Medical Progress Today
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Volume 3, Number 27
August 7, 2006


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News

Scaling Back Changes to Medicare Payments
The New York Times, 8-3-06

Editor's Notes:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it will adjust its proposed reforms of the current Medicare payment system for hospital services.
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Supe Gives Final OK to Health Care Coverage
The San Francisco Chronicle, 7-26-06

Editor's Notes:

San Francisco moved one step closer to becoming the first U.S. city to offer health insurance to all of its uninsured residents after its Board of Supervisors approved a plan that will cost about $200 million annually. The plan is likely to face legal challenges, primarily because it forces businesses to provide insurance for employees—a move that is sure to cost the city jobs.
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Commentary

Access Before Approval – A Right to Take Experimental Drugs?
Susan Okie, M.D., New England Journal of Medicine, 8-3-06

Editor's Notes:

Dr. Okie examines a recent D.C. appeals court decision allowing terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs and argues that the court's decision may severely impair the FDA's ability to evaluate new medicines. Still, she is also acutely aware of the frustration facing terminally ill patients who are literally dying for the lack of new treatments.
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Health Care Costs Threaten Nation’s Economic Dominance
Newt Gingrich, Michael I. Mackness, David Merritt, Chicago Sun-Times, 7-31-06

Gingrich and Merritt warn that the American economy is on the road to disaster without serious health care reform. They believe that companies need to leverage their purchasing power to demand real reforms from health care providers.
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Getting Moving on Health Care
John F. Kerry, The Boston Globe, 7-31-06

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry editorializes on the need to end the U.S.'s health care crisis and institute a universal health care system. To support his program, Kerry suggests rolling back the Bush tax cuts to ensure that by 2012 every American is guaranteed health insurance.
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Asking for a Crisis
Investor's Business Daily, 7-31-06

In response to Senator John Kerry's proposal for universal health care coverage, the editors at Investor's Business Daily offer a different view of America's health care woes.
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Don’t Stress About Chronic Diseases in Developing Countries
Philip Stevens, Campaign for Fighting Diseases, 7-31-06

Philip Stevens looks into the growth of chronic diseases in developing countries and argues that these diseases are actually evidence of economic growth and rising standards of living in these regions. As the economies of developing nations grow, their citizens become more prone to the diseases of affluence, like heart disease:
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Science and Shams
David Shaywitz, The Boston Globe, 7-27-06

Shaywitz, a practicing physician, contends that the growing controversy over corporate involvement in medical research is much ado about nothing. Shaywitz further argues that industry involvement in medical research is critical because of the extraordinary costs of drug development.
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Research

Who Failed to Enroll In Medicare Part D, And Why? Early Results
Health Affairs, 8-1-06

Health Affairs released another Medicare Part D survey this week tracking satisfaction with the program and enrollment demographics. The survey found that although the plan reached its 90% enrollment goal, many hard to reach groups (lower-educated and low-income seniors) are still without coverage.
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Seniors' Early Experiences with Their New Medicare Drug Plans
Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health, 7-30-06

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a survey of seniors enrolled in the new Medicare prescription drug plan. The survey found that overall satisfaction is high, and that, for most seniors, the plan has become a "major benefit". Concerns linger over the coverage gap or so-called "doughnut hole", but as yet this doesn't seem to have become a major problem.
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The Effect of State Regulations On Health Insurance Premiums: A Revised Analysis
Heritage Foundation, 7-25-06

The Heritage Foundation recently released this study detailing how state regulations affects the cost of health insurance. The authors found that increased regulation leads to higher premiums for consumers.
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Comparing Government Healthcare Costs in Ten OECD Countries
National Bureau of Economic Research Digest, 7-1-06

The National Bureau of Economic Research Digest recently summarized the research of two leading economists from a December 2005 NBER paper on OECD health care costs. The researchers caution that if expenditures on public health benefits continue to rise at historic rates in OECD nations (i.e., faster than GDP growth), the added costs (through increased taxes) will hurt economic development. The authors also explain why the U.S., among the OECD nations, faces the most severe fiscal challenges from rising public health expenditures.
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In this week's issue:

NEWS

Scaling Back Changes to Medicare Payments
Supe Gives Final OK to Health Care Coverage

COMMENTARY

Access Before Approval – A Right to Take Experimental Drugs?
Health Care Costs Threaten Nation’s Economic Dominance
Getting Moving on Health Care
Asking for a Crisis
Don’t Stress About Chronic Diseases in Developing Countries
Science and Shams

RESEARCH

Who Failed to Enroll In Medicare Part D, And Why? Early Results
Seniors' Early Experiences with Their New Medicare Drug Plans
The Effect of State Regulations On Health Insurance Premiums: A Revised Analysis
Comparing Government Healthcare Costs in Ten OECD Countries
Center for Medical Progress 
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