Friday News Dump: Wonkbites

by Karan Chhabra

March Madness is upon us—those several weeks of the year when health news goes totally awry and Wonkbites scrambles to keep you informed! That is what they mean by March Madness, right? No? Oh, well, now that we’ve pulled it together, go ahead and enjoy this roundup of March-Mad health news.

  1. They grow up so fast: Obamacare turned 3 years old this week, prompting a lot of reflections on what it has accomplished since then, as well as a raucous birthday bender at Chuck-E-Cheese’s (just kidding—I think). This post by Dan Diamond contains an evenhanded, yet lively discussion of what experts think it’s done right—and what they would’ve done differently—since three years ago.
  2. No nannies here: Almost right after a NY judge shot down Bloomberg’s soda ban, Mississippi passed what many called an “Anti-Bloomberg Bill,” which bans any government mandates on portion size, calorie counts, or nutritional value. Critics are quick to point out that Mississippi is the fattest state in the Union, but they sure know how to Have It Their Way.
  3. A hard line on headshots: Neurologists just endorsed a much tighter set of guidelines on when football players are allowed to return to the field after a possible concussion—essentially saying players can’t play again until they’re medically cleared. That said, some say many leagues implemented similar ones long ago, and that these guidelines are long overdue.
  4. The Cure?:  Evan Soltas, in an intriguing column, explains how healthcare and education have suffered from “Baumol’s Disease”—the economic term for an industry that can’t improve its productivity and whose prices increase endlessly as a result. But he points out some recent shifts that might cure this disease (though he rightly admits we have a long way to go).
  5. Stayin’ Alive: A liver was kept alive outside a human body this week, hooked up to a new machine invented by a group of British researchers. By increasing the amount of time the liver can be in transport (versus ice, today’s standard), they say this could double the amount of livers available for transplantation. Now if they could do something about those margaritas…

Thoughts on the news or our coverage? Leave them in the comments—we read everything!

_____________________________

Karan is a first-year student at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Duke graduate who previously worked in strategic research for hospital executives.

Follow him on Twitter @KRChhabra or subscribe to the blog.

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