Health Wonk Review: Bosstown edition

Today, BHN hosts the Health Wonk Review, the floating web digest of health policy blog posts.
Guy Aceto/ Backstreets
Guy Aceto/

This is Boston, but we already had a baseball theme. Summer reminds me of growing up on  the Jersey Shore. So, this week — the Boss-town edition. Dedicated to Danny Federici,  Bruce Springsteen’s organ player.  He died of melanoma last year.

 For a round up of recent Boston news,  see my fresh posting on Mass I blog weekly for this device industry news site.

The Price You Pay

Healthcare Technology News offers a post on the health industry meeting with President Obama: “What We Call Health Care Costs, They Call Income.” The group’s proposed $2 trillion in reductions in the rate of growth of health care costs. They also pledged to reduce the growth in costs by 1.5% each year for ten years. “It’s not enforceable and there are plenty of reasons to view this cynically,” HTN asks. “But is it a signal that health care reform has a real chance this year?”

Joseph Paduda at Managed Health Matters reports on a health reform meeting sponsored by pharmacy benefits company Medco. Of the dozen meetings and press conferences on health reform each week –“This was one of the better ones I’ve (remotely) attended,” he said.  Why? “Because the conversation was realistic, pointed, and quickly got into the reality of health care reform – it’s about cost.” Special extra: retro anti-health reform graphic featuring Ronald Reagan.

Living Proof?

MedicaidFrontPage takes on reform’s hot topic. In “The Public Plan…Balance is the Key to Life,”  Brady Augustine offers updates, thoughts and links on the debate over the public insurance option. He points out that some some states already have public plans for employees or Medicaid recipients.nj post card

At the Health Affairs Blog, Harold Luft  proposes a risk pool as an alternative to the public plan in “Beyond The Public Plan Debate: A Pathway To Transform The Delivery System.”  Luft discusses the “weaknesses of the competing visions for a public plan option.” He outlines his proposed alternative: “a publicly chartered major risk pool that eliminates the need for the problematic behaviors of private health plans while enhancing choices for providers and patients.”

Reason to Believe

Kaiser Family Foundation’s head, Drew Altman, sees big differences in opinion between experts and the public on health care.

 Dave Williams at the Health Business Blog doesn’t think Altman has it quite right. He looks at the Kaiser survey point by point and tells us where he thinks the public stands on issues like HIT, quality and unnecessary care. A post on New Health Dialogue by Joanne Kenen  offers more thought on Altman’s ideas. 

Cadillac Ranch

Julie Ferguson gathers up reports on the potential impact of Chrysler and GM’s bankruptcies on state workers’ comp systems over at Workers’ Comp Insider. For example, she notes that Ohio’s Attorney General Richard Cordray has filed a "limited objection" to the pending sale of Chrysler, claiming the new owner won’t be required to meet workman’s comp obligations. WCI gives a nod to Roberto Ceniceros of Business Insurance for his thorough coverage of the issue.  

 Devil’s Arcade

Casino by Dop Deep via flickr
Photo by Dop Deep

The Health Care Renewal blog offers a post entitled From the “Era of Cyber Hospitals to an Unfinished “Pipe Dream”There, Brown University’s Dr. Roy Poses notes that testimony in the ongoing civil lawsuit against corrupt HealthSouth hospital CEO Richard Scrushy cautions against buying into innovation hype. The “digital hospital” idea HealthSouth trumpeted in 2001 is an empty building. At the trial Scrushy testified that the hospital was a “pipe dream.”

 Dr. Poses digs way back and finds a lot of cheerleading for this failed digital hospital project. “We are constantly bombarded with publicity about the latest health care ‘innovations.’ We are warned, however, that any new regulation of health care corporations may dry up the pipeline of ‘innovations,’ imperiling us all.  Yet how many of these “innovations” actually improve health?” he writes   


Are you tough enough to play the game they play? 

Maybe this was an excuse to play video games, but David Porter at the Health Disparities blog explains how researchers are using the World of Warcraft and other “virtual worlds”  to study natural experiments. In this case, he talks about a virtual virus – the kind that attacks player in the game, not the computer.

 For the uninitiated, this involves a using a virus-infected virtual pet to attack the enemy. Porter described it as “an excellent example of a natural experiment and how people may act during a pandemic…” He said researchers analyzed data supplied by the game developer and cites two papers one Epidemiology and another in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.


