The Pre-Memorial Day Edition of Health Wonk Review

May 21st, 2015 by Julie Ferguson


We’re just a few short days away from Memorial Day, a time to remember those who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. It’s also the tail end of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month so our prescription is to get your fill of health wonkery here today, but then kick off a little early tomorrow. Find some time to pay your respects this weekend and then get out there and get active. All wonk and no play leads to Type 2 Diabetes.

OK, here’s this week’s roundup of wonkery:

Joe Paduda tells us that 21 states have not (yet) chosen to expand Medicaid. In his post at Managed Care MattersMedicaid and Workers’ Comp — he explains the impact that decisions to expand / not to expand have on workers’ comp patients, premium payers, and insurers.

At Colorado Health Insurance Insider, Louise Norris offers her thoughts on the Luis Lang story. Don’t know his story? She points to a number of media stories, including an interview with Henry Pollack. She says that the interview is an excellent look into how the law is perceived, particularly by those who are resistant to it based on their politics and their information sources. She notes that a year and a half after the first Obamacare open enrollment period began is testament to the fact that there’s still an uphill battle in terms of getting accurate information out to the people who need it the most.

Emergency Department visits are up post-Obamacare and opponents are using that to bash supporters. But at Heath Business Blog, David Williams says, “of course emergency department visits are increasing” – and it’s not really fair to blame supporters, since many (including him) predicted that ED visits would rise, not fall. He reminds opponents that before Obamacare, many were bashing the uninsured for clogging up emergency rooms.

The FDA is generally concerned with efficacy and safety, but now does the FDA care about what patients think? A new draft guidance recommends measuring patient preferences for medical devices. Jason Shafrin at The Healthcare Economist investigates.

Despite the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), the issue of genetic testing in the workplace keeps resurfacing in one form or another. At InsureBlog, Henry Stern discusses the latest twist in his post Your Genes vs Your Job.

Indiana has recently become a place where health and politics intersect with striking consequences: One of the largest outbreaks of HIV ever identified in the U.S. continues to unfold in the state writes Preeti Malani, a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Michigan She says that needle exchanges and substance abuse counseling and treatment are crucial in fighting HIV. See her post at Health Affairs Blog: Allow Evidence, Not Politics, To Drive Prevention: Lessons From Indiana’s HIV Outbreak.

Over at the newly designed HealthBlawg, David Harlow reacts to Overkill, Atul Gawande’s recent New Yorker piece on the problem of over-diagnosis and over-treatment. David offers a prescription for an approach to eating the elephant in his post: An avalanche of unnecessary care.

Could healthcare be much more efficient – ie lower cost and higher quality – if we were to leverage the full potential of information technology? Peggy Salvatore says we are oh-so-close to being there. In her post at Health System Ed, she talks to Dr. Sandeep Pulim, the CMIO,of a company that developed an application that is pulling all the pieces together.

Trade negotiations may be unfamiliar territory to those interested in addressing health care dysfunction, but Roy Poses explains why it shouldn’t be in his post at Health Care Renewal. The new trade pacts under recent senatorial dispute could potentially have major effects on health care and public health. They allow for the creation of international tribunals, which lack the sorts of due process and accountability of court systems in most developed countries, but which could be used to fight national health and safety regulations. Learn more: All the President’s Trade Negotiators – Revolving Doors, Regulatory Capture, and Health Care Corporate Friendly Trade Agreements

Charles Gaba says that with the May 15 start of the 2016 rate review season, we should expect to start seeing stories with scary-sounding headlines in on- and off-line media. Pre-emptively, he lets the air out of rate-increase hysteria in his post at blog. (We note that in addition to being a contributor there, Charles is the proprieter of, which tracking enrollments for the Affordable Care Act.

Here at Workers Comp Insider, we look at the “State of the Line” for the workers comp industry, as depicted in the release of several key indicators issued and discussed by NCCI at the recent Annual Symposium. How are things looking? Calm for now, but turbulence ahead.