Longer Looks: Mayo's Demands; Posting Hospital Prices

Every week reporter Ankita Rao selects interesting reading from around the Web.

The New Republic: Held Hostage By A Hospital
When the billionaire owner of the Minnesota Vikings football team decided last year he wanted a new, $1 billion stadium, he did what sports franchise owners often do: threaten to relocate to another state—at least implicitly—and thereby wrung nearly $500 million dollars from taxpayers. ... this year, a different kind of local juggernaut threatened to take its business elsewhere unless Minnesotans helped pay for a multibillion-dollar new development: The Rochester-based Mayo Clinic. ... the state legislature in May approved $585 million in city, county and state funds for infrastructure upgrades to accommodate Mayo's 20-year, $5.6 billion expansion. (Mayo itself is covering $3.5 billion of the cost, while healthcare-related businesses are expected to contribute $2.1 billion.) Worried that Obamacare will hurt its bottom line, Mayo is betting its future on its ability to lure an greater percentage of the wealthiest and sickest patients to its dazzling high-tech hospitals (Ilan Greenberg, 7/24).

The New Yorker: Tweeting Death
In the week before her death, Simon began live-tweeting his mother’s final days to his almost 1.3 million followers from her hospital room. The tweets were poignant and haunting, and have brought Simon—already a mini-celebrity—a new level of renown. Total strangers read what he wrote and responded deeply. ... The tweets, which felt almost aphoristic (a mere hundred and forty characters each), underscored one of the strangest things about being with someone at the end of her life: the surreality of time, the way that time bends and distorts, becomes material. ... It’s our equivalent of the ringing of church bells in the town square, for better or for worse (Meghan O'Rourke, 7/31).

The New York Times: Status And Stress
Although professionals may bemoan their long work hours and high-pressure careers, really, there’s stress, and then there’s Stress with a capital “S.” The former can be considered a manageable if unpleasant part of life; in the right amount, it may even strengthen one’s mettle. The latter kills. What’s the difference? Scientists have settled on an oddly subjective explanation: the more helpless one feels when facing a given stressor, they argue, the more toxic that stressor’s effects (Moises Velasquez-Manoff, 7/27).

The New York Times: Revealing A Health Care Secret: The Price
The Surgery Center of Oklahoma is an ambulatory surgical center in Oklahoma City owned by its roughly 40 surgeons and anesthesiologists. What makes it different from every other such facility in America is this: If you need an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, you will know beforehand — because it's on their Web site — that it costs $6,990 if you self-pay in advance. … What's remarkable is that this is remarkable. Why should a business become the subject of news stories simply because it tells people the cost of its services? Because it's health care (Tina Rosenberg, 7/31).

Los Angeles Times: 'Critically Ill' Author Frederick Southwick On What Ails Our Healthcare System
Mary Southwick was 34 when she developed pain on the bottom of one foot. After seeing a neurologist who said she had a nerve injury caused by dancing, she developed thrombophlebitis and was admitted to the hospital. An intern underdosed her heparin (blood thinner), and she suffered a large blood clot in a lung. This was soon followed by a heart attack, then respiratory failure, renal failure and shock. … Frederick Southwick, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Florida in Gainesville, says his wife's trauma motivated him to write the book "Critically Ill: A 5-Point Plan to Cure Healthcare Delivery." Here he offers some guidance to negotiate the healthcare system (Judy Mandell, 7/26).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.