Monday, January 29, 2007
Does anyone know what John Kitzhaber's been up to since he stopped being governor of Oregon? The Archimedes Movement. Check it out.
Monday, January 15, 2007
AHLA's Health Lawyers Weekly (12 Jan 07)
- House Passes Bill Requiring Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation; Bush Threatens Veto
President George W. Bush has threatened to veto a bipartisan bill that would require the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare. The House passed the bill January 12 by a vote of 255 to 170. Full Story
- House Clears Stem Cell Bill
As expected, the House passed January 11 a bill aimed at expanding research opportunities on embryonic stem cells. The measure cleared the House by a 253-174 margin, short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presedential veto. Full Story
Articles & Analyses
- Department Of Justice Revises Policies On Waiver Of The Attorney-Client Privilege In Corporate Fraud InvestigationsBy Joseph Burby, Jennifer Odom, and Kenneth Schwartz, Powell Goldstein LLP
. . . and many news items of note.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
GAO reports from November
- End-Stage Renal Disease: Bundling Medicare's Payment for drugs with Payment for All ESRD Services Would Promote Efficiency and Clinical Flexibility. GAO-07-77, November 13, 2006 (35 pages). http://www.gao.gov/docdblite/details.php?rptno=GAO-07-77
- End-Stage Renal Disease: Medicare Payments for All ESRD Services,Including Injectable Drugs, Should Be Bundled. GAO-07-266T,December 6, 2006 (5 pages). http://www.gao.gov/docdblite/details.php?rptno=GAO-07-266T
- Long-Term Care Insurance: Federal Program Has a Unique Profit Structure and Faced a Significant Marketing Challenge.GAO-07-202, December 29, 2006 (29 pages). http://www.gao.gov/docdblite/details.php?rptno=GAO-07-202
- New Drug Development: Science, Business, Regulatory, and Intellectual Property Issues Cited as Hampering Drug Development Efforts. GAO-07-49, November 17, 2006 (47
- Prescription Drugs: Improvements Needed in FDA's Oversight of Direct-to-Consumer Advertising. GAO-07-54, November 16, 2006 (47 pages). http://www.gao.gov/docdblite/details.php?rptno=GAO-07-54
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Health Affairs' 25 most-read articles of 2006
Health Affairs’ 25 Most-Read Articles From 2006
To celebrate the start of Health Affairs’ 25th anniversary year, we list here the 25 most frequently viewed articles published in 2006. In 2006, Health Affairs’’ Web readership grew to 12 million pageviews.
The paper on nurse staffing in hospitals by Jack Needleman and colleagues took the top spot for a paper published in 2006 with 37,547 pageviews. Two papers from 2005 earned the “most-read overall” ranking: “Can Electronic Medical Record Systems Transform Health Care?” by Richard Hillestad and colleagues from Health Affairs’ September/October 2005 issue attracted 40,263 pageviews in 2006, and the medical bankruptcy Web Exclusive by David Himmelstein and colleagues from February 2005 continued its high readership, adding 39,262 pageviews in 2006 to its over 70,000 pageviews from 2005, thus surpassing 100,000 readings of the paper.
25 Most-Read Health Affairs Papers Published in 2006: http://www.healthaffairs.org/Top25_2006_MostRead.php
25 Most-Read Health Affairs Papers Overall Online in 2006: http://www.healthaffairs.org/Top25_2006_MostRead_Overall.php
We are sending this notice to subscribers so you may see which papers your cohorts viewed most often at www.healthaffairs.org. As a subscriber you have online access to these papers and to all journal content. To celebrate our 25th anniversary, we are opening access to the 25 papers from 2006 through January 19, 2007, so you may share these with colleagues, students and others who may not currently have access.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
AHLA's Health Lawyers News (5 January 2007)
- Medicaid Commission Issues Final Report On Medicaid Reform
The Medicaid Commission said "fundamental reform" is needed to shore up the long term sustainability of the federal-state Medicaid program in a final report issued December 29 that details its recommendations for achieving that end. Full Story
- OIG Finds Only Three Of Ten State False Claims Acts Submitted For Review Comply With DRA Requirements
The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) has determined that only three of ten state False Claims Acts (FCAs) that it recently reviewed comply with all the requirements set forth in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) to be eligible for the financial incentive bonus, according to information posted on OIG's website December 29. Full Story
Articles & Analyses
- Congress Approves Medicare, Medicaid Changes, by Karen S. Sealander and Eric Zimmerman, McDermott Will & Emery LLP
- CMS Issues Long-Awaited DRA Compliance Guidance And Teleconference, by Elizabeth Callahan-Morris, Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman, PLLC
. . . and many news items of note.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Another angle on middlemen
* Krugman's column is here, which is a TimesSelect address that requires a paid subscription. There's a good summary over at Mark Thoma's blog.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
HIPAA privacy rule: Is it time for (re)reform?
