Healthcare Thursday

Who said death panel? Contrary to Sarah Palin's "death panel" claims, end-of-life care was shown to extend the lives of terminally ill lung-cancer patients, according to a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. On top of that, those patients were happier and experienced less pain, the study found.

The findings are sure to reignite last year's politically charged debate over palliative care, when Republicans accused the Democrats of endorsing “death panels” for a provision of their healthcare reform bill (later removed) that would have expanded Medicare and Medicaid payments to physicians who conduct voluntary consultations with patients about end-of-life care. 

The new study, Diane E. Meier, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, told the New York Times, "shows that palliative care is the opposite of all that rhetoric about ‘death panels.' "

Indeed, PolitiFact named the GOP's death panel accusation their “Lie of the Year.”

Trouble for BioShield? The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) on Thursday is expected to propose new strategies for combating bioterrorism — proposals that could potentially shift the government's focus away from the BioShield program, under which the FDA can expedite vaccines and other drugs designed to treat victims of bioterror attacks. 

BioShield has been seen as low-hanging fruit for Democrats in search of offsets for other legislative priorities, with party leaders already having eyed BioShield cuts to fund student-loan and war-spending bills. Those cuts haven't materialized, but Thursday's HHS report could lend a better sense of how the program will fare down the line.

Tech companies see dollar signs in healthcare reform. Silicon Valley's tech companies are eying a $10 billion provision of the new healthcare law as a catalyst to advancements in preventive care.