Health Wonk Review Is Bustin’ Out All Over

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As the poet said, In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. Round these parts, the spring turns this man (no longer young) into a seasonal-allergy-ridden mess.

And now it’s June! Grab a cuppa joe — or tea — sit back, relax, listen to a little Rogers & Hammerstein, and dig into the “Health Wonks Are Bustin’ Out All Over” edition of the Health Wonk Review.

While you’re visiting here at HealthBlawg, I invite you to come back throughout the month of June to enjoy some guest posts – part of the Festschrift of the Blogosphere, celebrating my Tenth Blogiversary. (Visitors are, of course, always welcome — there’s just an added bonus here this month.)

Starting things off in the dramatic vein (though not exactly musical theater), at the Population Health Blog, Jaan Sidorov manages to draw a lesson on health IT from Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler.

InsureBlogs Henry Stern is just as dramatic in his report on the revitalized Death Panel issue, infused with that trademark healthy skepticism.

At Managed Care Matters, Joe Paduda reminds us that the medical-industrial complex flourishes on diagnosing and treating conditions – some of which probably shouldn’t be “treated” with expensive and intensive procedures. But that’s where the dollars are. His post, No thanks, I don’t want to be impotent, drives this point home with respect to prostate cancer treatment.

Will Section 1332 waivers be truly transformative to our health care system? They could be. They could enable our “fifty laboratories” to try new things to achieve the goals of the ACA. On the Health Affairs Blog Jonathan Ingram, Nic Horton, and Josh Archambault offer an examination of the new Section 1332 federal guidance, which, they note, provides far more questions than answers for policymakers, such as: Will the federales ever issue one of these waivers?

The federales have entertained a variety of steps forward in the realm of telemedicine regulation and coverage, though we are still left with the patchwork of fifty laboratories for the most part. I provided an overview of the landscape at a recent state bar association conference, and my slides and remarks may be found here on HealthBlawg.

From another one of our fifty laboratories, Colorado Health Insurance Insider asks: Should Colorado become a single rating area? Louise Norris notes: “Whether you agree or disagree with the prospect of Colorado becoming a single rating area likely depends on where you live. If you’re in the mountains – particularly if you don’t get a premium subsidy – you’re probably in favor of the idea. If you’re along the front range, you might be opposed simply because rates will likely increase for people along the front range if the whole state is lumped together for rating purposes.”

Roy Poses writes, at Health Care RenewalAre You Ready for Some (Political) Football? – the NFL, Concussion Research, the NIH, and the Revolving Door. Roy observes that for those of us who grew up in health care with the notion that the grant review process, particularly at agencies like NIH, was meant to be rigorously impartial, that the NFL would attempt to manipulate an NIH-funded project on concussions seems outrageous.  Yet so far, the story has had little impact.  Perhaps the reason is that the manipulation seemed to be done by such well-connected folks. Dig in with Roy.

Digging below the surface of health spending by disease category, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn notes that while heart disease and cancer are the top killers in the US, the top dollar amount in health spending goes to mental disorders — and that, given the fact that more people are living longer with heart disease and cancer, more spending on mental disorders should not be surprising. She also suggests in her Health Populi post that more social spending, rather than health care spending, could help alleviate at least some of these mental health issues.

The three remaining contenders in the presidential race had their health plans subjected to some scrutiny on line this week. Martin O’Malley may be out of the race, but his Medicare Essential idea is something that both of his Democratic compadres should consider borrowing, says Rob Cullen, in his first post for the blog, O’Malley is out; his Medicare plan shouldn’t be. And if Clinton or Sanders does take it on, Cullen notes, the plan actually might not be doomed in a Republican-controlled Congress.

I’m a city boy with hay fever, which can make me sneezy, but even I am sorry to have missed Cinderblocks 3, hosted by Regina Holliday in rural Grantsville, Maryland. See Lygeia Ricciardi’s account of Cinderblocks, or Burning Man Meets Healthcare Conference, Building better healthcare – One cinderblock at a time, over at the Health Standards blog.

Michael Millenson tackles hospital star ratings and their attendant political fracas in his post Grading Hospital Report Cards (Again) on The Health Care Blog.

In the interests of shedding more sunlight and transparency on high-hazard workplaces, OSHA introduced a new rule requiring electronic reporting of injury and illness data which will then be publicly accessible online.  This is raising some hackles in many quarters, which Julie Ferguson discusses at Workers Comp Insider.

Bring on that sunlight! The summer solstice is just around the corner.

♫  Because it’s June  ♬  . . . .

Join us for a live video discussion of this week’s edition on Blab, Tuesday June 7 at 1 pm ET, or catch the replay.

The next edition of Health Wonk Review will be hosted at the Health Affairs blog. Check out the HWR website for all things Health Wonk Review.

David Harlow

The Harlow Group LLC

Health Care Law and Consulting

Image (Stonehenge at the summer solstice) by Anne Wuyts via Flickr CC

You should follow me on Twitter: @healthblawg



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