Weekend Update

  • It’s a Senate tradition to annually read George Washington’s farewell address. The 2008 reading will take place tomorrow. We all should take the time to read it over.
  • Earlier this month, we learned that the federal court in Boston wisely had rejected the proposed First Databank average wholesale price settlement at the January 22 fairness hearing. The judge allowed the parties two weeks to offer a revised settlement agreement. I have found no evidence that a revised settlement agreement has been submitted to the court.
  • We also learned about a week ago that the New York attorney general warned United Healthcare of his intent to file a lawsuit against UHC and its Ingenix subsidiary over the usual reasonable and customary price database that many insurers use to price out-of-network claims. No lawsuit has been filed yet. Bloomberg reports that “UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest U.S. health insurer, is poised to reach its forecasts of 13 percent profit growth this year and next, even after being accused of cheating customers by New York’s attorney general.”
  • The Cleveland Clinic announced last week an electronic health records project with Google Health, which is similar to Microsoft’s Health Vault pilot. The health care providers evidently obtain HIPAA compliant authorizations from the participating patients so that Google and Microsoft can avoid HIPAA business associate coverage. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports today that privacy concerns are leading many to avoid DNA tests. A genetic non-discrimination law has been pending Senate floor action in Congress for months.
  • The New York Times also included an interesting article on parent attitudes toward the Gardasil vaccine.