Health Wonk Review & roundup of other notable news

April 25th, 2014 by Julie Ferguson

Biweekly roundup of health wonkery – Louise Norris posts Ways the ACA Could Be Improved Edition of the Health Wonk Review at Colorado Health Insurance Insider, a robust roundup of links and opinions from some of the best health wonks on the web. It could also be titled the “hopeful signs of spring” edition – check out the great local photos.
Reminder: April 28Workers Memorial Day is coming up. April 28 is dedicated to, remind us that every death, injury, or illness on the job represents a human tragedy. For a toolkit or list of events, see the AFL-CIO Workers Memorial Day site. Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza factory which killed 1,129 garment workers. The New York Times looks at the past year’s battle for a safer Bangladesh.
Spine Surgery – CBS News features an important story on the increase in spinal fusion surgeries: Tapping into controversial back surgeries. CBS examined the number of spinal fusions each doctor in the country billed to Medicare from 2011-2012, finding that 5% of spine surgeons performed 40% of riskier fusion surgeries. The data analysis was the starting point to a deeper investigation raising questions about disparities in treatment and whether many such procedures are performed unnecessarily. “The data shows that a small group of doctors performed these procedures far more frequently than their peers. While the national average was 46 surgeries over the two year period, some did more than 460. While the average spine surgeon performed them on 7 percent of patients they saw, some did so on 35 percent.” They also offer a database to look up a surgeon,
Terrorism backstop – As the renewal of terrorism insurance winds its way through the legislative process, the industry is fairly unified in reaffirmation of the importance of renewal. The current bill is slated for expiration on Dec, 31. A newly released 2014 Terrorism Risk Insurance Report by Marsh makes the case for renewal, stating that the law offers a stable underpinning to ensure availability and affordability of coverage. Last year’s Boston Marathon bombing sparked demand among smaller and midsized firms — and also raised the issue of a need for clarity about just what constitutes a terror event.
CA Opioid Guidelines – Joe Paduda posts a detailed take on the strengths and weaknesses of California’s new Opioid Guidelines. His opinion? Underwhelming.
Claims – Dave DePaolo has a post on Mental Claims & Boundaries, in which he looks at a PTSD claim that is being contested in Florida.
OpioidsLab-based Urine Drug Monitoring, Interventions Improve Outcomes for Injured Workers on Chronic Opioid Therapy – Clinical interventions performed in conjunction with laboratory quantitative drug testing and monitoring reduced injured workers utilization of high risk medications, according to a clinical study released by Progressive Medical/PMSI and Millennium Laboratories. The study showed a decrease in all measures of utilization, driven primarily by opioids (32%) and benzodiazepines (51%), as well as a 26% reduction in total utilization of all medications, regardless of drug class.
Quick takes

Just for fun