Progress Lags in Infection Prevention and Health DisparitiesJune 7th 2010
Little progress has been made in eliminating health care–associated infections (HAIs), according to the 2009 National Healthcare Quality Report and the National Healthcare Disparities Report recently issued by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).1
Conn Bill to Require Public Disclosure of Hospital ErrorsApril 17th 2010
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has backed a bill that will require hospitals in Connecticut to disclose publicly all adverse events that occur in their facilities. Previously, hospital errors were reported but specifics of the errors, including where they occurred, were never disclosed because of a confidentiality provision enacted in 2004 that allowed the health department to list the overall medical errors without naming a hospital.1
A group of 18 senators have proposed to reverse a policy that imposes a lifetime ban on donating blood for men who have had any gay sex since 1977. In writing to the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the lawmakers stressed that the science has dramatically changed since the ban was established in 1983 at the emergence of the HIV/AIDS crisis.1
“Vaccine Court” Says Autism Not Linked to ThimerosalApril 17th 2010
Thimerosal, the organomercurial compound commonly used as a preservative in vaccines, does not cause autism, ruled the so-called vaccine court, a special branch of the US Court of Federal Claims that was established to handle claims of injury caused by vaccines. In this case, a group of parents who are convinced that there is a connection between the additive and autism were told that they had failed to prove their belief.1
Three years after the FDA’s authority was broadened to allow it to require pharmaceutical manufacturers to conduct additional clinical studies or change medication labels (among other new powers), the FDA still has concerns about medication risks. Drug safety has always been an issue for the FDA, but given the recent high-profile troubles with the recalled painkiller Vioxx (rofecoxib), the contaminated blood-thinner heparin, and the sometimes fatal cardiac effects of the diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone), it is clear to the FDA that it needs to have better oversight when it comes to medication safety.
Government Poised to Pay Bulk of US Health Care TabMarch 26th 2010
By 2012, federal and state programs will pay slightly more than half of the nation’s health care costs whether or not any health care reform measures are passed, according to a recent report by the Office of the Actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.1 As expected, the shift to a government-dominated health care sector is approaching faster than expected because of an economy in recession and because of the aging of the baby boomers, millions of whom will soon start signing up for Medicare.
Cancer Care Is Jeopardized by Medicare ReimbursementMarch 26th 2010
Changes to Medicare’s reimbursement plans have inadvertently cut payments to cancer specialists, causing many cancer care centers to lose money and possibly close, according to results of a study commissioned by the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), an advocacy group for oncologists who practice outside of large hospital centers.1
Top Lobbyist for PhRMA to Step DownMarch 9th 2010
Amidst the Democrats floundering to pass their health care reform bill after the balance of power shifted when a Republican won the Massachusetts Senate race, WJ “Billy” Tauzin, a Democrat turned Republican, announced that he will step down in June as head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
Health Care Reform: Will It or Won’t It?February 24th 2010
After Republican Scott Brown was elected into the US Senate in January, President Obama acknowledged that his health care reform bill could die on Capital Hill. As many Democrats looked to the White House for guidance about how to keep the bill on a forward path, President Obama seemed less than optimistic about the bill’s passage. At a fundraising event, the President stated “it’s very important for us to have a methodical, open process over the next several weeks, and then let’s go ahead and make a decision.” This statement was miles away from his previous exclamations of “Yes we can.”
More Recovery Act Dollars Awarded to Buoy Up Community Health CentersFebruary 18th 2010
Nearly $600 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) was awarded to 85 federally qualified community health centers to support major construction and renovation projects and help adopt electronic health record and other health information
Medicare to Cover HIV Screening TestsFebruary 18th 2010
The list of covered preventive services for Medicare beneficiaries has expanded to include screening for HIV infection, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This test will now be available to Medicare beneficiaries at increased risk for HIV infection, including women who are pregnant and any Medicare beneficiary of any age who requests testing.1
Diabetes Drugs Fell in the Doughnut HoleFebruary 18th 2010
The gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage, or the doughnut hole, may be why many seniors with diabetes are not adhering to medications. Researchers from Kaiser Permanente and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, focused their study on what happens during the gap, or when patients are paying for their medications out of pocket.1
Health Care Reform: The Impact of the Massachusetts Senate RaceJanuary 17th 2010
On January 15, 2010, top congressional Democrats reported that they were “close” to an agreement with the White House on cost and coverage issues and that a draft would soon be sent to the Congressional Budget Office, the official authority on the cost and extent of coverage that any new legislation would provide. However, the outcome of the Massachusetts Senate race has created a significant obstacle to passing a health care reform bill for the Democrats in the Senate.
Health Care Reform: House Vs SenateDecember 16th 2009
The US House of Representatives and the US Senate versions of the health care reform bill have grown further apart. Although a bill containing a public option has passed in the House, Senate Democrats announced that they have agreed on a package of provisions to replace the public option.