March 20, 2013
'Seriously' Weighing 2016 Bid
Before Thursday, Rand Paul - tea party firebrand - hadn't vaulted
into the top tier of Republican power players.
But all that seemed to
change this week. The Kentucky Republican senator showed serious clout by
holding a 13-hour filibuster to delay the confirmation of President Barack
Obama's candidate to head the CIA, John Brennan.
Paul himself seemed to
appreciate that this was an important moment for himself, confidently
acknowledging to POLITICO in an interview that he was "seriously" considering
running for president in 2016.
|The End of
Fee-for-Service in 5 Years?
fee-for-service payment could disappear by the end of the decade if a plan newly
released by the National Commission on Physician Payment
Reform (NCPPR) is followed. The commission's
members have issued a report they say
details a series of sweeping recommendations aimed at reining in health spending
and improving quality of care by fundamentally changing the way doctors are
Chaired by former Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation president Steven A. Schroeder, MD, with former Senator
Majority leader Bill Frist, MD, as honorary chairman, the NCPPR is urging a
transition over 5 years to a blended payment system that it says will yield
better results for both public and private payers, as well as patients.
"We can't control runaway
medical spending without changing how doctors get paid," Dr. Frist says. "This
is a bipartisan issue. We all want to get the most from our healthcare dollars,
and that requires re-thinking the way we pay for healthcare."
Satisfaction Decreasing, According to Study
Satisfaction and usability
ratings for certified electronic health records (EHRs) have decreased since 2010
among clinicians across a range of indicators, according to survey results
released by the American College of Physicians (ACP) and AmericanEHR Partners in
a presentation, "Challenges with Meaningful Use: EHR Satisfaction &
Usability Diminishing," at the 2013 HIMSS Conference and Exhibition in New
Overall, user satisfaction
fell 12% from 2010 to 2012. Users who are "very dissatisfied" increased 10%
during the same time period.
increasing regardless of practice type or EHR system," says Michael S. Barr, MD,
MBA, FACP, who leads the ACP's medical practice, professionalism and quality
division. "These findings highlight the need for the meaningful use program and
EHR manufacturers to focus on improving EHR features and usability to help
reduce inefficient work flows, improve error rates and patient care, and for
practices to recognize the importance of ongoing training at all stages of EHR
Deadly TB Exposure Grows Along U.S.-Mexico Border
Mexico-He was like many people in their early 20s, at least the
type with spiky black hair and two lip rings. Four years ago, while living in
this teeming border city, Gonzalo Garcia says he spent free time in the U.S., to
shop, meet girls, and "hang out." He had no idea he was developing a potentially
deadly form of tuberculosis.
Exactly how long he had it
will never be known. He says he started losing weight and becoming tired and
tried to get help. But it took a year before a doctor finally figured out what
was wrong: He had a drug-resistant strain of TB. "Many doctors said I was just
fine," said Mr. Garcia, sitting in the clinic where he was cured.
To this day, it isn't clear
if he infected anyone on either side of the border while he was contagious. But
his tale illustrates a nagging concern among health officials who say the
2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico could become a breeding ground for
one of the hardest forms of TB to treat. Already, both California and Texas, as
well as some states on the Mexico side of the border, have unusually high rates
of drug-resistant TB.
"This is a very hot region"
for drug-resistant TB, said Rafael Laniado-Laborin, chief of Tijuana General
Hospital's tuberculosis clinic and laboratory, who has had an influx of new
patients recently-including one who recently returned from the U.S. and is in
the middle of treatment. With tuberculosis of any form, people can get around
until the disease is quite advanced. "You will go and work and move around," he
said. "You will transmit the disease before you know you're sick."
Awards $8.3 Million Over J&J Hip Implants
A court jury in Los Angeles
on Friday awarded $8.3 million in damages to man who said he was injured by Johnson & Johnson's JNJ
+0.57% all-metal hip implants, which the jury found were designed
The verdict ended the first
case to go to trial of about 10,750 product-liability lawsuits against J&J's
DePuy unit, which manufactured the ASR XL hip-replacement devices.
After a five-week trial,
the jury in California Superior Court in Los Angeles County also rejected the
plaintiff's claim that DePuy failed to adequately warn of the risks associated
with ASR XL, J&J said Friday. The jury declined to award punitive damages.
Treat Hepatitis C Now or Hold Out?
Janie Munesue, who works at
a dance studio in Illinois, is holding out for new hepatitis C drugs, in part,
because current treatments would hurt her active lifestyle.
Being diagnosed with a
potentially fatal disease usually triggers immediate treatment. But a growing
number of people infected with hepatitis C are putting off therapy, choosing
instead to roll the dice and wait for a new generation of drugs to become
The new drugs, which could
begin hitting pharmacies in a year or two, promise to cure hepatitis C more
effectively and with far fewer harsh side effects than the current regimen of
medications. The disease, which attacks the liver, often progresses slowly,
giving certain patients leeway in when to seek treatment. And doctors regularly
monitor these patients to check if the disease has significantly worsened. Up to
four million Americans are estimated to be infected with the hepatitis C
Afford to Get Older?
As long-term-care insurance
costs spiral higher, you might wonder if it makes sense to keep your coverage.
Premiums for many
policyholders have doubled over the past three years. Depending on a policy's
features and your age, long-term insurance can cost $4,000 to $6,000 a year or
Yet dumping an existing
policy is painful. You will lose perhaps tens of thousands of dollars in
premiums paid over the years. And as you get older, you are statistically more
likely to need long-term care.
Warnings On Pfizer Antibiotic
WASHINGTON-The U.S. Food and Drug Administration strengthened
warnings on Pfizer Inc.'s PFE
-1.10% antibiotic Zithromax, saying there is a small chance the
product may trigger a potentially fatal, irregular heart rhythm.
Zithromax is a commonly
used antibiotic that is also available as a generic drug, azithromycin.
The FDA posted a notice on
its website Tuesday, stating that the drug label for azithromycin has been
updated to warn that the product cause changes in the heart's electrical
activity, which in turn can cause abnormal heart rhythms.
The agency said patients
who are at higher risk of developing heart-related electrical problems include
those with existing heart trouble, those with low blood levels of potassium or
magnesium and people with a slower-than-normal heart rate.
My Cure for Sick
NHS, by David Cameron's New Health Tsar Don Berwick
In his first interview with
a British newspaper since his appointment, Professor Don Berwick said that trust
in the health service would only be restored by instilling a new culture that
tolerates not "a single injury".
He said that he believed
the NHS could be transformed into the safest health care system in the world.
It should aspire to being
as safe as the aviation industry, he said, arguing: "The sky's the limit."
Prof Berwick, who used to
advise Barack Obama, said wholesale changes to the "attitude or culture" of the
NHS were needed if this was to happen.
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Good Bedside Manner to Debt Collection by Starting Debt M.D.
Any patient will tell you
that a good bedside manner is just as important as solid medical credentials. As
far as Dr. Hubert Fu is concerned, that extends as much to the practice of debt
collection as it does to the practice of medicine.
Hoping for a kinder and
gentler experience for both patient and physician, Fu co-founded Debt M.D., a
collection service that operates on a philosophy of patient respect. It is a
unique debt collection model, and one that is drawing quick attention. Debt M.D.
is also believed to be the only physician-owned and -operated collection agency
in the country.
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