Monday, January 26, 2015

Boxing becoming legal in Norway again (but still not in Iceland)

The Economist has the story: Laws on boxing--Bouncing back

"More countries are allowing professional boxing, despite the risks

FIRST Sweden in 2007, then Cuba in 2013, and now Norway have left the small club of countries that ban professional boxing. The centre-right coalition in power since 2013 promised to cut taxes and red tape—and to let Norwegians indulge in pastimes its predecessors deemed too dangerous, including cheaper wine and spirits, jetskis and Segways. And last month 33 years without pro boxing came to an end, leaving Iceland with the Nordic region’s sole boxing ban.

Health concerns lay behind the Norwegian ban. (Cuba had considered the violence—and prize money—incompatible with Marxism.) The World Medical Association has long called for the sport to be outlawed everywhere. But Norway’s pugilists are delighted, as they can fight at home and earnings will rise."

HT: Mike Ostrovsky

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Domino liver transplants

At the University of Maryland, a woman who received a liver transplant from a deceased donor was nevertheless able to donate her liver to another patient...The Baltimore Sun has the story.

Rare domino liver transplant saves two lives

"The 52-year-old suffered from a rare genetic disease, familial amyloid polyneuropathy, that caused her liver to produce a protein that travels to other organs and sickens them. She had a stroke after the protein had begun to deposit in her heart, and she also had trouble walking.
?Dzielski underwent a lifesaving liver transplant in October. And although her old liver threatened her life, in the end it saved someone else's.

"During a nearly five-hour procedure at the University of Maryland Medical Center called a domino liver transplant, Dzielski received a liver from a deceased organ donor and then gave her liver to an Owings Mills woman.

"Other than the protein defect, Dzielski's liver was healthy, so it could be transplanted into someone else. But it needed to be an older person who likely wouldn't live long enough for the symptoms of familial amyloid polyneuropathy to appear. It typically takes years for the disease to show, which is why Dzielski didn't have problems until her 50s. In domino procedures, these livers are given to people at least 60 years of age."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Compensation for donating eggs is (taxable) income

Kim Krawiec at the Faculty Lounge finishes the story of the woman who claimed in tax court that her income from donating eggs for infertile couples was not taxable income, but rather payment for pain and suffering:

Taxing Eggs: The Decision

Regular Lounge readers may recall the Taxing Eggs Mini-Symposium we held here last February, which gathered a number of tax experts to discuss Perez v. Commissioner, No. 9103-12 (Feb. 14, 2014) (Holmes, J.), the first case addressing the inclusion in taxable income (and perhaps the proper characterization) of compensation received for the sale or donation of human eggs and related services. 
The decision was filed today and, as predicted by our panel of experts, held that the money received by Perez was not “damages” under I.R.C. section 104(a)(2) and must be included in gross income. Because both parties agreed that the payment was for services, however, the case doesn't address any capital gains issues.  
From the opinion, which is available here
We see no limit on the mischief that ruling in Perez’s favor might cause: A professional boxer could argue that some part of the payments he received for his latest fight is excludable because they are payments for his bruises, cuts, and nosebleeds. A hockey player could argue that a portion of his million-dollar salary is allocable to the chipped teeth he invariably suffers during his career. And the same would go for the brain injuries suffered by football players and the less-noticed bodily damage daily endured by working men and women on farms and ranches, in mines, or on fishing boats. We don’t doubt that some portion of the compensation paid all these people reflects the risk that they will feel pain and suffering, but it’s a risk of pain and suffering that they agree to before they begin their work. And that makes it taxable compensation and not excludable damages. 
I note that the case includes citations to articles by three of our Taxing Eggs participants: Bridget Crawford, Lisa Milot, and me. 
 (Oh my, this post does contain the three cardinal sins of blogging: content links, use of the first person, and self-promotion. Oops, I just did it again).
(HT: Lisa Milot)

Related Posts:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Compensation for kidney donors; overcoming repugnance, in the Atlantic

Some more discussion, in The Atlantic:

Is There a Moral Way to Fix America's Kidney Shortage?
"Legalizing the sales of organs would require a shift in public opinion—which might be more malleable than previously thought." by Bourree Lam

For those who need a transplant, the wait for an organ in America is growing longer: As Nobel economist Gary Becker lays in out in a recent op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, 95,000 Americans were on the waiting list for new kidneys in 2012, but only 16,500 kidney transplants occurred that year. Today, there are over 78,000 candidates waiting for an organ transplant.

