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June 6, 2008



Quick: How many doctors vs. lawyers do you think there are in DC? (Answer: 9,000 docs vs. 77,000 lawyers.) But Ed Shanbacker, who runs the Medical Society of DC (a physician advocacy group) is at even worse odds than that; the lawyers are all members of the DC Bar; his group is just 1500 volunteer members. And given DC's renowned liability insurance costs, and risks of awarding millions in non-economic malpractice, he's got big advocacy work to do. 


We swung by MSDC's Georgetown digs the other day. Ed says his focus is Medicare reform. As it stands, if nothing changes by July 1, there will be a 10.6% reduction in doctor reimbursements. Also scary, he says, is that if Medicare fees are reduced, private insurers will soon follow suit. In the past, Congress has delivered eleventh hour bandaids averting cuts; this year, Ed's hoping for a real solution that eliminates what he says is the faulty formula used to determine the payouts (i.e. the Sustainable Growth Rate). But he's not holding his breath and is pushing a temporary fix proposed by Michigan Sen. Stabenow.


Ed shows us his daily inspiration: a shot of St. Anton Am Arlberg in the Austrian Alps — a favorite ski haunt.

Also on Ed's radar: The Healthy DC Act, a bill by DC Council member David Catania, seeking universal health care by 2010. Ed testified before the Council last month to support the bill's goals (after all, the more people are insured, the less they'll crowd ERs) but pointed out the devil's in the details. For example, the bill increased Medicaid rates to match Medicare, but Ed wonders if Medicaid will now suffer the same cuts plaguing Medicare. Despite Carefirst removing itself as a partner, the bill passed.  


A Philadelphia-native and NYU grad, Ed moved to DC in '77 to work for the Department of Labor on the Black Lung Program, then became director of the Montgomery Country Medical Society until '95, when he came to MSDC. After 31 years in the area, Ed was still excited to duck out of the office to show us the Georgetown clipper in the waters of the C&O Canal. While he did recommend it to anyone looking to court a suitor (imagine: "Darling, you have a lock on my heart"), he's more likely to be found on a friend's sailboat in Newport or with his family at their house on St. Simon's Island in Georgia, where he says he's been "seduced by the live oaks and Spanish moss."

American Cancer Society Hits the Road


We spotted this bus yesterday at a Nats game: The American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network is taking to the streets — and the highways — as part of a six-month campaign to call for government action (oxymoron?) on cancer legislation. It's in the midst of a 48 state tour and already 10,000 fans have signed the bus. Next stop: Allegany County, MD, and Solomons Island before heading to VA. If only there were a rock band on board.   


CAN president Dan Smith appears to have found a seat on the Goodyear blimp. He told us an ACS-backed bill giving the FDA authority over tobacco has navigated both Congressional health committees, and a Bisnow source says it may see a House vote later this month. Dan says he grew up a Twins fan, but roots for the Nats now that he lives in Maryland. But if the two ever meet in the World Series, he's sticking by his first love.

Texas's Finest Leads NCCS


The nine month wait is over! No, we're not pregnant, but that's how long it took the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship to find its new President and CEO, Cathy Bonner. Cathy's Texas roots are diverse and impressive. She was Executive Director of the Dept. of Commerce under Ann Richards, founder of The Women's Museum, and led the effort to establish the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, funded by $3 billion in state bonds. Since she's still down South prepping for her August 1 start, she Pony Expressed us this photo from someone with a much better camera than ours. 

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