Policy was the topic ZDNet Healthcare readers hated in 2009

Many of my policy posts disappeared under an avalanche of criticism. Criticism of the Obama Administration, criticism of the Congress, and criticism of me for daring to cover it as anything else but a direct threat to the republic.

The editors here at ZDNet have sent over a list of the 25 most-popular stories at this blog during 2009, and since I'm currently in Texas with the in-laws, I'm using the magic of publication delay to talk about them.

Let's start with the topic y'all hate me to write about, policy.

I don't much like it either, but it was the health care topic everyone else wanted to talk about, it is the background against which everyone in this business has to work, so it's something I wrote about frequently.

Many of my policy posts disappeared under an avalanche of criticism. Criticism of the Obama Administration, criticism of the Congress, and criticism of me (some of it intensely personal) for daring to cover it as anything else but a direct threat to the republic.

Still, some stories here that touched on policy did draw a good audience. Here they are:

Must Grady close to win health care reform? --This story from January 2008 was actually the 21st most popular story done here for 2009. It was written while Grady Hospital in my hometown of Atlanta was fighting for its life (it finally won a public-private lifeline) and its popularity may have been due to the charming picture of Glenn Beck, on his sickbed, that I used to illustrate it.

My own attitude may be illustrated best by this paragraph:

I doubt Glenn Beck would care about that, frankly. Not to pick on one man, but Beck is like most of us. He cares when the crisis hits him, as it did recently. Comedy is when you break your face, tragedy is when I get a hangnail.

The case against health care reform -- This March piece looked at Rick Scott's Conservatives for Patients Rights group and wound up as the 12th most popular post here during the year. I had already gotten an earful from critics of reform before this, and it showed in what I wrote:

The devil, as always, is in the details, and I have a problem with the name. Are liberals against patient rights? If moderates agree with these principles should they feel unwelcome? More important, has Scott noticed that “conservative,” as a brand, is not selling as it once did?

The emergency room myth busted -- This November piece was one of my most overtly opinionated, but still managed to be the 10th most popular post of the year here. It concerned a study in the Archives of Surgery, correlating an increased risk of death in emergency rooms to a lack of insurance. I illustrated it with a picture of one of the study's authors, Dr. Atul Gawande, who is also on the staff of The New Yorker.

Uninsured people had higher risks of death, even adjusted for age, sex, type of injury, etc. In some cases, like operating rooms, they were nearly twice as likely to die as insured patients, from the same injuries.

Stem cell debate to continue regardless -- This may have been one of the most accurate headlines I have written at ZDNet. This January 2008 piece managed to be the 8th most popular post here for all of 2009, with about 6,500 page views. It drew only 8 talkbacks, but apparently was consulted often later on:

Studying cancer stem cells is vital to affecting cures for what are now incurable cancers. The promise we mentioned earlier of the movie Hope – paralysis killed with stem cell therapy — is now being tried.

Never mind the implications, like Frankenmice. The research will go on. So will the cures. Science is unstoppable.

I sort of like that image of Frankenmice. But who needs such things when we have norway rats, now recognized by Wikipedia as the second most-successful mammal on the planet.

After bankers?

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