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The New Health Dialogue

A Blog from New America's Health Policy Program

HEALTH WONK REVIEW: All Hallows Eve Edition

Published:  October 27, 2010

It’s going to be a frightfully busy weekend here in the nation’s Capitol. The time for thrills, chills … and witches is right around the corner. And, no, we’re not talking about the mid-term elections next week -- but Halloween! So whether you’re out trick-or-treating, roaming the streets as a zombie (or faster as a marathon runner) or just keeping fear alive, we wouldn’t want you to be haunted by the ghosts of great posts gone by. So while you’re carving up your pumpkins, be sure to carve out some time to read this week’s ghoulish addition of Health Wonk Review. Boo!

Your neighborhood trick-or-treaters may think Skittles and Reeses Cups are a valid form of currency, but the Congressional Budget Office doesn’t score your Halloween haul.  Sadly after a certain age, a stash of M&Ms and Twizzlers just won't pay. So if candy won't pay for health reform, Maggie Mahar over at HealthBeat knows what will.

We know that the health care system can sometimes be harder to navigate than a corn maze under a full moon. As Jason Shafrin of the Healthcare Economist explains, misaligned incentives and complex payment policies can lead to double double toil and trouble for skilled nursing and general nursing facilities.

Writing over at the Colorado Health Insurance Insider, Louise Norris tells the wicked tale of a few Midwestern insurers that are being accused of casting spells again—this time, on consumers, hexing them with misinformation about private insurance policies.

Up in Michigan, Blue Cross wants to be the biggest pumpkin at the fair, but the judges in the Justice Department aren’t ready to pin on the blue ribbon just yet. Joe Paduda at Managed Care Matters elaborates on the complaints against the insurer and makes three main points: there is no free market in health insurance, “most favored nation” clauses are common, and payers and providers have a symbiotic relationship, the cornerstone of the United States health system.

A lot of seniors feared that health care reform would turn out to be a trick, but according to CEO of Avalere Health Dan Mendelson’s post on the Health Affairs Blog, for America’s low-income seniors enrolled in Part D, changes made by the law are actually a treat.

In Peggy Salvatore’s post for Healthcare Talent Transformation, unlike the legions of ghosts, mummies, vampires and Frankenstein’s, learning management systems to teach providers how to effectively use health information technology aren’t dead, they are just beginning their life as a tool to transform the health care system for the better.

In the spirit of health information technology, David Harlow of the Health Care Law Blog has seen into the future -- and it wasn’t through a crystal ball. He parked his broom in Beantown to attend the Connected Health Symposium, where he learned about chilling clinician-patient videoconferencing, eerie electronic health record e-mail alerts, accursed accountable care organizations, and petrifying provider incentives for HIT.

Crossing the bridge to Cambridge, David Williams of the Health Business Blog asks New England Health Care Institute’s Valerie Fleishman to explain the definition of comparative effectiveness research, describe CER provisions contained in the ARRA and ACA and discuss the challenges in disseminating new information to be used at the point of care. CER is all about finding what works and what doesn’t, using facts and evidence instead of tradition and divination.

Likewise, according to superstition, there are several ways to determine the identity of your future spouse on All Hallows Eve. An old Scottish tradition suggests that a long apple peel tossed over one’s shoulder will land in the shape of the first letter of your future spouse’s name, and, another tale says that if an unmarried woman sits in a darkened room and looks into a mirror on October 31st, the face of her future husband will appear in the mirror. Which strategy is more effective? Maybe it’s better to stick with evidence-based practices like dating instead of superstition.

Jaan Sidorov from the Disease Management Care Blog explains that with respect to the Attorney Generals’ suits against the Affordable Care Act, the lawyers are not poltergeists but simply friendly ghosts who are doing their jobs by interpreting the law in the way they were trained to do so.

If you’re looking for a spooky destination this weekend, Savannah, Georgia is listed as the nation’s most haunted location. But if you’re interested in Workers’ Compensation Premium Rate Rankings, check out Julie Ferguson’s post over at Workers’ Comp Insider.

Speaking of haunted destinations, Henry Stern of InsureBlog thinks that accountable care organizations could be a frightening place for our health care system to go. Like the haunted medical home, an ACO is a new delivery system model being tested through pilot programs and demonstration projects but we hope that the experiments don’t go horribly wrong like Frankenstein’s monster. If you’re not into paranormal activity, Jared Rhoades of the Lucidicus Project recommends you watch Bramwell, the drama.

Roy Poses of Health Care Renewal writes about ProPublica’s investigation into pharmaceutical marketers’ choices of “thought leaders.” Some people are a bit spooked.

This weekend, may your candy corn be sugary, your trick-or-treaters polite, your pumpkins unsmashed, your movies scary, your costumes creative, your cauldrons bubbling, your sanity restored and your houses haunted. And above all, have a Happy and Healthy Halloween!

We’ll leave you with this:

Where did the vampire open his savings account?

At a blood bank!

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