A Change Is Gonna Come

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Justine Cadet,
News Editor

The title of this 1964 Sam Cooke song, which has come to exemplify the Civil Rights Movement, holds particular relevance in this New Year with the ushering in of a new U.S. president who, along with his administration, has promised to alter many aspects of the current healthcare system.

Before those national changes take shape, occurrences that took place in 2008 have begun to manifest themselves. In February 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that federal medical device regulations trump state product-liability lawsuits unless the medical device company violated FDA policy. As a result of that case, a group of class-action lawsuits filed against Medtronic regarding its faulty Sprint Fidelis defibrillator leads was dismissed Monday, on grounds of federal preemption.

Over the past year, a congressional effort has led to increased transparency between physicians and industry, encouraging several major pharmaceutical companies, universities and medical device makers to disclose their financial ties. Edwards Lifesciences is the latest company that will post its fiscal relationships with physicians who receive $5,000 or more annually, on its website.

As a final point of reflection, a recently released CMS report revealed that U.S. healthcare spending grew 6.1 percent in 2007 to $2.2 trillion—an unexpected change because it was the slowest rate of growth since 1998. However, the same report indicated that healthcare spending continued to outpace overall economic growth, which grew by 4.8 percent in 2007.

As sure as Cooke sings, “I don't know what's up there beyond the sky,” we can be sure that 2009 will reveal another year of exciting cardiovascular news—news that Cardiovascular Business News will be sure to cover.

Justine Cadet, News Editor