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Free Speech Ain’t What it Used to Be

August 19, 2015

By Shannon Brownlee, MSc

Last week, an American heroine died. A family doctor who went to work for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1960, Frances Oldham Kelsey prevented thalidomide from being marketed in the U.S., a decision that saved thousands of children from terrible birth defects.

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How the American Medical Association’s secretive panel drives up health care costs

July 16, 2015

By Vikas Saini, MD and Shannon Brownlee, MSc

A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows how heavily the government relies on a select panel of American Medical Association physicians for setting the rates that physicians who treat Medicare patients are paid. The secretive group, known as the Relative Value Scale Update Committee, or RUC for short, has long operated with an astonishing lack of transparency for a private entity in the business of advising government. The RUC can be held at least partly responsible for the current shortage of primary care physicians and the high cost of American healthcare.

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