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Latest Posts

New Medical Drama “21” And The Evil SGR Conspiracy To Cut Medicare

Name: “21” (% to be cut from Medicare)

Protagonist: Dr. Rob and a cast of thousands of physicians (Kiefer Sutherland wouldn’t work for such small payment.)

Villain: Evil SGR (Sustainable Growth Rate) conspiracy to cut Medicare by 21% across the board.

Victim: The elderly population depending on Medicare for payment of their medical care.

Plot:  A follow-up to the popular drama “Lost” where members of congress were stranded in Washington D.C. with the task of reforming healthcare without any contact or communication from doctors and patients. This new drama “21″ tells the tragic tale of an industry under siege and a population facing possible disaster.

Already stretched to the limit by the paltry reimbursement from Medicare for primary care office visits, Dr. Rob and his band of physicians is hit by the evil conspiracy of SGR, a secret society whose goal is to harm the elderly people in the country by driving away all people willing to give them care. The congress, tired out from haggling over the healthcare reform bill, allows evil SGR to exert its power in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

How Are Dieters Like Congress?

I am mad at congress.

I don’t care if they are Democrats or Republicans, I am sick of healthcare being treated as a political football.  How much more of a crisis do we need before we actually start working on a solution?  Why does each party have to sit on its side of the aisle shooting spitballs at the other?  Each side has its pet issues that are tied to contributors, supporters, and lobbyists.  Each side will work to see the other side fail even if the other side is right.  Each side seems unable to do anything unless there is political value in it.  Power is more important than service, and power is a short-term project. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

Why Would Health Insurers Tell Congress: Please Hurry!?

One would think American health insurance companies would be caterwauling about the provisions laid out for them in the healthcare reform legislation which Harry Reid (and a few of his elves) assembled for us Americans in their secret workshop just before Christmas.

On their face, those provisions do not appear to allow insurance companies a viable business model. Insurers under Reid’s bill would be required to accept all comers, regardless of age or underlying medical conditions. They would be required to cover all manner of healthcare services, including outpatient and inpatient services, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse services, rehabilitative services, lab services, preventive and wellness services, chronic disease management, prescription drugs, dental care, and eye care. They would be limited in what they can charge in the way of insurance premiums, and their profits (if by some miracle there were any), would be strictly capped. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Covert Rationing Blog*

The Mammogram Post-Mortem

Steve Novella whimsically opined on a recent phone call that irrationality must convey a survival advantage for humans. I’m afraid he has a point.

It’s much easier to scare people than to reassure them, and we have a difficult time with objectivity in the face of a good story. In fact, our brains seem to be hard wired for bias – and we’re great at drawing subtle inferences from interactions, and making our observations fit preconceived notions. A few of us try to fight that urge, and we call ourselves scientists. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Healthcare Reform: Mandating Mediocrity

Health care reformers say they want to improve the quality and affordability of health care.

It sounds good.  But it’s not like there’s no one out there trying to do that.  Employers of all sizes have been working on this problem for a long time, and they’ve come up with a great many interesting successes and failures.

So what’s the problem?

Well, it seems like reformers in Congress are completely uninterested in these things. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

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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