Posted 11/04/11 on Common Sense Family Doctor
Earlier this week, the White House released the results of President Obama’s periodic physical examination. Pronounced “fit for duty” by his personal physician, the President, who turned 50 earlier this year, had an unremarkable examination and normal blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Also, it seems that he’s finally managed to stop smoking – good for him. Interestingly, President Obama went against the advice of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and chose to receive a screening prostate-specific antigen test (which was normal), but, perhaps in recognition of the Task Force’s recent finding that the PSA’s harms outweigh its benefits, his physician felt it necessary to note in parentheses that this was an “informed patient request.” There’s no indication whether or not the President used any shared decision aids (such as this one from the Family Medicine department at Virginia Commonwealth University) to decide to undergo screening, but given the lengths his Administration went to prevent the new prostate recommendations from being released in the first place, this surely represents a small victory of science over politics.
Here’s what I wrote on March 1, 2010 about the President’s previous physical examination. Continue reading “PSA and the Presidential Physical”
First posted 9/28/11 on Health Care Reform Update
Hot on the heels of Monday’s news that the Obama administration had decided not to ask for a re-hearing of the Eleventh Circuit Court’s ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, came today’s announcement that the Justice Department had asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.
Given that other Appeals Court decisions may also be forwarded to the Supreme Court, it is not certain which case or cases the Court will decide to hear. However, a request by the administration is almost sure to be granted.
While the rationale for the Justice Department decision cannot be known, it seems that the administration believes that it has a better than evens chance of prevailing.
The critical issue now is timing, with a hearing most likely in the spring, and a decision—in the middle of the presidential election campaign—in June 2012.
C. Eugene Steuerle
First published 4/21/11 on The American Square
President Barack Obama and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R) have laid out different approaches for curbing growth in health care costs. One would empower government-appointed officials to constrain health prices and services by, for instance, strengthening the power of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created in 2010’s health-reform legislation. The other would provide Americans with premium support up to some dollar limit to cover their health insurance purchases. Both count on efficiency improvements as well. The political debates have quickly centered over whether Obama is heading toward ever-more cumbersome government regulation and price-setting and whether Ryan is opening up unregulated markets that would deprive many of needed health care.
It’s not that simple, though. Three questions are actually at issue:
(1) How should budget constraints be applied?
(2) Should automatic budget growth for health care programs (particularly, Medicare) finally be reined in?
(3) Should government health program budgets be limited even if neither side gets its way?
Continue reading “Does Constraining Health Cost Growth Require Choosing between Obama and Ryan?”
First published 4/21/11 on Health Care Reform Update
How to slow Medicare’s escalating costs has been the big health care policy issue this month, with Republicans and Democrats offering competing proposals, each part of broader plans for reducing the federal deficit—projected to be $1.5 trillion this year, with the government borrowing 40 cents for every dollar it spends.
Unfortunately, neither the Medicare proposal of Representative Paul Ryan’s House Budget Committee, nor that offered in response by President Obama, can be considered realistic.
Continue reading “Controlling the Medicare Budget — Two Infeasible Proposals”