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The top threats to science-based medicine: MedCity Morning Read, Dec. 28, 2009

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Highlights of the important and the interesting from the world of health care:

Top 5 threats to science-based medicine: This year’s debate about breast cancer screenings showed that when it comes to medicine, many Americans would prefer to reject science and base their decisions on emotion. In that vein, the blog ScienceBasedMedicine compiles its list of the top 5 threats to science-based medicine. Not surprisingly, atop the list is everyone’s favorite punching bag: Congress. Next on the list are the mainstream media and academic medical centers. The blog post ends with a plea to the “critical thinkers” in the audience:

I predict that the next decade will favor the organized, not the accurate. And so with that in mind, let us strive towards building our network of critical thinkers (in the government, media, research and clinical centers, and online), organizing our efforts to promote science and rational thought.

More of the same: In case you missed it, the New York Times ran an article summarizing the changes most people can expect from the federal health overhaul that’s expected to be finalized in February. Bottom line: Despite all the fear-mongering and scare tactics employed by opponents, if you get health insurance through your  employer, little, if anything, will change. “For many people, the result of the long, angry health care debate in Washington may be little more than more of the same,” the Times reports.  So whether you like your plan or hate, chances are you’re stuck with it — not that’s necessarily a bad thing for a population that’s often fearful of change.

One group of people who could be facing changes, however, are those with so-called “Cadillac health plans,” though details remain to be ironed out in conference committee. In the Senate proposal, employers — not employees — would be subject to a 40 percent tax on plans that exceed $23,000 in premiums. And the tax would be on just the amount above $23,000. With such a high dollar figure, it’s likely the Cadillac provision would affect too many people.

The big question we should all be asking, of course, is whether the health overhaul will do anything to hold down skyrocketing insurance premiums – the real problem that affects nearly all Americans. You can probably guess the answer.

At least one impartial analysis, by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, concluded that the legislation was not going to have much of an effect on the cost of premiums either way.

Hospital layoffs abating? A big story since mid-2008 has been mounting hospital layoffs, according to this brief in Fierce Healthcare. A whopping 107 hospitals laid off 50 or more employees last year, including 3,800 at one Texas hospital. But, according to the report, recent months have been kinder to hospitals, with some posting financial gains, so 2010 is looking brighter in terms of hospital employment. In Ohio, though, some hospitals are warning that a new franchise fee could threaten job gains.

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Brandon Glenn

By Brandon Glenn MedCity News

Brandon Glenn is the Ohio bureau chief for MedCity News.
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