Health Policy Program

Archives: Health Policy Program Articles and Op-Eds

Tamiflu: Myth and Misconception

  • By
  • Shannon Brownlee,
  • New America Foundation
  • and Jeanne Lenzer
February 19, 2013 |

Flu season is still here, and Hoffman-LaRoche, the manufacturer of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu (oseltamivir) are still running an ad intended to market directly to patients. "Sometimes what we suffer from is bigger than we think. The flu is a big deal, so don't treat it like a little cold. Treat it with Tamiflu." If you didn't get the message from these ads, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also issued public service announcements urging people to get Tamiflu at the first sign of a sniffle or sneeze.

Should Jerry Brown Just Ignore His Cancer?

  • By
  • Shannon Brownlee,
  • New America Foundation
January 2, 2013 |

As California’s oldest governor, Jerry Brown has gone out of his way to demonstrate his vigorous good health, jogging around the Capitol and even challenging reporters to pull-up contests—which he won. Now that he’s been diagnosed with prostate cancer and begun radiation therapy, some news outlets seem to be experiencing a bit of schadenfreude, gleefully calling the 74-year-old governor’s diagnosis a “blow to his healthy image.”

What 'Health Care Costs' Really Means

  • By
  • Shannon Brownlee,
  • Joe Colucci,
  • New America Foundation
December 22, 2012 |

No fiscal policy event is complete without the plaintive cry that health care costs are out of control. The phrase has become a form of rhetorical boilerplate that is often used to imply that policy makers are helpless in the face of market forces, and that the only way to reduce "costs" is either cutting benefits or rationing.

Do Prestigious Residencies Mean Better Doctors?

  • By
  • Shannon Brownlee,
  • Joe Colucci,
  • New America Foundation
November 13, 2012 |

Each fall, medical students in their fourth and final year select a medical specialty and apply to residency programs. Residency, which lasts anywhere from three to eight years, is run by teaching hospitals. It's when newly minted MDs learn the hands-on, practical skills of doctoring -- how to make diagnoses, perform surgeries, order and interpret tests, etc. They also learn how to deal with patients and families, and work with other caregivers.

The Cost of Assuming Doctors Know Best

  • By
  • Joe Colucci,
  • Shannon Brownlee,
  • New America Foundation
September 28, 2012 |

In most industries, quality-improving and cost-cutting innovations don't sit around for years while people keep muddling through with old technology. When an innovation is ready for widespread use, it disrupts the market, whether the market wants it or not. In the process, some entrepreneur usually makes a killing.

When Patients — Not Doctors — Make Medical Mistakes

  • By
  • Shannon Brownlee,
  • New America Foundation
September 10, 2012 |

For most patients in the real world, getting good medical care involves complicated decisions. It’s not as simple as what often gets shown on TV, where a patient goes in, the doctor figures out what’s wrong, and then he performs some lifesaving surgery. Most of modern medicine, especially for the elderly, is a lot messier — usually there’s not “right” answer, no perfect treatment. And a patient needs to be an active participant in making choices in treatment.

A Footnote in History: Why the Obamacare Ruling May Not Matter

  • By
  • Leif Wellington Haase,
  • New America Foundation
July 19, 2012 |

The Supreme Court is poised next week to rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as "Obamacare." Assuming it strikes down the individual mandate -- a requirement that everyone purchase qualified insurance coverage -- rather than upending the Act as a whole, the impact on health reform is likely to be modest, contrary to what many believe.
 

12 Ways Health Care Could Be Improved If the House Wanted to Hold More Than Symbolic Votes

  • By
  • Shannon Brownlee,
  • Joe Colucci,
  • New America Foundation
July 12, 2012 |
It was Groundhog Day at the House of Representatives Wednesday as it once again voted to repeal Obamacare. All told, House Republicans have voted to repeal, defund or otherwise invalidate part of the Affordable Care Act between 31 and 33 times, depending on how you count.

Why the 'Best' Hospitals Might Also Be the Most Dangerous

  • By
  • Shannon Brownlee,
  • New America Foundation
July 11, 2012 |

Quick, name America’s three best hospitals. Many people would probably identify places like the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, and the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., which usually top the list in U.S. News & World Report‘s annual “Best Hospitals Guide.” But are they really the best?

Mass. Has Too Many Hospitals for Its Own Good

  • By
  • Shannon Brownlee,
  • New America Foundation
June 15, 2012 |
Take a walk down practically any major thoroughfare in the city of Boston, and you’ll be hard pressed to go more than a few blocks without running into a hospital. The cities of Cambridge and Boston have nine hospitals and medical centers between them, and a whopping two dozen hospitals are packed into the greater Boston metropolitan area.
 
Knowing that state-of-the-art medical help is always close at hand is probably a comforting feeling. But it shouldn’t be.
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