December 19, 2012
'Doc Fix' Package in Case Broader Deal Falls Apart
House Energy and commerce
Chairman Fred Upton is working on a stand-alone package that would extend
current payment rates for Medicare providers, even if leaders don't reach a deal
to avert the fiscal cliff.
Upton, R-Mich., said he is
working on a "Plan B" that would stop a scheduled 27 percent cut in Medicare
reimbursement rates for physicians starting Jan. 1. The package, which he said
would cost $30 billion over 10 years, is likely to maintain current
reimbursement rates for one year as well as extend some other expiring Medicare
payment policies. Upton said he had a list of offsets that "are not creative" to
cover the extension's cost.
The stand-alone package
would assure that physicians aren't hit with the payment cuts, even if lawmakers
can't agree on a deficit-reduction deal. A so-called "doc fix" would presumably
be part of any big year-end fiscal package.
Upton did not guarantee
passage of a full extension of the higher Medicare payment rates, but seemed
confident something would pass the House.
"I can't promise what the
Senate will do," he said.
Despite his Plan B, Upton
has not given up hope on the chances for a bipartisan deficit-reduction deal to
avoid the steep across-the-board spending cuts scheduled for 2013.
He said he was hoping for
"a grand package that makes a lot of sense to the taxpayers."
"We have time. The wheels
are spinning...Stay tuned," said Upton, an adviser in the debt talks to Speaker
John A. Boehner of Ohio. "We need to be working together on spending reform. So
far, we don't have much of an answer out of the White House," Upton added. "We
are ready as a conferences to have a big package if we can get it
Lobbyists and health care
provider groups have been pushing lawmakers for weeks to avert the planned
reductions in reimbursement rates. Leaders from rovider groups have been meeting
with staffers recently to try to hammer out details of another payment
Obama: Pot users
not 'top priority'
President Obama says the
federal government will not target recreational users of marijuana in states
that have now legalized pot.
"We've got bigger fish to
fry," Obama told Barbara Walters of ABC
News, in his first public comments on the topic since Colorado
and Washington voted to legalize marijuana on Nov. 6 referendums.
"It would not make sense
for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that
have determined that it's legal," Obama said.
It's a Mad, Mad,
Mad, Mad ObamaCare
For sheer political farce,
not much can compete with ObamaCare's passage, which included slipping the bill
through the Senate before dawn three Christmas eves ago. But the madcap dash to
get ready for the entitlement's October 2013 start-up date is a pretty close
The size and complexity of
the Affordable Care Act meant that its implementation was never going to easy.
But behind the scenes, even states that support or might support the Affordable
Care Act are frustrated about the Health and Human Services Department's special
combination of rigidity and ineptitude.
note: some WSJ content is
of Rate Shock Because of the New Health Law
Last week, I reported on my
informal survey of health insurance companies and their estimate for how much
rates will rise on account of the Affordable Care Act
Today, there are press reports quoting the CEO of Aetna
with their estimate. The Aetna estimate is worse than mine.
Health insurance premiums
may as much as double for some small businesses and individual buyers in the
U.S. when the Affordable Care Act's major provisions start in 2014, Aetna Inc. (AET)'s chief executive officer
Health Policy and Market
USA is living longer, but sicker
Americans are living
longer, with fewer deaths from heart disease and cancer, but more chronic
illnesses, an annual snapshot of the USA's health shows.
The 2012 America's Health Rankings highlight troubling
levels of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and sedentary behavior. Medical
advances are allowing more people to live with those conditions.
The bottom line: Americans
"are living longer, sicker" with more chronic illness, says Reed Tuckson of
theUnited Health Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation that sponsors the
report with the American Public Health Association and the Partnership for
Cancer Therapy Dinged Proton-Beam Treatment for Prostate Tumors No Better Than
Radiation, Study Says
In a finding likely to add
fuel to the debate over treatments for prostate cancer, proton-beam therapy
provided no long-term benefit over traditional radiation despite far higher
costs, according to a study of 30,000 Medicare beneficiaries published Thursday
in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Proton radiotherapy uses
atomic particles to treat cancer rather than X-rays and theoretically can target
tumors more precisely. But it requires a particle accelerator roughly the size
of a football field that typically costs about $180 million.
Note: some WSJ content is
FDA Looks to ASIPP
for Interventional Pain Therapy Guidelines as Alternatives to
With chronic pain
conditions now affecting more than 116 million Americans, The American Society
of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) has seen an increased demand for
interventional pain therapies to treat them. Epidurals are an essential
component of chronic pain treatment, particularly to curtail the use of
addictive painkillers (opioids), the use of which has reached epidemic
proportions in this country. While Americans age and live longer than ever
before, the numbers of those affected with chronic conditions will only continue
ASIPP emphasizes the need
for established guidelines for epidurals being that they have become a mainstay
of interventional pain management. These guidelines include when to use
epidurals, who should administer them, and why they should be embraced by the
entire healthcare industry. In 2012, the FDA requested that ASIPP and other pain
organizations provide guidelines to address certain safety concerns which have
Given the recent meningitis
outbreak associated with the use of interventional pain therapies, many
well-intentioned healthcare professionals are debating their continued use to
treat chronic pain conditions. Situations like these concern ASIPP's Chairman of
the Board and CEO, Laxmaiah Manchikanti, M.D. who states, "The meningitis
outbreak was not at all indicative of the efficacy and safety of epidural
injection treatments, it appears to have been the result of negligence on the
part of the company that manufactured the batches of steroidal medication.
