In the news – 11.17.11

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Supreme Court decided to grant cert to rule on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Oral arguments are scheduled to last 5.5 hours.  On November 8, 2011, the D.C. Circuit upheld the Act.  The entire opinion may be found here.  And the Wall Street Journal Law Blog describes “nearly everything you need to know about the health care decision.”

Wake Forest University Director for Bioethics Ana S. Iltis describes how the U.S. health care system is dysfunctional.  She describes a need to “connect cost and value,” and the need to ask more often “is it worth it.”  Specifically, she discusses the drug Avastin, briefly mentioned on this blog here, which is covered by Medicare despite having been shown to not only not help breast cancer patients, but to actually harm them.  Although she stated she does not know how to fix the market, an important first step is acknowledging that it is broken.

A recent poll suggests that doctors support a policy once referred to as  “death panels,” and finds that “Seventy-nine percent of the doctors surveyed said the U.S. ‘spends far too much trying to extend lives,’ compared with just 37 percent of the general public.  But the public agreed with the doctors that quality of life is more important than extending life as long as possible, by almost the same margin.”

– Kim Child