The WonkLine: April 8, 2009

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 10 a.m. roundup of the latest news about health care, the economy, national security and climate policy. This is what we’re reading. Tell us what you found in the comments section below, and subscribe to the RSS feed.


Just-released Antarctic maps that show the disintegration of ancient ice shelves due to global warming were “finished in the middle of last year” but suppressed by the Bush Interior Department.

“Scientifically,”humanity can prevent catastrophic climate change — “But it’s unlikely given the level of political will,” scientific experts told Reuters.


CEQ Chairwoman Nancy Sutley explained that a cap-and-trade system will “encourage the development and deployment of the clean-energy technologies that will be critical to address climate change, enhance energy security and create jobs that can’t be outsourced.”


The Washington Post reports that “construction firms are so eager for work in the sagging economy that project bids are coming in much lower than expected, allowing state and local governments to stretch their federal stimulus dollars further.”

TARP Inspector General Neil Barofsky has begun “auditing payments made by the American International Group to counterparties in its dealings, including Goldman Sachs.”

Dani Rodrik on what it would take “to make international finance safe”: “Lots of things, but one thing for sure is a true international lender-of-last-resort.”

National Security

A U.S.-flagged cargo ship with 21 American crew members on board was hijacked by Somali pirates early this morning. BBC news reports that its “the first time a vessel with an all-American crew has been seized by the Somali pirates.”


Fidel Castro met with U.S. officials for the first time since July 2006, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus sat down with him and his brother, President Raul Castro, in Cuba yesterday.

According to a secret recording of psychologist Douglas McNinch, clinicians “are being pressured” by the Army to not diagnose post traumatic stress disorder, because soldiers had not seen enough trauma to have “serious PTSD issues.”

Health Care

According to a recent survey, only “62 percent of employers felt strongly they would have healthcare benefits available for employees 10 years down the road.” “The number is 11 percentage points lower than a year ago.”

The Boston Globe explains that “a decade after HMOs provoked an angry public backlash for being too focused on the bottom line, managed care is making a comeback,” in the form of a medical home.

Business Week reports on ‘how Kaiser Permanente went paperless’: “Today, all of its medical clinics and two-thirds of its hospitals operate in a paperless environment and the rest are scheduled to be completely digitized by next year. Across the system, about 14,000 physicians access electronic medical records for 8.7 million patients. “