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A New Leader For The Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services

President Obama likes to shake things up. He has named Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Medicare and Medicaid Agency known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This is a huge government agency with a budget of over $800 BILLION a year. That is more than most countries in the world have. Dr. Berwick would be a major force in implementing the new health laws and changing Medicare to be more efficient and cost effective.

The average person probably doesn’t know who Dr. Don Berwick is, but he is a big name in the healthcare industry. A pediatrician by training, he is the president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and is a national leader on quality and patient safety. By telling stories that people can relate to, he is a transformational leader for reducing hospital errors and reducing variability in care. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Medical Blog Carnivals And Health Wonkishness

This week, healthcare reform looms large in the minds of medical blog carnival hosts. Evan Falchuk’s healthcare reform edition of Grand Rounds is up at his See First blog. Rch Elmore hosts the current Health Wonk Review at his Healthcare Technology News (check out the flying pigs photos and more; cf. the HealthBlawger’s “First Hundred Days” edition of Blawg Review for another reference to flying pigs).

The next edition of Health Wonk Review will be hosted right here on April 15th. The themes we will be exploring in that bi-weekly exegesis of health wonkery include the following:

  • Metaphors
  • Lying
  • Song (esp. the blues)
  • Art (esp. painting, drawing)
  • Inventors and their contraptions
  • Fast food
  • Liberation
  • Cosmetic surgery/medical spas
  • Impressionist 19th century novels
  • Immenseness
  • Mortality
  • Racial integration

And, of course…

  • Death and
  • Taxes

Please submit your best examples of health wonkishness in these categories no later than 9 a.m. EDT Wednesday April 14th, thank you (extra points for early submissions), and come back on the 15th to learn more than you ever wanted to know about healthcare policy and to see the meaning of these categories revealed. Read more »

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

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*

Is Healthcare A Right Or A Privilege?

Is healthcare a right or a privilege? Depending on how you view this determines how you feel about the recent healthcare reform which was signed by President Obama. As a doctor, I firmly believe that having healthcare is a right.

As a nation, we agree that individuals should be accountable for their actions. People often argue that those who are reckless with their bodies by ingesting chemicals via cigarettes or drug use and who subsequently develop cancers shouldn’t be subsidized by others’ insurance premiums as the latter group works hard at staying healthy by exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating generous portions of fruits and vegetables. Some how it isn’t fair. Unfortunately, life and good health aren’t quite that easy or predictable. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

Healthcare Reform, Direct Patient Care, And The Period Of Discovery

As the period of debate over the Healthcare Reform Bill ends with President Obama penning his signature, one moment from the “debate” at Blair House stands out in my mind. A Republican Congressman sitting behind a copy of the then-current reform bill –- a pile higher than 2,000 pages –- was mocked for using such a prop. It’s complicated to fix healthcare with the laconic response to his theatrics.

Things don’t appear to have grown any simpler as we settle in for a period of discovery to determine exactly what this new law spells out for us in terms of reform. There is no consensus on whether this law will help or hinder, and I’m worried.

I cannot read 2,600 pages written in legalese. I juggle my time now to keep up with the medical literature necessary to adequately do my job and I suspect other physicians struggle similarly. All doctors fight a daily battle with time, trying to care for each patient in the best way possible (this is why many of us walk so fast through hospitals and clinics.) I hope that healthcare reform doesn’t result in less time for direct patient care. Read more »

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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