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Why Price Controls Will Make Healthcare Worse

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced this week he has had enough of rising health care costs.

So he is proposing a novel solution: make them illegal.

Well, it’s not fair to call this idea “novel.”  Governments have tried price controls for 40 centuries.  And even though they don’t work, they keep trying.  The explanation isn’t complicated.  It’s an easy way for a politician to seem to do something about rising prices.  In this case, it won’t do much about the underlying problem, but it is a terrific way for a governor to look like a man of action. Read more »

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

The US Is Number One…

… in national health care expenditures, that is. This, of course, is nothing new: spending on health care in the U.S. has long out-paced any other industrialized country. What is noteworthy is “the largest one-year increase in [health care’s] GDP share since the federal government began keeping track in 1960” blogs Chris Fleming, of Health Affairs. He writes that a new study shows that health care spending increased by an estimated 5.7 percent since 2008 despite a projected decline in the gross domestic product (GDP) in the same period.

The recession is having a big impact on respective roles of the public and private sectors. “Health spending by public payers is expected to have grown much faster in 2009 (8.7 percent growth, to $1.2 trillion) than that of private payers (3.0 percent growth, to $1.3 trillion)” Fleming writes, which is attributable to an increase in “projected growth in Medicaid enrollment (6.5 percent) and spending (9.9 percent) as a result of increasing unemployment related to the recession. Conversely, enrollment in private insurance is expected to have declined 1.2 percent in 2009, despite federal subsidies for Americans who have lost their jobs to extend their private insurance coverage via the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) that increased participation in these plans.” Read more »

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

Government Spending On Healthcare Outpaces Other Sources

Much of the debate about the health reform has been on whether or not it will lead to government-run health care. But the fact is that the government’s share of health care spending already is growing at a faster rate than private spending, a trend accelerated by the recent economic recession.

A new report from Medicare’s actuaries, published in the journal Health Affairs, found that “Federal government spending for health services and supplies increased 10.4 percent in 2008 . . . and accounted for almost 36 percent of federal receipts, up considerably from 28 percent in 2007. By comparison, spending for health care by private businesses grew just 1.2 percent in 2008, in part because of a drop in the proportion of employer-sponsored insurance premiums paid for by employers” while “health care spending by households grew 4.3 percent in 2008, a deceleration from 5.9 percent growth in 2007” but still more than the adjusted personal income growth of 2.7%.

The current economic recession, the authors say, had two major impacts on health spending: Read more »

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

When Cardiologists Sue The Government

It’s sad that cardiologists have had to sue as their last resort to save their practices:

“Heart specialists on Monday filed suit against Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in an effort to stave off steep Medicare fee cuts for routine office-based procedures such as nuclear stress tests and echocardiograms.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, charges that the government’s planned cutbacks will deal a major blow to medical care in the USA, forcing thousands of cardiologists to shutter their offices, sell diagnostic equipment and work for hospitals, which charge more for the same procedures.

Perhaps other professional organizations will be forthcoming with similar suits as private doctors and their patients pay dearly for the reform efforts underway. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Electronic Medical Records: An Analogy For Meaningful Use

Fricking Brilliant.via Neil Versel

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

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Latest Book Reviews

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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

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