June 2011 Health Wonk Review: Hockey, hoodlums and hot rod angels

Welcome to the Big Men edition of HWR. Congratulations to the Stanley Cup winning Boston Bruins. Good-bye to Big Man Clarence Clemons, Springsteen’s sax player and side man, who died last week after a stroke. And hello to Whitey Bulger, the Boston crime boss captured last night after 16 years on the run.

Wingers: Politics

Joe Paduda explains: Why health reform will not be repealed at Managed Care Matters.  He writes: “Once people again actual real-life experience with a government program, they abandon their fear of the unknown, see its benefits more clearly, and become invested in its future.We’ve seen that with Medicare, which consistently pleases its beneficiaries. Part D has similar traction, and now we’ve learned that the citizens of Massachusetts are increasingly happy with that state’s health  reform.”

Jared Rhoads interviews Sally Pipes on doctors, students, and activism at The Lucidicus Project. A free-market advocate, Pipes, head of the Pacific Research Institute, says medical students are being ”indoctrinated by their professors who constantly tell them that a government-run system would bring about affordable, accessible, quality care for all.”

Avik Roy at Forbes argues that “The McKinsey Health Insurance Survey Was Rigorous, After All”  Supporters of the new health care  law “have worked themselves into a tizzy” over a survey that concluded 30 percent of responding employers would likely cut coverage for their workers. “Because McKinsey had refused to release details of the methodology… Democrats and left-of-center writers accused the company of having something to hide.”

Assist: Shared Decision Making

Gary Schwitzer offers: Telling the story of variations in health care and shared decision-making in a TV news story posted at HealthNewsReview Blog. A model for how journalists – even those on local TV – can cover shared decision-making stories. Also see his side note on the decision making process re: implantable heart devices.

Jessie Gruman asks: Check-In-The-Box Medicine: Can the Blunt Instrument of Policy Shape Our Communication with Clinicians? posted at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog. One example: counseling at the pharmacy, which she says has been” transformed into the time-saving strategy of asking us to check the box and sign the book or screen pad…(T)he vast majority of us now add our signature, pay the bill and walk away, oblivious to the substantial benefit we have rejected.”

Jonena Relth responds to a CNN blog, on ”dumb things” patients do at the doc’s office with 10 Things Docs and Clinicians Can Do, posted at Healthcare Talent Transformation, Her version offers advice for docs and staff so they can be a little smarter when it comes to dealing with patients.

Stick Handling: Quality of Care

David Williams presents Readmissions: Hard to predict who it will be and why posted at Health Business Blog, saying, “Reducing readmissions is hard, especially when no one can predict who will bounce back and why.”

Don’t Just Count Heads, Weigh Them! at The John A. Hartford Foundation blog, Health Agenda, discusses a recent JAMA article on the importance of making sure physicians are trained to provide proper care to older patients.

Glenn Laffel offers another installment in a series about online interventions designed to foster healthy behavior: Posted at Pizaazz.

Slashing: Costs

Jason Shafrin note the Share of Federal Budget Spent on Health Care Jumped in 2009  at Healthcare Economist, saying, “In 2009, 54 percent of federal revenues were spent on health care. The Healthcare Economist reviews other interesting healthcare statistics from the California Health Care Foundation’s Report.”

Jon Coppelman writes about Managing Chronic Pain at Workers Comp Insider, saying, “With chronic pain being a major cost driver for many workers’ comp claims, payers are looking to control costs. He comments on the Chronic Pain Treatment Guide issued by the Mass Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) Health Care Services Board.”

Joseph White offers The Mixed (De)Merits Of ‘Bending The Cost Curve’ on the Health Affairs Blog. He traces…” the development of the phrase ‘bending the cost curve’ and argues that the risks of the now ubiquitous metaphor outweigh its benefits.”

Slap Shot: HIT

Shahid N. Shah offer a  Guest Article: How to sell your EHR and other health IT products into clinics and physician practices posted at The Healthcare IT Guy. “Healthcare IT is a hot topic these days and lots of new people are starting new ventures in the field. Developing your product is the easy part; the hard part is commercializing and selling it into a fragmented, diverse, and increasingly skeptical healthcare industry”

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn comments on a study that foundU.S. patients are looking for from their doctors: more self-service options, more online access, and more self-health care tools in patient portals in a post at Health PopuliIn HHS, Privacy, and Your PHI  Henry Stern, at InsureBlog, reports on newly relaxed privacy rules, and wonders if they’re a good thing.


Checking: Health law

Health Care Renewal reports: The First Contaminated Heparin Case Verdict: Making Money by Giving Patients “the Cheap Stuff” “Since the case of the contaminated heparin that allegedly killed over 80 patients began in 2008, this is the first legal case about it that has been resolved.  Documents revealed during the litigation referring to the heparin from China that apparently was deliberately contaminated with a potentially deadly chemical as “the cheap stuff” suggested how the current management of supposedly “ethical” pharmaceutical companies has allowed cost-cutting to trump their core mission.”

Finally, Dan Diamond at California Health Line allows us to mix our sports metaphors, by noting that lawyers defending the new health law in the lower courts are like minor league ball players getting ready for the majors: “Opponents of health reform rushed to challenge the law in court — but the flurry of anti-overhaul cases may have helped the government build its own case to defend it. Lawyers explain the Obama administration’s rare approach to the unprecedented legal battle.”

We’ve filtered out all the spam, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for reports on weight loss miracles, cures for bipolar disorder, personal trainer classes and DNA testing (“Did Jason Sudeikis Admit to Being the Father of January Jones’ Baby?”)

And, the dramatic events of the past two weeks led us to abandon our  original theme – Thanks anyway for the birthday wishes. We had art for the Bruins and they nailed Whitey just last night. (See The Departed for a character inspired by the Boston gangster.)  And we had to squeeze in Big Man. Clarence used to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight for his soulful “Jungleland” solo. Now he’s stepped back, and those of us who worship at the House of Bruce will miss him in a big, big way.


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