Health Wonk Review: the party’s at our place this week

August 9th, 2007 by Julie Ferguson

Kudos to some of our Health Wonk Review “usual suspects” who were included in Managed Care’s July story on health care blogs. Author Alan Adler, MD, who is the Medical Director, Independence Blue Cross, offers a brief intro into what blogs are and a sampling of various health care blogs. I think he did a great job explaining blogs. For example, how true is this:

If you’ve only heard of blogs from the consumer press, you might think they consist entirely of blather about pop culture and outrageous fulminations from the political far left and far right, but the fact is, there are many serious, well written blogs, and the major health care issues of the day are discussed on blogs — before, and more extensively, than they are or could ever be discussed in academic articles.

We’re glad to see some of the HWR crew cited. In the four years since we began blogging, we’ve really seen health care grow to be an exciting and thriving blog sector, and as Adler points out, there’s something for everyone.
OK, on to this week’s issue of Health Wonk Review. When I agreed to host in August, I thought I would have things easy, with just a few skinny posts here and there. Not so – lots of submissions rolled in, so settle down for a big fat issue and a good long read.
First up to bat, Dr. Roy M. Poses of Health Care Renewal blogs about another death in a gene therapy trial. In this case, the death occurred in an early phase trial of gene therapy for arthritis. The story includes troubling allegations of irregularities in the trial and odd connections between this trial and the infamous trial of gene therapy in the late 1990s, which also led to a patient death. Roy notes that despite the the story raising many intriguing questions and providing few answers, it has garnered little attention in the mainstream media.
Bob Laszewski of Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review asks why President Bush is suddenly so willing to veto spending bills. He notes that the President threatened to veto a highly popular bipartisan deal to reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP), along with just about every other spending bill the Democrats have offered, including those with substantial Republican support. In the first six years he didn’t veto a single spending bill. What’s going on here? Bob has some ideas.
Jason Shafrin of Healthcare Economist discusses a study which appeared in the August issue of JAMA demonstrating that violence is a vicious cycle. The study included interviews with more than 2500 adults in northern Uganda to examine how exposure to war crimes affects views about peaceful negotiations.
What’s the secret to reforming health care? Dr. Brian Klepper from The Doctor Weighs In suggests that the answer lies in the private business sector, a group that must come together with common purpose to drive reform. And in assembling this coalition, he has a prescription for success: Don’t invite anyone from health care.
David Williams of Health Business Blog is apparently better natured than we are. He managed to get a laugh out of news reports that MA premiums were being held down by the health reform law since his own premium is going up 26.3%! I guess it’s laugh or cry. That was bad news for him to come home to. David has been on the road to see hospitals in Singapore, and kept a seven-part record of his travels at Singapore Medical Tourism Diary.
At HealthBlawg, David Harlow informs us that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is slouching towards pay for performance (P4P). He notes that while private-sector payors and CMS demonstration projects have begun P4P work in earnest, CMS is still in the pay-for-reporting phase of development, but is broadening the scope of this program.
Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters tells us that when Medicare sneezes, the rest of the health care sector catches a cold. (Or some might even suggest pneumonia, Joe). He offers a quick guide to the primary impending Medicare changes.
Shock! Horror! Matthew Holt of The Health Care Blog disagrees with Uwe Reinhardt. Well, sort of. This week, he tackles the prickly subject of physician compensation.
Cheesy Insurance? What do swiss cheese, NFL teams, and insurance have in common? InsureBlog’s Bob Vineyard thinks that Wisconsin’s latest effort toward “universal health care” may get sacked before the first play, mainly because it’s full of holes.
Adam J. Fein of Drug Channels raises some heretical questions about the AMP war, including why we need the “Saving our Community Pharmacies Act of 2007” (H.R. 3140), which was proposed last week by Reps. Nancy Boyda (D-KS) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO). He cites economic data showing that the rhetoric about patient welfare has been overblown by the pharmacy lobby. He may also raise the hackles of the drug lobby in questioning whether the U.S. may actually have too many retail pharmacies.
According to Jay Norris at Colorado Health Insurance Insider, things aren’t looking too favorably for the “independence” of the independent commission established by newly elected Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, which had the laudable goal of drawing up a plan for the future of health care in Colorado. It turns out that despite good intentions, the commission is now being run by bigwigs in the insurance industry.
Rita Schwab of MSSPNexus blogs about court decisions that signal a new era for hospital liability. Both Putnam General Hospital in WV and Silver Cross Hospital in IL have both been on the losing side of lawsuits involving negligent or sub-standard credentialing practices.Increasingly, malpractice attorneys are looking, not just at the physician’s skills, but also at the credentialing process in the hospital that granted the physician access to the facility.
In his post about why New York medical malpractice insurance jumped 14%, Eric Turkewitz of New York Personal Injury Law Blog suggests that “lousy government policy on the insurance end has caused a ‘crisis’ that affects health care.”
Michael F. Cannon of Cato@Liberty has a conversation with one of the WTC rescue workers who appeared in Sicko. If you’ve seen the film, you know that Michael Moore took 3 rescue workers to Cuba for health care that they couldn’t get here. Michael wrote an op-ed in a NY paper, and one of the workers posted a comment. Read the exchange.
Dmitriy Kruglyak of Trusted.MD looks at People Powered vs. Consumer Directed Healthcare and discusses what he sees as the very real differences between the two. The post offers his assessment of what is really wrong with Consumer-Directed Healthcare and how he thinks the private sector can fix things without turning everything over to the government.
Here at the Workers Comp Insider homestead, my colleague Jon Coppelman discusses the impending problems that are likely with the Homeland Security’s scheme to get tough on illegal immigration. Employers will be required to fire workers who have Social Security numbers that come up false.
The next issue of Health Wonk Review is just two weeks away. It will be hosted by Daniel Goldberg at Medical Humanities Blog. Keep up with the schedule and the archives at Health Wonk Review.

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