Health Wonk Review: “Why hasn’t spring sprung?” edition

March 28th, 2013 by Julie Ferguson

We open this weeks edition of Health Wonk Review with a breaking news alert: The criminal indictment against Punxsutawney Phil has been dropped. Despite the fact that spring appears elusive, the rascally rodent won’t have to look for his shadow from a jail cell next year. The Ohio prosecutor who filed suit says that he is done with animal cases, inviting some other prosecutor to take on the Easter Bunny. There may well be grounds for suit – check out the hilarious Sketchy Bunny site.
We couldn’t help but think of the other Groundhog Day when we read Joe Paduda’s post taking on the tin-foil hat brigade. He tries to put one myth to rest at Managed Care Matters: there is NO OBAMACARE RFID CHIP! We suspect that RFID chips are on the same continuous loop as death panels, and that no amount of dispute will put them to rest.
Leaving behind the Easter Bunny, the RFID chip and other myths, we think prosecutors should stop worrying about dereliction of duty on the part of groundhogs and perhaps turn their sights instead to more serious matters, like dereliction of duty on the part of our elected officials. Surely there is something criminal about the ongoing gridlock in DC, no? Which brings us to a jumping off point for this weeks edition.
At HealthBeat, Maggie Mahar takes on the sequestration, looking at what it means for health, education and the exchanges. Will “Looking Stupid” eventually motivate legislators to compromise? (Editorial note: that ship has probably already sailed over the horizon.) Maggie offers her thoughts on why the GOP won’t compromise on taxes.
Wendell Potter had a chance to see some of the DC action up close and he appears less than impressed. At Blog, he describes his testimony at an ‘Unaffordable’ congressional hearing, where he learned that House Majority lawmakers wanted to hear only that reform law makes health insurance unaffordable.
On the issue of affordability, Anthony Wright of Health Access Blog says don’t believe rate projections about how health insurance rates might go up because there are a number of variables these projections don’t take into account. And he notes that because everyone is starting from a different place, the impact will likely be different: Lots of people will pay less; some will pay more.
John Goodman isn’t buying any of it. In his post Bait and Switch at his Health Policy Blog, he strongly disputes the administration’s budget projections on health reform.
We pause in this edition to bring you a timely public service announcement: Louise Norris of Colorado Health Insurance Insider is thinking about the looming tax deadline and a few technicalities that might help to prevent uncomfortable moments in a tax audit. She reminds us that you have to have an HSA Qualified Health Plan in order to set up an HSA – something that many people wouldn’t know if they set up their HSA through a financial institution rather than through their health insurance carrier.
A deeper dive into costs
At The Hospitalist Leader, Bradley Flansbaum explains that an AHQR-sponsored database examines both commercial and government health costs, allowing an analysis of measurements in a comparative manner. In his post HCUP: Hospital Costs, Not Prices, he looks at inpatient costs and payers.
Are regions with above average Medicare spending per beneficiary more likely to provide high quality care? Are regions with above average Medicare spending per beneficiary likely to have above average Medicaid spending per beneficiary? Healthcare Economist Jason Shafrin provides an overview of his report written for the Institute of Medicine: Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending
Henry Stern of InsureBlog looks at the reception one employer’s attempt to rein in health insurance costs. CVS implemented a a health-screening program for its covered employees, causing some to cry foul. In his post Paying The Piper, Hank calls such protests out as hypocritical.
In his post at the Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative’s blog, Mark Pauly looks at the the challenging business case in which spending more on nurses improves quality, but wonders whether even when a more costly program passes the cost-benefit test, we be confident that buyers will be willing to pay for those costs.
The next generation
Much attention is given to the health care system, much less so to the educational institutions that breed future health care leaders. Roy Poses picks up the slack. At Health Care Renewal, he discusses the recent NYU Faculty No Confidence Vote in their President – another sign that, “faculty at large American universities, in which most of the country’s medical schools and teaching hospitals are embedded, are becoming increasingly concerned about the leadership and governance of their organizations, and whether the universities are putting their academic (and clinical) missions ahead of other concerns, like making money and rewarding top executives.”
At Wing of Zock, James E. Lewis looks at the projected physician shortage and asks, “Even if new and larger medical schools accept enough students to abate the projected physician shortage in this country, where will we get the clinical faculty to teach them?
Technology may save us
Health Business Blog’s David Williams recently attended HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, for the uninitiated), where he interviewed Kaiser CIO Phil Fasano about Transforming Health Care, his new book. Fasano believes health IT can help empower consumers and can completely transform the relationship between patients and providers.
At Healthcare Talent Transformation, Jonena Relth thinks there’s untapped potential in technology. She asks why EMRs aren’t making use of existing technologies to improve care delivery in her post How come Spock’s computer was so far advanced beyond today’s EMRs?
In closing
Here at Workers’ Comp Insider, we focused more on the past than the present, taking a look at obsolete occupational maladies such as Bagpiper’s Fungus and Cheesewasher’s Lung.
Here’s wishing you all a happy holiday weekend and an imminent shift to spring-like weather. Watch out for sketchy bunnies and check back to Health Wonk Review on April 12, when our friends at Colorado Health Insurance Insider will host.