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Volume 3, Number 5
February 2, 2006


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In the Spotlight

Smoking Out Cliches About Race

Sally Satel, MD, Medical Progress Today, 2-2-06

Cigarette smoke may not be an equal opportunity carcinogen. According to a report in last week's New England Journal of Medicine, the same amount of cigarette smoke was associated with higher rates of lung cancer in African-Americans and Native Hawaiians than other groups. Despite comparable low-to moderate exposure, whites were about half as likely to develop lung cancer and Latinos and Asians were about half as likely as whites to develop it.[1]
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News

The Domestic Agenda: On Education and Health, Costly Plans Face Hurdles
The New York Times, 2-1-06

Editor’s Notes:

As many observers have noted, the President’s State of the Union speech didn’t contain any revolutionary new health care policies. But the importance of his speech lies in the fact that the President continues to push for an incremental revolution in how Americans access our health care system.
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A Gender Difference in Heart Disease; Variant in Women Called Hard to Detect
Washington Post, 2-1-06

Editor’s Notes:

As Sally Satel points out in this week’s Spotlight article, health outcomes (for lung cancer, for instance) can vary between different racial or ethnic groups for a variety of reasons, including health literacy, education, or even genetic predisposition.
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In the Newest War of the States, Forget Red and Blue: These Battle Lines are Forming Over Rapidly Rising Drug Prices
The New York Times, 1-31-06

Editor’s Notes:

If the government decided to pay for Americans’ automotive costs, carmakers would be lambasted for the high prices they charged government, and policymakers would demand price controls on automakers to help rein in government spending. The same thing happens in government programs like Medicaid, where state governments are continually trying to tamp down on drug prices.
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Enrollment Triples in Plans Offering Health Savings Accounts
Los Angeles Times, 1-27-06

Editor’s Notes:

While critics snipe at the President’s plans to expand access to HSAs, the market for high deductible plans that qualify for HSAs has tripled in the last 10 months.
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Commentary

Thwart Hillarycare 2006
Robert Goldberg, Ph.D., Washington Times, 2-2-06

Goldberg, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, argues that the Medicare drug benefit is a watershed development in American health care, as seniors for the first time have an unprecedented ability to choose private plans that fit their needs. Advocates of drug-price controls and restrictive government formularies are ignoring the innovations, value, and choice that private plans will bring to millions of American seniors:
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What Did Those Asbestos X-Rays Really Show?
Lester Brickman, PointofLaw.com, 2-2-06

Brickman is a law professor at Cardozo Law School in New York, and a nationally recognized tort law scholar. He has also been paying very close attention to the explosion of asbestos-liability litigation in recent years, and has come to the disturbing conclusion that fraud may lie at the heart of much of it.
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Plundering Patents
Alan Oxley, Wall Street Journal Europe, 2-1-06

Oxley points to a disturbing trend in international patent disputes, in which less-developed countries (like India) are claiming patent rights for natural products found within their borders in a crusade against something they call “biopiracy.”
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The Health Care Opportunity
Wall Street Journal, 2-1-06

The Wall Street Journal lauds the President’s proposals for expanding access to Health Savings Accounts as a good idea with a low price tag. The Journal rightfully points out that the first step towards fixing our dysfunctional health-care system is to chip away at the tax advantages that accrue to employer-provided health insurance.
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Do the math; you'll like health savings
Grace-Marie Turner, The Atlanta Journal–Constitution, 1-31-06

While we debate the health effects of HSAs, it is also instructive to remember that they are also attractive investment vehicles. Major health expenses are, for most people, a relative rarity, allowing HSA owners to build up impressive financial nest eggs over years and decades. In this article in the Atlanta Constitution, Turner “does the math” and points out that HSAs could become a powerful vehicle for personal savings:
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The Health of the Union
George Melloan, Wall Street Journal, 1-31-06

Melloan argues that critics who lament America’s “health care crisis” are exaggerating U.S. health woes as a stalking horse for a government takeover of all health care. While admitting that our health care system is expensive, he points out that it is not as beleaguered as many might imagine.
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Research

Ethnic and Racial Differences in the Smoking Related Risk of Lung Cancer
Christopher A. Haiman, Sc.D., et al., New England Journal of Medicine, 2-1-06

This article forms the basis for Sally Satel’s Spotlight this week. Researchers investigating the incidence of lung cancer in a population of over 180,000 smokers of differing ethnicities found some surprising patterns.
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Medical Progress Today is published by the Center for Medical Progress at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

For more information about Medical Progress Today, please contact the managing editor, Paul Howard, at phoward@manhattan-institute.org, or via telephone at 212.599.7000.

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In this week's issue:

SPOTLIGHT

Smoking Out Cliches About Race

NEWS

The Domestic Agenda: On Education and Health, Costly Plans Face Hurdles
A Gender Difference in Heart Disease; Variant in Women Called Hard to Detect
In the Newest War of the States, Forget Red and Blue: These Battle Lines are Forming Over Rapidly Rising Drug Prices
Enrollment Triples in Plans Offering Health Savings Accounts

COMMENTARY

Thwart Hillarycare 2006
What Did Those Asbestos X-Rays Really Show?
Plundering Patents
The Health Care Opportunity
Do the math; you'll like health savings
The Health of the Union

RESEARCH

Ethnic and Racial Differences in the Smoking Related Risk of Lung Cancer
Center for Medical Progress 
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