Thursday, January 14, 2016

Health Wonk Review: Happy New Year! edition

Welcome, friends, to 2016-style health care wonkery. Later this month, we'll be celebrating our 11th anniversary here at IB; it's fascinating to look back over almost a dozen years of posts (and quite a few 'Reviews hosted) to see how much has changed, and how much hasn't.

But no time for waxing nostalgic, let's get on with the show:

First up is our good friend (and colleague) Jay Norris. Jay was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of Connect for Health Colorado, the Centennial State's exchange. He's concerned about a policy decision made by the Exchange to begin blocking enrollments from out of state brokers at the beginning of open enrollment. Here he explains why.

Over at Health Affairs Blog, Susan DeVore writes about six big trends to watch for in health care for 2016, including MACRA, telemedicine, value-based contracting, specialty pharmaceuticals, and others. She notes that with the upcoming Presidential election, health care is once again keeping us up at night. How much of the current debate is hyperbolic rhetoric? What policy changes are realistic in an election year? What market trends in the private sector will drive the most change?” Good questions, Susan.

At Workers Comp Insider, 'Review coordinator (and all-around gracious lady) Julie Ferguson lets us in on the depressing fact of the week:  In 2014, there were approximately one and a half times more drug overdose deaths in the U.S. than deaths from motor vehicle crashes. She looks at developments in the nation’s opioid and prescription drug epidemic via a pair of recent studies on the topic, as well as a roundup of some other noteworthy writing on opioids.

For the next few months, Health System Ed's Peggy Salvatore will be blogging on digital strategy for healthcare organizations in preparation for a pharmaceutical conference on digital health (the ePharma Summit 2016). This is the first post in the series, which is about how pharma spends a lot on marketing and provides a necessary product, and that as an industry it the means and the clout to make a positive difference. But will it? Stay tuned...

Longtime foil Wendell Potter notes that all of the Republican presidential candidates have condemned the Affordable Care Act and pledged to replace it as soon as they’re elected. But with what? Wendell runs down their likely replacement proposals, which he’s dubbed “The Faulty Five."

Dr Jaan Sidorov is one of my very favorite wonk-bloggers and. as usual, he doesn't disappoint. This week, he likens mHealth to dashboard tachometers, arguing that when mHealth is "smart, synergistic and scalable," the tachometer can improve insurer/vehicle performance.  Without those features, however, there's enough about mHealth to make it very attractive to consumers on a retail basis. Vroom, vroom!

I've only recently been following Charles Gaba, and I regret having missed his insights over the years. Here, he acknowledges that the ACA mandate penalty costs less than the premiums for some people, but... Well, he offers some important clarifications regarding the case studies quoted in a recent NY Times story about people deliberately choosing to pay the Individual Mandate penalty rather than sign up.

Like Peggy S, Joe Paduda has put together a series; his is on how he thinks the ACA's getting along, from enrollment to costs. As usual, he's concise and on-point. Part One is here, and Part Two here.

Longtime HWR contributor David Williams has been following Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, specifically his proposal to speed up FDA approvals, which has been garnering a lot of criticism, much of it deserved. But why do opponents have to go all the way back to 1956 for evidence against the plan? Instead, asks David, shouldn't we use the proposal as an opportunity to debate the role of safety and efficacy in approvals, and to examine why some parts of the FDA work better than others? Another good question.

[ed: Do I sense a theme?]

Uber-wonk Roy Poses alerts us to the new CDC draft guidelines that urged more conservative use of narcotics for non-malignant chronic pain, and which immediately attracted a barrage of criticism. His take? Those arguments against them were underwhelming. Click through to learn why.

Dr Brad Flansbaum addresses a recent New Yorks Time article about whether doctors should unionize, and comes away unconvinced either way. What's so great about this post is the series of insightful questions he poses to both sides of the debate.

[ed: Yup]

And now for something completely different. Our own post examines CanuckCare©'s rather lackadaisical view of death: as in the Canadian Medical Association considering allowing doctors to LIE about patients death to cover up euthanasia. Spoiler Alert: at least one Canadian med school's already doing so.

Thanks for tuning in, and please join us at Joe P's place on the 28th.
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