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Who Is Influencing Health Care?

Every week, Kaiser Health News reporter Jessica Marcy selects interesting reading from around the Web.

Salon / Global Post: What’s Happening To A Model Healthcare System?
Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh once vowed to flee to Costa Rica if President Barack Obama’s health care reforms took effect. Limbaugh might have overlooked a couple of critical details: Costa Rica’s respected universal healthcare system is highly socialized. It’s also on the verge of going broke. … Costa Rica’s broad coverage ranked better than most of the Americas, including the United States, in a 2000 World Health Organization index. Now, hobbled by mismanagement, the system has become overwhelmed by a burgeoning population that includes an increasing number of elderly and new immigrants who rely on the public system for care (Alex Leff, 8/23).

Modern Healthcare: Under Their Influence
The nation’s political forces are bitterly divided over issues ranging from raising the country’s debt ceiling to the use of energy-efficient light bulbs, so it’s no surprise that the government’s role in healthcare is also the source of intense debate. That division is reflected in Modern Healthcare’s ranking of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare, with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)—who seeks to remake the nation’s Medicare and Medicaid systems—finishing first, and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin—who seeks to make his state the first in the union to adopt a government-run single-payer system—coming in second (Andis Robeznieks, 8/22).

Governing: Coordinating More Care In Oregon
Oregon has long been a health reform pioneer. … Earlier this year, Gov. John Kitzhaber (himself a physician) and the Legislature approved another groundbreaking round of reforms. House Bill 3650 will move nearly one million OHP enrollees, teachers and government employees into so-called coordinated care organizations (CCOs). Guiding the effort is Mike Bonetto, Kitzhaber’s top health adviser. In 1995, Bonetto went to work for the St. Charles Health System in Bend, where he helped start HealthMatters of Central Oregon, a regional coordinated care network that serves as the model for Oregon’s current reform effort. I recently spoke with Dr. Bonetto about this initiative to revolutionize the delivery of health care  (John Buntin, 8/23).

American Medical News: Revealing Their Medical Errors: Why Three Doctors Went Public
In September 2010, Kimberly Hiatt made a medical error. The critical care nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital miscalculated and gave a fragile 8-month-old baby 1.4 grams of calcium chloride, 10 times the correct dose of 140 milligrams. The mistake contributed to the death of the child and led to Hiatt’s firing and an investigation by the state’s nursing commission. In April 2011, devastated by the loss of her job and an infant patient, Hiatt committed suicide. … If the first instinct after an adverse event is to retreat from scrutiny into a spiral of shame and fear, sharing the ordeal publicly is probably the last thing to cross a physician’s mind. But a small group of doctors has done just that. Here are three physicians who shared their stories with the world in an effort to tell their colleagues and their patients that to err is human (Kevin B. O’Reilly, 8/15).

American Medical News: Economy Disrupts Doctors’ Retirement Plans
According to a survey issued Aug. 2 by the physician staffing agency Jackson & Coker, 52% of the 522 doctors responding had changed their retirement plans since the 2007-09 recession. About 70% of those changing plans said they will work longer until retirement because personal savings had been gutted or had not grown as rapidly as anticipated. … Of those leaving full-time medicine earlier than planned, 26% said it was due to uncertainties about health system reform. An additional 25% said they no longer enjoyed the work, and 22% were retiring early because of the rising cost of doing business (Victoria Stagg Elliott, 8/22).

Huffington Post: Planned Parenthood Vs. The States: The Legal Battles Rage
The states launched an unprecedented avalanche of attacks against Planned Parenthood in their 2011 legislative sessions, but Planned Parenthood is battling back in the courts. Eighteen states have passed one or more measures to limit the services the family planning provider can offer. Four are already facing Planned Parenthood in what promise to be lengthy and expensive legal battles to defend their right to enact those laws. Legislators in five states — Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas, Wisconsin and Texas — defunded Planned Parenthood in 2011 because some of its clinics provide privately funded abortions. Planned Parenthood attorneys challenged three of those laws in court this summer, and judges in all three states — Indiana, North Carolina and Kansas — temporarily blocked their enforcement (Laura Bassett, 8/24).

Time: Can FoodCorps Get America To Eat Healthfully?
As a member of both the Hopi and Pima tribes of Arizona, David Pecusa is more than familiar with the ills of the American food system. The Hopi and Pima, like many other Native American tribes, suffer from dangerously high levels of obesity … That’s something Pecusa is trying to change — and he’s not alone. Pecusa is one of 50 members of the inaugural cohort of the FoodCorps — a new national service organization that aims to fight obesity and diet-related disease through promoting school gardens and farm-to-school programs (Bryan Walsh, 8/23).