Doctors Are Angry. I Get That. But . . .

surgeonI knew this would be the toughest audience yet in my three years of teaching/speaking about the US healthcare system and healthcare reform. I even put on a flak jacket at the beginning of my talk as a way of breaking the ice (and protecting myself; I mean, these guys pack scalpels!). And I made it through the two-hour talk and their anger without losing my composure or my sense of humor (thank god for that sense of humor).

Now I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my flight home and find myself tearing up. Not because the doctors were mean or cruel — they weren’t — but because of how much distance there is between  reality and perception, how much anger is out there, how too many people rely only on anecdotes and commentary instead of facts to develop opinions, and how scary it is to look at where we are and where we need to be — and realize that, more and more, it is unlikely we will ever get there given the rhetoric and anger in this country.

The doctors this morning, most of whom have been in practice … Continue Reading

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10 Surprising Things In Healthcare Reform (Senate version) Part 1

I promised in an earlier blog to list 10 things in the Senate version of the healthcare reform bill that you might not be aware of. Since it’s New Year’s Eve, technically a holiday, I’m only working at partial speed so you only get a partial list today. More to come over the next few days.

1. Support comparative effectiveness research by establishing a non-profit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to identify research priorities and conduct research that compares the clinical effectiveness of medical treatments.   

In English: The government will fund research to directly compare treatment A to treatment B to determine which works best and is most cost effective.  

Major weakness: the Senate bill specifically notes that the results of such research “may not be construed” as mandates, guidelines, or recommendations for payment, coverage, or treatment or used to deny coverage.

Huh? What is the point of finding out that treatment A works better than treatment B if you don’t use it to make coverage decisions???

Prediction: Most insurers will use this information to make coverage decisions, much to the chagrin of many pharmaceutical and medical device companies. In the not-too-distant-future, Medicare will join the party. After all, … Continue Reading

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