Epidural injection therapy is still a safe and effective solution to treating
chronic pain, is a significantly less invasive and less risky treatment than
surgery and poses no threat of addiction as with narcotics."
Training Series Jan. 17-18
We are pleased to
announce a new and personalized training opportunity. The first ASIPP Expert
Training Series will take place on January 17 &18, 2013. This is an
exceptional educational experience on a variety of interventional pain topics
that provides a unique opportunity for a group limited to 4 physicians that will
spend two full days training exclusively on one specific interventional
procedure. The course series provides a full day in the operating room observing
the expert instructor performing the particular interventional procedure on
several patients. The January 17 &18 course will cover neurostimulation with
IPM expert, Frank Falco, MD, in Elkton,
The course features a
dinner/didactics session on the first night and lunch/didactics on both days.
The second day is a full 8 hours of cadaveric training on the interventional
procedure with 2 attendees per cadaver side by side with the expert instructor.
Attendees will be able to interact with the expert instructor, staff, and
patients during the course. Attendees will receive at the end of the second day
a certificate of course attendance with 20 CME credits.
This course is limited to
only 4 physicians so act fast!
To Register and for more
Champion Has Second Thoughts
It has been his life's
work. Now, Russell Portenoy appears to be having second thoughts.
Two decades ago, the
prominent New York pain-care specialist drove a movement to help people with
chronic pain. He campaigned to rehabilitate a group of painkillers derived from
the opium poppy that were long shunned by physicians because of their
Dr. Portenoy's message was
wildly successful. Today, drugs containing opioids like Vicodin, OxyContin and
Percocet are among the most widely prescribed pharmaceuticals in America.
Note: some WSJ content is
How Safe Are Your
If you think your medical
records are shielded from prying eyes, think again.
insurers, employers, the government, marketers, financial institutions, debt
collectors and data miners are among the growing horde that can get access to
your health-care information.
Note: some WSJ content is
Court: NJ Nurse
Anesthetists Must be Supervised by Anesthesiologists
The Superior Court of New
Jersey ruled against the New Jersey Association of Nurse Anesthetists, and held
up a state requirement that anesthesiologists must be present when nurse
anesthetists administer anesthesia in hospitals, according to the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
New Jersey Department of Health requires anesthesiologists be physically present
during patient induction, emergence and critical change in status when nurse
anesthetists administer general or major regional anesthesia, the ASA reported.
The ANA argued the Department of Health was overstepping its authority,
but the court disagreed for several reasons. The court referenced a previous
case, which established the administration of anesthesia as the practice of
medicine and also made note of the differences in education and training of
nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists.
Court document link: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a3852-10.pdf
Guilty Of Filling Hundreds Of Fraudulent Oxycodone Prescriptions
Tampa, Florida - A federal
jury yesterday found Emmanuel I. Mekowulu (56, Tampa) guilty of conspiring with
other persons to knowingly and intentionally distribute and dispense a
controlled substance, primarily Oxycodone, outside of a legitimate medical
purpose and not in the usual course of professional practice. Mekowulu faces a
maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. As part of the sentence, he will
also forfeit his Florida Department of Health Pharmacist License and the DEA
Registration and Florida Department of Health Pharmacy License for Felky Rx,
LLC, which were used to commit or facilitate the offense.
Mekowulu was indicted on
April 26, 2012. His sentencing is scheduled for March 11, 2013.
Portal ? New Resource for Clinicians Just a Click Away
Kimberly-Clark Health Care
recently held its first live cadaver course lecture via its online, proprietary
physician education training portal. The lecture, which was broadcast and
attended by a record number of viewers in more than 14 countries, showcased a
new method of training for its minimally-invasive cooled radiofrequency
procedures for treating chronic pain. During the live streaming lecture, viewers
were able to directly interact with faculty while observing procedural
The lecture will be made
available for on-demand viewing later this month. This is the first of several
lectures leveraging this new platform for global training to be offered on their
cooled radiofrequency technology. To register for the next lecture or keep
abreast of developments/information on Kimberly-Clark's cooled radiofrequency
technology visit http://kcpain.docstream.com/
Copyright © 2008
American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians ®
81 Lakeview Drive, Paducah, KY 42001
Phone 270.554.9412, Fax 270.554.5394