Things You Didn’t Know Were In The Health Bill, Part 3: Playgrounds?

Posted in Health Reform on April 5th, 2010 by Healthcare Outsider – Be the first to comment

When the health bill was in its early stages, the word “tea party” referred to a point of historical pride and not a crazed mob, and the public had only begun to froth at the mouth about reform, the Democrats were dealing with some bad press from what may or may not have been actual provisions in the health bill (see: death panels.) The majority party’s apparent solution to the negative image of health care legislation was to include a series of adorable little earmarks in the bill, a few of which we are only finding about now.

Hands down one of the strangest of these is a provision, as reported in the New York Times, to fund the building of bike paths, sidewalks, and playgrounds. The justification for these addenda is apparently that they are part of an initiative to focus more on illness prevention, and exercise is supposedly one of the best ways to achieve this. Don’t these politicians know that playgrounds are only used for bullying, late-night affairs, and narcotics deals?

-Michael B. Sauter

Pilots Will Soon Be Flying High… On Antidepressants

Posted in FDA on April 5th, 2010 by Healthcare Outsider – Be the first to comment

Reuters reports that the FDA plans on lifting an existing ban on airline pilots taking antidepressant medication while flying. It’s about time… whoever thought it would be a good idea to have a depressed person directly responsible for several hundred lives?

-Michael B. Sauter

Morning Rounds 04/05/10

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5th, 2010 by Healthcare Outsider – Be the first to comment
  • Thalidomide, a drug striking fear into the hearts of 1950s parents, may now be used to treat nosebleeds and cancer. [Reuters]
  • Despite healthcare reform’s emphasis on prevention, including a focus on fitness, diet and screenings, the Congressional Budget Office thinks spending money on playgrounds to improve fitness will still increase medical spending. [The New York Times]
  • On a related note, Americans eat 31 percent more packaged food than fresh food. [The New York Times]
  • On a further related note, are some health-conscious consumers getting the message? Anemic increases in revenue at companies like Campbell Soup and H.J. Heinz may encourage former competitors to team up to purchase ingredients at reduced rates. [The Wall Street Journal]
  • While new corporate governance outlined in Pharma Giant Merck’s settlment requires the company to do what it should have been doing all along, some analysts argue that the changes don’t go far enough to protect consumers. [Dealbook]
  • XMRV, a recently identified virus transmitted in a similar manner to HIV, has been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, though it does not appear to cause symptoms in everyone. Public-health officials estimate that up to 10 million people in the US could be infected. [The Wall Street Jounral]


Medical Community Doesn’t Get A Taste Of Its Own Medicine

Posted in CDC, Doctors, Hospitals on April 2nd, 2010 by Healthcare Outsider – Be the first to comment

Has anyone ever given you some advice they themselves would never take? Did your parents ever tell you to “grow up” despite the fact the they often acted like children? Has your psychiatrist ever exhibited the tics and neuroses of a truly crazy person? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be able to grasp the stunning irony of the recent CDC morbidity and mortality data which suggests that medical professionals were one of the least-vaccinated  groups in america for H1N1, as well as seasonal flu.

The medical community’s apparent reluctance to get the shot bolsters the resolve of the already-paranoid tea partyers, conspiracy theorists, and pregnant single mothers who believe the inoculation is part of a government plot to take our children and turn our minds to Jell-o. When you think about it, drug-induced complacency might explain how the administration managed to get the health care bill through without starting a civil war.

-Michael B. Sauter

Drugs Being Sold Under The Table, Not Over-The-Counter

Posted in FDA, Pharma on April 2nd, 2010 by Healthcare Outsider – Be the first to comment

One of the more interesting and bizarre crimes in recent memory occurred last month when several apparently professional thieves broke into the Eli Lilly warehouse (by cutting a hole in the ceiling!) and stole millions worth of prescription drugs (mostly antidepressants.) Since the most chemically imbalanced person in the world wouldn’t need this much Prozac, officials suspect that a sizable portion of the stolen stock will end up on the black market.

The New York Times reports that while some percentage of these pills will likely be sold for recreational use, there is evidence to suggest that the Eli Lilly drugs are currently being repackaged (cut, in some cases, with other drugs, or reduced in dosage) and resold in legitimate venues, usually without the knowledge of the pharmacy. While the warehouse theft was the first such incident to make big news in recent memory, the process of illegally re-marketing stolen drugs has been going on for years. These cases are often only discovered when patients report having had strange reactions to drugs they’ve been on for months, and further investigation identifies some additional chemical in the pills, or that they haven’t been stored in the proper conditions, which can alter composition and effects.

