Sunday, October 31, 2004

HealthLawBlog is on vacation.

While I am on vacation in New England (Nov. 4-14), I will not be posting to HealthLawBlog.

Back to the future?

The NY Times has a piece today on Kaiser Permanente, the pioneer among HMOs, suggesting that much that ails the U.S. health care system could be improved if we could learn from Kaiser:
Obviously, there is no single model for revamping the nation's costly,
disjointed health care system, and Kaiser certainly has its share of problems.
But according to economists and medical experts, Kaiser is a

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Medicines Without Borders.

Nice play on words (the French name of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning medical group, Doctors Without Borders is Les Médecins Sans Frontières) for a totally stunning op-ed piece by a physician/marketing director for Pfizer, Peter Rost:
I am a drug company executive who believes we should legalize the reimportation of prescription drugs. I know that I have a different opinion from that of my

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Jesse Koochin update.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the court battle over Jesse Koochin's care ended on the 27th with the hospital's promise that it wouldn't file a death certificate on the 6-year-old, whom two neurologists examined and declared to be dead according the neurological criteria on October 11th and 12th. That clears the way for insurance payments for the home ventilator support that presumably would

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Ethics panel for CDC: a first.

As reported today in The New York Times, the CDC has appointed an ethics panel to decide which groups should be given priority in the allocation of scarce supplies of flu vaccine:
The panel began deliberating Monday. One member, John D. Arras, a professor of bioethics at the University of Virginia, said the group might eventually tackle the question of whether babies should have priority over the

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Physician-hospital joint venture: commentary on IRS' PLR

On June 9, the IRS issued Private Letter Ruling 200436002, which generally approved of a proposed physician-hospital joint venture. The ruling is described and analyzed by Don Stuart in a commentary in the Oct. 18 on-line issue of HealthLeaders. Stuart's description of the deal is more succinct than the Service's:
[A] nonprofit, tax-exempt hospital proposed to form a new joint venture

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Pain control and the criminal law.

The New York Times has an essay by Sally Satel, M.D., in today's issue: "Doctors Behind Bars: Treating Pain Is Now Risky Business." Actually, it's been a legally perilous business for many years, although I thought that the adoption of intractable-pain legislation and regulations in many states signaled the arrival of some regulatory and prosecutorial sanity on the subject. This essay is some

Monday, October 18, 2004

Update on brain-dead patient in Salt Lake City.

Today's Salt Lake Tribune has a story about Jesse Koochin, who was transferred from the hospital to home hospice at the end of last week. The parents report that he is moving his feet and are encouraged by their ability to feel his pulse and to see that his cheek is pink and warm to the touch. All of this, of course, is consistent with a determination of death according to neurological criteria

States cut more services for illegal aliens.

The Wall Street Journal has a front-page story in today's edition (requires subscription) detailing Colorado's recent cut-backs in state-sponsored health care benefits available to illegal aliens. Colorado has "cut off prenatal care for thousands of illegal immigrants. . . . At least one nonprofit program providing health care to legal and illegal patients faces a big cut in funding. . . . Last

Friday, October 15, 2004

More on brain-dead patient in Salt Lake City.

There were two follow-up articles in the Salt Lake Tribune today about Jesse Koochin, the 6-year-old patient whose parents, Gayle and Steve, reject his physicians' diagnosis of death. The ethics of treating brain-dead patients are discussed here, and the factual developments in the case are described here.

According to the article, "on Thursday, Gayle and Steve Koochin were frantically trying

Thursday, October 14, 2004

State Medicaid expenditures eclipse education.

According to the 2003 State Expenditure Report of the National Association of State Budget Officers, state Medicaid expenditures exceed those for education, for the first time ever:
Total Medicaid spending in fiscal 2003 excluding administrative costs was $243.6 billion, or 8 percent more than fiscal 2002. Based on those amounts, Medicaid accounted for 21.4 percent of total state spending in

Brain dead?

Thanks to Elizabeth Woeckner for this story:

The Salt Lake Tribune has a long story in today's paper about the looming court case over a 6-year-old cancer patient who has been diagnosed as brain dead by two separate physicians who examined him on Monday and Tuesday of this week. His parents don't believe he is dead and want to take him home on a ventilator to care for him with naturopathic

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Complementary and alternative medicine & state licensing boards.

Adam Liptak has an article in today's N.Y. Times in which a South Carolina physician prescribes intravenous injections of what his lawyer describes as "a very dilute form of hydrogen peroxide" for a Minnesota patient with MS. The result: over the next five days, she bleeds to death. Local authorities classify her death as a homicide and the physician is sued for her wrongful death. The state