House# AHCA vote livens up Lown2017 “right care” conference

logoThe Lown Institute’s meeting is taking place as the nation is trying to digest the possible impact of  yesterday’s vote in the House of Representatives.

The group’s Right Care Alliance sees the ACA as an inadequate answer to the problems of cost, access and quality. So, their reaction may not include the same kind of outrage you hear from ACA supporters.  Lown recently delivered their global perspective in a series of articles in The Lancet .

They started right off this morning with a forceful critique of the AHCA  from global thinker Jeffery Sachs .




Are two big #hospital groups better than one? #consolidation

At Wednesday’s meeting, the  Massachusetts Health Policy Commission heard a staff report on the proposed merger of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

From the report. AMC= academic medical center

 In summary, we find that these transactions are anticipated to increase market concentration, solidify BIDCO’s position as the second largest hospital network in the state, and could strengthen BIDCO’s ability to leverage higher prices and other favorable contract terms. However, BIDCO’s market share will remain far smaller than the dominant system in the state for most services.

Member of the commission pondered the impact of having two large hospital systems, instead of just one giant one — Partners. Their conclusion — no one really knows, but it would be worth finding out.  We’ll see where that goes.

From the Globe:

“… commissioners noted that the growth of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization, or BIDCO, could be a good thing. BIDCO is a network of affiliated doctors and hospitals that negotiates contracts with insurers and gives its members set budgets under which to manage patient care.

“To me, big is not necessarily bad,” said Marylou Sudders, the state secretary of health and human services, who sits on the commission. “Shouldn’t Massachusetts have… a strong competitor to what is the largest and most expensive health system?”

The commission said that by adding MetroWest and the Baptist to its network, BIDCO will solidify its place as the state’s second largest provider network. But it will remain much smaller than Partners, with about 13 percent of all hospital discharges, compared to 29 percent for Partners.


Single-payer health reform advocates launch new website #HCR #mapoli

The unrelenting supporters of the single-payer approach to health reform  have updated their website. And, it is a quite an update. The old MassCare site was sluggish — infrequently updated and often lacking links to upcoming events. Check it out here or click below. Also in health reform, check out WBUR’s Q & A with David Seltz, the new head of the state Health Policy Commission.

mass care

Books by doctors on health reform and beyond

As a freelancer, I’ve been known to grumble about doctors who write. After all, why should they hog the Pulitzers and the pages of The New Yorker when they have perfectly good day jobs? On the other hand, doctors in print often offer us an alternative to the mass-marketed Dr. Oz or the perky, laminated docs on daytime TV’s “The Doctors.”

So put down that Parade magazine. (We’ll admit that  Dr. O has some good advice about sleeping problems.) Instead, check out the always rich “Ideas” section of The Boston Globe, where you’ll find a column by MGH doc Suzanne Koven on doctors who write.

Perhaps so many doctors are writing literature today as an antidote to our increasingly rushed and technological medical practice. There’s less time or incentive to include, in the modern case history, vivid descriptions of a patient’s appearance, details about his occupation and family life, or musings about what might ail him, than there were 100 years ago. When Oliver Sacks showed his friend, W.H. Auden, film clips of the stiff and mute patients about whom he wrote in “Awakenings,’’ he asked the poet “What do you think they lack?’’ “Music,’’ Auden replied. Doctors who write literature supply the grace notes missing from today’s medical records, recapturing the music of the human condition.

Maybe.  The column arrives in anticipation of the release of an anthology “Writer, M.D.: The Best Contemporary Fiction and Nonfiction by Doctors,’’ edited by Leah Kaminsky . And the story includes a list of other works by doctor-writers.

Writing about patients can generate compelling narratives.  Try pitching a story on health reform.  So, we are surprised to see that you need to buy a ticket for the Cambridge reading Jonathan Gruber’s Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, and How It Works. Maybe we should learn to draw: it’s a comic book.


For a more text-based, deeply informed view of politics and health reform, check out the free discussion by Stuart Altman and David Shactman of  “Power, Politics, and Universal Health Care’’ on Monday  at 7 p.m. at Brookline Booksmith. Altman, a Brandeis professor, has been bouncing back and forth between Waltham and Washington for years. He knows his stuff.



Hold the fried chicken: RedSox workout tips from the Globe

Some of the BoSox players were lifting chicken legs instead of weights last spring, but not Ellsbury and Pedroia.  Jacoby returned from an injury for a great year and Dustin was solid all season.

The Globe’s Daily Dose offers some advice from their off-season trainers, who counsel them “on the importance of sleep, self-massage to relieve soreness, and what they need to eat to help build muscle.”

Also, please note this week’s publication of the Health Wonk Review, the biweekly digest of the best of health policy blog. This edition includes links to posts about the upcoming Supreme Court decision on insurance mandates, HIT and primary care and the new Independent Payment Advisory Board. Also note the previous edition, brought to you by Center for Objective Health Policy, a site that encourages “individuals to apply free-market ideas to healthcare.”

New fitness and exercise blog on the Globe web site

The Globe has added another health blog — this one on fitness:

Elizabeth Comeau is the senior health & wellness producer at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.  

Bring on the user-generated content. Pairs up nicely with CommonHealth’s “Why to Exercises Today” series.

Harvard video: The Supercommittee Collapse and America’s Healthcare Future

Harvard School of Public Health Panel