"The exchange of kidneys represents what economists call a repugnant market: It could be made more efficient if people were allowed to pay for them, but there are ethical concerns about introducing money into the equation. As demand far outstrips supply—the average wait for a kidney has climbed to 4.5 years—there’s an increasing call for establishing a regulated organ market.

"A new NBER paper explores whether information—such as the depressing numbers above—affects people's attitudes toward an organ market. The researchers were interested to look at how morals about markets play out, and to measure how people respond to new information about a charged issue.

"First, they surveyed a control group on their attitudes about a regulated organ market—52 percent expressed a positive opinion. Next, a treatment group was required to read about the dire situation in the kidney transplant system in America. They were then asked to respond to various statements, including one about supporting a regulated organ market for live donors and families of deceased organ donors. Support for "regulated monetary payments for organ donors" for that group was 72 percent, significantly higher than the control group.

"Overall, they found that liberals and moderates were more sensitive to new information than conservatives. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those self-reporting lower income than the national median and those with a religious affiliation were both less in favor of payments for organs. And while the hope is that an official marketplace for organ would reduce organ theft, another huge concern is that allowing such transactions would expose cash-strapped individuals to exploitation.

"Solutions in recent years to the kidney shortage problem have included a matching system devised by Al Roth, who won a Nobel in economics for market design. In Roth's system, those who wanted to give a kidney to a loved one but couldn't because their blood types don't match, could be paired with another couple with the same problem. This program, the New England Program for Kidney Exchange, increased the number of matches. Another method is being pioneered in Israel to increase supply: You move up in the transplant waiting list if you've signed a donor card, or if a family member has donated an organ before.

"In both cases: No money changes hands, not as many problems. But as the organ-shortage problem persists, money seems to not only be the easy and extremely hard-to-swallow option—but also a last resort."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Payday loans

The NY Times has a discussion of payday loans, and whether and how they might be regulated. (See also my previous posts on payday loans.)


payday loansKevin J. Miyazaki/Redux for the New York Times
In his State of the Union address, President Obama presented a series of initiatives aimed at the middle class and the growing income inequality in the United States.
One thing on the minds of many working-class Americans is greater federal regulation of payday loans, the small, short-term high-interest loans that are currently under state jurisdiction. Critics of payday loans say they lead to a cycle of ballooning debt for consumers, who can rarely afford to pay them back and must take out more loans to stay afloat. But payday lenders say that strict rules would eliminate the industry and with it, the only viable lending option for people with bad credit.
Should payday loans be federally regulated?


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Kidney exchange in the UK: Algorithms

David F. Manlove and Gregg O’Malley. 2015. Paired and Altruistic Kidney Donation in the UK: Algorithms and ExperimentationJ. Exp. Algorithmics19, Article 2.6 (January 2015), 1.11 pages. DOI=10.1145/2670129

"We study the computational problem of identifying optimal sets of kidney exchanges in the UK. We show how to expand an integer programming-based formulation due to Roth et al. [2007] in order to model the criteria that constitute the UK definition of optimality. The software arising from this work has been used by the National Health Service Blood and Transplant to find optimal sets of kidney exchanges for their National Living Donor Kidney Sharing Schemes since July 2008. We report on the characteristics of the solutions that have been obtained in matching runs of the scheme since this time. We then present empirical results arising from experiments on the real datasets that stem from these matching runs, with the aim of establishing the extent to which the particular optimality criteria that are present in the UK influence the structure of the solutions that are ultimately computed. A key observation is that allowing four-way exchanges would be likely to lead to a moderate number of additional transplants."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Fellowship Matches in Orthopedic Surgery

The Journal of Bone and Joint surgery has a new article on the experience of the fellowship matches in orthopedic surgery, many of which started after a study of the (then unraveled) match process in the 2008 article,
Harner, Christopher D., Anil S. Ranawat, Muriel Niederle, Alvin E. Roth, Peter J. Stern, Shepard R. Hurwitz, William Levine, G. Paul DeRosa, Serena S. Hu, "Current State of Fellowship Hiring: Is a universal match necessary? Is it possible?," Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 90, 2008,1375-1384.

