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Top Health Quotes of the Week

The combined profits of the Fortune 500 increased by 81% this year, the third largest gain in history. Compare that to the unemployment rate, which fell by just 8% over the past 12 months.” Ezra Klein, while analyzing last week’s jobs report by the Federal Government.

erictopol Top Quotes of the WeekWhy would I listen to ‘lub dub’ when I can see everything?” Eric Topol, a cardiologist in San Diego who carries a portable ultrasound device with him in lieu of a stethoscope. The device lets him and his patient see the heart muscle and valves, and blood flow into and out of the organ.

There probably is not a whole lot that we can do at the pipeline level to dramatically improve the number of students choosing primary care. Where the money is, is where the money is.” Mark Schwartz, an associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine, discussing a study showing that high medical school debt and low compensation are driving people away from General Internal Medicine.

It sounds like a new Apple product.” Bara Vada, describing IPAB, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a controversial panel tasked by the Affordable Care Act to make binding recommendations to reduce Medicare spending. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*

Addressing Healthcare Spending: “Cowardice” Or Bravery?

In assessing the “best and worst” of the recommendations from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein accuses the Commission of “cowardice” in addressing healthcare spending:

“The plan’s healthcare savings largely consist of hoping the cost controls . . . and various demonstration projects in the new healthcare law work and expanding their power and reach. . . In the event that more savings are needed, they throw out a grab bag of liberal and conservative policies . . . but don’t really put their weight behind any. . .[their] decision to hide from the big questions here is quite disappointing . . . ”

Pretty harsh words, considering that in other respects Klein gives the Commission high marks. But I think there is a lot more to the Commission’s recommendations on healthcare spending than meet’s (Klein’s) eyes, even though I have my own doubts about the advisability and political acceptability of many of them. Read more »

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

Health Reform: “Compete And Succeed” Or “Repeal Or Replace?”

Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) thinks so. So does Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). And Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Senators Brown, Wyden and Sanders have introduced the “Empowering States to Innovate Act.” Ezra Klein blogs that the Senators may have found a way forward on health reform.

“If a state can think of a plan that covers as many people, with as comprehensive insurance, at as low a cost, without adding to the deficit, the state can get the money the federal government would’ve given it for health-care reform but be freed from the individual mandate, the exchanges, the insurance requirements, the subsidy scheme and pretty much everything else in the bill,” Ezra Klein writes. “If conservative solutions are more efficient, that will be clear when their beneficiaries save money. If liberal ideas really work better, it’s time we found out. Forget repeal and replace, or even reform and replace. How about compete and succeed?”

The Wonk Room reports that Wyden, Brown, Sanders, who co-sponsored the original innovative waivers amendment, believe that their home states of Oregon, Massachusetts, and Vermont are leading the pack in adopting innovative approaches. These include the well-known Massachusetts program that Brown voted for as a state legislator, and single payer bills that have been introduced in Vermont and Oregon. The bill, though, also could appeal to states seeking a more conservative, less regulatory solution, since they would be able to decide how they wanted to provide comprehensive coverage to the uninsured, free of most of the mandates of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Read more »

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

Health Insurance And “Medical Loss Ratio” Foolishness

Like Ezra Klein, smart people keep saying foolish things about the health insurance business. This time it’s a pair of bloggers talking about the largest expense that health insurers face — their “medical loss ratio.”

According to Richard Dale at the Venture Cyclist:

[W]hy do they call it Medical Loss Ratio? Why is looking after me (or you) called “Medical Loss,” when the whole point of a healthcare system is to look after me (or you)?


Alan Katz, one of the leading health insurance bloggers, surprisingly links to this with approval, saying “words matter.” The problem? The word “loss” is probably one of the four oldest words in the insurance industry. I’d say the others are probably “premium,” “commission,” and “profit.” Should we start outlawing these words, too? Read more »

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

Is The Healthcare Industry Calling The Shots?

Why has health care reform run into so much trouble?

Well, it could be because people think reform plans will affect them in ways they aren’t going to like.  Or because people don’t believe politicians in Washington who say that spending huge amounts of money will actually save money.  Or because confusing mixed messages and ever-shifting sales pitches create a lot of anxiety about what’s really going on.  It could be all of those things.

Or, it could be something more….sinister…. 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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