Like much of the country, we've had a sizzling summer here in the northeast, and we are just entering the dog days of summer. In Ancient Rome, the Dog Days extended from July 24 through August 24 and were popularly believed to be an evil time "when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies."
That sounds like a pretty accurate description of the climate as we head on into election season. If you thought all the excitement over health care reform had died down and you could slack off for your summer reading, think again. Things are still pretty heated and we expect much in the way of sea boiling, wine souring, madness, phrensies and hysteria right through the November election. To help you make sense of things, our esteemed contributors offer up an assortment of hot issues related to healthcare - from costs and reform to technology and ethics.
In A Reply to the Cato Insitute Report, Part 1 Maggie Mahar of Health Beat takes on Michael Tannner's 52-page thesis Bad Medicine, which asserts that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is both unaffordable and unfair. Bad Medicine is meant to serve as a playbook for those who hope to kill reform, a theme that Tanner says will serve as the "centerpiece of Republican campaigns this fall."
In his post Controlling health care costs: Who's responsible?, Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters wonders why those who believe health reform is socialism don't have faith in the free market's ability to control costs and deliver quality.
Uwe Reinhardt of Health Affairs Blog contemplates the difference between widgets and health care as he examines the issue of whether more insurers will better control health care costs.
In Standardizing Payments for Childbirth, Louise of Colorado Health Insurance Insider offers a quick and dirty summary of her idea to lower the c-section rate, which would be one piece of the 'costs' puzzle that is overwhelming our healthcare system.
David Williams of Health Business Blog expresses doubt about the sincerity of Republican objections to sending extra money to the states for Medicaid, but just in case, he offers a suggestion for how the deficit hawks can satisfy their concerns about Medicaid spending.
We have a pair of posts from the bloggers at Health Access WeBlog. First, Anthony Wright notes that the rate hikes by Anthem Blue Cross of California that helped jump-start health reform have had a second, third, and fourth act. He thinks that their recent rate filing demonstrates that public scrutiny matters. Next, Beth Capell reminds us that reform isn't just about expanding coverage - it's also about saying adios to the junkiest of junk health insurance.
A final rule for the "Meaningful Use" Regulation for Electronic Health Records has recently been issued, and two of our regular contributors shed light on the topic. Rich Elmore at Healthcare Technology News delivers a compendium of resources and analysis related to the final rules for Health Information Technology - Meaningful Use and Standards/Certification. David Harlow of HealthBlawg explains how this rule, along with the EHR certification rule and the HIPAA rule amendments (also recently released) will govern the future development of health IT in this country, and discusses details and implications of the meaningful use rule.
In his posting The Medicare 'doc fix': How to make political lemonade, Austin Frakt of The Incidental Economist, says that the Sustainable Growth Rate system was flawed from the start and should have been fixed years ago, but now we have an opportunity to make necessary systemic changes.
Jaan Sidorov of Disease Management Care Blog says that although the risk may appear to be low, Congress should consider the risk of a physician boycott of Medicare. He suggests that good business practice -- Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) -- requires it.
In Whose costs? Our costs, The Notwithstanding Blog suggests that patient convenience as a benefit of medical care delivery is largely ignored, and he makes the case for why it is a factor that should be weighed in any honest evaluation of competing reform proposals.
Peggy Salvatore of Healthcare Talent Transformation advocates for E-learning as the most cost effective and best way to educate healthcare workers on the use of IT in her post Technology for Healthcare Education: Build it and They Will Come, and Keep Coming!
Jared Rhoads of the The Lucidicus Project has been tweeting about the highlights and lowlights of the healthcare chapter of Mitt Romney's book, "No Apology: The Case For American Greatness." He's compiled his tweets in his blog post: Twead #3: Mitt Romney. (Here's a Twitterspeak Guide for all you non-tweeters)
In Everybody outta the pool!, Henry Stern of InsureBlog reports on a new high risk health pool and suggests that an agenda-driven press has mangled the message.
At Healthcare Economist, Jason Shafrin observes that when Congress enacted the Medicare and Social Security programs, the media coverage was intense. He notes, however, that Medicaid's beginnings were more humble.
Ethics and marketing
Roy Poses of Health Care Renewal posts that the Avandia spin cycle continues even after the FDA safety hearings, noting that the case offers a good lesson in the need for skepticism about data and claims proffered to support commercial health care products. He finds it particularly disappointing that formerly prestigious medical societies and disease activity groups are increasingly funded by industry, and increasingly act like industry marketers.
Tinker Ready looks at the ethics of advertising, questioning whether hospitals should be promoting drugs used in clinical trials as "treatment" in her post MGH: Research as Marketing? at Nature Network Boston. We usually see Tinker at Boston Health News but this post appears the forum/blog/calendar/jobs site for local scientists.
In a series of posts (#1; #2; #3; #4; and #5), Brad Wright takes a closer look at health reform by elaborating on quotes drawn from Brown University political science professor Jim Morone's Health Affairs article Presidents and Health Reform: From Franklin D. Roosevelt to Barack Obama."
Over a series of posts at The Apothecary, Avik Roy discusses a Medicaid study from the University of Virginia which suggests that Medicaid patients fare worse than the uninsured (and far worse than those with private insurance) when undergoing a broad range of surgical procedures. Roy also points to posts by Incidental Economist Austin Frank, who has a different take on the studies.