A sizzling edition of Health Wonk Review

July 19th, 2012 by Julie Ferguson

We’re happy to be hosting this summertime edition of Health Wonk Review – and hopefully, twelfth time is the charm because this marks our time #12 at bat hosting. We’re wilting from the heat, but haven’t found it as bad here in the Northeast as other parts of the country. The summer has been so darn hot, we’re blowing through records left and right. NOAAA likens the recent extreme weather records to a baseball player on steroids. But it’s hard to know what’s been hotter – the weather or the political rhetoric. The sweltering weather hasn’t slowed down our health policy wonks, who have a lot to say about the Supreme Court’s recent health care ruling, among other topics. We’re taking a slightly different approach to this edition and posting the entries in the order in which they were received. Without further ado, let’s dig in.
Joe Paduda says that if Medicaid isn’t your business, you may be tempted to ignore the implications of the current kerfuffle over whether or not states should accept free money to expand Medicaid, but that would be a mistake. See his post The Medicaid expansion and political choice at Managed Care Matters.
InsureBlog‘s Bob Vineyard explores the brave new world of the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR), and why he thinks it’s destined to be both insomnia-curing and migraine-inducing in his post How Now Brown MLR?
Gary Schwitzer’s Health News Watchdog blog provides a valuable service for policy wonks and consumers alike by holding journalists’ feet to the fire in terms of accuracy of health care reporting on medical studies, among other things. Recently, he took a skeptical look at the exuberance with which respected media outlets leapt on research reports about the salutary effects of alcohol intake on arthritis and alcohol intake on osteoporosis.
At Wing of Zock Dr. Joanne Conroy, an anesthesiologist and Chief Health Care Officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges, shares her enthusiasm for the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Accountable Care Act, including the individual mandate. She draws upon the experiences of friends and family to conclude, “What makes me proud is that we didn’t abandon the most vulnerable of our citizens, who lack political voice and economic clout. These underinsured Americans, many on the brink of personal financial insolvency, are our neighbors, co-workers, and friends.”
Keeping families healthy is good business sense for any organization. At Corporate Wellness Insights Fiona Gathright posts about the health benefits and ROI that organizations can realize by including dependents in Employee Wellness Programs.
With the increased need for primary care physicians, midlevel providers are increasingly the go to solution to fill the void. Brad Flansbaum of The Hospitalist breaks down all you need to know regarding advanced care nurses — salaries, training, and the various niches they occupy.
In his usual pull-no-punches style, Dr. Roy Poses of Heath Care Renewal offers a detailed report of why he finds some industry insiders unreliable when it comes to health reform in his scathing post Fool Us Once, Shame on You, Fool Us Twice, Shame on Us – The Untrustworthy Pronouncements of Aetna’s Former CEOs. In pointing out the flip-flopping on the issue of the individual mandate, he questions the wisdom of treating self-interested corporate health care CEOs as visionaries.
David Williams of Health Business Blog says that malpractice reform is a key tenet in the GOP’s proposals to “repeal and replace,” but in his post another reason that malpractice reform is overrated, he shows how it’s unlikely to have any real impact: Malpractice payments have declined 8 years in a row, and new reimbursement models will reduce the appeal of “defensive medicine.”
At Health Access, Anthony Wright tells us Why California Matters when it comes to the Affordable Care Act: It’s not just the biggest state, or the state that has taken the lead in implementation. It also has the distinction as the exception — the sole “blue” state in the top dozen states with the largest percentage of uninsured. As such, it can be a leader in showing how ACA can directly address the needs of states with high uninsured rates. Bonus: we point you to his Health Reform Quiz 201.
In her reporting on healthcare reform, Maggie Mahar has been focusing on the word “one” and the way that media narratives are not only shaping the public’s perception but are also actually shaping events. At HealthBeat, she posts about Self-Fulfilling Media Narratives: How One Man Decided the Fate of Health Care Reform, and at healthinsurance.org blog, she looks at whether one missing word could kill the ACA.
At at Colorado Health Insurance Insider, Louie Norris notes that in the healthcare reform debates, the lion’s share of attention has focused on the health insurance industry. In her post Does GSK Case Show A Need For Profit And Admin Caps In the Rest Of the Healthcare Industry?, she suggests we may want to cast the net wider, to include the pharmaceutical industry, for one.
At his eponymously named Health Policy Blog, John Goodman examines the economic ramification of the Affordable Care Act and raises the question of whether ObamaCare is causing the jobless recovery?
Harold Pollack says that we can expect that the NAACP boos for Romney may only be the beginning. He explains why he thinks the latest GOP rhetoric over the Affordable Care Act will alienate minority communities at the healthinsurance.org blog.
At New Health Dialogue blog, Justin Jones takes a cue from the new Health Dialogue-ers article on 12 Ways Health Care Could Be Improved If the House Wanted to Hold More Than Symbolic Votes to offer his own tongue-in-cheek look at 31 Things the House Could Have Done… that he thinks might have been more productive than voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the 31st time.
And here at Workers’ Comp Insider, if you haven’t already read it, we point you to a post about one of the reasons why prescription drugs are so much more costly under workers comp than under general health care: Physician drug repackaging, front and center.
Upcoming edition: We’re on a slightly relaxed summer schedule so the next Health Wonk Review is scheduled for August 16. Dr. Jaan Sidorov will host at Disease Management Care Blog.