Category: Science and Other News

Hiring in Health Care Finally Slows Down

Fast-paced hiring in health care, which I previously discussed with respect to the jobs report for August, seems to have tempered in September. The case I’ve been making over the last few months is that healthcare providers have been adding workers faster than the rest of the economy. In September, that turned.

As shown in Table 1, nonfarm payrolls increased by 1.07 percent from August, seasonally adjusted. However, when health care is separated from the rest of the workforce, the headcount increased by only 0.15 percent, versus 1.18 percent for the non-healthcare workforce.

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U.S. Infant Mortality Still Lags Other Developed Countries

There’s more bad news for the U.S. on the infant mortality front: The U.S. ranks last of 26 countries in infant mortality: 6.1 per 1,000 live births, versus 2.5 in Sweden, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Infant mortality refers to the death of a baby before his first birthday. The proportion of pre-term births explains 39 percent of the difference between U.S. and Swedish outcomes, because the U.S. has a large proportion of pre-term births. This has led some to question the validity of the international comparison, because some countries measure very pre-term births (before 24 weeks differently). It has been argued that the U.S. will consider a baby born alive, who might be considered stillborn in another country, thereby making our infant mortality statistics look artificially worse.

Did the War on Poverty Stop the Drop in Poverty?

Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation have written an analysis of fifty years of the War on Poverty. The result: It looks like the number of poor people was falling dramatically in the years before President Johnson declared War on Poverty; and that the drop stalled soon after.

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Congratulations NCPA!

IV_2014_Top50BlogList_Banners_300x300_v1-157x157Here at the NCPA we are proud to announce that CDW Healthcare, “a leading provider of technology solutions and services focused exclusively on serving the healthcare marketplace, [with] customers [that] include more than 15,000 healthcare organizations nationwide — ranging from small physician practices to large hospital systems,” has recently ranked NCPA’s Health Policy Blog in its Top 50 Health IT Blogs in 2014.

Thank you everyone for the unconditional support and for making this the premier right-of-center health policy blog on the Internet!

One in Four Jobs Added Last Month was in Health Care

The healthcare jobs boom continues. This morning’s employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 142,000 jobs (seasonally adjusted) were added to non-farm civilian payrolls in August. 34,000 of those (24 percent) were in health care.

Furthermore, continuing the trend we’ve seen for months now, almost all that growth was in ambulatory settings, where 22,800 jobs were added, versus only 7,100 in hospitals and 4,100 in nursing and residential care facilities.

Since August 2013, job growth in outpatient services has increased by 3 percent, whereas job growth in hospitals and nursing and residential care is stalled.

Health Care Top 100 is Top Heavy with Government

Earlier this year, Modern Healthcare released a list of the 100 most influential people in healthcare. These people come from every sector, ranging from government to nonprofit to private sector. Some worked in the government before moving on to more lucrative positions in the private sector. No matter their backgrounds, each person has shaped the debate on healthcare and reform in some way. But we decided to do some breakdown of the numbers to examine the demographic of those that are in the top 100.

  • Currently, 18 people work for the government with the rest working in the private sector.
  • 3 out of the top 5 in the list work in the government with President Obama at the top of the list.
  • At least 12 other people have previously worked for the government, either on the national or state level, before entering their current positions in the private sector.
  • At least 30 people on the list live in DC or in the surrounding areas.

In other industries, entrepreneurs and innovators, not politicians and bureaucrats, dominate the Top 100. Is it any wonder health care is a mess?

The Federal Government’s Dismal Record on Corporate Income Taxes Drives Firms Offshore

Many companies in the healthcare sector are undertaking so-called tax inversions to move their headquarters overseas. Here’s an explanation of why the trend has picked up.

Because the U.S. federal government is refusing to respond to international competition for the headquarters of successful multinational companies, U.S. multinationals are moving their headquarters out of the U.S. in order to protect their shareholders from high U.S. corporate tax rates. The shareholders needing protection include large numbers of retired and working U.S. citizens who have investments in company stock, either directly or through various collective investment vehicles.

As the following graph from a Baker & McKenzie presentation at a 2013 meeting for tax experts shows, the U.S. federal government was a lot smarter about the realities of global competition back in the 1980s. In the 1980s, it responded to international competition by reducing the U.S. corporate tax rate. Since then, it has increased the U.S. rate even as other countries have been lowering theirs, driving corporate headquarters out of the country.

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Perfect Information?

The Huffington Post recently featured a story by Dr. Ricardo Azziz, “The Myth of the Rational Health Care Consumer.”

He disagrees with Uwe Reinhardt’s contention that health care is a “private good.” Azziz writes –

Economists generally categorize goods into two types — public and private. Public goods are defined as “nonrival,” meaning a person can use it without reducing its use by others, and “non-excludable,” meaning individuals cannot be excluded from using the good. Reinhardt gives the example of street lighting.

Social Media Shakes FDA’s Power: A Case Study of Compassionate Use

We’ve written about states’ “right to try” laws, which expand desperate patients’ power to use drugs before the FDA approves them. These laws, gaining bipartisan approval in a growing number of states, open up the question of whether FDA powers that limit the availability of new medicines can be challenged by states.

The problem that “right to try” laws address is that patients who have no alternative treatment, except an experimental medicine, are often willing to take more risk than the FDA appreciates. They want the FDA out of the way and are not satisfied with federal policies that expand access to experimental medicines.

Medical-Device Excise Tax Revenues 24 Percent Short of Target

The medical-device excise tax is supposed to raise $20 billion of Obamacare’s $438 billion of revenue through 2019. The IRS started collecting the tax in January 2013, and expected to get $1.2 billion in the first half of 2013. The actual take? $913 million — a shortfall of almost one quarter.

This is the conclusion of a report by the Tax Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). However, the report also found a “discrepancy” of $118 million between what the IRS collected and the amount TIGTA believes was owed. Why? To put it simply, it is proving very difficult to determine which firms owe the tax.