Wednesday, June 27, 2007

States get health care report card from Commonwealth Fund

There's a good article in the current Modern Healthcare (may require paid subscription) about the recent state-by-state analyses of cost, quality, and access from the Commonwealth Fund and (looking at quality alone) AHRQ. The Commonwealth Fund web site has a fabulous interactive map and lots of features as well as downloadable report, executive summary, PowerPoint chartpack, and data tables.

Monday, June 25, 2007

AMA urged to oppose retail health clinics

According to a story in today's Chicago Tribune, "several doctors groups" are urging the AMA to oppose the propagation of health clinics in retail outlets such as Wal-Mart and Walgreen. An AMA committee took testimony on Sunday and will be weighing its options for a recommendation to the full House of Delegates, which is in Chicago for its annual meeting, over the next two days. The groups are in

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Health Lawyers News, June 22

From the folks at American Health Lawyers Association comes this week's issue of Health Lawyers News:Top Stories OIG Finds Sale Of Part Of Physician-Owned ASC To Hospital Could Trigger Sanctions. The sale of part of an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) to a nonprofit hospital could potentially generate prohibited remuneration under the Anti-Kickback Statute and could lead to the imposition of

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bush vetoes stem-cell-funding bill

As promised, the President dropped S. 5 into the trash today.S. 5, the “Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007"President's veto messagePresident's comments about his vetoAs predicted, Bush made adult-stem-cell research the linchpin of his argument.Amazing. Or not.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Orleans grand jury moving in on Memorial Medical Center doctor

Disturbing news from CNN out of New Orleans:(CNN) -- Two nurses accused in the post-Katrina deaths of four patients at New Orleans' Memorial Medical Center have been offered immunity to testify before a special grand jury, sources close to the investigation tell CNN.Sources also told CNN the grand jury has been told as many as nine patients may have died after being administered what Louisiana's

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Pain treatment and the fine line between therapy and felony

In this morning's NY Times Magazine:When Is a Pain Doctor a Drug Pusher?By TINA ROSENBERGPublished: June 17, 2007Those treating pain make subjective choices about dosage. When a doctor gets it wrong, is it a mistake or a felony?For a variety of reasons, and for a variety of patients (not only patients who have chronic and severe pain) and their doctors, the article includes some important facts,

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ellen Goodman on stem cells

Ellen Goodman's column on the stem-cell breakthrough (a "breakthrough" if you're a mouse anyway) today in the Boston Globe hit just the right notes:Congress' bill to increase federal funding for stem-cell research (S. 5) is heading to the President, who -- if he keeps his promise, and who thinks he won't? -- veto the bill in order to protect the embryos that would otherwise be destroyed for their

Thursday, June 14, 2007

In health care, high cost not necessarily the same as high quality

Just an excellent article in today's NY Times about a study that shows significant disparities between health care charges and health care quality. This is a must read for teachers of health care law survey courses. Here's a bit from the early paragraphs:Stark evidence that high medical payments do not necessarily buy high-quality patient care is presented in a hospital study set for release

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

SCOTUS: Home health workers not entitled to overtime pay

The Supreme Court has held that home healthcare workers are not entitled to overtime pay (Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke).Here's AHLA's excellent media review of the Court's decision:In a unanimous decision in Long Island Care at Home, Ltd. v. Coke (pdf), the Supreme Court found that home healthcare workers employed by a private company or employer are not covered by laws on overtime pay

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Boarding" in EDs on the rise, according to survey

The number of uninsured (and underinsured) continues to rise. Where do these patients go for their health care? The most obvious answer is emergency departments, which are required by Medicare to screen for emergency conditions and to stabilize any they find, regardless of ability to pay. Even those without an emergency condition may get their sore throat and fever treated, or perhaps they will

Sunday, June 10, 2007

New dispute over frozen embryos

Just in time for Monday's 4th Bioethics class, here's a Dallas Morning News article on the dispute in Austin over the disposition of frozen embryos, involving a divorcing couple and their interrupted plans for an IVF pregnancy. (The article exemplifies one of my pet peeves about journalists' tangential (at best) understanding of legal process. In its last paragraph, the article states, "Arguments

