticipated divorce of the University of Louisville and KentuckyOne Health became available today, December 22. Given the complexity of the existing contractual partnership and some earlier hints of marital conflict, the 3-page document submitted as an amendment to the original Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) is surprisingly both short and bland. The principal function of the amendment is to change the term length of the original agreement from 20 years to an ending date 6 months away on June 30, 2017 at which time University Medical Center, Inc. (UMC) resumes its pre-marital control of the entirety of University of Louisville Hospital and the James Graham Brown Cancer. It is obvious that many consequent details remain to be revealed or worked out. Indeed, the document anticipates that additional counterparts to the amendment will be added.
A 6-month wind-down period for one spouse to leave the house in an orderly manner is specified by the conflict resolution agreements of the JOA. Although not specifically mentioned in the amendment, the change of termination date triggers a cascade of other important actions of which the most important is that the complex interlocking operational Academic Affiliation Agreement (AAA) also becomes void on June 30. A new AAA has been prepared well ahead of schedule. It has reverted to a traditional Affiliation Agreement used between UofL and its hospital partners and returns control of all academic, clinical, educational, research, financial, and hopefully ethical matters back to the University where such belongs. Hooray! Continue reading “Additional Details About Separation of UofL and KentuckyOne Health Emerge.”
Earlier this month I published a survey of the cost of insulin to the Medicaid and Medicare programs of Kentucky and the nation. Fully 9.1% of the total cost of Kentucky’s outpatient Medicaid drug program went to pay for the several brands of Insulin still available. It was obvious that some brands cost a lot more per prescription or claim than others and that the most expensive brands were prescribed most often! I used this critically important drug as an example of how the market for prescription drugs in America is badly broken. Since then I stumbled on two additional federal databases that provide additional insight into how much these drugs cost at the local pharmacy counter where the rubber hits the road. These are federal surveys that determine the National Average Retail Prices paid by the consumer (NARP), and the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost (NADAC) for the pharmacy. Both these programs provide data at the cost per milliliter level, and otherwise facilitate apple-to-apple comparisons of the different brands. In brief, the additional data confirm that in 2013, for the same size bottle, the newer insulin analogs cost 71% more than the older “human” insulins. By 2015, all prices had increased; some substantially. Valuable information about the retail prices of drugs is being kept from public inspection. Continue reading “Update On The Rising Prices of Insulin Between 2013 and 2016.”
Just business– or greed? You be the judge.
Discovered and patented almost 100 years ago, insulin is a critical drug for the treatment of both childhood Type I and adult onset Type II diabetes mellitus. Diabetes is a costly disease for our society in more ways than one. In 2015, the cost to the Kentucky Medicaid program for insulin alone annualizes to $101.8 million. Insulin consumed 9.1% of Kentucky Medicaid’s entire non-hospital drug expense while making up only 1.1% of all prescriptions. In 2013, the last year in which Medicare Part-D drug utilization data are available to me, insulin consumed 7.3% of total Medicare reimbursement for drugs in Kentucky costing a total of $141.8 million. In both federal programs, insulin consumed a larger portion of the drug budgets in Kentucky than nationally. A review of several reasons why insulin has become so expensive illustrates what is very wrong with our national drug policy. Continue reading “Soaring Insulin Prices Highlight Broken Pharmaceutical Policy.”