Reflex: November 14, 2011

Children 9 to 11 should have cholesterol tested, reports Rob Stein. “The recommendation comes from a 14-member expert panel convened by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which will publish the panel’s report Monday in the journal Pediatrics…But the new recommendation, based on an exhaustive review of the latest research, immediately came under criticism from some. Nortin M. Hadler, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said he had “grave reservations” about the new recommendation.” Aaron’s comment: I’m with Dr. Hadler. I want to read that report ASAP, because I’m having a hard time thinking this is a good idea.

Michael Biesecker reports on the substandard mental health conditions in N.C. Central Prison. A review of mental health conditions found many problems, including some that lead directly to the death of an inmate recently. Don’s commentA new health care facility is set to open soon at the prison, which offers the hope of some improvements. However, the full report shows profound problems with mental health delivery in the state’s most secure prison. There appear to be particularly bad problems with the administering and tracking of powerful anti-psychotic drugs.

Republican senators question value of Medicare innovation, reports Sam Baker (The Hill). “Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Thursday that they’re worried the [Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation] is a waste of money. ‘Reducing health care costs is vital to preserving the solvency of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, but we are concerned that the Administration’s current approach, operating within the fee-for-service system, will not achieve the spending reductions necessary to meet this goal.’ […] They also requested information about whether those programs have produced any savings yet and how HHS is evaluating their success or failure.” Austin’s comment: Most of the programs have not commenced yet, let alone been running long enough for evaluation results. It’s stunning that those that express concern about high and rising federal health care spending are not interested in funding the testing of new ideas on how they might be better controlled. I hope the senators can offer another way to study improving the efficiency of our health system, a way that can pass Congress and be signed into law. 

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