Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

How Medicare Controls Costs: Insight From Biotech

At the recent Medicare Policy Summit, Tim Hermes, the Senior Director of Government Affairs for Sepracor, offered an overview of Medicare’s current cost control strategy. These six strategies are part of Medicare’s policies, but are not necessarily applied evenly or consistently.

1. Functional Equivalency: if 2 drugs are deemed to be functionally equivalent, then their average sales price may be linked so they are reimbursed at the same rate.

2. Inherent Reasonableness: CMS has the right to decrease payments for treatments, that are deemed not to be inherently reasonable, by increments of 15% at a time.

3. Widely Available Manufacturing Price (WAMP): when the average sales price of a drug is higher than the WAMP, CMS has the right to reduce the drug’s price to the WAMP.

4. Coverage Restrictions: CMS can choose to restrict coverage for any drug, especially for off-label uses.

5. Judicial Bar: Only Medicare beneficiaries can sue CMS. Manufacturers may not.

6. Congress: there are several committees that have jurisdiction over Medicare, including the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committe, and the House Energy and Commerce committee. Congress can enact legislation to decrease the average sales price of drugs, and can influence Medicare cost control mechanisms.

Biotech Humanitarian $10,000 Award: Nominations Please

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) announced on February 12th the creation of the Biotech Humanitarian Award, to be given to an individual in the field of biotechnology who has enhanced the human experience by harnessing the power of biotechnology to heal, feed or fuel the planet.

The Biotech Humanitarian Award will recognize individuals behind tangible improvements in the area of therapeutics, food and agriculture or industrial and environmental applications. The inaugural award and a prize of $10,000 will be presented in May at the annual BIO International Convention, and the five finalists will be recognized as well. The 2009 BIO International Convention runs May 18-21 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Nominations are open to all individuals and can be accessed via Nominees must have achieved one of the following: produced new applications, significantly advanced biotech applications or made available tangible, applicable results in the food and agriculture, industrial and environmental, or therapeutic sectors.

Qualified nominees for the Biotech Humanitarian Award will be professionals in the biotechnology field including scientists, researchers, academics, entrepreneurs, financiers, philanthropists, educators, advocates and others who have added value to society through their pursuit of biotechnology processes.

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »