Health Wonk Review Is Up

David Harlow, author of David Harlow’s Health Care Law Blog hosts the newest edition of HWR.  Harlow offers a meaty summary of some of the most provocative healthcare posts that have appeared in recent weeks.  

–On Healthcare Collaboration, Dr. Kenneth Cohn suggests that if you want to herd cats, you probably have to let the cats figure out how to herd themselves: “Most physicians enjoy bottom-up processes more than top-down edicts.  They prefer being inspired to being supervised.  The only way that I know to develop a common culture is to allow physicians to play a role in shaping it. I agree. You can’t bribe them. You can’t bully them. They have to want to do it because they realize that if they work as a team, they and their patients will be better off.

Over at Managed Care Matters Joe Paduda reports that recent analysis indicates that some states’ active efforts to hinder enrollment are working,, and are partly responsible for the shortfall in Exchange enrollment
He also points out that  CMS may require health insurers selling via the federal exchanges to make sure at least 30 percent of “essential health providers” are in-network in 2015.  This in response to some complaints about networks that are allegedly too narrow.
Paduda’s note: “Which is kind of ridiculous; smaller networks are better at controlling costs and that’s a BIG part of the success criteria for health reform.”  I agree. Moreover, if you Google “Consumer Reports,” and “NCQA” and “HMO’s” you will find that the best HMOs deliver higher quality care than open-ended plans.

–Writing on Colorado Health Insurance Insider, Louise Norris explains that folks purchasing health insurance on the exchanges need to be sure they understand drug formularies. An important point.

–As the demand for high tech and mobile surges, Julie Ferguson of Workers’ Comp Insider reminds us that more and more cell tower workers are being killed. The intense pressure to meet unrelenting deadlines is undermining workers’ safety.

Brad Wright, at Wright on Health, wonders if we can make health care prices transparent so that patients can “comparison-shop.”  Wright  worries (rightly, I think, pun intended,) that even with better information, consumers aren’t likely to change their behavior much, because health care economics does not operate according to traditional market principles. When you’re sick, you’re not bargain-hunting. Most people assume (wrongly) that health care that is more expensive must be better.

Folks from the Brookings Institution have a piece up on the Health Affairs Blog, titled “Paying For a Permanent, or Semi-Permanent, Medicare Physician Payment Fix. They emphasize  that a plan that includes “off-sets for physician payment reform that support improvements in care as well as lower costs . . . could assure beneficiaries and other health care providers that these savings are not just payment cuts that must be absorbed, but steps to help reduce spending through reforms that improve care.”

This is just a small sample of some of the best recent posts. You’ll find more here.


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