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Berwick Calls For Leaders To Rise Above ‘Political Catechism’

Every week, reporter Jessica Marcy selects interesting reading from around the Web.

Rolling Stone: Don Berwick On The Fate Of ‘Obamacare’
Between July 2010 and December 2011, Dr. Donald Berwick was head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that runs the government’s health insurance programs. In a sane world, he would be still. But Senate Republicans refused even to let his confirmation come up for a vote. … A pediatrician by training and a widely respected expert in health care policy, Berwick should have been a lock for the CMS job. But he was a backer of Obamacare; a believer in data and science; a proponent of universal health care. … Rolling Stone got him on the phone to talk about this week’s healthcare hearings at the Supreme Court, the importance of Obamacare, and the future of reform (Julian Brookes, 3/30).

The Economist: Full-Court Press
When the arguments came to a close at the end of March 28th, Mr Obama faced one hopeful prospect—the court might uphold the mandate—and several nightmares. … The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision by the end of June. … However the court rules, the political consequences will be huge. Even more important, for the long term, will be the court’s articulation of congressional power. Washington subsists on hyperbole. But this time it is all true (3/31).

The Atlantic: Legal Drug-Pushing: How Disease Mongers Keep Us All Doped Up
Pharmaceutical giants, like small-town pizza parlors, have two options for making more money: convince regulars to buy more of what they obviously like, or find ways to persuade more people that they will be happier with this drug or that thin crust with extra cheese. … These “disease mongers” — as science writer Lynne Payer in her 1992 book of that name called the drug industry and the doctors, insurers, and others who comprise its unofficial sales force — spin and toil “to convince essentially well people that they are sick, or slightly sick people that they are very ill.” Changing the metrics for diagnosing a disease is one reliable technique (John-Manuel Andriote, 4/3).

Outside: The Doctor Won’t See You Now
Last year, 13 Americans died during running races, and another eight while competing in triathlons. … the rising participation and the proportional death toll—especially in cases like (Peter) Hass’s—highlight the need for quality medical care at these events. And usually that care comes from volunteer doctors. At least it used to. More and more doctors are refusing to donate their services, and it’s for one frustrating reason: they can’t get medical-malpractice insurance. Most doctors’ insurers typically won’t issue one-day policy riders for sporting events, and race organizers haven’t stepped up to offer alternative coverage (Eric Beresini, 2/28).

The New Yorker: Dentists Without Borders
One thing that puzzled me during the American health-care debate was all the talk about socialized medicine and how ineffective it’s supposed to be. … my experiences in France, where I’ve lived off and on for the past thirteen years, have all been good. A house call in Paris will run you around fifty dollars. … most of my needs are within arm’s reach. There’s a pharmacy right around the corner, and two blocks further is the office of my physician, Dr. Médioni. Twice I’ve called on a Saturday morning, and, after answering the phone himself, he has told me to come on over. These visits, too, cost around fifty dollars. … I’ve gone from avoiding dentists and periodontists to practically stalking them, not in some quest for a Hollywood smile but because I enjoy their company (David Sedaris, 4/2).