Reflex: August 19, 2011

Let’s be honest, “Read and React” was less than inspired. So, I’ve renamed these mid-morning round-ups “Reflex,” our brief responses to some health-related items in the news. I know, maybe “Reflexes” is more grammatically consistent, but it doesn’t seem right to me. Hey, it beats “Lipids.”

By the way, if you see things in the news you want us to react to, send them to us (reach us by clicking on the mail icons in the left-hand sidebar).

Medicaid rebates offset drug price hikes: Modern Healthcare reports that Medicaid gets such high rebates from drug manufacturers that they offset the increase in drug prices. Austin’s Comment: A fundamental truth about pharmaceutical pricing in the US is that Medicaid and the VA get dramatically lower net prices than Medicare or other commercial market plans. Kevin Outterson and I have both written about what we might do about that, and what it would mean if we did.

AMA  pushes doc fix and malpractice reform: Inside Health Policy reports that the AMA is pressing Congress to consider these two issues. Austin’s Comment: Malpractice reform has great symbolic, political, moral, and morale value, but is not a tremendous source of savings. Aaron has also wondered about the wisdom of AMA’s approach to the doc fix in a climate of fiscal belt tightening. 

Study finds sniffer dogs can smell out lung cancer, reports Kate Kelland of Reuters. Austin’s Comment: I’m sorry, but this is just plain cool. I look forward to comparative effectiveness research involving this diagnostic approach.

Ezra Klein’s Wonkbook preamble:  “Congress should pass legislation greatly increasing support for the economy now and reducing the deficit by about $4 trillion over the next 10 years […]. It’s not rocket science, and it shouldn’t be partisan.” Don’s Comment: In my new book Balancing the Budget is a Progressive Priority, I concur and provide some ways forward. The heart of an agreement must focus on health care, the largest driver of long term deficits. 

Hat tip: Igor Volsky.

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