Checking Up on Health

By Benita M. Dodd

June 5, 2012

Benita M. Dodd, Vice President, Georgia Public Policy Foundation

– Doomed to failure: Health insurance exchanges required in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) won’t work, won’t increase access to affordable health care, and won’t improve health outcomes or increase value, according to a new Galen Institute study. The paper by Rita E. Numerof, Ph.D., entitled, “What’s Wrong with Health Insurance Exchanges,” explains the problems states will face if they go down the path of creating PPACA health insurance exchanges. The exchange requirements will result in the creation of administrative behemoths that will limit individual choice and drive up costs, just the opposite of their intent. Numerof describes in detail why the state insurance exchange requirements are unrealistic and burdensome. These include intensive data-gathering responsibilities that delve into an individual’s private affairs, adding new costs for states and employers, as well as strict federal over-regulation of insurance choices. Numerof plans to follow up with a paper offering recommendations on a framework for finding the right solution for states’ unique needs. Read more here:

– Deeper into debt: U.S. debt is on track to be nearly twice the size of the U.S. economy by 2037, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warned today.  The new CBO report warns that increased entitlement spending driven by the retirement of the baby boomers and insufficient revenue is making the long-term outlook for the national debt increasingly dire.  CBO’s report focuses on Medicare and Social Security spending as major drivers of the debt increase.  Spending on healthcare entitlements in the report rises from 5 percent of GDP today to nearly 10 percent in 2037. Social Security grows from more than 10 percent of GDP to almost 16 percent in the next 25 years.

– Cancer drugs abound: Cancer drug applications at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are rising, with 20 submissions expected this year, Reuters reports. Some of the novel techniques that are proving to be successful include targeting specific gene mutations in tumors and harnessing the body’s own immune system to seek out and kill cancer cells. According to Dr. Richard Pazdur, head of the FDA’s office of oncology products, “There is greater understanding of some of the disease processes.” Last year, 10 out of 30 new drugs approved by the FDA were for treatment of cancer.

– Next-generation stem cell rejuvenation: Picking stem cells from a patient’s body, sending it to a sophisticated laboratory to culture a tissue and then implanting it are passé. A team of Indian doctors has used the tea bag or sprinkler approach to regenerate stem cells, developing a lab-free technique that could be available off-the-shelf. This allows eye surgeons with usual facilities to perform the procedure, the Hindu Business Line reports. The team from L.V. Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad used this technique to treat those who suffered chemical injuries, resulting in bleeding in the cornea. Instead of sending stem cells to the lab for culture, the doctor picked the required number of stem cells around the cornea and sprinkled on the damaged area and then put on a contact lens. Fifteen days later, a good layer has developed in place of the injured area.Source: Bio SmartBrief

– Quote of Note: “We are in the process of nationalizing the entire health care system. The federal government is going to tell 300 million Americans what kind of health insurance they must have. We are going to create 159 new regulatory agencies and spend close to $1.8 trillion over the next 10 years getting it done. Yet the primary reason for doing all of this – according to [Paul] Krugman – is to solve the problem of 49,000 people!” – John C. Goodman, National Center for Policy Analysis

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