CBO: CBO on Health Spending

May 30, 2010

Douglas W. Elmendorf. Health Costs and the Federal Budget. Presentation to the Institute of Medicine, May 26, 2010. [Full Text (pdf)]

“Rising health costs will put tremendous pressure on the federal budget during the next few decades and beyond. In CBO’s judgment, the health legislation enacted earlier this year does not substantially diminish that pressure….

“Putting the federal budget on a sustainable path would almost certainly require a significant reduction in the growth of federal health spending relative to current law (including this year’s health legislation).


Obesity and Mortgage Delinquencies |Katherine Guthrie, Jan Sokolowsky: SSRN

May 29, 2010

Guthrie, Katherine and Sokolowsky, Jan, Obesity and Mortgage Delinquencies (May 28, 2010). Available at SSRN.

We show that obesity is an economically significant predictor of mortgage delinquencies at the county level. In practice, however, loan contracts do not incorporate easily verifiable health risk factors such as obesity. The discrepancy between theory and practice suggests the existence of substantial cross-subsidization and misallocation of funds in the loan market. The potential for business opportunities and policy implications warrants further investigation of our results with more detailed, albeit costly data. Download at SSRN


Refusing the Entitlement Lollipop | Michael Gerson: RealClearPolitics

May 28, 2010

In closing the deal on health care reform, Democratic leaders assured wavering legislators that the plan would grow more popular with time as its benefits became clear. “We have to pass the bill,” argued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, so that the public “can find out what is in it.” Presidential adviser David Axelrod predicted that Republicans would pay a political price for their opposition. “Let’s have that fight,” he said. “Make my day.” Consistent with this belief, the administration recently has been rolling out attractive elements of the law, including coverage for dependents up to age 26.

But after a brief bump, support for Democratic health reform has declined. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 63 percent of voters support repeal of the law, the highest level since passage. A Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll shows erosion in the intensity of support. Last month, 23 percent of Americans held “very favorable” views of the law. This month, that figure is 14 percent, with most of the falloff coming among Democrats (Republicans and independents already being skeptical). More at RealClearPolitics


IPSA Call for Comparative Health Policy Papers

May 25, 2010

The North American Regional Meeting of IPSA, Section RC 25, Comparative Health Policy, will be held at the Global Health Resource Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland on October 21-22, 2010. The theme of the meeting is : “Improving Access and Relating Access to Outcomes within National Health Systems.”

Abstracts for presentations of papers should be sent to Professor Emeritus Howard A. Palley by June 15 at hpalley@ssw.umaryland.edu.  For accepted abstracts, final papers and power points for presentation at the meeting should be submitted to Professor Palley by August 15.


Modern Healthcare | 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare

May 25, 2010

Voting is now under way for Modern Healthcare‘s ninth annual ranking of the 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare. Readers can vote for their top 10 nominees through June 25. Vote here.


Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health | Book Review: Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law

May 24, 2010

World Health Organization Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2008. 246 pp. $40.00 paper, or free here (html). Reviewed by Rongal D. Nikora and Deborah R. McFarlane in Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 35(3): 438-442 (2010); DOI:10.1215/03616878-2010-010 [PDF]

The publication of The Condition of the Working Class in England in
1844, detailing the negative impact that deplorable working and living conditions can have on population health, individual behaviors, and mortality, is one of the earliest academic treatments of the social determinants of health. After nearly two centuries, much of what Friedrich Engels captured in his exposition of what England’s working class faced in the early nineteenth century — rampant alcoholism, injuries, morbidity, and early death — remains painfully familiar for far too many people. More at Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, p.438


Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why | Book Review: Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law

May 24, 2010

Frank R. Baumgartner, Jeffery M. Berry, Marie Hojnacki, David C. Kimball, and Beth L. Leech. Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. 341 pp. $66.00 cloth; $24.00 paper. Reviewed by David Randall in Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 35(3): 433-438 (2010); DOI:10.1215/03616878-2010-009 [PDF] [References]

Who wins? Who loses? These questions have always been relevant to those who lobby in Washington, and Baumgartner et al. provide a carefully designed empirical study of how and why lobbying drives policy changes. Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why represents a significant contribution to the often publicly misunderstood world of lobbying in Washington, D.C., and provides a practical view of the largest segment of professional advocacy: the health care industry. Anyone with an interest in understanding the nuances of how and why decisions are made in Congress and the administration will find Lobbying and Policy Change an invaluable resource. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this text is that it both questions many of the long-held assumptions about moneyed interests in Washington and gives the reader an array of new tools to assess why and how lobbying affects policy change. More at Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law


Taming the Beloved Beast: How Medical Technology Costs Are Destroying Our Health Care System | Daniel Callahan | Book Review: Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law — Table of Contents (June 2010, 35 [3])

May 24, 2010

Daniel Callahan. Taming the Beloved Beast: How Medical Technology Costs Are Destroying Our Health Care System. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009. 288 pp. $29.95 cloth. Reviewed by Rick Mathis in Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 35(3): 430-432 (2010); DOI:10.1215/03616878-2010-008 [PDF] [References]

Ernest Becker won critical acclaim and a Pulitzer Prize in 1974 for a book that examines how elements of human civilization keep us from thinking about the inevitability of death. Daniel Callahan could easily have begun his most recent book with a nod toward Becker’s The Denial of Death. Callahan tackles one of the most pressing issues within health reform today; namely, the significant portion of rapidly increasing health care costs attributable to new medical technologies. One reason that we in the United States are reluctant to curb continued technological growth regardless of the cost is the belief that technology can somehow conquer old age and death. The hope for seemingly unending medical progress keeps us from accepting any limits to such growth. More at Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law


Books Received | Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law

May 24, 2010

Books Received. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 35(3): 443-444 (2010); DOI:10.1215/03616878-35-3-443 [PDF]


The Samaritan’s Dilemma: Should Government Help Your Neighbor? | Deborah Stone | Reviewed in Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law — Table of Contents (June 2010, 35 [3])

May 24, 2010

Deborah Stone. The Samaritan’s Dilemma: Should Government Help Your Neighbor? New York: Nations Books, 2008. 327 pp. $25.95 cloth. Reviewed by Cynthia Massie Mara in Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 35(3): 425-429 (2010); DOI:10.1215/03616878-2010-007 [PDF] [References]

In The Samaritan’s Dilemma: Should Government Help Your Neighbor? Deborah Stone builds on her argument and theory formulation in Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making. In the earlier book, her intent is to shape an approach to political analysis based on a positive view of politics and community. In both works she maintains that not all methods of policy making mesh equally well with democracy. Her pen is now aimed at the three-decade-old policy thinking that embraces economics, rational analysis, and determinative rules based on a model of society as a market rather than a political community and of human nature as (almost) purely self-interested. Late in the 1970s, Stone writes, “public policy was overtaken by economists. . . . Political science, imitating economics, was overtaken by rational-choice theorists.” Public philosophy, which provides a basic framework for political decisions, changed from help-when-help-is-needed to help-is-harmful. This economics-based approach, Stone asserts, fosters distrust of politics and government, diminishes civic participation,and erodes democracy. More at Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law


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