Health Affairs Blog is pleased to host the post-April Fool’s edition of the Health Wonk Review, the biweekly round-up of the best of health policy blogging. Just to show that policy wonks can have a sense of humor, Dmitriy Kruglyak at Trusted.MD blog posts a spoof endorsing a new, improved “Health 2.0.”

Universal Coverage. A new, improved U.S. health care system was also the non-April Fool’s topic of choice among health policy bloggers now that Presidential candidates are promising universal coverage and health care is rising in political salience in polls. On the Health Affairs Blog, Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter and Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg write that if we’re going to go after universal access to health care, we need to bring the organizational practice into the 21st century: “If reform fixes access but leaves the delivery system unchanged, universal insurance combined with an aging population will mean that costs skyrocket. Only by truly restructuring the organization and delivery of care will dramatic improvements in value be achieved.” Vince Kuraitis takes exception to Porter and Teisberg on his e-Care Management blog, finding their prescription disappointing, unrealistic, and dangerous.

Matthew Holt, in a new gig on the Guardian‘s Comment is Free blog, provides a helpful overview of what the various Democratic Presidential candidates are proposing regarding universal coverage. On the Health Affairs Blog I offer a reading list for wonks (and candidates) who want some insight into why our last attempt at universal coverage failed during President (Bill) Clinton’s administration. 

Bob Laszewski reviews the National Coalition on Health Care’s reform proposal endorsed by a who’s who of health policy. Bob’s post on his Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review blog also makes an apt comparison for those opposed to a larger government role in health care:

“For all you folks out there now screaming, “Government controls,” let me ask you just one question? What do you think of Ben Bernanke and Alan Greespan? You know, the guys from that independent federal board that artificially controls the U.S. money supply? That wonderful capitalist institution of mega government managment. If the U.S. health care system needs one thing it is the management of its money supply and the Federal Reserve, with its political independence, is a good model to follow.”

But among those with concerns–and there were many–Jason Shafrin’s post stands out. On The Healthcare Economist he is skeptical whether a single-payer system could work in the long run. On InsureBlog, William Halper dishes the dirt (literally) on some negative consequences of socialized medicine. And Cato@Liberty blog submitted a slew of posts criticizing universal coverage proposals and goals, including: Michael Cannon on why socialized medicine’s lower administrative costs are a bad thing, and Michael Tanner on why Massachusetts’ reform plan is a slippery slope to government-controlled health care.

Health System Pet Peeves and Watchdogs. Meanwhile, back in the health system the way it exists today, David Williams of the Health Business Blog asks what it takes to get business-like, service-oriented primary care. His friend’s pet dog received it; why can’t we? 

Joe Paduda regales us on Managed Care Matters with the frustration of getting transparent cost information to make a “consumer-directed” decision. Matthew Holt calls for greater transparency from Kaiser Permanente on The Health Care Blog. United Healthcare is the target of Colorado Health Insurance Insider Jay Norris. And Julie Ferguson of Workers Comp Insider calls for better application of existing OSHA worker safety rules and oversight in the wake of the recent Texas BP disaster that killed 15 people and injured at least 180 others.

Pharmaceutical Regulation. Moving on to another government agency–the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)–we have an outstanding post by Fard Johnmar of Envisioning 2.0. Fard takes us on a roller coaster ride of the “wild” first few weeks since Andrew von Eschenbach has taken the helm of the agency. He observes that the FDA can’t seem to catch a break as observers on all sides pan its actions.

Roy Poses, a clinical associate professor at Brown University School of Medicine, blogs on Health Care Renewal about new proposals by the FDA to limit participation in advisory panels by people with large conflicts of interest. He writes that a recent Wall Street Journal commentary on the topic which draws heavily on the recent Vioxx case is based on some major misconceptions about the relevant clinical research.

Aging. To close this edition of HWR, Alvaro Fernandez of the Brain Fitness Blog discusses the aging brain and job performance. For myself, my hope is to stay just a fraction as sharp as my father-in-law, Paul Hiebert, whose memorial service I attended yesterday. In his last 2 months he wrote 2 books on anthropology, graded papers, lectured by phone, wrote a commencement address, and more, all while fighting cancer. His sharp brain advice to his students also holds for wonky bloggers–“just keep writing.”

Send your next HWR posts to Jason Shafrin of The Healthcare Economist by 9 am, Wednesday, April 18.