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Latest Posts

Should Insurers Contribute To Graduate Medical Education Funding?

Graduate Medical Education has for the most part escaped big budget cuts in the past, mainly because powerful lawmakers have aligned to protect funding for teaching hospitals in their own states and districts. Plus, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American College of Physicians, hospital organizations, and many others long have made funding for GME a top legislative priority.

GME, though, could be on the chopping block as Congress’s new “Super Committee” comes up with recommendations to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade. A report from the Congressional Budget Office of options to reduce the deficit to suggests that $69.4 billion could be saved over the next decade by consolidating and reducing GME payments. Earlier this year, the bipartisan Fiscal Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform also proposed trimming GME payments.

How then should those who believe that GME is a public good respond? One way is to circle the wagons and just fight like heck to stop the cuts. But that raises a basic question: is GME so sacrosanct that there shouldn’t be any discussion of its value and whether the current financing structure is effective and sustainable?

Another approach, the one taken by the ACP in a position paper released last week, is to Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

Budget Cuts And Their Potential Complications For Family Medicine

Every day in the news, you hear about the United States federal budget and the potential political complications if something is done or if nothing is done. And every day in the news you hear about possible cuts in Medicare. What you don’t know is that some cuts in Medicare can significantly impact the training of future Family Physicians. What do I mean by this? Well, did you know that residency programs are paid Medicare funds (called Graduate Medical Education funds) going to hospitals? Check out this great article about how residency programs are funded.

So, let’s play this out with its potential complications for Family Medicine. If GME funds are cut as they are proposed, then many hospitals with only one residency program (usually a Family Medicine program), may be forced to close the program – thereby decreasing the number of Family Physicians being trained. In those hospitals with multispecialty programs (like large university hospitals), cuts in GME funding would force hospitals to cut their Family Medicine residency slots in favor of more specialty residency slots, which are more lucrative for hospitals. Again, this would decrease the number of Family Physicians being trained.

With GME funding being cut, there are two other disturbing possibilities that may happen. First, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Family Medicine Rocks Blog - Mike Sevilla, MD*

Point: Bureaucrats Propose To Discontinue Home Glucose Monitoring Coverage

The larger the bureaucracy the more inefficient a system becomes. Several things can happen in the decision making process.

1. The decision making process can become opaque rather than transparent.

2. Decisions are made by a committee by consensus.

3. Consensus committee decisions might not sharply define the original goals.

4. Blame for errors gets dissipated.

5. Decisions are only as good as the information that is gathered.

6. Changing a wrong decision can be difficult and costly.

President Obama’s healthcare reform law is creating 256 new agencies to gather information and recommend decisions for other agencies to write regulations.

The following decision is being made by an agency in Washington state. It is not only the wrong decision, but is a decision that will set back the care of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus 15 or 20 years. It is a decision being made using the wrong information. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

Help Fight The NIH Budget Cuts

Many of my regular readers may know that biomedical research in the United States is largely funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Please see this message from Dr. William Talman, president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), about proposed spending cuts to the NIH budget. Grant funding from the NIH is already hard to come by, and the proposed budget cuts will make it even harder.

Whether you are a scientist, a student, or a member of the public interested in the future of science and medicine, I join with Dr. Talman in asking you to call your congressional representatives and ask them to oppose HR1. Also, if you have a blog I’d ask you to repost Dr. Talman’s call to action so that your readers can join in.

Dear Colleague,

For months the new House leadership has been promising to cut billions in federal funding in fiscal year (FY) 2011. Later this week the House will try to make the rhetoric a reality by voting on HR 1, a “continuing resolution” (CR) that would cut NIH funding by $1.6 billion (5.2%) BELOW the current level – reducing the budget for medical research to $29.4 billion!

We must rally everyone – researchers, trainees, lab personnel – in the scientific community to protest these draconian cuts. Please go to this FASEB link for instructions on how to call your Representative’s Washington, DC office today! Urge him/her to oppose the cuts to NIH and vote against HR 1. Once you’ve made the call, let us know how it went by sending a short email to the address provided in the call instructions and forward the alert link to your colleagues. We must explain to our Representatives how cuts to NIH will have a devastating impact on their constituents!


William T. Talman, MD
FASEB President

*This blog post was originally published at The Brain Confounds Everything*

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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