Daily Rounds: Cardiologists For Sale; Republicans Rethink Medicare; Local Cancer Cuts; 'Pointless' Outdoor Smoking Ban

Medical groups sell companies access to their membership -
SAN FRANCISCO — From the time they arrived to the moment they laid their heads on hotel pillows, the thousands of cardiologists attending this week's Heart Rhythm Society conference have been bombarded with pitches for drugs and medical devices. Who arranged this commercial barrage? The society itself, which sold access to its members and their purchasing power. Last year's four-day event brought in more than $5 million, including money for exhibit booths the size of mansions and company-sponsored events. This year, there are even more "promotional opportunities," as the society describes them.

Republicans Shelve Medicare Overhaul Plan -
House Republicans signaled Thursday that they were backing away from the centerpiece of their budget plan — a proposal to overhaul Medicare — in a decision that underscored both the difficulties and political perils of addressing the nation’s long-term fiscal problems. While top Republicans insisted that they remained committed to the Medicare initiative, which had become the target of intense attacks by Democrats and liberal groups in recent weeks, the lawmaker who would have to turn the proposal into legislation said he had no plans to do so any time soon.

Local cancer centers face budget cuts - White Coat Notes -
Facing a tough budget environment, the National Cancer Institute will still manage to fund almost the same number of grants this fiscal year as last year despite a 1 percent budget cut, agency director Dr. Harold Varmus said today during a visit to the Globe. In order to do that, however, the Institute will make cuts to a number of programs, including 5 percent cuts to grants that support designated cancer centers, including MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.
"Everything is on the table for the new Republicans ... We have no champions," he said. "Nobody is coming to our defense."

A Smoking Ban Too Far -
Boston University professor Michael B. Siegel in an op-ed:
A ban on outdoor smoking may provide a symbolic victory. But from a public health perspective, it’s pointless. Instead, antismoking organizations should focus on extending workplace protections, already enjoyed by millions of New Yorkers, to the 100 million Americans still denied the right to work without having to breathe in secondhand smoke.

This program aired on May 6, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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