Excess Mortality and Years of Potential Life Lost Among the Black Population in the US, 1999-2020

“Introduction In 1985, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Margaret M. Heckler issued the Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health, also known as the Heckler Report. The landmark report found that the Black population had strikingly higher mortality rates than the White population, resulting in almost 60 000 excess deaths a year relative to the White population. Race offers no intrinsic biological reason for those categorized as Black individuals to have worse outcomes than White individuals, indicating therefore that these disparities are driven by the burden of acquired risk factors, influence of … Read More

Different Types of Patient Health Information Associated With Physician Decision-making Regarding Cancer Screening Cessation for Older Adults

“Introduction Although cancer screening has been shown to reduce cancer-related mortality and morbidity, there is increasing recognition that it can also be harmful and burdensome, especially for older adults. The benefits of cancer screening typically lag by 10 or more years for breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer screenings, whereas the harms and burdens of these screenings—which include complications from screening and follow-up tests, overdiagnosis and overtreatment of clinically unimportant cancers, psychological stress from false-positive results, diverted attention away from other health conditions—occur in the short term. Guidelines recommend against routine cancer screening for older adults for whom the harms outweigh the benefits, … Read More

Your job is (probably) safe from artificial intelligence

Why predictions of an imminent economic revolution are overstated Excerpt – [..] in the 1960s Robert Fogel published work about America’s railways that would later win him a Nobel Prize in economics. Many thought that rail transformed America’s prospects, turning an agricultural society into an industrial powerhouse. In fact, it had a very modest impact, Fogel found, because it replaced technology—such as canals—that would have done just about as good a job. The level of per-person income that America achieved by January 1st 1890 would have been reached by March 31st 1890 if railways had never been invented. Of course, … Read More

CMS’s Universal Foundation Measures Are Not Universally Good For Primary Care

“Primary care is where most people have relationships with a health professional, where more than one-third of all health care visits happen, and the only part of the health system that demonstrably produces longer lives and more equity. However, primary care is experiencing widespread and longstanding shortages and skyrocketing rates of burnout and moral injury. Primary care physician turnover, often associated with burnout, is estimated to cost CMS nearly one billion dollars annually. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than one-third of family physicians reported frequent burnout. Since the pandemic, primary care physicians are stepping up to meet patient needs even … Read More

Proposed rules to protect health data in an era of abortion bans fall short

“A new rulemaking by the Biden administration seeks to lessen the harmful effects of abortion bans by protecting certain health data from being used to prosecute both clinicians and patients. But in the current draft, the rulemaking is designed to reinforce the privacy of reproductive health in states where abortion is legal and does little for those seeking abortion in states where it is illegal. Further, some states, like Idaho, are implementing a law that makes it illegal to travel out of state for an abortion, effectively blocking its citizens from the potential benefits of this rulemaking. The draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, titled … Read More

The System That Failed Jordan Neely

What a subway killing reveals about New York City’s revolving-door approach to mental illness and homelessness. “There are more than two hundred thousand residents of New York City living with severe mental illness; roughly five per cent of them are homeless. That’s thirteen thousand people with schizophrenia, major depressive and bipolar disorders, or other significant mental- or behavioral-health diagnoses, all of whom regularly spend the night at a shelter, in the subway, on the street. They’re the ones you recognize—the people whom, for the past fifty years, every mayor has either tried to help, harass, or hide from view. Rudy … Read More

The Curious Side Effects of Medical Transparency

“Transparency has always been seen as a hallmark of honesty and integrity. The logic is familiar: democracies aspire to be transparent, but dictatorships are opaque; faithful spouses are guileless, while philanderers lie; reputable businesses operate in the open, but shady operations literally draw the shades. Collectively, we’ve embraced Louis Brandeis’s dictum that sunlight is the best disinfectant. We demand transparency in government, charitable institutions, nutrition labels, and middle-school grading rubrics. The medical record should be no different. [..] In 2008, Ethan Bernstein, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, travelled with a team of students to a vast mobile-phone-manufacturing plant … Read More

PBMs, the Brokers Who Control Drug Prices, Finally Get Washington’s Attention

Excerpt – The three biggest PBMs [pharmacy benefit managers] — OptumRx, CVS Caremark, and Express Scripts — control about 80% of prescription drug sales in America and are the most profitable parts of the health conglomerates in which they’re nestled. CVS Health, the fourth-largest U.S. corporation by revenue on Fortune’s list, owns CVS Caremark and the insurer Aetna; UnitedHealth Group, a close fifth, owns Optum; and Cigna, ranking 12th, owns Express Scripts. While serving as middlemen among drugmakers, insurers, and pharmacies, the three corporations also own the highest-grossing specialty drug and mail-order pharmacies. [..] Drug manufacturers claim that exorbitant PBM demands … Read More

13 Lessons From the Covid Pandemic

“Many countries and organizations are taking stock of what can be learned from the Covid experience. In Singapore, the office of the prime minister recently issued an assessment of that country’s response to determine what worked and what didn’t. Such honest reflection is essential to ensure that the response to the next pandemic is better. Unfortunately, efforts stalled in Congress to create a national commission to render a nonpartisan assessment of how the country responded to a contagion that so far has killed some 1.1 million people. [..] we offer 13 lessons, many of which are not yet fully appreciated or integrated … Read More

Cost-effectiveness of Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter-2 Inhibitors for Patients With Heart Failure and Preserved Ejection Fraction—Living on the Edge

Excerpt – In this issue of JAMA Cardiology, Cohen and colleagues have performed a formal cost-effectiveness analysis of SGLT2 [sodium-glucose cotransporter-2] inhibitors for patients with heart failure and an ejection fraction more than 40%. They developed a computer-simulation model to project the long-term clinical benefits and costs for patients with HFpEF [heart failure with preserved ejection fraction] with and without SGLT2 inhibition. Their model was based on pooled estimates of baseline risk and effectiveness of SGLT2 inhibitors derived from the EMPEROR-PRESERVED and DELIVER trials. Because these trials followed up patients for a median of only 2.3 years, the authors extrapolated … Read More