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Are We Missing Gawande's Point?
Philip Betbeze, Senior Editor-Leadership

If you've not heard the buzz surrounding Atul Gawande's recent New Yorker article, "The Cost Conundrum," you've either been out of the country for a couple of months or you've been following the Michael Jackson death soap opera a little too closely. The article deserves the acclaim and publicity it's generated. But so what? We've known about vast waste in healthcare spending for more than 20 years now. When are we going to actually do something about it?
[Read More]
  July 31, 2009

Editor's Picks
CBO Says Implementing Medicare Advisory Council Could Save Money, But Not as Much as Hoped
My colleague Janice Simmons has an interesting story here that deals with President Obama's idea to give an Independent Medicare Advisory Council the power to control Medicare costs. Turns out the CBO estimates the idea would only save about $2 billion over 10 years. That's pretty much chump change in the world of healthcare costs. Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag says the point of the proposal was never to generate savings over the next decade, but rather to provide a mechanism for improving quality of care for beneficiaries and reducing costs over the long term. [Read More]
Insurers and Employers: Bend Your Own Cost Curve
Incisive commentary here by my colleague Rick Johnson, who argues that anyone hoping that the health reform debate will meaningfully address cost inflation may be counting on a false hope. Instead, he remembers that last year at this time, the big topic was medical tourism, a less regulatory-based attempt to bend healthcare's cost curve. He makes the valid argument that insurers and employers should not count on the eventually watered-down version of health reform, assuming whatever plan actually becomes law will help change the direction of healthcare's cost curve. [Read More]
Half of ED Nurses Report Assaults at Work
My colleague John Commins reports that one in four of the more than 3,000 nurses surveyed in a recent study said they had been the victim of assault more than 20 times in the past three years, and one in five nurses have been verbally abused more than 200 times during the same period. You expect a high number from such surveys, given the clientele ER nurses are forced to work with, but even with those expectations, these numbers are staggering. What can leaders do to reduce the occupational risk? The survey has some ideas. [Read More]
Massachusetts legislators push new benefits in the face of huge current costs
Legislators in Massachusetts have submitted more than 70 bills that would mandate a slew of new insurance benefits that payers would be required to cover for patients. One proposal would require insurers to cover the full cost of hearing aids for children. Another would require them to pay for treatments to fix cleft palates. Still another would mandate payment for wigs after hair loss from cancer and other illnesses. Forgive me if I sound cruel, but if Massachusetts, already beset by huge cost overruns under its universal healthcare program, is supposed to be a model for healthcare reform, this kind of thing has got to stop. [Read More]

This Week's Headlines
Grady to repay Georgia $20 million in Medicaid overpayments
Atlanta Journal-Constitution - July 29, 2009
Health co-ops pushed as an alternative to federal insurance
Los Angeles Times - July 29, 2009
Jury rules in favor of hospital that deported patient
Associated Press - July 28, 2009
Cutting repeat hospital trips: A simple idea, but hard to pull off
Wall Street Journal - July 28, 2009
Who Will be the Winners and Losers in Health Reform?
Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media - July 27, 2009
H1N1 flu could strike 40% of Americans within 2 years
Associated Press/Detroit Free Press - July 27, 2009

Webcasts/Audio conferences
Advanced Service Line Marketing: New Orthopedics Growth Strategies (August 18)
Service Line Strategies Workshop 2009: Spine Care (On Demand)

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From HealthLeaders Magazine
Time For 'Dr. Next'?

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Generation X and its life-balancing, tech-oriented, team-playing doctors is taking over. But what kind of healthcare will they give us? [Read More]
Service Line Management
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View from the Top

Silver Lining for Healthcare: Construction Costs are Sliding Even though the economy has forced many hospitals and health systems to delay or cancel capital projects, there is still a bright spot on the horizon. If hospitals and health systems can get the necessary funds to start projects, then they will be able to get them constructed with prices more favorable than in the past two years. Even projects currently under way may have a chance to realize great savings over earlier cost projections. [Read More]
Audio Feature

Strategic Alignment: Physician alignment has become a hated buzz phrase with wildly different definitions, depending on whom you talk to. This week, I speak with Nick Sears, MD, chief medical officer for MedAssets, about physician alignment in the hospital setting. We delve into his personal experience with physician alignment strategies, and the latest thinking behind why such projects so often fail to generate savings and better relationships between management and physicians. [Listen Now]
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