Tim Jost on ‘The Week in Health Law’ Podcast

By Nicolas Terry and Frank Pasquale

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This week we are honored to have a conversation with Professor Tim Jost from Washington & Lee School of Law. Jost, one of our most prolific scholars and astute commentators, not to mention the rock around which the Health Affairs blog is built, looks back at the successes and failures of the ACA, speculates on some of the reasons for its rocky road, and looks ahead to repeal and replacement.

Jost’s posts at Health Affairs are more urgent than ever as the uncertainty around ACA repeal/replace/delay intensifies. While his work on consumer-directed health care is particularly relevant to today’s policy environment, he has also proposed reforms to strengthen the ACA.

For some notes on items we discussed: Frank mentioned an analysis of Tom Price’s plan to replace the ACA, focusing on the plan to “block grant $1 billion dollars a year for four years (or $2.2 million per Congressional District per year) to help states fund high risk pools.” Jost mentioned a Commonwealth Fund report suggesting that amount is not even within two orders of magnitude of the true cost of such pools (at least $100 billion). But at least some people will truly benefit from ACA repeal: the 400 highest-income households each “would get an average tax cut of about $7 million a year,” according to CBPP.

The Week in Health Law Podcast from Frank Pasquale and Nicolas Terry is a commuting-length discussion about some of the more thorny issues in Health Law & Policy. Subscribe at iTunes, listen at Stitcher Radio, Tunein and Podbean, or search for The Week in Health Law in your favorite podcast app. Show notes and more are at TWIHL.com. If you have comments, an idea for a show or a topic to discuss you can find us on twitter @nicolasterry @FrankPasquale @WeekInHealthLaw

Maybe For-Profit Hospitals Aren’t So Bad

By Shailin Thomas

For-profit hospitals have taken their fair share of flack over the years. Much maligned by many in the medical community, they are seen as money-hungry corporate machines that pervert the medical profession by putting the bottom line before patient care. This skepticism of profit-driven hospitals feels right. Medicine has long been the purview of charitable organizations and religious institutions. It’s supposed to be a calling — a public service to which practitioners are drawn — not a check to cash at the bank.

As for-profit hospitals proliferated, there was research done suggesting they had quality and cost issues stemming from their profit motives. For-profit hospitals had higher mortality rates, employed fewer trained professionals per bed, and were more expensive than their non-profit and government counterparts. Researchers speculated that this was the result of duties owned to shareholders by corporate leaders or compensation incentives for executives based on profitability rather than quality of care. These studies seemed to confirm what many thought they already knew: medicine and money don’t mix well.

More recent studies, however, suggest that for-profit hospitals may have turned over a new leaf. Since 2010, for-profit hospitals have out-performed non-profits in the “Top Performer” evaluation carried out by The Joint Commission — an organization that accredits hospitals in the US — with a higher percentage of for-profit hospitals qualifying for the honor than non-profits. A study published in JAMA from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that hospitals that converted from non-profit to for-profit improved their financial position by increasing their total margins and experienced no change in mortality rates.

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PFC Spotlight Series: Faculty Affiliate Ameet Sarpatwari

Learn more about the Petrie-Flom Center’s work through our Spotlight Series, which features interviews with Student and Academic Fellow alumni, as well as current Faculty Affiliates.

sarpatwari_peopleThis week’s post features Ameet Sarpatwari, J.D., Ph.D., who is an Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, an Associate Epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Assistant Director of the Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL). His research draws upon his interdisciplinary training as an epidemiologist and lawyer and focuses on the effects of laws and regulations on therapeutic development, approval, use, and related public health outcomes.

Read the article to learn more about his contributions to the Center and its mission!