Health Wonk Review: The “Undeterred by World Cup Fever” Issue

June 19th, 2014 by Julie Ferguson

While people all over the globe are gripped by World Cup fever, here in health-wonk-istan, our bloggers take a more philosophical approach to football. They are not distracted from their important mission of bringing you the best in the health policy arena. Without further hooplah, we give you our bloggers’ best posts from the prior two weeks. Because our entries are all winners, we dish them up in the order in which they were received.
We begin with a steamy post from Henry Stern at InsureBlog, who reports on a (now former) anesthesiologist’s – say THAT 10 times fast – unique (and disturbing) multi-tasking abilities in his submission More Red Hot Lover/Physician Tricks.
David Harlow of HealthBlawg interviews Roy Schoenberg, CEO of American Well about the model policy recently adopted by the Federation of State Medical Boards to get state medical boards up to speed quickly and to access standards of care that are both protective of patients’ interests and offer baselines against which physician behavior may be judged by an individual board. (After this post went up, the AMA issued a halfhearted endorsement of the whole enterprise.)
David Williams has launched a Health Business TV YouTube channel as an adjunct to his respected Health Business Blog. You can see his debut edition, in which he discusses Castlight Health, the Affordable Care Act, and more.
At Health Care Renewal, Roy Poses continues watchdogging bad behavior by corporate health entities. He reports on two recent health settlements involving companies that are no strangers to legal misadventures in his post Fool Me Twice? – Boehringer Ingelheim, Medtronic Settle Lawsuits Alleging Deceptive Marketing. One settlement involved allegations that the company hid data about the adverse effects of a popular and heavily promoted drug; the other involved allegations of paying off doctors to promote use of expensive medical devices. The settlements provide a cloak of deniability so kudos to Dr. Poses for shedding light on perverse incentives.
Jason Shafrin says that numbers do not lie: health insurers with the largest market share have the largest increases in health insurance premiums. Check out his post on Healthcare Economist to find out why the numbers may not tell the whole story: Are market leaders raising health insurance premiums?
For Father’s Day, Maggie Mahar dished up the scoop on the great cholesterol con at her Health Beat Blog. Despite a lack of medical evidence that statins helps anyone who hasn’t already had a heart attack, the perpetuation of the idea that “bad cholesterol” causes heart attacks successfully demonized eggs – a perfectly good source of nutrients = while bolstering the bottom line for statin manufacturers.
Brad Wright talks about the Geographic Divide: How Federalism Has Formalized Health Disparities at Wright on Health. He looks at the Medicaid expansion (and non-expansion) and how this affects border communities that straddle sate lines. The issue of whether or not people have health insurance and access to care is a sometimes matter of which part of town they live in.
At the NCPA’s Health Policy Blog, NCPA Senior Fellow Devon Herrick talks about how so-called specialty drugs are displacing traditional drugs as the primary component of drug spending, noting that there are a number of regulation challenges that will impact how patients will get access to these drugs and how much they will pay. See his post, At a Pharmacy Near You: The Specialty Drug Turf War
While mountains of commentary appeared about the problems with the so-called “roll out” of the computer system for the federal Affordable Care Act, there were also similar problems in several states that had decided to run their own public exchanges. At Healthcare Talent Transformation, Patrick Pine looks at some of the reasons why the feds and several states had so many problems setting up computer programs for the public exchanges.
At Health Affairs Blog, Joel Kupersmith, former head of research at the Veterans Health Administration, CEO of Kupersmith Associates, and an adjunct professor at Georgetown offers his thoughts on the VA scandal and the future. He outlines the VA’s scope and assets, its problems, and strategies for moving forward in both the short and long terms.
On the front lines of the Affordable Care Act roll out, Louise Norris of Colorado Health Insurance Insider reports that health insurance enrollment continues to climb, even in this “off-season.” She reports hard numbers on on enrollment growth and offers predictions for how tie enrollment period will likely look when it wraps up in the next five months, and the prospects for 2015.
At Managed Care Matters Joe Paduda looks at the “collateral damage” that occurred in layoffs related to a recent spate of workers compensation mergers & acquisition activity. He notes that strong non-compete agreements executed under duress needlessly and unfairly tie the hands of experienced professionals in his post The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Here at Workers’ Comp Insider we point you to Tom Lynch’s excellent tribute to industry thought leader Dr. Jennifer Christian. He chronicles her past achievements as well as some of her current initiatives in occupational health.
That concludes this issue off Health Wonk Review – we’re kicking the ball to Jennifer Salopek at Wing of Zock, who will host the July 17 edition.