Working on a Dream

jersey6Anthony Wright presents Getting to universal… posted at Health Access WeBlog.  He agrees with with the CBO that an individual mandate by itself won’t get us to universal coverage, but disagrees with other supposed barriers to that goal.

 BNET Healthcare asks “Thought Leaders Propose Health Reforms, But Will They Work?”  The authors of New England Journal of Medicine article favor "accountable care organizations" that would enable healthcare providers to improve quality and reduce cost growth.  BNET thinks their view of physicians and the health care business is “too idealistic to offer a practical road map to reform.”

 Colorado Health Insurance Insider reports that the governor has signed Colorado Senate Bill 88 granting dental and health insurance benefits to domestic partners of gay and lesbian state employees.


Spare Parts  

The Health Care Blog offers a post by Mark Leavitt, head of Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology, or CCHIT. "Certifying Health IT: Let’s Set the (Electronic Health) Record Straight." In this post, Leavitt responds to accusations that CCHIT is too close to the HIT industry to act as a certifying agency. The charges emerged in stories from the The Washington Post, including one entitled “Group Seeks Sway Over E-Records System.” The Post also reported on the dispute. 

 Neil Versel at Healthcare IT Blog comments on an “outrageous statement” by the CEO of Epic Systems “Vendors, this is your wake-up call”


 The Big Muddy

wave 2

Sam Solomon of Canadian Medicine describes a medical crisis triggered by a nuclear accident. “When nuclear nonproliferation is the problem” He describes his post as “an article about the potential consequences, both clinical and political, of the recent shutdown of the nuclear power plant in Ontario that produces about half of the world’s supply of a certain critical radioisotope used in diagnostic imaging exams.”

 In a post entitled Death Form a Thousand Cuts Outside of the Patient Centered Medical Home,  Jaan Sidorov notes “that while health reform may be on the way, there are a surprising number of day to day hassles that are bleeding primary care physicians dry.” From the The Disease Management Care blog


Don’t get caught on the wrong side of that line

Mike Feehan at Insureblog contemplates the difference between medical care and health care. “In order to reach meaningful conclusions about the direction of health care reform, we need to understand the relationship of health care to wellness… We can exercise (free). We can get adequate sleep (free). We can steer clear of substance abuse of all kinds (free). We can keep a reasonable diet (free). We can always wash our hands (free). We can hold it down to 85 on the Interstate (free). We can stop smoking or never start (better than free). To a great extent we already have free health care in the U.S.”

Better Days

Jason Shafrin at Healthcare Economist notes that Medicare Part D plan was supposed to provide a prescription drug benefit for those who did not have it. The Healthcare Economist reviews a paper that that asked how well the program is working. It found that after the enactment of Medicare Part D,  only 7% of seniors lacked drug coverage, compared to 24% before the launch of Part D.

Glenn Laffel at Pizaazz tell us: “It’s been a long strange trip for Dendreon, the makers of Provenge a new immune therapy for prostate cancer. No one seemed to take the stuff seriously, but now the definitive trial has been completed and lo and behold, it works! No one could be happier than its shareholders.”

Growin’ Up

Philip Zorn presents guest blogger Robert Nelb on Effortless Enrollment Saves Taxpayers $ and Helps Uninsured Children Access Medicaid and CHIP posted at Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog. Nelb talks about a Brookings Institute paper on the need for effortless enrollment in CHIP and Medicaid programs. He makes the case that automatic enrollment would not only save taxpayers money, it could save lives.


Spirit in the Night

maxsFind Clearing the Haze – Is Marijuana Addictive?  at Brain Blogger. “America’s most popular illegal drug has remained largely a scientific mystery. It is a drug that millions of Americans have been using regularly for years, and, from a clinical perspective, it remains the least studied illicit drug of all.”


6 thoughts on “Health Wonk Review: Bosstown edition

  1. Terrific review! Really good discussions on consideration of the public plan and health reform in general. Great titles – particularly “Working on a Dream”. Thanks for hosting

  2. Superb job Tinker…good tie-in, good flow, and good summaries. Just the right amount of links and thoughts. This is another example why HWR is so respected across the health policy world. Thanks to you and thanks to all the bloggers that make this resource so special!!!

  3. […] Tinker Ready is a Bruce fan, which has ‘juiced’ her summary of the best and brightest of the latest health policy blogs over at the Boston Health News blog. Let’s face it, the Disease Management Care Blog’s magic may give you one step up but if you really want glory days, stop dancing in the dark, get in your pink cadillac and (e street) shuffle on over to the paradise of wonky insight here. […]

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