|Selected news articles which highlight important policy issues.||
News: Weekly Archives
News for the week of 04-13-2007
Mass. Health plan finds cost is too high for 20% of people
A year after former Republican Governor Mitt Romney and the Massachusetts' legislature passed a plan mandating individual insurance coverage in the Bay State, the final details of the plan are emerging.
The lynch pin of the state mandate, according to the law, is that residents must have coverage if it is "affordable". While trumpeting the plan as universal coverage, state regulators announced this week that as many as 1 out of 5 uninsured residents will be exempted from the mandate.
In an answer that pleased many of the state's patient advocates, the board overseeing the firstinthenation effort to require everyone to carry insurance exempted up to 20% of the state's estimated 328,000 uninsured adults from penalties if they do not purchase coverage.
Ironically, state approved plans would be even more affordable if the regulators allowed residents to purchase policies without expensive state mandates on what services or providers insurers must coverfor instance, for infertility treatments or chiropractors. But the Mass. plan was passed without addressing the issue of state regulations that drive up the cost of health insurance.
Also, since the tax penalty for not buying insurance is very low$200many of the uninsured will still find it cheaper to go without insurance than buy it. It will take some time to evaluate this ambitious experiment, but the odds are that more than 20% of the uninsured will still be uninsured a year from now.
AOL Founder Hopes to Build New Giant Among a Bevy of Health Care Web Sites
This week, Revolution Health Group, the health care project launched by Steve Case, founder of America Online, debuted its flagship Web site, RevolutionHealth.com.
Stephen M. Case wants to be America's doctor, courtesy of the Web. This week he plans to unveil his new company's Web site for consumers, RevolutionHealth.com, which has built a growing audience since a test version went online in January.
As the Times notes, RevolutionHealth is entering a crowded market, but there is still plenty of room for innovative companies to help consumers manage their own health care. Concierge medicinehelping consumers find the best health care options at the best pricesis the wave of the future. The only question is which company will catch the wave and ride it to commercial success.
Drug safety bill would limit direct-to-consumer-ads; industry claims free speech violation
Congress is considering legislation that may sharply limit the ability of pharmaceutical companies to offer direct to consumer advertising on new drugs.
Pharmaceutical companies could be prohibited from advertising new drugs directly to consumers for the first two years they are on the market under a bill moving through the U.S. Congress this week.
Congress is making a classic error: considering the risks of using new drugs without considering the benefits that those medicines have for patients.
By limiting how new drugs are marketed, Congress will also the slow the dissemination of valuable information that can help improve patient care without necessarily making anyone any safer.
It is true that very rare side effects from some drugs may not be discovered until millions of patients take them. But slowing the take up rate for new drugs won't alter that reality.
We are also, as Dr. Scott Gottlieb writes below , on the verge of unlocking the science of how subtle differences between patients can put them at risk for side effects or increase the likelihood that they will respond to some drugs better than others. Congress should fund better drug science at the FDA—not put the brakes on how companies tout new medicines.
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