As health policy wonks, we often find ourselves in unfortunate positions. Medical practitioners don’t trust us because we don’t have a practitioner’s education. Lay people have no clue what we’re talking about (we can be a little heavy on the acronyms). Our posts get buried in Grand Rounds because they’re not about the magic of healing. Our sites, full of thoughtful commentary and hard work, will never attain the traffic of straight political blogs. Worse still, we don’t even have good health policy wonk jokes!
And thus Health Wonk Review was born. Our fearless leaders put their massive brains together and decided the best way to get more attention to our wonky undertakings was to showcase them apart from other medical writings in their own biweekly review.
I’ll be your hostess this time around, and as such I’m claiming my prerogative and and putting in my two cents. Using blogging as a forum for exploring health policy ideas is absolutely invaluable. It simulates the experience of being an academic or working in a health policy organization, while forcing you to develop a distinct voice, a coherent philosophy, and a wide net of knowledge. And as a general rookie, blogging allowed me to learn in six months what would have taken years without it.
But I didn’t go it alone, and without the individuals showcased here, no one would have ever heard of me, read me, cared about what I said, or critiqued me when I made mistakes. Would that everyone had their ideas so challenged every day. Basically, if you haven’t started a blog but you’re thinking about it – DO IT!
Enough, about me, onto you!
HEALTH WONK REVIEW: 3RD EDITION
Reform: What’s the definition of “is” edition
A few wonks wrote about health care reform and the debates surrounding change.
Matthew Holt writing at Spot-on got pretty upset with some libertarians accusing foreigners of rationing care without acknowledging that it happens here too and in a much more unfair manner. Of course the libertarians didn't rest easy and it all degenerated into a whole set of comments at THCB about what's the real meaning of the bogeyman called "socialized medicine".
Ezra Klein of the eponymous blog takes issues with a recent Michael Kinsley column and concludes that instead of taking a probing look into single payer proposals, the columnist chooses to misrepresent Paul Krugman’s recent New York Review of Books article.
Marcus Newberry of Fixin' Healthcare looks at state health initiatives that were discussed at the Forum on Healthy America during the winter meeting of the National Governors Association. Marcus was invited to participate by Governor Sanford of South Carolina. See the second post here.
Changes are A’ Comin
A few bloggers surveyed the changing landscape and offered their thoughts.
Dmitriy Kruglyak of The Medical Blog Network reviews a contentious debate on the progress of health IT progress, touched off my Intel Chairman's speech at HIMSS. As seen through the eyes of Modern Healthcare readers.
Dale Hunscher, a self-proclaimed clinical research informatics geek, looks at the World Health Organization's International Clinical Trial Registry Platform, which if implemented will make most if not all clinical trials worldwide - and their results data - accessible to the world's population through a Web portal that will link to all registries everywhere. It's a great idea, but will it happen?
Medicine and Health Policy
Other writers (some of them M.D.s) examined the clinical implications of policy
Fard Johnmar at Envisioning 2.0 writes about the recent New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study focusing on healthcare quality. In his post, he summarizes reaction to the study and features exclusive commentary on the report from Dr. Richard Allen Williams Dr. Williams, founder of the Association Of Black Cardiologists, says that conservatives should "take no comfort" from the study results.
Roy Poses of Health Care Renewal examines a recent Health Affairs study about oncologists' decision making that received a lot of press as evidence that personal financial concerns and conflicts of interests influence physicians' relationships with drug companies. Furthermore, the senior author is a director of Aetna, Inc., the large, for-profit managed care organization, which was not acknowledged in the publication. Also check out the comments.
Kevin Keith of Sufficient Scruples writes a thoughtful post about yet another way HHS is dragging its feet on long-ago promised changes regarding genetic testing. Also check out this excellent post where he asks why ethicists continue to believe that docs don’t respond to economic incentives. (Pay for performance, anyone?)
From the Unbeaten Health Blogosphere Path
In terms of health policy blogging, authors taking a libertarian or free market perspective are in the minority. This group of posts takes a look at health care from that angle.
Adrienne Aldredge (the only other woman submittee!) of the ‘Dredge Report submitted a series of posts that started with Jane Galt’s examination of what a single payer system in the U.S. would look like and asks what the goals for a health care system should be in the first place. See Will Wilkinson’s response as well as Adrienne’s rejoinder.
Bob Vineyard of Insure Blog has a different take on the recent 60 minutes story on the uninsured. InsureBlog explores just how much hospitals write off treating such folks, and explodes some of the myths about "the uninsured."
Jared M. Rhoads submitted The Lucidicus Project, a small but focused new undertaking that regularly publishes news and views from a philosophical and rights-based perspective. They give away free copies of Atlas Shrugged and other materials to any medical student who is genuinely interested in learning about the moral and economic case for capitalism.
Trapier Michael at Hayek, MD takes a look at two parts of the Bush Administration’s health care proposals. (The first centered on Health Savings Accounts. The second promises to feature a push for price transparency.)
To close the show:
Two bloggers delved into the health costs/employment angle
John Coppelman of Workers' Comp Insider examines how the increasing numbers of uninsured can translate to higher workers compensation costs for employers - specifically because untreated workers may pose a greater health and safety risk.
Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters takes a look at ways employers are saving money on health care. Which isn’t by jacking up copays, implementing CDHPs, or slashing benefits. They are using data mining to identify the high-performing physicians; helping employees and dependents make better decisions, and sharing information about health care quality. And, these radical ideas are resulting in premium increases averaging 3% per year over the past two years.
It’s been fun kids. Please refer to our Health Wonk Review website, created with ample support from the superbly talented Shahid Shah. From now on you will be able to submit your post using a new database on that site.
Next edition’s host is Health Business Blog on April 6th.