Top stories in health and medicine this morning, May 7, 2012

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1. Election May Not Help Curb Health Costs, Wonks Say. Whether Republicans or Democrats win control in the November elections, nothing will happen that will bring healthcare costs under control without a willingness to deal, healthcare policy experts agreed.

2. Cardiologists Urged to Lead in Smoking Cessation. Cardiologists as a group have largely ignored tobacco as a modifiable risk factor, concentrating instead on hypertension and dyslipidemia, a pattern Ottawa cardiologist Andrew Pipe, MD, calls “substandard care.”

3. Radiation May Not Be Needed for All Breast Ca. Radiofrequency ablation of the breast tumor excision site could substitute for radiation therapy in selected patients.

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  • davemills555

    “Direct marketing by the pharmaceutical industry to medical professionals is estimated at $20 to $57 billion each year, according to the Pew Health Group.”

    I say, don’t ban gifts to medical professionals. Tax them! Seems to me, gifts and favors to medical professionals, regardless of the source, is ordinary income and should be treated as such by the IRS. Is that so hard to understand? If a doctor does not report such “income”, they should be audited and, if found in violation, appropriately punished.

    • http://twitter.com/Hootsbudy John Ballard

      The so-called “health costs” include a lot more than those perks. I’ve been pasting this list everywhere I comment, hoping somebody will put it into a full-page national magazine or newspaper ad. 

      Here
      are a few more expenses, all of which have but one revenue stream — medical
      bills.

      § TV ads — some of the most expensive air time for some of the most costly
      productions in the ad industry.

      § Mammoth executive bonuses and golden parachutes for both health care
      administrators and insurance companies

      § Facilities with manicured landscaping, marble floors, lived plants, flat-screen
      TVs in every room, and concierge food service

      § Elaborate accounting arrangements by which large so-called “not 
      for profit” health care systems, often augmented by equally large, 
      embedded insurance companies (BCBS comes to mind) launder bills mostly 
      for the benefit of very profitable clinics, specialty practices and 
      device manufacturers.

      §”Free scooters” advertised for Medicare beneficiaries. Sometimes 
      comes with a free recipe book or lighted magnifier “just for making the 
      call!”

      §Catered meals and other treats for hungry office staffs, 
      compliments of your favorite drug or other supplies sales 
      representative.

      §And speaking of sales, don’t forget the sales bonuses for high 
      performers. The only people in America with no limit to how much they 
      might earn are not in medicine or other specialties, but in sales. 
      (Investment bankers are in the running, of course, but they are in fact 
      limited by how much capital and/or credit they have. Enterprising sales 
      people have only transportation, cosmetics and a few other expenses.

      §Don’t let’s leave out some red meat for the tort reform crowd — 
      legal and accounting services, and a grey area often called “defensive 
      medicine.”

      With the exception of a dedicated group of community volunteers who provide a few ancillary goods and services, every dime of all that has but two sources:

      1.) Medical bills
      2.) Government grants for teaching hospitals and research by NIH. (taxes)

      What am I missing?
      *
      *
      *
      *
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      * Yes, of course. I almost forgot — MEDICAL CARE!

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Don’t you love watching those ED ads where the whole landscape goes tumescent?
      That’s a really great special effect, huh?
      Makes you all horny just watching.

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