Weekend Update

  • Today’s Baltimore Sun features an interview with Shannon Brownlee, a journalist who last year authored the book “Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer.” Ms. Brownlee suggests that the root of the Nation’s health care problems is the fee for service reimbursement system. She also recommends the creation of an institute for the study of effective treatments and separating drug manufacturers from clinical research. She points to the recent Vytorin study which finds that this combination drug works no better than the generic version of Zocor which is one of its components.
  • In a post last week, I mentioned that Wal-mart is planning to get more involved with health care. The Wall Street Journal reports that the big news is that Wal-mart is considering entering the prescription benefit management business. CNNMoney.com reports that the announcement is not raising alarms in the PBM industry yet, but in an interesting twist, NCPA, the retail pharmacy trade association, is hopeful about the announcement.
  • According to an HHS press release, HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt announced at a meeting of the American Health Information Community (AHIC) on January 22, 2008, that LMI, teaming with the Brookings Institution, will lead the effort to design and establish the public-private partnership based in the private sector, known as AHIC 2.0. This award will consist of two phases with a full transition expected by late 2008. The Democratic leadership health information technology bills pending in Congress would block this initiative.
  • GAO released a government improper payments report for fiscal year 2007 which ended on September 30, 2007. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management estimates that FEHB Program overpayments totalled $169.7 million for an error rate of 0.5%.
  • The Centers for Disease Control released the latest National Immunization Survey which finds adult immunization rates unreasonably low. Time Magazine recommends that adults “check out the CDC’s immunization schedule, and the next time you visit your doctor, ask about routine vaccinations.”
  • The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association released a proposal for covering the uninsured, titled “The Pathway to Covering America.”
  • OPM published a proposed regulation governing the manner in which federal agencies can use employees’ Social Security numbers.