Archive: February, 2010
A dramatic rise in the number of cases of infectious syphilis among women of childbearing age led the Philadelphia Health Department of alert health-care providers and issue new screening guidelines Wednesday, my colleague Don Sapatkin reported.
The numbers were relatively small: 218 cases in 2009, including 23 among women ages 15 to 29. But that represented 360 percent increase from 2008 among young women, who can transmit the disease to their babies who are at risk of being born with mental retardation and physical deformities such as cleft palate.
Four cases of congenital syphilis were reported in the city last year. Cases of primary and secondary syphilis - the infectious stages - have been increasing around the country in recent years, particularly in big cities and the South.
The American College of Physicians, a Philadelphia-based organization representing 129,000 doctors and medical students across the nation, said President Obama’s proposed health care bill “has many of the key policies needed to make health insurance coverage available to all Americans, to ensure that patients have access to a primary care physician of their choice, and to reform payment and delivery systems to achieve better value.”
Specifically, the group said it supports the elements of the proposal that seek to make affordable health coverage available to most people and to boost payments for primary care doctors.
But the group wanted more changes to limit and change the way medical malpractice suits are handled. The college said the legislation should provide states with incentives to try alternatives to the current civil lawsuit system, including health courts and safe harbors for the practice of based on best methods – so-called evidence-based medicine.
In the midst of the recession, the effort to enact national health care legislation has been a boon to one part of the U.S. economy: Washington lawyers and lobbyists.
A report from the non-partisan, nonprofit Center for Public Integrity shows that more than 1,750 companies and other groups spent nearly $3.5 billion (yes that’s B for Billion) on some 4,500 D.C. lobbyists in 2009.
And with the renewed push for health care legislation by the Obama Administration heading into Thursday’s bipartisan summit, the money spent to influence the health care legislation on all sides of the spectrum – political, business, union, and advocacy –
s likely to add millions, or even billions, more to the total spending.
A new study from the American Medical Association says that the small amount of competition among health insurers in local markets is fast disappearing. The study found that in most places, one or two insurers dominated.
For example, the 46-page report found that Aetna had 82 percent of Camden, NJ residents who were health management organization members. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield had 12 percent of Camden’s HMO market. Those two insurers also dominated the preferred provider market with Aetna holding 52 percent of the market share to Horizon’s 24 percent.
Similarly, the AMA report said Aetna and United Health Care controlled 43 percent and 22 percent of combined HMO-PPO market-share in the Wilmington, Delaware metropolitan area respectively.
More than 13,000 patients contracted infections during their care at hospitals in Pennsylvania in the last six months of 2008, according to a report last month by the state Department of Health.
Nationwide these so-called health care-associated infections (HAIs) affect an estimated 1.7 million patients.
Pennsylvania residents can use this database to see how many infections your local hospital
While Americans are evenly divided on whether they support federal health care legislation, a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll conducted February 11 through February 16, 2010 found agreement among Democrats, Republicans and independents for various parts of the legislation.
Overall, the poll found 43 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed the health care bills. But majorities of Americans of all political affiliations support several provisions of the health care proposals in Congress and most say that politics rather than policy is responsible for delays in enacting the legislation.
At least 60 percent of Republicans, Democrats and independents agree that the legislation should include health insurance reforms, tax credits for small businesses, expanding the insurance risk pool, creating health insurance exchanges, and closing the so-called Medicare "doughnut" hole.
President Obama’s renewed push for health care legislation was front page news across the country today. After leaving the details the legislation largely in the hands of Congress last year, the White House posted the President’s $950 billion health care proposal online yesterday.
The White House proposals expanded on legislation that had passed the House and Senate. Reaction was split with Republicans criticizing the proposal and Democrats responding positively. The White House acted yesterday in advance of Thursday's so-called bipartisan meeting on health care.
The Administration has been on the offensive recently as it attempted to regain momentum to enact legislation on one of the President’s cornerstone domestic policy issues.
A coalition of Pennsylvania health-care groups, research organizations and colleges has been awarded a federal grant of $99.6 million to develop a statewide fiber-optic network that if built as proposed would span nearly 1,700 miles through 39 of the state’s 67 counties. The grant was made to the Keystone Initiative for Network-Based Education and Research.
“This project represents an extraordinary collaboration among our public and private universities, health care providers … and other public sector members to develop a network that will provide open access to a state-of-the-art broadband system at affordable cost,” said John C. Cavanaugh, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, in a statement.
The federal grant will bolster $29 million in private funding for the Pennsylvania Research and Education Network (PennREN). The federal money comes from last year’s $819 billion stimulus bill - the so-called American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.