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Health Lawyers News, June 8

From the folks at American Health Lawyers Association comes this week's issue of Health Lawyers News:Top Stories More Questions Surface About FDA's Response To Avandia RisksThe House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing June 6 to probe the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA's) role in evaluating the safety of the diabetes drug Avandia. Full Story House Passes Stem Cell

Thursday, June 7, 2007

On the day before the House passed the stem-cell funding bill (S. 5 passed in the Senate on April 11), which Pres. Bush has promised to veto, there was interesting, potentially revolutionary (but potentially not) news on the stem-cell science front: Skin cells from mice have been reprogrammed to act as stem cells. If that carries over to humans and the results are consistently reproducible, we're

Monday, June 4, 2007

TB quarantines are usually a local matter, rarely federal

That's what last night's AP story on Drew Speaker reported. True enough, and this case illustrates that local authority is still pretty much hit-or-miss. Maryland officials claimed not to have the authority to detain or quarantine him, but as the AP reports, many state and local jurisdictions do. Speaker was being kept in quarantine pursuant to a federal order -- the first in 44 years -- but that

Top SSRN downloads in public health law

Here are the top 10 SSRN downloads in public health law as of the end of May:Why Evolutionary Biology is (So Far) Irrelevant to LawU of Texas Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 89, U of Texas Law, Law & Econ Research Paper No. 81Brian Leiter and Michael Weisberg , University of Texas at Austin - School of Law & Department of Philosophy and University of Pennsylvania DatePosted: March 23, 2006Last

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Groopman on medical error: it's not all about systems

There's an interesting blog post by Rob Cunningham over at Health Affairs, ostensibly about Jerome Groopman's new book, How Doctors Think. Here's a sample:[T]he subtlety of the cognitive biases associated with diagnostic error in Groopman’s work and other studies suggests a daunting re-education challenge. Greater reciprocity in doctor-patient relations is a part of the answer that is consistent

Art Caplan on Dr. Death's release and legacy

I'm glad Art sees this guy the same way I do. Here are some nuggets:I believed Kevorkian was a very dangerous killer [in 1994], and I still believe it now. He helped dozens of depressed and disabled people die without trying very hard to convince them to live. Kevorkian believes in suicide on demand. He thinks that doctors have an obligation to help anyone who decides that their life is not worth

SSRN: Top health law downloads

End-of-month (or beginning-of-month) recap of the top 10 SSRN downloads in health law (look for public health law rankings tomorrow):Safe Storage Gun Laws: Accidental Deaths, Suicides, and CrimeYale Law School, Law & Economics Working Paper No. 237John R. Lott Jr. and John E. Whitley , State University of New York - Department of Economics and University of Adelaide - School of EconomicsDate

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Tubercular lawyer's world-wide travel raises public health questions

"Drew" Speaker, and every public-health office and official he encountered in the past couple of weeks, are now at the center of a serious controversy. The best single story that summarizes what we know so far appeared in this morning's New York Times. In addition to a full account of Speaker's travels and discussions with public-health officers, John Schwartz asks all the right questions:"Why

Dr. Death out of prison

I can't let the moment pass without acknowledging the release -- after 8 years in the Michigan prison system -- of Jack Kevorkian, a former pathologist who performed active euthanasia (a/k/a "murder") on a patient, filmed it, and allowed "60 Minutes" to air the event (AP, courtesy of Forbes). ("60 Minutes" will broadcast an interview with Mike Wallace this Sunday.)He's a ding-bat, to be sure.

Dutch reality tv program -- "Big Donor Show" -- a hoax

Wouldn't you know: One of the stories that lured me out of semi-retirement and back to HealthLawBlog -- the one about the Dutch tv network that was about to air a show featuring a terminally-ill patient interviewing three candidates in kidney failure to decide which one would get her kidney -- turns out to be a hoax by the network, designed to pressure government officials to reform

Friday, June 1, 2007

Health Lawyers News, June 1

From the folks at American Health Lawyers Association comes this week's issue of Health Lawyers News:Top StoriesCMS Implements New Marketing, Education Requirements For PFFS PlansAbby L. Block Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) Center for Beneficiary Choices sent a memo May 29 to Medicare Advantage (MA) Private fee-for-service (PFFS) plans reminding them that CMS