January 3, 2019
Dr. Google patients need protection--from Dr. Google
Michael Millenson takes a look at Google's foray into health care in a Stat opinion piece today. The company has various AI and other health-related ventures underway, including, somewhat oddly for a tech company, a clinic in Brooklyn called Cityblock

Amazon and its hiring of Atul Gawande has soaked up most of the attention, but Millenson's piece is a useful reminder that other Big Tech giants are intertwining themselves into our health care. Just think about all the data Google has at its disposal from those billions upon billions of of health-related searches!

Millenson makes a pitch for consent, transparency, and standards of accountability. Hmm. After all the recent revelations about Facebook, you have to wonder if that's wishful thinking.
Democratic AGs file appeal to save the ACA
As expected, Democratic attorneys general are coming to the defense of the ACA. Led by Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general, they filed a notice today that they are appealing the December 14 decision by Judge Reed O' Connor that would sweep away the health care reform law, including the guaranteed issue provisions. The case hinges on the individual mandate and the legal question issue of severability, as our Contributor Editor Richard Mark Kirkner explained in a piece last year as Texas v. Azar was heating up. 

The ACA is not under immediate existential threat; O'Connor issued a stay at the end of December that left the law intact while his decision gets appealed. But it's entirely possible that the Supreme Court will decide the case--and the ACA's fate--in 2020 when the presidential campaign will be hot and heavy. 

Seems like we're headed for another dramatic episode in the life and times of the ACA. 
Will M4A mean more MA?
This past weekend, peerless Robert Pear of the New York Times wrote about an inconvenient truth for progressive Democrats pushing for Medicare for All: A third of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. The payer may be public but the Medicare program is increasingly privately managed.

So if the Democrats are successful and open Medicare up to the non-elderly, will that also mean giving Americans the choice of signing up for MA plans--and, as a result, give private insurers even more MA lives to manage?  

Perish the thought, say some Democrats in favor of a single payer.  Others are more open to the possibility, according to Pear's reporting. 
It's better in France
Erica Rex's op-ed in the Times  this week about health care in France may conjure up visions of the kind of single-payer health care that many of those progressive Democrats have in mind. Rex says she emigrated (first to Britain, then to France) after a breast cancer diagnosis to avoid the "strong possibility" of being bankrupted by cancer treatment. 

"In France I can rest assured I will not be refused care for any treatable condition, including a painful bunion--or yes, even a recurrence of breast cancer," wrote Rex in her piece headlined, " What a French Doctor's Office Taught Me About Health Care."

"Too many Americans do not realize how much better off they would be if they felt safer about access to medical care," Rex wrote.
Purge at Johns Hopkins
A spike in death rates in pediatric heart surgeries has cost top administrators their jobs at the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., according to Modern Healthcare. Hopkins took over the hospital in 2011.
$100 million for Alzheimer's
Fighting Alzheimer's disease is not a partisan issue--at least so far. The BOLD (Building Our Largest Dementia Infrastructure for Alzheimer's) Act, which was signed into law on Dec 31, sets aside $100 million over five years for prevention, treatment, and care of the disease.
Upcoming Meetings

2019 Opioid Abuse Management Forum
Scottsdale, AZ
January 28-29, 2019