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Volume 3, Number 37
November 10, 2006


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In the Spotlight

Why the 10/90 gap is still 100% fiction
Commercial research has global health benefits

Philip Stevens, Medical Progress Today, 11-9-06

An erroneous axiom in the world of public health is that markets can never improve the health of the poor. The notion that just a few medicines exist for certain tropical diseases is used as evidence of broad market failures and thus justifies significant government intervention in how new drugs are researched and developed. In reality, the reverse is true: commercial medical research in wealthy markets underwrites global health gains in which the poor are the greatest beneficiaries.
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News

New Hope on Gene Therapy
The Philadelphia Inquirer, 11-7-06

Editor's Notes:

A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has used gene therapy to turn the tables on the AIDS virus in a handful of patients, according to this article in the Inquirer.
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Seniors Seek An Advantage
The Dallas Morning News, 11-6-06

Editor's Notes:

Now that the election is over, perhaps Congress can get back to some serious policy discussions; they could begin with Medicare reform. Amidst all of the partisan sniping over the Medicare Drug Benefit, policymakers have lost sight of how popular another free–market reform in Medicare—Medicare Advantage plans–has become.
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As Drug Prices Climb, Democrats Find Fault With Medicare Plan
The New York Times, 11-6-06

Editor's Notes:

The New York Times reports an ironic wrinkle in America's newest entitlement program, the Medicare Drug Benefit. To wit: Congress creates a program that gives millions of low–income seniors access to prescription drug coverage for the first time. Pharmaceutical companies, who now have millions more customers, benefit financially.
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Anthrax Vaccine Testing Called Off
Washington Post, 11-4-06

Editor's Notes:

The Washington Post reports that the federal Bioshield Project has experienced yet another setback in its efforts to develop a stockpile of counterterrorism drugs and vaccines.
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Commentary

Playing Medi-Scare Again
Newt Gingrich, Washington Times, 11-8-06

Gingrich takes issue with a new study from Families USA that purports to show that the Medicare Drug benefit is shortchanging millions of seniors of needed prescription drug coverage.
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Medicaid Advantage: A Medical Home for Dual-Eligibles
Robert B. Helms, Ph.D., Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute, 11-7-06

Turner and Helms argue that Medicaid needs a new program that can "integrate acute and long term care benefits for dual-eligible beneficiaries into a single program."
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Mass Medical Mess
Sally C. Pipes, Washington Times, 11-5-06

Pipes warns that the much–hailed compromise on health insurance in Massachusetts is likely to cost far more than initially advertised based on information revealed to bond markets.
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Rolling the Health Dice
Milt Freudenheim, Reed Abelson, The New York Times, 11-4-06

Abelson and Freudenheim lead off this article with an intriguing question: "What are your chances of staying healthy for the next 12 months? Care to place a bet?" Their question implies, of course, that everyone's health status for the next year is unknowable, and that lack of knowledge should steer people away from health savings accounts and other consumer directed health insurance plans. That is the wrong question to ask, for several reasons.
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Paying for Performance
Elliott S. Fisher, New England Journal of Medicine, 11-2-06

Fisher offers a thoughtful reflection on recent attempts to create "pay for performance" incentives for hospital systems and–eventually–individual physicians. He also reviews the hurdles that such systems must navigate, including their potential costs (in time and IT) and the potential for perverse incentives (i.e., emphasizing cost containment over quality care).
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In this week's issue:

SPOTLIGHT

Why the 10/90 gap is still 100% fiction

NEWS

New Hope on Gene Therapy
Seniors Seek An Advantage
As Drug Prices Climb, Democrats Find Fault With Medicare Plan
Anthrax Vaccine Testing Called Off

COMMENTARY

Playing Medi-Scare Again
Medicaid Advantage: A Medical Home for Dual-Eligibles
Mass Medical Mess
Rolling the Health Dice
Paying for Performance
Center for Medical Progress 
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