Jun 20, 2010

News Round-Up & On Defending the Money

Here is the weekly round-up of some interesting articles that you may have missed:
  • Fortune: 5 Painful Healthcare Lessons from Massachusetts (HERE). An interesting perspective on the drivers of escalating healthcare costs in Massachusetts.  it takes on the less than usual suspects rather than the standard fee-for-service-is-bad argument.
  • Boston Globe: Dangerous to our health (HERE). This very un-Globe-like Op-Ed draws attention to the current nominee for the head of CMS and his apparent romance with the UK's National Health System. Certainly a provocative piece.
  • Boston Globe: Nominee’s views on British system are irrelevant (HERE). And like clockwork, Arnold Relman a repeat Globe guest comes to the rescue of Berwick. Relman, the former editor of the New England Journal, is now most well-known for his activism in the fight to sever all physician-industry relationships (here and here) and to move to a single-payer not-for-profit healthcare system,
  • WSJ Health Blog: House Blocks Medicare Pay Cuts to Docs (Senate, Not So Much) (HERE). The House passed a bill that would get rid of the current SGR formula, which has been a continual thorn in the side of politicians and physicians. Three "doc fixes" have been required in 2010 alone.
  • NY Times: What Broke My Father's Heart (HERE). An interesting take on the ills of physician incentives. The account paints the picture of greedy (implied) physicians who should have known better (i.e., had a crystal ball) than to extend someone's life. Fee-for-service made them do it.
  • Globe: To Stop Overuse of CT Scans, Consistent Rules Are Needed (HERE).  This one is simple -- The Boston Globe Editorial Board are better doctors than doctors.
  • Merrill Goozner: On the Lightness of Comparative Effectiveness Research (HERE). Nice example of how off-label promotion can be rationalized when it's not done by an insurer, in this case a public insurer, Medicare.

On Defending the Money

Physicians, take it from us (the industry side of healthcare), you'll never win with the "we don't make that much money, really we don't" argument. 

More and more articles that focus on how much physicians in the US earn continue to appear across the old and new media spheres. This week, "Doctors make far less money than you think", which laid out the usual arguments -- we don't make that much and we have big loans, was one of the top blog posts from the widely read medical blog Kevin MD

Please take some of the pages from our play-book and burn them. The pharmaceutical and medical device companies have been using this argument in one form or another, usually it sounds like this, "we don't make that much after you factor in all of our research costs", for long enough to know that it doesn't work.

When we claim that our revenue is used to develop new life-saving medicines, ears become deaf and minds become stunted. The only faculty that seems to remain intact is vision. Everyones' eyes continue to work as they register dollar signs and zeros in our earnings reports. We are living proof that when you attempt to avoid the ire of politicians and the general public by downplaying your earnings you won't get too far. In fact, if you're in that court room pleading that case, you've already lost!