We are happy to be ho-ho-hosting this holiday edition of Health Wonk Review. Before we advance to this week's best of the best of the health policy blogosphere, we have a few administrative notes. The first is an urgent news alert we received yesterday concerning the big guy: Risk Managers Find Santa Exposed, Urge $1 Billion Coverage Plan. The second note of less urgency but some seasonal healthcare-related interest is a scholarly research report that appears in this month's British Medical Journal: Why Rudolph's Nose Is Red. We'll let you ponder these weighty matters and move on to submissions from our regulars. This week's entries appear in the order in which they were received.
In Unclear - Breathlessly Unclear - On the Concept, Mike Feehan ruthlessly fisks a recent LA Times article on California's Blue Cross proposed rate increases.
Managed Care Matters
Joe Paduda points to $200 billion in easy-to-make cuts in federal spending, which, for some reason, neither President Obama or Speaker Boehner seem willing to discuss.Since these cuts would get the two much closer to an agreement, and do so without cutting any benefits or raising any taxes, Joe asks -- what's the hold up?
Jason Shafrin reviews how United Health evaluates physicians for its physician designation program: How do commercial insurers evaluate physician quality?
The Disease Management Care Blog
Jaan Sidorov tackles the inconvenient truths that will be confronting Obama in making good on his promise to address the horrific Newtown shooting. Rather than take gun control head on, Sidorov recommends doctors lead a national discussion on reconciling the privacy rights of persons with mental illness against the public interest in minimizing mass shootings, confront how the electronic health record could be used against gun owners and address a badly broken mental health care system.
Health Care Renewal
In Pfizer's 13th Legal Settlement - Will it be Enough to End the Impunity?, Roy Poses takes on Pfizer, noting the company has not suffered any significant negative consequences for any of its actions, despite its "amazing record of unethical behavior in the 21st century." This, despite a new calls to end to impunity in the wake of giant bank HSBC's alleged money laundering and transferring for drug cartels and sanctioned regimes.
The Hospitalist Leader
In his post "Less Than One Percent of Pain Sufferers Become Addicted", Bradley Flansbaum notes that the medical system teaches doctor not to fear narcotics when treating non-cancer pain but "Little did we know the wisdom had little basis in fact."
Health Business Blog
When hospitals buy physician offices they sometimes add a nasty surprise for patients: large facility fees to office visits. David Williams says that there's no real justification for such fees, but until now hospitals have gotten away with it. That's changing though as patients start to push back.
Colorado Health Insurance Insider
In her post What Should Health Insurance Cover?, Louise Norris says that health insurance is purchased to protect against the things we don't expect to happen and explains why, despite its high cost, deductibles and copays are still required.
Health Access California
Anthony Wright notes that the new federal guidance on Medicaid's ACA coverage expansion gives states like California and others the ability to move forward and take advantage of the huge new benefits and funding under Obamacare -- and quickly, given the ten short months to starting to enroll people in Medicaid.
Maggie Mahar explores the concept of The Empowered Patient through the real-life experiences of Julia Hallisy, who has authored a book and started a nonprofit foundation to impart what every patient and every patient's advocate needs to know about staying safe in a hospital. Hallisy learned the hard way during her daughter's decade-long journey through the health care system and some of the San Francisco area's finest hospitals -- a journey that included medical errors, misdiagnoses, inexperienced medical providers, and more. Hallisy's daughter Kate died in 2000 at the age of 11.
Health Affairs Blog
In their post Out Of The Blocks: Meeting The Challenge Of Transforming Health Care, Don Berwick and Clifford Marks summarize recommendations and thoughts from health care leaders at the "Out Of The Blocks" Conference held two days after the election by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. It brought more than 100 health care leaders together, including many of the nation's foremost health policy experts, such as Senators William Frist and Tom Daschle, as well as panelists from all corners of the health care world. The post explores and summarizes some of the recommendations that were collected in a 14-page report.
Chris Langston posts about a national survey showing that depression care is still lacking some ten years after IMPACT, a $10 million depression treatment project. Chris examines what the findings of the new poll mean, and what we need to do to improve mental health services for those most vulnerable.
It's a carnival within a carnival as David Harlow hosts the current edition of Health Care Social Media Review. David founded HCSM this year to "serve as a hub for posts from the best and the brightest health care social media writers, thinkers, users and proponents worldwide, to contribute to better understanding and adoption of social media in health care."
Innovative Health Media Blog
In Keeping it All Together: An Unexpected Benefit of Medicare's Annual Wellness Visit, Charles Smith shows how implementing simple modifications to daily procedures, such as Medicares new AWV, practices can improve patient care and save money. This not only increases patient satisfaction with the visit, but it may also help improve patients chances of staying healthy.
Harold Pollack notes that with the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, the President and the governors need to get along. He thinks the governors will eventually embrace the Medicaid expansion and demonstrates why the economics are just too compelling to ignore. But states and the federal government must cooperate to solve a host of difficult implementation problems and glitches already-arising under ACA. He suggests that one vehicle of compromise and accommodation might be to work through both Democrats and Republicans in the National Governors' Association.
Workers' Comp Insider
In a recent post here on our blog, we posted Storm Clouds Ahead: Hackers, Healthcare Data & Medical ID Theft, citing recent cases of data hacking and the growing threat to consumers, employers, insurers and TPAs of data breaches and medical ID theft.
That's it for this edition! Our next edition will be hosted early in the new year - Brad Wright will host an edition on 1/3/13 at Wright on Health. Until then, wishing you all the best of the season!