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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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« Health findings from Howard Hughes Medical Institute to be free online | Main | Bank donates $5 million to attract primary care doctors »

Friday, March 9, 2007

On the blogs: philanthropy and science, hospital quality measures, health care law, paying doctors more to teach

Corie Lok connects the $100 million windfall for the Broad Institute's new psychiatric research center with other grants to the Harvard-MIT venture, suggesting they account for the dominance of the Broad in papers published in Nature journals. But the effect of philanthropy doesn't stop there.

"To me, this is more evidence that Boston research is greatly benefiting from philanthropic sources of funding," she writes. "I find it interesting that people who became millionaires through businesses that have nothing to do with science are quickly becoming the benefactors of science."

Paul Levy, president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, repeats his call for hospitals to make public their rates of central line infections, which can occur after tubes are inserted into patients. An anonymous poster asked about another safety issue:

"What about the NY Times story just the other day on how rapidly the various hospitals react when someone enters the emergency room with what looks like a heart attack?" the writer says. "Boston Medical Center (is) way ahead of the BID (and all others in the Boston area). Are we working on this (and other things we are low on on the HHS measures)?"

John McDonough of Health Care For All reports on yesterday's Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector board meeting that celebrated meeting milestones, having enrolled more than 52,000 people and approving seven health plans to sell Commonwealth Choice coverage to people who don't qualify for subsidized plans.

"Working nurse" sounds a note of caution, however, saying 48,000 of those people were automatically given insurance paid for through the state budget, and the other 4,000 had state subsidies for their coverage.

"More folks having true affordable quality coverage is a very good thing," the post says. "It should be pointed out that in the big picture what’s been accomplished thus far has been the easy part."

On WBUR's CommonHealth, Jonathan Gruber, professor of economics at MIT and member of the Connector Board, asks whether health insurance can be compared with food.

"Most Americans think of health insurance as medical prepayment: you buy an up-front premium and in return all of your medical expenses are covered," he writes. "But such a system has an inherent flaw: any time something is free, it will be overused. This should not be a controversial statement to anyone who has ever gone to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Having paid at the door, you always end up eating more than if you were paying for each item your ordered."

Based on research of how insurance is used, he argues that individuals should pay for some of their health care costs, according to their income.

"Coming back to the buffet analogy, it is clearly harmful to not allow individuals to eat –- but less critical that you allow them to eat as much as they want."

Kevin, M.D. got this comment on Liz Kowalczyk's Globe story about Harvard sweetening rewards for doctors who teach:

"Great, so now my tuition goes up $10,000."

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 11:34 AM
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