I've always maintained that patients will make or break health reform plans.

And with no shortage of advocacy groups wanting a seat at the health reform table, the one that connects best with the public will have the most influence.

Doctors, despite being under continual criticism from progressive and health policy circles, still have the confidence of most patients.

According to a recent poll, despite acknowledging ...

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What's unique to the United States that's rare in the rest of the developed world?

According to respected economist Uwe Reinhardt, Americans want to have their cake and eat it too. This is why universal coverage is such a contentious issue.

Dr. Reinhardt explains the principle of social solidarity, which means that "health care should be financed by individuals on the basis of their ability to ...

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How do we control health spending?

Most strategies boil down to eventually restricting care, for instance, not paying for treatments that haven't been shown to work on a macroeconomic level. That may make sense when you're talking numbers and statistics, but there will be real lives at stake when reform takes hold.

Economist Arnold Kling understands what must be done, but imagines a scenario where his ...

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Physician-writer Rahul Parikh's take on the economy is an entertaining one.

What if the economy was the patient, and how is it reacting to interventions meant to improve its prognosis?

"Shortly after the New Year, the doctors had a long discussion," Dr. Parikh writes. "Some argued that that a Prescription for a broad-spectrum stimulus was called for. Others felt that a more careful approach, targeting ...

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We've been hearing for years that nurses are in short supply.

But the economy has put a damper on that notion. Contrary to that popular belief, nurses looking for a job are having a hard time finding work. The recession has forced nurses close to retirement to keep on working, and part-timers looking for more work.

At one hospital near Washington DC, there were precisely ...

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How do Americans ration health care?

It's by cost, as well as the number of uninsured.

Ezra Klein actually has a pretty balanced take on health care rationing issue. He says that what's happening Stateside is equally as dismal as the waiting times both in Canada and the UK, calling each system opposite ends of "awful extremes."

The ACP's Bob Doherty picks up on that, ...

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Hospital re-admissions are hitting Medicare patients particularly hard.

Otherwise known as "bouncebacks," MedPage Today reports on a recent NEJM study showing that, during a 15-month period, 20 percent of hospitalized Medicare patients were re-admitted with 30 days of discharge.

When you consider how few outpatient doctors accept Medicare, compounded by the appointment shortage that many primary care physicians face, it's no wonder that these elderly patients who ...

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Apparently, 9 patients in Texas, the majority of whom had mental health issues, visited the emergency department nearly 3,000 times during the past 6 years.

Many of those visits were due to non-emergency causes, and it is speculated that these patients' mental health history played a role, as this physician comments, "They have a variety of complaints, [and] a lot of anxiety manifests as chest pain."

The proposed ...

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Almost 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have trouble finding a new primary care doctor.

Expect that number to rise dramatically in the near future, as the number of Medicare beneficiaries balloons, and the amount of primary care physicians plummets.

The whole scenario is a perfect example of how poor physician access makes medical coverage practically worthless.

Contrary to popular belief, Medicare's paperwork requirements and ...

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One of the most contentious health reform issues going forward is the possible inclusion of a public plan as one of the health insurance options patients can choose.

Progressives see this as a vital part of any reform initiative, but those on the right see it as a "backdoor" to a government-run, single-payer system.

I won't hash out all the details here, instead, I'll leave it to ...

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