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The “No Viagra For Sex Offenders” Amendment

There’s been some buzz on Twitter that the Democrats in the Senate have killed an amendment which would have prohibited federal funding for erectile dysfunction (ED) medications for sex offenders, which means in the upside-down logic of Washington D.C. that the Democrats favor giving Viagra to pedophiles. Right? Well, not exactly.

First, just a point of procedure: Remember, healthcare reform (HCR) is now a law, on the books, signed by the President. But there was this reconciliation sidecar bill which was meant to fix the HCR law as originally passed—it was passed in the House pretty much as soon as the Senate bill was passed. But it had to pass the Senate in the identical form, word for word, in order to go directly to Obama’s desk for signing. If the Senate mucked things up by tacking on amendments, it would have to go back to the House for approval, and given the razor-thin margin in the House, Democrats very much wanted to avoid that. Read more »

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

Healthcare Reform And The “Time Will Tell” Camp

So, the healthcare reform bill passed in the House. Some people want to embrace this moment as a victory because any healthcare bill that becomes law is better than nothing. I heard a lot of “this was a long time coming,” “finally,” “it was our time yesterday,” and comments like that. I also heard a great deal of “time will tell,” “who’s the really winner?,” “is it a victory with a country and government so divided?,” “is this the right path?,” and comments like that.

I’m uncertain. As a physician, I so wanted to be able to feel good about it. I so wanted to believe that the “win” would push the healthcare industry in a positive direction, even if in baby steps and even if in just the insurance industry. But I have to be skeptical about a plan that doesn’t address the needs of American’s paying high co-pays today and having trouble getting timely doctors appointments today.

As a physician, I see too many patients not filling prescriptions and going without seeing doctors for these reasons. As a patient these have been my recent concerns, and I don’t see those being addressed. Do you? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Gwenn Is In*

Healthcare Reform: Just The Facts

With the vote on the healthcare reform legislation behind us, it’s nice to believe that we can now move to the stage where people begin looking at what the legislation will and will not do — not based on speculation or the political rhetoric, but what is actually in the legislation itself.

I realize that this is unlikely, since we all tend to engage in cognitive dissonance when confronted with information that does not square with our own pre-conceived notions, political leanings, and philosophical bent. I know I do it (as much as I try not to) and I’m sure this is true of just about all of us. Still, there are trusted and highly-credible sources of information that I hope will be of value to anyone who is open to learning more about the new healthcare legislation and its potential impact. Read more »

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

Healthcare Reform 101

It’s history — healthcare reform has finally passed. Yes, it’s a watered-down bill that leaves much to be desired, but it’s a start. After months of stops, starts, rhetoric, fear mongering, empty promises and long, heated debate, many Americans aren’t sure of what just passed. It will have different effects on different people and many of the provisions are delayed until 2014. Here are a few features of the new bill:

– Insurers will be prohibited right away from excluding children with pre-existing health conditions. Adults will have to wait until 2014 to be assured of coverage.

– Health plans will have to provide immunizations and other preventive health services for children and adolescents.

– Insurers cannot charge higher insurance premiums for woman and maternity care is covered.

– Most U.S. citizens and legal residents must purchase “minimal essential coverage” for themselves and their dependents, either through the employer or exchanges that will sell policies to individuals. By 2014 you will pay a tax penalty if you ignore this mandate. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

The ACEP’s Failure To Take A Position On Healthcare Reform

Last year when I interviewed then-American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) President Nick Jouriles I was disappointed that the ACEP had not staked out a clear position on healthcare reform. However, it wasn’t terrible that they didn’t have a position at that time, because the House bill was still being finished up and the Senate was still mired deeply in the fruitless “Gang of Six” negotiations. If ACEP wasn’t going to endorse reforms sight unseen, that was pretty reasonable, I thought. President Jouriles suggested that, in time, ACEP would weigh in with a position, one way or the other.

But we never heard ACEP take a position in the intervening months. So when I saw this post appear over at The Central Line, linking to this letter on the ACEP web site from ACEP’s current president, Angela Gardner, I was not surprised to see that ACEP has taken the weasel’s path and abstained from taking a position on the more or less final healthcare reform package. It’s pathetic, and brings into question whether ACEP can fulfill one of its most crucial functions: advocating for emergency room patients and advocating for emergency medicine physicians. The excuses offered by Dr Gardner for ACEP’s reticence to take a stand are fairly lame. Read more »

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

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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