Friday News Dump: Wonkbites

by Adrianna McIntyre 

  1. Data hubbub. According to a recently released OIG report, the federal government’s data hub may be behind schedule—but maybe not as behind as recent coverage of the report would suggest; analysis for the report was conducted in May, not more recently (see the story’s update). “Security testing was three months behind three months ago” is hardly a ringing praise of implementation. But it’s importantly different from a report concluding that the testing is months behind now, in August, with less than two months until launch. Will the feds pull it off by October 1? It’s not like we have to wait long to find out.
  2. Not all happiness is created equal. The human body responds differently—at the molecular level—to different kinds of happiness. Though it’s associated with short-term improvements in well-being, simple self-gratification, or “hedonic” pleasure, may actually have negative impacts on health in the long run, based on its effect upon gene expression associated with chronic stress. By the same metrics, “eudaimonic” happiness, the positive feeling from doing something that works towards a noble goal, appears to have long-term health benefits.
  3. Superfluous medical procedures, presidential edition? Former president George W. Bush received a stent after a stress test conducted during a routine exam revealed a blockage. While this sounds like a medical success on its face, it might actually be a case of overtreatment, a problem that contributes to soaring US health expenditures. According to ABC medical correspondent Dr. Richard Blesser, the stenting procedure probably wasn’t indicated in Bush’s case, because he was aymptomatic and the procedure is intended to relieve symptoms. “You can’t make somebody who’s not having any symptoms feel any better, because they’re already feeling great,” Blesser said.
  4. The Arkansas waiver is on its way. Regular readers know that we’ve covered the Arkansas Medicaid expansion story pretty comprehensively. The state’s Medicaid “private option” waiver proposal—something that has been in and out of the health wonk spotlight since February—has been sealed and sent to the feds for review. The state hopes for approval by October 1, when open enrollment on the exchanges is slated to begin.
  5. This is astute. (via PHDcomics)


Adrianna is a graduate student in public policy and public health at the University of Michigan.
Follow her on Twitter at @onceuponA or subscribe to the blog.


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