Health Wonk Review #9

June 15th, 2006 by Julie Ferguson

We’re honored to host Health Wonk Review #9 here at Workers’ Comp Insider. Health wonkery is part of a long, fine tradition of social commentary on medicine, medical providers, and health care delivery systems. Witness the entertaining online exhibit from the University of Virginia Health System, Very Ill: The Many Faces of Medical Caricature in Nineteenth-Century England & France, which demonstrates that pointed social commentary on both the suffering masses and the physicians who treat them has been a popular topic through the ages.
Satire by George Cruikshank, James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and many others show us that health care and politics have long been intertwined, and a favored subject of complaint with the teeming masses. Since the early days of medicine, medical providers have been experimenting with various payment and compensation schemes; complaints about the high cost of medicine are nothing new.
Today, blogs are the favored podium for those who would comment on the state of medicine, medical costs, and health care systems. Blogs afford the widespread dissemination of ideas from providers, critics, and policy makers alike. And thus, following in this fine tradition, I give you Health Wonk Review #9:
Roy Poses of Health Care Renewal submits the post Resistant Strain Indeed: Research Chief Stirs Up Merck, which discusses the recent shake up in the leadership of the firm’s drug development research team, posing the question as to whether the shake-up will help or hurt. Although the new bosses seem put out about the supposed inefficiency of Merck scientists, particularly at all the efforts they spent to “check and recheck” their work, the Vioxx affair would suggest that the problems at Merck were not due to inefficiency or excessive effort spent looking for erroneous work.
Marcus Newberry of Fixing Healthcare explores the medicalization of prevention, and expresses concern about the danger of bringing prevention under the medical care system. In his post The Lifestyle Chronicles – Prevention, Where Fore Art Thou?”, he suggests that prevention is a separate branch of health care with a different mind-set, different goals, different procedures and tools from medical care.
Fard Johnmar of Envisioning 2.0 has launched a new series exploring the relationship between the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry. In the latest post in this series, he examines whether the FDA is a “paper tiger” or “overzealous regulator.” (Access his entire series here).
David Williams of Health Business Blog posts about OPB or “Other post employment benefits,” a seemingly minor accounting rule change that may hasten the demise of employer-funded retirement health benefits, in turn increasing the burden on Medicare.
Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters reports on more reimbursement nastiness going on in California. Wellpoint has decided to pay docs less for performing procedures in hospitals than in outpatient settings; hospitals are crying foul, arguing that health plans shouldn’t be encouraging physicians to consider cost when planning treatment. Joe argues that it is well-known that hospitals use over-payments by private insurers to cover indigent care costs, a practice that is unfair to health plans and employers. He calls for both parties to stop acting like children and focus on the real issue – adequate coverage for the uninsured and universal access.
Jason Shafrin of Healthcare Economist discusses the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) and the ways that it will contribute to reshaping Medicaid. Since the President signed the DRA in February of this year, states have been afforded more freedom in designing their Medicaid programs. His post gives a variety of examples of how some states decided to overhaul their Medicaid system under the auspice of the DRA.
Henry Stern of InsureBlog reports that Vermont is the latest state to take a whack at universal health coverage. Check out his surprising take on this attempt in his post on the big doin’s in the Green Mountain State.
Rita Schwab of MSSPNexus Blog profiles Kay Brown a Medical Staff Service Professional (MSSP) from Florida in her fourth in an ongoing series of interviews with interesting people in health care. Ms. Brown assisted her hospital in dealing with Hurricane Francis in 2004. Her interesting perspective on lessons learned during the crisis are most timely with this year’s hurricane season bearing down on Florida as we post.
Rod Ward of Informaticopia reports in from on the road. He’s been participating in blogging from the 9th International Congress on Nursing Informatics in Seoul Korea that ran from June 11-14. The Congress offered eclectic news and views on health informatics and elearning; the blog offers a day-by-day window into the activities at the conference through posts and podcasts.
And finally, here at Workers Comp Insider, my colleague Jon Coppelman explores the intersection of the ADA and OSHA standards, which are in potential conflict with the new diagnosis of intermittent explosive disorder. While managers may feel some pressure to accommodate employees with violent tempers, Jon advises employers to concentrate on the need for maintaining a safe workplace. In most cases, that means firing violent employees, regardless of their medically-based diagnosis.
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