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Medical Marijuana, Health Reform, And Other Medical News

Medical Marijuana: Advocates are pushing forward a California ballot initiative that would create a Board of Medical Marijuana Enforcement to oversee the state’s burgeoning industry, Lisa Leff reports for the Associated Press. We’re imagining the snacks at board meetings.

Health Reform: California Healthline’s Dan Diamond highlights five health reform issuesfor reporters and policymakers to watch closely in 2012. First among them: the Supreme Court review of health reform’s constitutionality.

Medicare: Scammers create intricate webs of Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Reporting on Health - The Reporting on Health Daily Briefing*

Obama Is Not Reforming Healthcare The Right Way

Last year’s “Doctor Fix” was passed the last week congress was in session in 2010. This was after the medical profession was held in suspense for 9 months.

The “Doctor Fix” was supposedly the result of President Obama making a deal with the AMA for the AMA’s support. He was going to pass a real “Doctor Fix” in 2011 by repairing the defective sustainable growth rate formula (SGR). Nothing has been done about this by President Obama in 2011. The cumulative physician reimbursement reduction of 25% was suspended until January 2012.

Physicians face a 29.5% Medicare Pay Cut in January 2012. Four and one half percent was added to last year’s cumulative physicians reimbursement reduction. The reduction was calculated into the CBO’s cost score for President Obama’s Healthcare Reform Act.

Last week an official with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services unveiled the 29.5% rate reduction for 2012 in a recent letter to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. This will become another distraction for physicians and the media as President Obama stalls for time. Read more »

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

Swing To The Right: How Will The Election Affect Health Reform?

Like Tom Friedman, who lampooned some of this year’s unreasonable campaign rhetoric in a recent column, I, too, would be in favor of reality-based political campaigns, but that seemed to be too much to ask for this year. Instead of truth, we now have truthiness.

The joke news shows (and their joke political rallies) seemed to be more popular than the evening news. (I wish Jon Stewart and his 200,000 fans on the Washington Mall last weekend had stayed home, canvassing for their candidates of choice.) Fact-checkers told us that many political ads this season were in the “barely true” or “pants on fire” zones according to the Truth-O-Meter. But in the end, the buzzwords seem to have worked their magic, and many “insiders” are out, and “outsiders” are in.

The angry and the impatient on the campaign trail have, in some cases, adopted the line from the movie Network: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore,” perhaps forgetting that while that line garnered the Howard Beale character strong ratings, network bosses arranged for his on-air assassination when his ratings fell.

The Utopia tune below, “Swing to the Right,” comes to you from the Ronald Reagan era, and perhaps we are seeing the generational swing of the pendulum back to the right. It does seem to happen every 30 years or so. But don’t blame me — I’m from Massachusetts (home to a Democratic sweep on the recent election night).

The last two years have seen a tremendous amount of change in Washington. The question of the moment, of course, is:  How will the election results affect implementation of healthcare reform? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

Despite Medicare, Primary Care Doctors Were Paid More In 2009

The Senate has further tweaked its doc fix legislation to restore the extension to six months (from June 1 through Nov. 30) and the pay raise to 2.2 percent, reports a Senate Finance Committee Republican advisor. In Northern Michigan, the doc fix can’t come soon enough, as yet more physicians contemplate not accepting any more Medicare patients. The legislation continues to see revisions in the Senate, following the U.S. House refusal to consider the doc fix as a stand-alone bill. (TwitDoc, WWTV/WWUP-TV News)

But primary care physicians saw a 2.8 percent median compensation increase in 2009, according to a Medical Group Management Association survey. MGMA attributed the rise to employers’ and payers’ increased commitment to primary care, but noted threats to Medicare payments still exist. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

For Medicare Patients, “The Doctor Is Out”

In a last-minute shocker, the Senate voted Thursday against postponing a scheduled 21-percent cut in Medicare reimbursement to physicians and other healthcare providers. Sixty senators were needed to end filibuster debate and stop the cuts under Senate rules. Fifty six voted in favor, while 40 opposed. There was no Republican support. (And, of course, no support from Senator Lieberman, who is a Republican in disguise.)

Another consequence of the vote is that tens of thousands of Americans who have exhausted their jobless benefits would not be eligible for more. In addition, new taxes on wealthy investment managers would not be imposed, along with an increase in liability taxes on oil companies, leading Democrats to contend that Republicans were protecting Wall Street and the oil industry, according to the New York Times.

“We’re not going to give up,” said Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader. “We know the American people only have us to depend on.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

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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