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Morning Rounds 04/02/10

Posted in Uncategorized on April 2nd, 2010 by Healthcare Outsider – Be the first to comment
  • Good news! You might not be vacinnated, but not to worry, the rate of H1N1 vaccination coverage among healthcare workers is still below half, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention []
  • In using the state’s power to disapprove insurance rate increases for the first time (which has been on the books since 1977), Mass. State Insurance Commissioner denied 235 of 274 proposed rate increases by insurance companies.  Detractors say, “j’accuse motivation politique!” [The New York Times]
  • On a related noted, Main state court will soon rule on a decision by the state’s Superintendent of Insurance denying an insurance company’s request for a premium increase, citing tough economic times.  [The Wall Street Journal]
  • Good weekend reading: Care to read a good “whodunit?”  Yesterday The New York Times asked, “Are you buying Illegal Drugs?”  Apparently, Eli Lilly and other Pharmaceutical companies have failed to use “track-and-trace” technology for prescription drug bottles, which may increase theft and exposes patients to drugs that may be improperly stored or altered in the black market. [The New York Times]


After Watching Too Much “House,” Doctors Misbehave

Posted in Current Affairs, Doctors, Health Reform, Hospitals on April 1st, 2010 by Healthcare Outsider – 1 Comment

The numbers are in, and it looks like there’s going to be even more coal in the stockings of physicians come Christmas. According to, the Federation of State Medical Boards reports disciplinary action against doctors is up 6% from last year to over 5,700 total cases nationwide. This prompts the question: why this sudden trend? read more »

Athletes And Doctors Try To Stop Kids From Exercising

Posted in Pediatrics on April 1st, 2010 by Healthcare Outsider – Be the first to comment

A group of physicians and athletes have begun a public campaign intended to stem the growing tide of adolescent injuries sustained from sports.  The Wall Street Journal reports the program, called STOP (Sports Trauma and Overuse Protection) cites the increasing number of kids enrolled in competitive sports programs and a lack of proper treatment of these as the cause of an increasing number of chronic injuries.

Orthopedists argue that sustained, high-intensity activity is simply too much for their small frames to endure. The minor sports celebs and orthopedists suggest that one of the major causes of these issues is specialized activity, which require one or two repeated motions or points of contact. Young pitchers at a competitive level, for example, are much more likely to sustain a chronic injury than, say, a soccer player.
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Insurers Decide, Out Of The Kindness Of Their Hearts, To Start Covering Children With Pre-existing Conditions

Posted in Health Insurance, Health Reform, Pediatrics on April 1st, 2010 by Healthcare Outsider – 1 Comment

The New York Times reports that America’s health insurance industry has finally agreed to cover children with pre-existing conditions without dropping them from their families’ plans or forcing them out of coverage with absurd rate hikes. Their sudden divergence from the status quo can only be attributed to the fact that the industry must really, really love children, and have finally recognized what they’ve been doing wrong all these years.

The policy shift certainly couldn’t have anything to do with the new provision in the health care bill that “requires insurance companies to cover children with preexisting conditions.” This seems to be a coincidence at best. Ignore the cynics who scoff that this sudden change of heart – a decision to make the obvious moral choice – would of course only come if the government literally forced them to do it by threatening legal action. These bitter people are missing an important point – these companies truly love children, unconditionally (get it?)

In a statement to the press, Karen Ignagni (President of AHIP) happily broke the news of the industry’s compliance with the new measure in the bill. Ignagni also made a point of clarifying that no, their legal teams haven’t been missing for days because they’re holed up in their offices trying to find every possible loophole they can in order to stop covering children again. She then laughed eerily, turned into a bat, and flew away.

-Michael B. Sauter

Morning Rounds 04/01/10

Posted in Uncategorized on April 1st, 2010 by Healthcare Outsider – Be the first to comment
  • Despite the unavoidable loss of Lipitor, the world’s number one selling drug, Pfizer’s CEO believes that the company’s success is inevitable.  His strategy for success includes taking diversification seriously . . . “9 semi-autonomous business units meant to diversify the company’s products,” seriously. Analysts say, best of luck. [New York Times]
  • According to some, the Administration’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, included in health care reform legislation and intended to control excessive spending, is “the largest yielding of sovereignty from the Congress [to the Executive branch] since the creation of the Federal Reserve.” Boo! [Wall Street Journal]
  • Following the careful study and redesign of hotdogs, nervous parents, famous athletes, and even orthopedists, are calling for tighter regulation of after-school sports.  The proposal: all children must wear helmets to bed. [Wall Street Journal]
  • Some charge that Eli Lilly, Merck, GlaxoSmithKiline and Pfizer’s  efforts to improve the transparency of their funding for clinical trials through new online searchable databases is as clear as Lehman’s Repo 105 program. [New York Times]