August 26, 2009
How Choice Factors into Health Care Reform
NYT columnist David Leonhardt analyzes whether personal choice can be a part of health care reform.
He argues that the Wyden-Bennett Bill of 2007 offers more choice than current versions of health care legislation:
The best-known proposal for giving people more choice is the Wyden-Bennett bill, named for Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and Robert Bennett, a Utah Republican, who introduced it in the Senate in 2007. There are other broadly similar versions of the idea, too. One comes from Victor Fuchs, a Stanford professor sometimes called the dean of health economists, and Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and an Obama health-policy adviser.
In the simplest version, families would receive a voucher worth as much as their employer spends on their health insurance. They would then buy an insurance plan on an “exchange” where insurers would compete for their business. The government would regulate this exchange. Insurers would be required to offer basic benefits, and insurers that attracted a sicker group of patients would be subsidized by those that attracted a healthier group.
August 25, 2009
Managing Health Policies in South Africa
Will the S. African government make addressing the AIDS epidemic a more critical focus of its administration? With leading scientists urging the government to take action, the answer may be yes.
Moving Toward Increased Hospital Transparency
Embracing a policy of transparency at hospitals benefits patient and hospital, one test study found. After adopting the model four years ago, findings indicate that at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, disclosing medical errors upfront has actually led to a decrease in lawsuits by 40%.
August 24, 2009
Presidential Panel Recommends Speeding up Access to Swine Flu Vaccine
With universities and schools opening its doors, swine flu continues to spread. In Cincinnati, both Xavier University and University of Cincinnati have each reported cases of swine flu (See article here).On Monday, a presidential panel recommended increased access to the swine flu vaccine. Shots of the vaccine are being prepared but are not slated to be readily available until October. Reported the Washington Post:
The system for tracking the spread of the new virus also should be improved and the Obama administration should take other steps to prepare for a second wave of infection expected to begin this winter, including the accelerated development of communications strategies, the panel concluded in an 86-page report.
P&G May Sell Drug Business
On the brink of selling its $3 billion prescription drug business to Warner Chilcott Ltd, P&G has raised interesting considerations about the state of the pharmaceutical market. WSJ believes that factors in P&G's decision to put the business on the market include increasingly tough competition from generic brand drugs and a recent lawsuit:
August 23, 2009
FDA Requires Halt of Sale of Ibuprofen Creams
Eight companies were warned by the FDA that they are no longer permitted to sell ibuprofen creams.
Only problem is the Food and Drug Administration never said that was OK. So the agency warned eight companies they're out of line for selling the topical ibuprofen and told them to stop.
One of the companies, Wonder Laboratories (really), got dinged for selling IBU-RELIEF12, a cream containing ibuprofen, Arnica montana (or wolf's bane), and methyl salicylate, the smelly wintergreen stuff in Bengay.
Read more here.
Taxing Junk Food To Curb Obesity
LA Times examines whether taxing junk food, traditionally cheaper than healthier alternatives, will reduce obesity and encourage consumers to purchase more nutritious foods.
To make a significant dent in escalating rates of obesity, taxes would have to be steep and widespread. Two-thirds of states now impose a modest soft-drink tax -- the average rate is 5.2% -- and though the taxes are linked to a drop in body weight, the difference is extremely slight: about 3 ounces for a 5-foot-10, 279-pound person.
However, whether taxing junk food would be effective is debatable. Statistics suggest that while taxing cigarettes does curb consumer spending, it may be more difficult to alter consumer purchasing of junk foods.