FOCUS OF THE WEEK
Prescription Painkiller Deaths Slowing Down, CDC Finds
Deaths from overdoses of prescription painkillers are not rising as quickly, but the reasons for that trend are unclear and could be linked to the legalization of marijuana, according to reports released today.
HealthCare.gov Schedules Maintenance, Gears Up for 2015 Open Enrollment
Open enrollment season is almost upon us. That will bring a test of whether the website for the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov can perform better in its second year than in its disastrous debut.
NJ Sober Living Homes Bill Points Up Challenges of Addiction Care
A bill in New Jersey to regulate sober living homes points up a quandary of trying to bring resources to those struggling with addiction: too few rules can put people with mental health issues at risk. But too many could put facilities out of business, leaving even fewer places for addicts, who may have few resources, to seek care.
Call for Genetic Testing for All Women Over 30 Raises Ethical, Practical Concerns. Then, There’s the Cost. An AJMC Exclusive
The call for all women age 30 and older to have genetic testing for the mutations that cause breast and ovarian cancer raises a host of ethical and practical concerns, to say nothing of the cost, which could run in the billions of dollars in the United States, according to a physician for a major insurer who has implemented a genetic counseling policy.
US Kids and Teens Eating Too Much Salt, CDC Finds
US school children and especially teens are eating too much salt, and they’re doing so with the staples of the American diet – things like pizza, bread, snacks, chicken nuggets, and cheeseburgers. Children ages 6-18 consumed 42 percent more sodium on average than needed, with teens consuming nearly 60 percent more than recommended levels, according to a 2009-2010 survey released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Virginia’s McAuliffe Scales Back Medicaid Plans Ahead of Special Session
After vowing earlier this year to find a way to expand Medicaid to 400,000 Virginians, Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe conceded yesterday he’d been cornered by Republicans in the Legislature determined to thwart his plans. McAuliffe yesterday unveiled a modest plan to extend Medicaid to 20,000 residents with severe mental illnesses and 5,000 children of state workers.
JAMA Dermatology Authors Seek Policy Change in Melanoma Screening in US
Writers in the recent issue of JAMA Dermatology call on the healthcare system to change the way the nation screens for melanoma, citing the $291 million annual cost of treating the disease and the $2.85 billion costs in lost productivity, which they say could be trimmed if cases were caught earlier.
Smoke-Free Homes Now the Overwhelming Norm, Even in Tobacco States, CDC Reports
Growing up in a smoke-free home is now the overwhelming norm for most Americans, with the share of smoke-free homes nearly doubling in the 20 years that ended in 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today in a new study. Overall, the prevalence of smoke-free home rules increased from 43 percent during 1992–1993 to 83 percent during 2010–2011, according to the study, which appears in today’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report, published by CDC.
What Will Drive the Expected Rise in US Healthcare Spending?
Yesterday’s government report that healthcare spending will start rising faster after a decade of historically slow growth raises questions: Will rising numbers of insured people drive the spending? Or are healthcare costs going up on their own? The answer is likely some of each, based on a look at trends within yesterday’s report and a just-released study of spending by commercial health plans, published in The American Journal of Managed Care.
Louisiana’s Jindal Feeling Heat As Hospital Privatization Hits Bumps
Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is facing fresh criticism for refusing to expand Medicaid, after his administration scrambled to keep the doors open at an emergency room in the state capital. Yesterday, Democratic state legislators gathered across the street from Baton Rouge General Mid City hospital, which nearly closed its emergency room last week before the Jindal Administration came through with a state-federal cash infusion that totaled $18 million to cover uncompensated care.