A couple of stories making news…

This is a test

According to the Wall Street Journal, one insurer (United HealthGroup) is testing a change in the way it reimburses cancer specialists.

The program, which the insurer plans to announce Wednesday, attempts to address potential overuse of expensive cancer drugs by eliminating any incentive for doctors to choose a drug based on profit.


Sounds a lot like the pilot programs for Accountable Care Organizations. Might this be a precursor to sweeping changes in reimbursement?

State of affairs

Consider Massachusetts a sort of barometer for healthcare reform. While it’s universal healthcare has improved access of care to state residents, it’s also led to primary care physicians ceasing to accept new patients.

And according to a MedPage Today article on the latest Massachusetts Medical Society’s annual Physician Workforce Study, the physician workforce is only getting smaller.

This year’s study found “severe” shortages in 10 of the 18 medical specialities studied in 2010 — three more specialities with fewer practitioners than last year. Emergency medicine, general surgery, orthopedics, and psychiatry made it to the “severe” shortage list this year.

Mirroring findings from previous years, internists and family medicine physicians made it to the “critical” list as being scarcest specialties in the state — reporting the fewest available slots for new patient appointments.

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