KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Viewpoints: Why Doctors Find It Hard To Tell The Truth; The Fruits Of Biomedical Research; Cheney’s ‘Taxpayer-Subsidized’ Benefits

The New York Times: Doctors Have Feelings, Too
Last month, an article in the journal Health Affairs made headlines in the news media — "Physicians Are Not Always Open or Honest with Patients." A vast majority of the nearly 2,000 doctors surveyed agreed that physicians should be fully open and honest in all their communications with patients. ... I suspect that the dishonesty that is being uncovered in a study such as this — and frankly, I was amazed that the number of less-than-truthful instances was so low — reveals more about the diagnosis of being human than anything else. ... I couldn't bring myself to tell this young mother that she was going to die" (Dr. Danielle Ofri, 3/27).

Chicago Tribune: How Can We Let Medical Research Funds Wither?
Not long ago, a friend of mine was describing his successful surgery to replace an abnormal heart valve. Never seriously hospitalized before, and grateful for a new lease on life, he marveled at modern surgical and medical care. How was all this possible, he asked. My answer was simple. It is the fruit of biomedical research (Eric G. Neilson, 3/28).  

The Wall Street Journal: Desperately Seeking A Budget
The reality is that (Senator Majority Leader Harry) Reid has made a calculation that Democrats are better off with no budget at all. This allows them to attack (Rep. Paul) Ryan's cuts to programs like Medicare without Democrats having to show their own hand. It's reminiscent of what former Texas Congressman Dick Armey used to say: "Democrats live in mortal fear that voters are going to understand what they want to do once they get into office" (Stephen Moore, 3/27).

Des Moines Register: Health Care System Is Working For Cheney
Without his government-facilitated, taxpayer-subsidized health insurance, [Cheney] could have incurred huge medical bills. He'd be in the same boat as millions of other Americans. Those people find a way to pay the medical bills or they declare bankruptcy. So Dick Cheney is lucky in many ways. You can't help but wonder if he appreciates his health insurance. Perhaps he will become an advocate for the health reform law, which helps ensure everyone has coverage and prohibits insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing health problems — such as Cheney's heart problems (3/27).

Boston Globe: Patients Deserve More Data On Physicians With Poor Records
Most people wouldn't buy a washing machine without doing significant research on the reliability of the product. Yet they are expected to choose a doctor without access to reliable data. In 1996, when the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine launched its physician profiles, it promised a new era for the "informed patient." That turned out to be a false promise for the growing number of patients who face the task of choosing an unfamiliar doctor from health plan lists. If anything, other states have shot ahead of Massachusetts (3/28).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Toward Innovative Models Of Health Care And Financing
The US health care system is out of balance, favoring treatment of disease and disease complications over prevention and wellness. To establish a more sustainable balance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are providing new funding for public health efforts and new opportunities for health delivery reforms. Individual states, which face the human and economic consequences of poor health outcomes, have a special incentive to facilitate this transition (Katharine R. Bazinsky, Dr. Laura Herrera and Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, 3/28).


This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.