Still more AAFP – Coca-Cola fallout

Posted in Health Care Policy with tags , , , on November 11, 2009 by drbobbs

Coke2There is now a Facebook page entitled End the AAFP and Coca Cola Collaboration.

From the Associated Press: Family doctors group loses members over Coke deal.

And there’s an online petition: Family Doctors Against the AAFP-Coca-Cola Partnership.

Could failing to get health insurance make you a prisoner?

Posted in Health Care Policy, Medicolegal with tags , , on November 7, 2009 by drbobbs

ThePrisonerAccording to Michigan Republican Representative David Camp, the answer is yes:

When confronted with this same issue during its consideration of a similar individual mandate tax, the Senate Finance Committee worked on a bipartisan basis to include language in its bill that shielded Americans from civil and criminal penalties. The Pelosi bill, however, contains no similar language protecting American citizens from civil and criminal tax penalties that could include a $250,000 fine and five years in jail.

“The Senate Finance Committee had the good sense to eliminate the extreme penalty of incarceration. Speaker Pelosi’s decision to leave in the jail time provision is a threat to every family who cannot afford the $15,000 premium her plan creates.

Red flag rules implementation delayed again…again

Posted in Health Care Policy with tags on November 7, 2009 by drbobbs

RedFlag2This time it’s pushed back to 1 June 2010.

Here’s that AAFP Red Flag one-pager link again.

The Pause That Refreshes

Posted in Economics of Health Care, Health Care Policy with tags , , , on November 3, 2009 by drbobbs

HaveACokeThe American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) continues to be the target of criticism in both the blogosphere and conventional media outlets for its partnership with the Coca-Cola company.

From The Kansas City Star:

[T]he American Academy of Family Physicians…represents about 94,000 doctors who struggle to get their patients to shed excess pounds.

From across the room, Coca-Cola bats its eyelashes. The queen of carbonated drinks is fending off attacks that its sugar-sweetened products promote obesity and should be taxed.

The two organizations last month sealed a deal that had Coca-Cola giving the academy a grant in the mid six figures to come up with health messages for the public about beverages and sweeteners.

The academy and Coca-Cola said the information would be based on objective science.

But doctors, nutrition experts and consumer advocates charge that Coca-Cola is proffering the money just to improve its reputation and possibly to buy the academy’s silence.

In various toasts to our health, bedfellows of the strangest kind are everywhere and go back decades. The study of alcoholism owes much to the distilled-spirits industry, which teamed with Cornell University and the National Institute of Health on research as early as the 1940s.

Now an increasingly skeptical and health-conscious public, with so much information at its fingertips, isn’t sure whose advice to trust, said Shelly Rodgers, a University of Missouri researcher of strategic communications: “Consumers instantly see the conflict and go, ‘What? What?’ ”

From American Medical News:

The academy squandered its credibility by “taking tainted Coke cash,” said a statement from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group strongly critical of the food industry. In a letter to Dr. Henley, the group called on the academy to reject the deal.

Henry Blackburn, MD, who was one of 22 public health experts to sign the CSPI letter, said the deal is “just crazy.” Dr. Blackburn, professor emeritus in the division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, said “no professional society should accept funding from such companies.”

And from the blogosphere:

coke and doctors, sitting in a tree . . .

Looking for health advice? Dr. Coca-Cola will see you now

Doctor’s Group Under Fire for Coke Partnership

A little bit of a bad thing (is still a bad thing)

An Embarrassing Conflict of Interests

Family Doctor Group Squanders Credibility by Taking Tainted Coke Cash

Perfect Harmony: AAFP and Coca-Cola Get Cozy

The problem here is not that the AAFP will necessarily become a mouthpiece for Coca-Cola.  AAFP members are not going to start telling their patients to have a Coke and a smile three times a day.  The problem is one of perception and credibility.  And you can’t buy back your credibility.  Not for six figures.  Not for any price.

Obamacare dead for 2009?

