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Is the new professionalism and ACP's new ethics really just about following guidelines?

The Charter ( Medical Professionalism in the New Millennium.A Physician's Charter) did not deal with just the important relationship of ...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Earth Day again-time to look at the satellite view of Korea

Rather than encouraging school kids to guilt their parents into turning off the lights for a while to "celebrate" earth day ,my suggestion is for school teachers to assign an essay to their charges. The topic-why is North Korea dark and South Korea lighted as illustrated in this iconic image.

An alternative topic might be what would our lives be without electricity.

Here is an earlier earth day commentary offered as a counterpoint to the usual sanctimonious
earth day platitudes and indoctrination of youth with the secular religion of naive environmentalism with its rituals of turning off lights and mindless recycling.

Finally, here is an essay from the economist Steven E. Landsburg from his book "The Armchair Economist" in which he makes the distinction between the religion of environmentalism and the science of ecology and makes clear my choice of "mindless" to modify "recycling", putting forward the notion that recycling per se is not a moral issue and therefore always right (or wrong) but each case is an empirical one.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Still another argument against P4P

I have based my opposition to P4P in medicine on several lines of argument. These included :

1) It is unethical (see here for the comments of Drs. Edmund Blum and Faith Fitzgerald)

2 ) it often is a disingenuous method to control costs with feigning a desire to improve care

3)Goodhart's Law (see here).

Now the prolific Dr. Doug Perednia offers another reason to oppose P4P. Read about it here ( this is part 2, read Part 1 also). He offers a brief and very instructive introduction to a field of study known as Self-determination Theory (SDT) and relates that to the P4P issue.

SDT is based upon the idea that there are many things that people do not for the promise of external reward, but because of some sort of intrinsic, human desire for autonomy, competence and relatedness.

Including in that category of things people do not necessarily because of carrots and sticks is the practice of medicine.

The theoretical and empirical case against P4P has grown so strong that the only reason physicians and their organizations put up with it must be they just want to go along to get along.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

HHS gets more efficient , now giving an entire state an exemption from Obamacare

The task of giving exemptions to aspects of Obamacare company by company might have proved to be to time consuming for the Department of Health and Human services so they are issuing state by state. See here.

The state of Maine was given a waiver,good for three years,exempting health care insurers from the requirement that they spend at least 80% of premium fees on actual patient care. In Maine, at least for a while, 65% will suffice.

Earlier Maine's secretary of insurance has expressed concern that one company,Healthmarkets,Inc, would drop coverage for policyholders and leave the state.See here for some background on that company .

Friday, March 04, 2011

Class Act a fraud? Secretary HHS claims she will "reform" it

Financially unsound is the most generous way one can describe the part of Obamacare known as the CLASS Act ( The Community Living Assistance and Supports Act). see here.

Even the secretary of HHS admits to problems with this section of ACA but her answer is that she will use her discretionary powers to " reform it". What ever happened to the rule of law? A law is passed and if there are problems with it and an administrative arm of the executive branch will alter the law to fix it.It will be fixed by a politically appointed administrator who serves at the pleasure of the president.

Secretary Sebelius,at a congressional hearing, said that those provisions were "totally unsustainable" meaning it would not pay for itself and would require taxpayer money to make it fiscally viable.

Early on, opponents of ACA insisted that the provisions were not fiscally sound and were placed in the bill to give the illusion that Obamacare would cost less than the magic one trillion dollar price tag. The plan was to front load the plan with premiums without any benefit payments for a number of years. It was advertised as a mechanism to decrease the federal deficit by 86 billion over a ten year period. Now even the administration admits it will do no such thing.

Either the authors of the CLASS Act were aware of the lack of sustainability but proceeded on in a wink-wink-nod-nod manner or they did not know what they were doing. Ms. Sebelius testified that they (the folks at HHS) realized right way that was the case. Did the folks at HHS have no input to the crafting of the legislation?

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

One of the ways Obamacare was to "save money" was to cut Medicare Advantage but now..

But now HHS announces that , at least for the short term- that is until the 2012 elections, payments will increase for Medicare Advantage Programs. See here.

It was a decrease in the Medicare Advantage Payments ,along with cuts to hospitals and other providers, that was to provide about half of the funding for the expanded insurance coverage to low income folks. It was projected that some 137 billion would be saved from cuts to Medicare Advantage programs. The alleged savings was touted to also extend the solvency of the Medicare Part A Trust fund.

The actions of HHS in this regard is typical of what George Will references as the "administrative state" which the United States have (has?) morphed into. In the "administrative state", Congress passes "sentiments" not laws, and delegates to the administrative tentacles of the Executive Branch the authorship and administration of the various rules that make the Congressional sentiments operational.See here for Will's comments.

Woodrow Wilson envisioned a government that would be run by experts who would be unencumbered by the messy give and take of politicians who would stray from what was right and good for the people by the actions of various interest groups and their own selfish urges. Somehow the only PhD to occupy the White House did not realize that the experts of the various agencies might themselves posses human characteristics that steer them to act for political reasons. It is hard to consider the recent actions of HHS other than being politically motivated.