The new report, by Lisa K. Cannada, MD, Scott J. Luhmann, MD, Serena S. Hu, MD, and Robert H. Quinn, MD is
The Fellowship Match Process: The History and a Report of the Current Experience, 2015-01-01Z, Volume 97, Issue 1, Pages e3(1)-e3(7), The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

It's gated, so here are some relevant paragraphs:

"Beginning in 2007, there was substantial movement from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA) to promote a coordinated match process for orthopaedic fellowships. It is estimated that at least 90% of all orthopaedic surgery residents participate in a year of fellowship training 1 . The results of a survey at the 2007 AOA Symposium on Fellowships found that 79% of attendees believed that the current process was unacceptable and 87% believed that the process was unfair to residents 2 . The situation of those disciplines that were not in an organized match process was compared with problems often seen in a decentralized labor market 2 . A survey of residents indicated that 80% of residents were in favor of an organized match for fellowship and wanted a later date in their fourth postgraduate year for the decisions 2 .
"There have been previous attempts at a formalized match process for fellowship positions. However, the process for most subspecialties unraveled over time. The failure of the match process in the past was due to a variety of reasons: fewer applicants than positions, interviews in the third postgraduate year, early offering of positions, and the lack of a regulated process with a central agency for applications with deadlines 

The Orthopaedic Hand Surgery Fellowship Match is administered by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) and has been so since 1990.
The American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) made arrangements to administer their own match, which they have done since 2005.
The Sports Match was run through the NRMP until 2005. Sports rejoined the formal match process in 2008, using the San Francisco Match (SF Match).
The Adult Reconstruction Match joined SF Match in 2009, and the match is now run with the same applications and timeline as the Tumor Match. There has been no formal match in place for tumor fellowships in the past.
The Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) had a previous match that had failed, in part, because of noncompliance by the fellowship programs and directors. POSNA ran another match from 2008 to 2009 and joined SF Match in 2010.
The Spine Match involves cooperation among multiple societies: the North American Spine Society, the Cervical Spine Research Society, and the Scoliosis Research Society. They joined SF Match in 2009.
The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society was the pioneer in the new match process, initially beginning in 2006 through the NRMP. Subsequently, the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society joined SF Match in 2007.
The Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) had a match program in the 1990s that dissolved. The OTA reinstated the match in 2007, which was initially administered through the OTA. In 2008, the OTA formalized the match process through SF Match."

Another important aspect is the time away from work and the financial burden of interviewing. As mentioned, residents have an average of ten interviews. This number seems to be consistent between the subspecialties and to be representative of the number of interviews for the fellowship match process. The subspecialty societies have different approaches to the process. The OTA previously offered interviewing at its annual meeting in the fall. However, many programs still require on-site interviews. Currently, the OTA annual meetings offer information sessions from the programs. In this way, the applicants can meet and can interact with faculty and can decide if the program would be suitable for them. The meeting affords the applicants the ability to talk to the fellowship program faculty and current and past fellows before spending several hundred dollars on an interview. Sports fellowships attempt to offer regional interviews so that the applicant can attend several interviews in a short time period, saving time and the added expense of additional flights.POSNA permits interviews at the International Pediatric Orthopaedic Symposium. The society encourages applicants to attend formal interviews at the fellowship location, but it is not a requirement.The Board of Specialty Societies Match Committee has offered interview space to each subspecialty society during the AAOS Annual Meeting. One perceived limitation of regional or national meeting interviews is the inability of the applicant to see the program site firsthand.The cost of the interviewing process associated with the match process has been raised as a concern by applicants from almost every subspecialty society. The costs cited by applicants in the post-match survey response from the applicants ranged from $600 for the interview process to more than $5000.".."A previous reason cited for the failure of the previous matches was the lack of process regulation. To ensure the integrity of a match process, guidelines need to exist. The biggest concerns lie in the area of communication between applicants and programs after the interview. The precedent for the current strict rules could possibly be traced back to the failure of the previous matches in the 1990s and early 2000s. There was no universal match process at that time. The ASES rules state: “No communication between the applicant and program director/staff after the interview.” Likewise, the spine and sports subspecialties have similar strict rules of no communication. The sanctions that each society has in place are available on their web sites. The subspecialty society for the respective match imposes any sanction necessary. Most sanctions to the program involve restriction from participation in the match for a specific time period to fellowship faculty not being allowed to serve on subspecialty boards of directors and/or committees or to the program being banned from making podium presentations or receiving research grants. There have been no major sanctions reported by any subspecialty society.In conclusion, with the advent of a fellowship match and the increased number of applicants, the fellowship application process is not so different from the residency application process.