Posted in Economics of Health Care, Health Care Policy, Medicolegal with tags , , on November 3, 2009 by drbobbs

Is Obamacare, for the present at least, dead on arrival?  According to ABC News, it is:

Senior Congressional Democrats told ABC News today it is highly unlikely that a health care reform bill will be completed this year, just a week after President Barack Obama declared he was “absolutely confident” he’ll be able to sign one by then.

“Getting this done by the by the end of the year is a no-go,” a senior Democratic leadership aide told ABC News. Two other key Congressional Democrats also told ABC News the same thing.

This administration seems to have been totally unprepared for the resistance to their proposed health care reforms.  The town halls of this past summer will go down in American political history as the model of how not to sell an idea to the American people.  And the series of health care reform bills, culminating most recently in a 1,990 page behemoth that “runs more pages than War and Peace [and] has nearly five times as many words as the Torah,” are bloated and bureaucratic.  The $1.2 trillion price tag does little to inspire confidence that health care costs will in any way be lowered by it.

Of course, we don’t really seem to inclined to lower health care costs in the United States anyway.  Are fast food restaurants going out of business due to a lack of customers?  Is there a public outcry for loser pays medical malpractice reform?  Is there bipartisan support to allow individuals and groups to purchase health insurance across states lines to create a truly national health insurance market with competition and lower prices?  Are there any substantive steps to increase the number of primary care physicians in the country?

So far, the answer across the board appears to be “No.”

Why Trial Lawyers Will Love Democrat Health Reform Bill

Posted in Health Care Policy, Medicolegal with tags , , on October 31, 2009 by drbobbs

Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website reports that the Pelosi Health Care Bill Blows a Kiss to Trial Lawyers:

Section 2531, entitled “Medical Liability Alternatives,” establishes an incentive program for states to adopt and implement alternatives to medical liability litigation. [But]…… a state is not eligible for the incentive payments if that state puts a law on the books that limits attorneys’ fees or imposes caps on damages.

I guess I’ve got a different definition for “incentive”.

But I thought their healthcare was so much better than ours, Part 10

Posted in Economics of Health Care with tags , on October 22, 2009 by drbobbs

BardotA Russian coal miner with a lung disease is trying to sell his autographed photo of Brigitte Bardot to pay for his treatment.  The picture is said to be valued at about $45.

Unreality show

Posted in Uncategorized on October 13, 2009 by drbobbs

From RangelMD: 10 Rules for Doctor TV Shows

Data Breach

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 10, 2009 by drbobbs

DataBreachBlueCross BlueShield data breach affects 850,000 doctors:

Physicians’ names addresses, federal tax ID numbers and national provider numbers were contained in an unencrypted file on the laptop.

The data breach presents the possibility of massive medical insurance fraud, but the 187,000 doctors who used their Social Security numbers as tax ID numbers or provider numbers are most at risk of identity theft.

The unnamed employee, in dereliction of company policy, downloaded the database to his personal laptop to work on it at home. The computer was stolen from the employee’s car August 27 and the crime was reported to the Chicago police.

No patient information was in the file.

The file was encrypted while on the insurance company’s network according to protocol, but the employee unencrypted it before downloading it.

I’d like to buy the world a Coke

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 9, 2009 by drbobbs

AAFPCokeSo, any reaction to that AAFP/Coca-Cola deal?

The Skeptical OB says Family docs: Have a Coke and a bribe!

The Radical Clarity Group says In one stroke, AAFP has indicated that it can be bought.

The Newbie Vegetarian likens the deal to the sale of the AAFP’s soul.

On a practical level, the money the AAFP will get from the Coca-Cola Company will doubtless be put to good use.  The question is how much ire from the Academy’s membership and how much lost credibility with the public is the organization willing to accept?

UPDATE: Marion Nestle at Food Politics says This partnership places the AAFP in embarrassing conflict of interest.  Julie Deardorff at Julie’s Health Club says the venture will—and should—undermine the credibility of the AAFP, one of the leading family doctor groups in the U.S.

UPDATE II: From the Later On blog: Oh, Jesus! This is just pathetic.

