Emily Goodson, IBM Strategic Communications Summer Intern
HealthNex is pleased to host the tenth edition of Health Wonk Review (especially after a family car accident and new baby’s arrival got in the way of delivering issue #8 …thanks to everyone for picking up the ball).
As Julie Ferguson reminded us in HWR #9, health wonkery has been with us for quite some time, while blogging is still a relatively new phenomenon, with an evolving culture, style and character. Perhaps something bold will emerge from this mashup of old and new.
This particular edition of HWR surveys a number of posts covering current events and trends, as well as others that discuss the future, changes ahead, and encourages some caution about both. So too is healthcare hanging between the hope of what could be—with enough imagination, innovation and will— and the realization of how hard implementing some solutions will inevitably be.
I am happy to report that all of the blogs represented here and in all other editions of HWR are an increasingly important part of healthcare’s changing landscape. I hope we continue to discuss important issues, inspire each other, and help the blogosphere progress forward. I give you Health Wonk Review #10:
CURRENT EVENTS AND TRENDS:
Rod Ward of Informaticopia presents a media summary and various perspectives on the UK National Audit Office report on NPfIT. He asks the question “How much have taxpayers spent and was it worth it?”
Carlos Rivas of losrivas tells us how Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, plans to provide health care coverage for all uninsured residents in the City. Besides summarizing Newsom’s plans, Carlos also analyzes possible motivations behind the Mayor’s decision, highlights reactions to it, and suggests responses you can take if you want to see change.
Some medical device manufacturers, newspaper articles and legislators have argued for years that the Group Purchasing Organizations’ (GPOs) Safe Harbor Exemption from the Anti-Kickback Statute of the Social Security Act is counter-productive and can lead to higher prices for hospitals and payers. Olivier Travers of Hospital Buyer looks at the latest Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA) funded report about this topic which highlights moral hazard and conflicts of interest in how GPOs collect fees from vendors in GPOs Should Be Reformed Says MDMA-Funded Report.
With the news that prices for brand drugs went up 3.9% in Q1 2006, Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters is wondering how we can afford prescription drugs for seniors when there are no mechanisms in place to control pricing. In Big Pharma v Big Government Joe notes that the VA’s prices for several popular branded drugs cost as much as 33% less than those bought under the Part D plan.
At The Health Care Blog, Maggie Mahar’s guest-post asks, Do Non-Profit Hospitals Deserve Their Tax Breaks? She draws some compelling contrasts between profit and non-profit facilities, while also providing some useful clarification and insights of her own and ammunition from some outside publications. Bottom line: It’s all about location, location, location and the need to raise capital. As Mahar said, “…when it comes to enhancing a brand name, sometimes nonprofits seem littler different from for-profits.”
Roy Poses of Health Care Renewal gives us yet another example of how leaders in health care organizations are treated differently from you and me in Ballooning Pension Obligations for Health Care Companies' CEOs. Essentially, their individual pensions can be so large as to be a major part of their companies' unfunded pension liabilities. This post, inspired by a Wall Street Journal article, focuses on two companies, Pfizer and UnitedHealth, who were already subject of shareholders' revolts because of their huge executive compensation packages.
Jon Coppleman of Workers’ Comp Insider discusses a recent Supreme Court ruling in Comp Insurers go to the End of the Line. The ruling makes a distinction between workers comp and health insurance as priority benefits for employees: when a company enters bankruptcy, health premiums and other employee benefits are protected priorities; however, the court ruled that workers comp premiums are not entitled to such protection, because comp (unlike health insurance) is mandatory. This decision places comp insurers at the end of the line for payments under bankruptcy proceedings. Needless to add, the industry is unhappy with this ruling and will seek changes in the bankruptcy law.
In Thud, Part III Michael Cannon of Cato-at-liberty responds to a critique from Stuart Butler on his paper/proposal to break the “health care reform stalemate.” Cannon continues to remark upon his skepticism of Butler’s proposal for the federal government’s response to the “health care reform stalemate.” Bravo to Michael and Stuart for their spirited dialectic, a healthy example of how the blogosphere can help air opposing viewpoints, inform such debates, and prompt more response and thought from other parties.
Jason Shafrin asks Do we need specialty Hospitals? in his blog Healthcare Economist. The post briefly discusses some of the pros and cons of specialty hospitals, specifically citing a 2006 article in Health Affairs.
INNOVATION AND CONCERN FOR THE FUTURE:
Tim Gee of Medical Connectivity Consulting evaluates Why Most Health Care Innovators Fail. He offers a framework that can be used to evaluate the likely success of an innovation (new company, product, business model) in health care and identify its potential pitfalls.
Dmitriy Kruglyak of The Medical Blog Network reflects in his post on the direction in which the blogosphere is headed and how TMBN will be involved. Special thanks also go to Dmitriy for establishing and providing support for the HWR carnival submissions through TMBN because it does indeed drive blog traffic, create more exposure, and improve Health Wonk Review!
Henry Stern of InsureBlog gives us an interesting new perspective on “health food” in Good News, Bad News. He clues us in on the parts of our diets that can provide cancer-fighting effects when consumed in large quantities. Is a new food pyramid in the works?
William Marcus presents The Lifestyle Chronicles – Ask What You Can Do for Yourself? In his blog Fixin’ Healthcare Dr. Marcus discusses health promotion, healthy lifestyles and disease prevention. This post is about the increasing traction that the role of prevention is getting with some high profile spokespersons and organizations. Now, if we can just find a way for communities and families to help motivate each of us every day public health would take a huge step forward!