Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Themes

Wow -- busy morning already! Sorry I'm a little late on getting to the news, but here goes:

A new report finds that colonoscopies prevent cancer deaths. So please -- if you have symptoms, go to a doctor and get scoped. If you are age 50, start getting scoped regularly. I know it's no fun -- I've had more colonoscopies than most of you would have in three lifetimes. But if it saves your life? An easy call -- just do it.

The federal government awarded additional grants to states to create Exchanges where people will be able to shop for and buy health insurance. Ten states got these grants; four of them have Republican governors, including New Jersey, with the infamous Chris Christie.

Massachusetts, which has health reform very similar to the federal law, is beginning to lead the way on controlling costs.

A new federal program is focused on patient safety, but is it doing enough?

Like most states, California's budget problems has driven it to cut Medicaid (called Medi-
Cal in California) reimbursement rates to providers. Advocates in California sued, saying this would reduce access to health care for the poor. The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled for the advocates, blocking the cuts. But then, the Obama Administration approved the cuts, creating a disagreement between the courts and the federal government. Because of that, the Supreme Court ruled that the case had to go back to the 9th Circuit to consider the effects of the federal approval. For now, the state will continue to pay the higher reimbursement rates.

Meanwhile, in the private sector, California health insurers will be raising premiums from 8 to 14%. This way outpaces the cost of overall medical care, which has risen only 3.6% in the past year. So how do the insurers justify the rate hikes? We'll see.

In a ruling that echoes the fight going on in the country about contraceptive coverage, a judge in Washington State said the state can't require pharmacists to sell Plan B (the morning after pill) because it might infringe on their religious liberties. And what of women's right of access to health care?

Harnessing the power of the smart-phone for health monitoring -- the wave of the future. If patients are educated sufficiently and understand the readings they get -- and know when to call a doctor -- this could be a great advance.

An FDA panel has recommended approval of a new weight loss drug -- the first new one in many years.

Exercise fuels the brain, not only during exercise, but it helps with memory and concentration all the time.

And that's it for this morning. Have a great day! Jennifer

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