UPDATE III: Ken Terry at BNET: [A]t the end of the day, corporations do not spend money on “educational materials” unless it somehow promotes their products. And I am not sure that the AAFP is doing people any favor by telling them it’s ok to consume soft drinks that have no nutritional value but can make them fatter–and therefore, more subject to a host of chronic diseases.

Blogger Lauren Melissa says the AAFP has sold their soul.  Adds Melissa: Pardon my language, but what the shit?!

UPDATE IV: Katherine Hobson at U.S. News & World Report has picked on the story.  Some interesting comments. too.

UPDATE V: Several [AAFP] members spoke [at a recent town hall meeting] of their concerns about the AAFP partnering with a company whose products have been linked to increased obesity, especially in children.

Things go better with Coke

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 6, 2009 by drbobbs

CokeFrom the What Were They Thinking? Department:

The AAFP today announced a corporate partnership with The Coca-Cola Co., in which the beverage giant will provide a grant for the Academy to develop consumer education content related to beverages and sweeteners for the AAFP’s award-winning consumer health and wellness Web site,

Yeah.  This was a good idea.  All will go well with this.  I mean, no AAFP member backlash or anything.  Nope.  Clear skies and smooth sailing.

Obama health care plan on the ropes

Posted in Health Care Policy with tags , , , , on September 15, 2009 by drbobbs

From The Hill: Senate Democrats are going to have to move forward on healthcare without a single Republican supporter after Sen. Olympia Snowe said Tuesday she could not back the Finance Committee’s bill.

From the Associated Press: Health bill harder after Obama speech, says Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel of New York.

President Obama doesn’t get it

Posted in Health Care Policy with tags , on September 10, 2009 by drbobbs

“Now is the time to act,” President Obama said in regard to health care reform. “We have talked this issue to death. … The time for talk is winding down. The time for bickering is past.”

Mr. President, a majority of Americans do not agree with your proposed health care reforms and you heard the voice of that majority during the town hall meetings held this past summer.  The American people are not required to shut up and go along with your proposals if they think they are not good for the country.  As your predecessor learned, sometimes a President can feel very strongly about this or that health care reform or initiative and still be told “No!” by the American public and their representatives.

Public option ping pong

Posted in Health Care Policy with tags , on September 9, 2009 by drbobbs

ConfusionAs of this writing, the public option is a no go again: Ahead of Obama Speech, Baucus Says ‘Public Option’ Cannot Pass Senate

Administration NOT throwing in the towel?

Posted in Economics of Health Care, Health Care Policy with tags , , on September 8, 2009 by drbobbs

Last month it looked like the Obama administration was giving up on a public health option.  But according to this, the Obama team may not have given up on the public option after all.  Incidentally, this plan also calls for, well, read it for yourself:

The plan includes some of the stiffest penalties Congress has proposed for Americans who don’t carry health insurance coverage.

Sen. Baucus emerged from a meeting with the six-member bipartisan group saying he had given his colleagues until 10 a.m. Wednesday to provide feedback on his draft. The group will meet again Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to come up with an agreement before Mr. Obama’s address.

Under the plan, people who earn between 100% and 300% of the poverty level (or between about $22,000 a year and $66,000 a year for a family of four) would face fees ranging from $750 to $1,500 a year.

For taxpayers with incomes above 300% of poverty, the penalty starts at $950 a year and reaches as high as $3,800 for families. Nearly 12 million people fit in this category, according to the National Institute for Health Care Management.

The idea behind the penalty is that those who can afford insurance but don’t buy it are imposing costs on the entire health system. Under the proposal, nearly 12 million people who currently have no insurance could be subject to such fines, according to figures compiled by the National Institute for Health Care Management.

Starting next year, the plan also calls for annual fees of $6 billion on health-insurance providers, $4 billion for medical-device makers, $2.3 billion on drug makers and $750 million on clinical laboratories. The fees would be levied on individual companies based on market share. Insurers also face an excise tax of 35% for any health plan worth more than $8,000 a year for individuals and $21,000 a year for families.

