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posted on 07 October 2015

Early Headlines: Global Recession, China's Ghost Cities, NATO Confronts Russia, US Doctor Visits Decline, US Housing Bubble And More

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Early Bird Headlines 07 October 2015

Econintersect: Here are some of the headlines we found to help you start your day. For more headlines see our afternoon feature for GEI members, What We Read Today, which has many more headlines and a number of article discussions to keep you abreast of what we have found interesting.




  • Obamacare's MD effect: No patient rush, but more money (CNBC) Despite dire warnings of a big wave of new patients swamping doctors' offices and disrupting care after getting health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, there was actually a small net decrease in patient visits last year for primary care physicians, according to data collected from almost 20,000 doctors. But even in the face of that decline, primary care doctors actually saw a net revenue increase of 3% or more from their patients in 2014. The findings came in data compiled by ACAView, an Obamacare-measuring project of Athenahealth and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. As millions more people have gotten health insurance the number of people seeing doctors has failed to rise. Here is some discussion quoting Josh Gray, head of research at Athenahealth:

Gray said there are several possible reasons why there was a decrease in patient visits even with coverage expansion.

One possibility is that patients are becoming more cost-conscious due to an increase in the amount their insurance plans force them to pay out of pocket for health services. That trend was occurring prior to Obamacare, but ACA exchange-sold plans tend to have higher out-of-pocket cost structures than job-based health plans.

Gray said the out-of-pocket costs patients face for an office visit could be leading some of them to think twice before going to their doctor.

"It's also possible that newly insured patients are still getting care in the emergency department, or urgent care centers, and are not necessarily seeing the primary care doctors," he said.

And because ACAView did not distinguish between new patients and existing patients, another factor could be decreases in existing patient volumes, Gray said.

A state's decision to not expand Medicaid could explain why primary care doctors in those states saw a greater drop-off in patient visits than in expansion states, where there were bigger increases in the number of people enrolling in Medicaid.

But Gray noted that even in expansion states, "not every practice is accepting new Medicaid patients, and not every practice is accepting an unlimited number of Medicaid patients."

  • Clinton dismisses reinstating Glass-Steagall (CNN) Hillary says that her plan, to be unveiled next week, is "more comprehensive" than reinstating the law. Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley, here two primary opponents at this point, have both said they would reinstate Glass-Steagall, the Depression era bank regulation law which was followed by 50 years without a major bank failure.

  • Housing today: A 'bubble larger than 2006' (CNBC) Home prices are gaining steam again, fueled by tight supply amid growing demand. Nationally, home prices were nearly 7% higher in August compared to a year ago, according to a new report from CoreLogic. That is a bigger annual gain than we saw during the spring market in May and June. Other monthly reports have shown the same phenomenon.


"I see people who have for decades said they are unpolitical. Now they are voicing opinions for the first time. They want to know how this has happened and how it will end. This is new."


  • NATO rejects Russia explanation on Turkish air space (Reuters, CNBC) NATO on Tuesday rejected Moscow's explanation that its warplanes had violated alliance member Turkey's air space by mistake and said Russia was sending more ground troops to Syria and building up its naval presence. With Russia extending its air strikes to include the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he was losing patience with Russian violations of his country's air space. Erdogan warned at a Brussels news conference:

"An attack on Turkey means an attack on NATO."


  • The myth of China's ghost cities (Reuters) Hat tip toi Roger Erickson. The author has spent 2 1/2 years researching China's urbanization movement and says that the much ridiculed empty "ghost cities" are only empty temporarily. In ten and twenty years they will all be filled and more will be under construction. Econintersect: If this author is right, China might be compared to hickey legend Wayne Gretzky who was called "The Great One" because he was always "skating to where the puck was going to be".

  • Special Report: China uses intimidation tactics at U.N. to silence critics (Reuters) A lot of anecdotal information here to explain why China is able to avoid censure for its human rights record.

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