The Unsustainable SGR

So I must apologize.  Amidst my destroying your medical school innocence with posts about student debt, floundering federal GME, and the reality of the government shutdown, I referenced SGR but never actually shared that horror.  Maybe it was regression to a happier time, or a little folie à deux (can you tell I’ve had my Psych rotation?), but SGR has been the bane of my time in policy.  And I want it to be yours. SGR, formally known as the Sustainable Growth Rate, was a formula developed under none other than the Balanced Budget Act (the same one that set the cap for GME-funded residency slots at 100,000) to determine the Centers for Medicare And Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursement payments to physicians.  And because the universe loves a good cosmic joke, SGR had been developed to replace a flawed payment system.  At a basic level, the theory of this formula was that a conversion factor could be used to balance yearly spending in healthcare. Here’s how the formula works.  Each year CMS projects their spending on healthcare for the coming year.  At the end of the year, if there is money left over, it gets rolled over to the next year’s budget by changing the conversion factor (guess how many times that has happened).  And if, by some unforeseeable tragedy, spending outstripped the projection, the deficit is taken from...

What Does the AOA/ACGME Residency Merger Mean for Medical Students?

In a statement released in late February 2014, the AOA and the ACGME announced they have finally agreed to a single accreditation system for graduate medical education. The surprising news comes on the heels of previously failed negotiations in July 2013. From the official press release:   – From July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020, AOA-accredited training programs will transition to ACGME recognition and accreditation. – There will continue to be osteopathic-focused training programs under the ACGME accreditation system. Two osteopathic review committees will be developed to evaluate and set standards for the osteopathic aspects of training programs seeking osteopathic recognition. – DOs and MDs would have access to all training programs. There will be prerequisite competencies and a recommended program of training for MD graduates who apply for entry into osteopathic-focused programs. – AOA and AACOM will become ACGME member organizations, and each will have representation on ACGME’s board of directors.   What does this mean for current medical students, MD and DO alike?   – The inevitability of a common match: Given all residency programs will fall under a single unification banner by 2020, a single match process is the next logical step. The current system, which forces DO students to choose between the AOA match in February and ACGME match in March, will be streamlined to allow medical students to apply to all US-based residencies at the same time. There is no exact date for...

Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2014!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! There’s something Irish about everyone. Enjoy the energy and the spectacle of “Roverdance” (Unrated Version) From David, Mike, Elvis and the “green bagels”...

3 Ways to Save Money on Textbooks

Keeping costs down is always at the forefront of your mind when you’re shelling out tens of thousands of dollars a year for an education. There are tuition payments, registration fees, required materials and a host of other hidden expenses that are associated with going to school. Although you can’t skimp on tuition and things like rent and food are unfortunate necessities, there are ways to avoid paying top dollar when it comes to buying your textbooks. Most science tomes are, besides being incredibly heavy, gratuitously expensive. Luckily it’s fairly easy to avoid paying full-price for the latest edition of Campbell’s Biology if you consider using one of these other options first. 1. Utilizing the Internet Websites like http://www.bookfinder.com/textbooks/ allow you to search across multiple websites for the cheapest place to buy your desired textbook. All you have to do is input the ISBN number which you can easily find by searching Amazon.com and voila! Up will pop a list of places where you can buy the book with prices (usually) and shipping costs shown to help you choose the best deal. 2. Finding an Alternate Edition Many textbook companies come out with a newly updated (and usually pricier) edition each year which is ridiculous. How much could seriously change during that time to warrant the extra amount they slap onto the price of last year’s book? OK, I...

Here’s Hoping You Get Lucky This St. Patty’s Day

Our delegation has returned from Sochi in one piece despite some reported questionable housing arrangements. Take a look at just one of the amazing experiences in which they were able to take part. Here’s hoping you “get lucky” this St. Patty’s...

What If Your Anatomy Textbook Included These Dissections

Anatomy is definitely not a dull subject. Sure, many people think dissecting a cadaver is vile, but pre-meds and med students know it’s actually a very special opportunity to learn about the human body and develop a respect for its amazing complexity. So as horrifying as it may seem, studying anatomy and performing dissections is not something many people experience so don’t take your studies for granted! I do admit that sometimes, no matter how interesting the subject, studying it, over and over and over again, can be frustrating and off putting. So take break from your textbooks and check out this amazing artwork by Jason Freeny and see how creative and fun anatomy can be!     Permission to use these images was provided by Jason Freeny. Check out some of his other works by clicking...

Obama’s Interview with Zach Galifianakis Will Make You Cringe, Laugh, and Even Think, Maybe

If you’ve never seen some of these “Between Two Ferns” Interviews, you’ll definitely want to save some for future study breaks. Zach Galifianakis’s masterfully awkward interviewing skills meet their match in President Barack Obama as the interview stumbles over turkey pardons, Dennis Rodman’s diplomatic license, and same-sex divorce. They even get to discuss the Affordable Care Act: “Have you heard about the Affordable Care Act?” asks President Obama. “Yeah I heard about that,” Galifianakis responds. “That’s the thing that doesn’t work. Why would you get the guy who created the Zune to make your website?” Share and Comment on what you thought of the...

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