News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

News Headlines Article

Working full-time for health coverage? Many who want part-time jobs are stymied by costs
USA Today

Maurice Wysocki, an information technology worker, was looking to branch out on his own as a contractor last year, allowing him a more flexible schedule and sharply reduced hours some months of the year.

But then the Poughquag, New York, resident hopped on the federal health care exchange to see how much he would have to pay for insurance for himself, and his wife and two children.

“It was a huge amount,” Wysocki, 49, says, roughly 10 times his current costs as an employee of a financial services company.

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Democrats Pledged to Lower Health Costs. They Just Haven’t Figured Out How.
New York Times

No issue animated the Democrats’ 2018 congressional campaigns like health care and the promises to expand access to insurance and to lower costs. But as House Democrats sit down to draft their vision of governance in the coming weeks, lawmakers find themselves badly divided on the issue that delivered their majority.

Centrists from swing districts, with the tacit support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, favor incremental moves to shore up the Affordable Care Act and to lower the out-of-pocket costs of prescription drugs and medical care.

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Medicare wellness visits are supposed to be free — unless you call it a physical.
Washington Post

When Beverly Dunn called her new primary care doctor’s office last November to schedule an annual checkup, she assumed her Medicare coverage would pick up most of the tab.

The appointment seemed like a routine physical, and she was pleased that the doctor spent a lot of time with her.

Until she got the bill: $400.

Dunn, 69, called the doctor’s office assuming there was a billing error. But it was no mistake, she was told. Medicare does not cover an annual physical exam.

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MedPAC wants to boost Medicare acute-care hospital payments 2.8%
Modern Healthcare

Medicare payment advisors are expected to call on Congress to boost payments to hospitals by 2.8%, with some of the raise going to fund a revamped quality program.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission made the recommendation in its March report to Congress expected to be released on Friday, the executive director of the commission said. It is rare for MedPAC to call for a payment above current law, but the panel was concerned that high-quality hospitals were losing money under Medicare.

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Healthcare breaches reported in February exposed data on 2 million people
Modern Healthcare

Providers, health plans and their business associates reported 31 data breaches to HHS‘ Office for Civil Rights in February.

All in all, these breaches compromised data from more than 2 million people. That’s up more than 500% from the 309,644 people affected by healthcare breaches reported in February 2018.

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Death By 1,000 Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong
Kaiser Health News

The pain radiated from the top of Annette Monachelli’s head, and it got worse when she changed positions. It didn’t feel like her usual migraine. The 47-year-old Vermont attorney turned innkeeper visited her local doctor at the Stowe Family Practice twice about the problem in late November 2012, but got little relief.

Two months later, Monachelli was dead of a brain aneurysm, a condition that, despite the symptoms and the appointments, had never been tested for or diagnosed until she turned up in the emergency room days before her death.

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Many transgender people drive hours to find health care. These advocates are trying to change that.
Washington Post

For seven years, Kyndra Purnell could find no clinic near her home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that would prescribe the hormones she desperately needed. She was forced to rely on the black market, buying estrogen injections from the few other transgender women she knew in the area.

Then, about three years ago, she found Chase Brexton Health Services, a medical provider in Baltimore that offers hormone replacement therapy and other types of health care for the transgender community.

But the clinic was more than two hours from Purnell’s home in Ocean City.

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Most Catholic hospitals don’t disclose religious care restrictions
Modern Healthcare

A large majority of U.S. Catholic hospitals do not disclose on their websites that they have religious policies limiting the types of reproductive and end-of-life services offered at their facilities and by their affiliated physicians, a new study found.

Only 28% of 646 Catholic hospitals listed in the Catholic Health Association’s directory specified how their religious affiliation might influence patient care, according to a new research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Twenty one percent did not explicitly disclose their Catholic identity, according to the researchers’ analysis of websites conducted from July 2017 to January 2018.

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The Risks Of A Cesarean Section
National Public Radio

It happened almost a decade ago, while Dr. Salome Maswime was doing her medical internship at a small hospital in rural South Africa.

She was in a morning staff meeting when a junior doctor burst in, in a panic.

A young woman in need of an emergency cesarean section had reacted badly to the epidural, or spinal anesthetic, the doctors had administered. The anesthesia had spread farther than it was meant to.

“This was not an uncommon complication. We should have been prepared to manage this,” Maswime says. But they weren’t. “All of us at this hospital were quite junior — there were really no specialists.”

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To really help a family in crisis, here are a few good rules to follow
Washington Post

In late May 2013, our family went from zero to catastrophe in 24 hours: my husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic lung cancer, even though he’d never smoked a day in his life.

The news was surreal, like someone telling me my husband was turning into a kangaroo. Our family spent the next 4 1/2 years in a terrible twilight, the 21st-century reality of smart drugs and cyber­knifing, clinical trials and contrast-CT scans. And then my husband died, plunging my boys and me into crisis.

Throughout it all, friends, colleagues, neighbors, family members sounded the same refrain:

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Is It Alzheimer’s Or Another Dementia? The Right Answer Matters
National Public Radio

In the U.S., older people with dementia are usually told they have Alzheimer’s disease.

But a range of other brain diseases can also impair thinking, and memory and judgment, according to scientists attending a summit on dementias held Thursday and Friday at the National Institutes of Health.

These include strokes, a form of Parkinson’s disease, and a disease that damages brain areas that regulate emotion and behavior.

 ”There’s a host of things that can cause loss of cognitive function,” says Dr. Julie Schneider, a professor at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago and scientific chair of the NIH summit. And many patients have more than one disease affecting the brain, she says.

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Many Guidelines For Heart Care Rely On Weak Evidence
National Public Radio

Doctors turn to professional guidelines to help them identify the latest thinking on appropriate medical treatments, but a study out Friday finds that in the realm of heart disease, most of those guidelines aren’t based on the highest level of evidence.

A paper in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, that was released online ahead of print, finds that less than 10 percent of cardiovascular guidelines are based on the most carefully conducted scientific studies, known as randomized controlled trials. A lot of the rest are based on much weaker evidence.

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Doctor: Teens who want vaccines shouldn’t need parental consent
USA Today

How should doctors like me approach teens like Ethan Lindenberger, who asked to be vaccinated against his mother’s wishes?

Should we refuse a teenager the right to protect himself from a preventable disease or respect the authority of the parents for raising their child as they see fit?

As a physician who cared for critically ill children for more than 30 years at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona, I’ve taken care of several young children who were not vaccinated and who developed measles, leading to advanced medical care.

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HCA to acquire majority stake in nursing school’s parent company
Modern Healthcare

Nashville hospital giant HCA Healthcare has built-in protection against the nursing shortage: It owns nursing schools.

HCA, one of the country’s largest health systems, announced this week it intends to buy a majority stake in the parent company that owns Galen College of Nursing, a private nursing school with five campuses. It would be HCA’s third nursing school investment.

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