Karen Ignagni, chief executive of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry lobbying group, said the new fees would make it more difficult for health insurers to contain rising costs. “Our members are talking about that being at odds with the goal of cost containment,” she said.

Either the administration has compromising photos of hundreds of Congressmen and Senators in a desk drawer somewhere, or they are seriously misreading the political tea leaves.  This sounds like the kind of thing that would give all those irate town hall meeting people from this past summer hemorrhagic strokes.

Tired doctors told to drink more coffee

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2009 by drbobbs

CoffeeThe Australian government has found the solution to fatigued physicians: drink coffee and/or energy drinks.

Hey, it worked in med school.

H1N1 Plush Toy

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 6, 2009 by drbobbs

SwineFluToySwineFluToyThe swine  flu virus that  is the cause of so much hysteria concern by the news media is now available as an adorable plush toy.

ObamaCare Supporter bites off finger of ObamaCare Critic

Posted in Health Care Policy with tags on September 3, 2009 by drbobbs

William Rice, 65, of Newbury Park was with a small group of counter-protesters at a vigil Wednesday night organized by when a man bit off part of his left pinky finger during a scuffle, authorities said. Doctors were unable to reattach Rice’s finger.

I wonder if digit reattachment would be covered under ObamaCare?

A roosting chicken prepares for landing

Posted in Economics of Health Care, Health Care Policy with tags , , , , on September 1, 2009 by drbobbs

I posted the following this past April in response to absurd prior authorization requests and denials by private health insurers:

[P]atients have private insurance that they and/or their employers pay for so it will be there when they need it.

[I]f I were in charge of a private insurance company I would be doing my damnest to demonstrate how well the private sector works.

Now there’s this:

Fifty-two health and accident insurance companies have until Friday to turn over salary details on employees who make more than $500,000 a year.

Last month, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asked for the figures as part of a broader look at how health insurers operate.

And last week, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., who runs the Senate Commerce panel, also asked the biggest health insurers to cough up particulars of premium dollars spent on patient care.

Some policy watchers believe the congressional push has the potential to shake things up. In fact, a controversy over CEO pay could renew debate over a public option, a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private insurers.

Public option advocates hope outrage over big-time salaries prompts a new rally for their case.

“I think they will get some information that will surprise policyholders, because there’s not a great deal of awareness of how much these executives do make,” said Wendell Potter, a former Cigna vice president who now works for a left-leaning media group. “A lot of money they’re paying in premiums is going to make executives richer and richer every year.”


In the early 1990s, health insurers spent more than 90 cents of every dollar collected on patient care, but that has been declining. In 2007, national publicly-traded health companies spent about 81 cents of every dollar on patient care, according to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report.

Advocates who want executive pay included in the reform debate want to reverse that trend and force insurers to spend more on patient care.

Just because the American people appear to be rejecting government-run healthcare, that doesn’t mean that they are in love with the terms of their private health insurance.  Health insurance carriers have been cutting benefits and raising premiums.  Don’t forget that grassroots populism can target big business just as easily as big government.

But I thought their healthcare was so much better than ours, Part 9

Posted in Health Care Policy with tags , , , on August 20, 2009 by drbobbs

An interesting news item out of Michigan:

Dany Mercado, a leukemia patient from Kitchener, Ontario, is cancer-free after getting a bone marrow transplant at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit.

Told by Canadian doctors in 2007 he couldn’t have the procedure there, Mercado’s family and doctor appealed to Ontario health officials, who agreed to let him have the transplant in Detroit in January 2008.

The Karmanos Institute is one of several Detroit health facilities that care for Canadians needing services not widely available in Canada.

Canada, for example, has waiting times for bariatric procedures to combat obesity that can stretch to more than five years, according to a June report in the Canadian Journal of Surgery.

As a result, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in April designated 13 U.S. hospitals, including five in Michigan and one more with a tentative designation, to perform bariatric surgery for Canadians.