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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

US health policy

The MA Individual Mandate and National Politics

Also in today's NYT, don't miss the article -- click here -- exploring the implementation of the individual mandate and the implications of our work for national policy and politics. Ann F. McEachern, 33, a waitress and student who lives in Cambridge, said she did not buy insurance this year but probably would in 2008. “The penalty in 2007 wasn’t enough to kick it up to the top of my priority list,” Ms. McEachern said. “It’s always nice to be insured, but I think I’m at pretty low risk for anything happening to me that would be financially devastating.” Though officials do not yet have data... Read more »

Confessions of a Drug Rep

Not to be missed from today's Sunday reading is the article, "Dr. Drug Rep," in today's NYT Mag -- click here. It's a first person account by Dr. Daniel Carlat, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Tufts School of Medicine, of his year of on-the-side service to Wyeth Pharmaceuticals promoting their depression drug, Effexor XR, to local docs in the Newburyport area. He gave up the side-practice after the ethical conflicts became too much for him. He made an extra $30K over his $140K regular income. Some tidbits: At the end of the last lecture, we were all handed envelopes as we... Read more »

Would Universal Health Care Strangle Innovation?

Lots of buzz in the blogosphere on Jonathan Cohn's thought provoking New Republic article -- Creative Destruction: The Best Case Against Universal Health Care. Cohn wonders if his friend, writer Michael Kinsley, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease, would have access to the best treatment (in this case, DBS or Deep Brain Stimulation) in a fully government financed system. And would an all government financed system strangle innovation? Cohn's answer: no problema. Read more »

Bush Administration's SCHIP Hypocrisy

We've been laying low on the SCHIP fight because there's been so much other commentary on it. Thank you, President Bush, for giving SCHIP more publicity and attention in the past two months than at any other point in its 10 year history. That's as far as the appreciation goes. Below is a great piece from Dow Jones (reported in today's Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report) on the Bush Administration's track record regarding adult coverage under SCHIP -- priceless: Read more »

Great New Side-by-Side of Pres. Candidates' Health Proposals

Check out Kaiser's new site, detailing all the proposals advanced thus far by the Democratic and Republican candidates for president -- click here. As usual, superbly done. Read more »

"Is RAND WRONG" Gets Noticed...

We invite you to check out the new Health Wonk Review over at the Healthcare Economist blog. Our 10/08/07 posting on the RAND Health Insurance Experiment ("What If RAND Were WRONG?") was selected as one of the two best posts of the week. Thank you, Wonkers ... Now, maybe, more folks will pay attention to the huge and important questions raised by John Nyman's recent paper in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law. Again, feel welcome to email me (mcdonough@hcfama.org) if you would like to see a copy of the full paper. Read more »

What If RAND Were WRONG?

For a quarter of a century, US health policy has been influenced by the findings of the largest social science experiment since Noah’s ark – the RAND Health Insurance Experiment. The experiment randomly assigned thousands of families to insurance plans with different levels of cost sharing, and then followed them for up to five years. The results proved for the first time that there is a demand curve for health services – that higher cost sharing leads individuals to use fewer health services, and further that (except for some lower income patients) the lower use of services had no negative... Read more »

More SCHIP Comedy Gold

We said it a few weeks ago: Bush's SCHIP veto is a gift from on high. Read more »

Families USA Starts Ad War Against SCHIP Veto

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Startling Results: US vs. European Rates of Chronic Disease

This is amazing...New study by Ken Thorpe of Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University comparing US and European rates of chronic disease (summary from Kaiser Daily Report): Older U.S. adults are twice as likely as older European adults to have a number of chronic diseases, many of which are related to obesity and smoking, according to a study published Tuesday on the Web site of the journal Health Affairs... For the study, researchers from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University examined information from 2004 on the treatment of chronic diseases among adults ages 50... Read more »

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