"[I]ncreasingly complex confidentiality issues" in federal medical privacy rules "are affecting patients and their insurance coverage," the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, complaints of privacy violations "have been piling up." Between April 2003 and Nov. 30, 2006, HHS received 23,896 complaints related to medical-privacy rules. An HHS spokesperson said 75% of those complaints have been closed because no violations were found or informal guidance was provided to involved parties. Since HIPAA was enacted in 2003, HHS has not taken enforcement actions against any entity for violating the privacy rule. The Journal profiled attorney Patricia Galvin, who was denied disability benefits after her health insurer, UnumProvident, accessed notes from psychotherapy sessions at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. According to the Journal, UnumProvident said the notes indicated that Galvin was not "too injured to work" after she was involved in a car accident and applied for long-term disability leave. UnumProvident had asked Galvin to sign a broad release to access her basic medical records, which included some of the psychotherapist's notes about Galvin that Stanford had scanned into its computer records system. Galvin has filed a lawsuit against Stanford and UnumProvident for violating medical privacy laws, among other issues, under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA includes added protection for mental health records, but Stanford in court papers said that "psychotherapy notes that are kept together with the patient's other medical records are not defined as 'psychotherapy' notes under HIPAA." Peter Swire, a law professor at Ohio State University who helped write the regulations, said, "We're three years into the enforcement of the rule, and they haven't brought their first enforcement initiative." He added, "It sends the signal that the health system can ignore this issue" (Francis, Wall Street Journal, 12/26/06).
Monday, January 01, 2007
Krugman touts single-payer system
The U.S. health care system is a scandal and a disgrace. But maybe, just maybe, 2007 will be the year we start the move toward universal coverage.
In 2005, almost 47 million Americans — including more than 8 million children — were uninsured, and many more had inadequate insurance.
Apologists for our system try to minimize the significance of these numbers. Many of the uninsured, asserted the 2004 Economic Report of the President, “remain uninsured as a matter of choice.”
And then you wake up. A scathing article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times described how insurers refuse to cover anyone with even the slightest hint of a pre-existing condition. People have been denied insurance for reasons that range from childhood asthma to a “past bout of jock itch.”
Some say that we can’t afford universal health care, even though every year lack of insurance plunges millions of Americans into severe financial distress and sends thousands to an early grave. But every other advanced country somehow manages to provide all its citizens with essential care. The only reason universal coverage seems hard to achieve here is the spectacular inefficiency of the U.S. health care system. . . .
The truth is that we can afford to cover the uninsured. What we can’t afford is to keep going without a universal health care system.
If it were up to me, we’d have a Medicare-like system for everyone, paid for by a dedicated tax that for most people would be less than they or their employers currently pay in insurance premiums. This would, at a stroke, cover the uninsured, greatly reduce administrative costs and make it much easier to work on preventive care.
Such a system would leave people with the right to choose their own doctors, and with other choices as well: Medicare currently lets people apply their benefits to H.M.O.’s run by private insurance companies, and there’s no reason why similar options shouldn’t be available in a system of Medicare for all. But everyone would be in the system, one way or another. . . .
But now is the time to warn against plans that try to cover the uninsured without taking on the fundamental sources of our health system’s inefficiency. What’s wrong with both the Massachusetts plan and Senator Wyden’s plan is that they don’t operate like Medicare; instead, they funnel the money through private insurance companies.
Everyone knows why: would-be reformers are trying to avoid too strong a backlash from the insurance industry and other players who profit from our current system’s irrationality. But look at what happened to Bill Clinton. He rejected a single-payer approach, even though he understood its merits, in favor of a complex plan that was supposed to co-opt private insurance companies by giving them a largely gratuitous role. And the reward for this “pragmatism” was that insurance companies went all-out against his plan anyway, with the notorious “Harry and Louise” ads that, yes, mocked the plan’s complexity.
Now we have another chance for fundamental health care reform. Let’s not blow that chance with a pre-emptive surrender to the special interests.
The L.A. Times story to which Krugman refers is a corker. It's also a good reminder that HIPAA's pre-existing condition reforms did not apply to individual policies, a particularly cruel fate for the millions of Americans for whom group policies are unavailable, either because their employer doesn't offer health benefits or because they are self-employed.