Friday, March 30, 2012

House Passes Ryan Budget Plan, Including Medicare Reform 228-191.

The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, Fram) reports "a divided House" voted 228-191 Share to FacebookShare to Twitter Thursday to approve a "$3.6 trillion Republican budget...recasting Medicare and imposing sweeping cuts in domestic programs, capping a battle that gave both political parties a campaign-season stage to spotlight their warring deficit-cutting priorities." The AP says the "partisan divisions over the measure, which is dead on arrival in the Democratic-led Senate, also underscores how tough it will be for lawmakers to achieve the co-operation needed to contend with a tsunami of tax and spending decisions that will engulf Congress right after this fall's elections."
        USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/30, Davis) notes the "strict party-line vote" for a plan to "restructure Medicare for future beneficiaries to allow those 55 and younger to opt out of the system and purchase private insurance with a federal subsidy. On other health care policies, the Ryan budget would fully repeal the president's health care law and turn Medicaid into a block grant program with more state control of how the funds are spent."
        Also covering the story are the New York Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/30, Weisman, Subscription Publication), the Washington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/30, Helderman, Kane), the Los Angeles Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/30, Mascaro), the Washington Times Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/30, Dinan), Roll Call Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/30, Newhauser, Subscription Publication), and The Hill Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/30, Joseph).

"Pay For Performance" May Have No Impact On Patient Outcomes.

The National Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, Fox, Subscription Publication) reports, "One of the planks of the 2010 health care law, paying hospitals to improve the quality of care, doesn't appear to help patients survive any better," according to a study Share to FacebookShare to Twitter published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Investigators "compared two hospital systems over six years – one that took part in the so-called pay for performance plan offered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and one that didn't." Altogether, "more than 6 million patients went through the 3,600 hospitals from 2003 to 2009."
        Modern Healthcare Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, McKinney, Subscription Publication) reports that the investigators "say they found no significant difference in overall mortality between hospitals that participate in the program and those that don't."
        HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29) reports, "The researchers also found no differences in results for conditions specifically targeted by the incentive program, such as heart attack and coronary bypass graft surgery."
        Kaiser Health News Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, Rau) reports, "In a statement, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said" that this "demonstration was an effort under the last Administration, separate from the value-based purchasing model that we're implementing into Medicare's hospital payment system. Our model for improving quality in hospitals is much more aggressive, covering all hospitals and including both incentives for hospitals that do well on quality metrics, and consequences for hospitals that do not improve." MedPage Today Share to FacebookShare
to Twitter (3/29, Gever) and Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, Krauskopf) also cover the story.

Studies: Link Between Soda, Health Problems More Complex Than Thought.

Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, Norton) reports that according to recent studies, even though people who drink diet soda may have an increased risk for heart disease, hypertension or diabetes, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition encompassing some 4,000 people indicates that overall dietary patterns, not just diet soda, may contribute to health problems.

White Rice Consumption Associated With Higher Diabetes Risk.

MedWire Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, Robertson) reports, "Increased white rice intake is associated with a significantly elevated risk for type 2 diabetes, especially among Asian populations, show the results of a meta-analysis Share to FacebookShare to Twitter " published in the British Medical Journal. "Even for Western populations with typically low levels of rice intake, relatively high white rice consumption may still modestly increase the risk for diabetes." According to the study, "a total of 13,284 incident cases of diabetes occurred during follow-up periods ranging from four to 22 years."

US Cancer Death Rate Continues To Decline.

A new report on cancer in the US received moderate media coverage in online and print media, and was also reported on two network news broadcasts. Most sources touted the good news regarding declining death rates, but pointed out certain disparities and emphasized that the incidence of some cancers continues to rise. The CBS Evening News (3/28, story 3, 1:05, Pelley) reported that "a new report from the Centers for Disease Control" indicates that "the cancer death rate has dropped more than 1.5% each year for four years and it could fall even further."
        However, on NBC Nightly News (3/28, story 8, 1:20, Williams), NBC Chief Science Correspondent Robert Bazell pointed out that "the incidence of cancer continues to decline for men, but...for women it's leveled off." While "no one knows all of the reasons for the trends, but in this report, the government emphasized that obesity and lack of exercise are increasingly recognized as major risk factors for many kinds of cancer." Meanwhile, according to Bazell, "a separate study out today concludes that fully half of all cancer deaths in the US could be prevented."
        The AP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, Stobbe) reports, "While there's a lot of good news in the report, the authors noted some looming concerns." For instance, "skin cancer cases and deaths" have increased. Meanwhile, "two out of every three adults is overweight or obese, and that seems to be contributing to rising case rates for cancers of the esophagus, uterus, pancreas and kidney."
        According to the Wall Street Journal Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, A3, McKay, Subscription Publication) while many obesity-linked cancers are increasing, colorectal cancer rates dropped annually between 1999 and 2008, partially due to increased screening, said the CDC's Marcus Plescia, the author of one of the studies.
        USA Today Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, Lloyd) quotes Plescia as saying, "I don't think Americans understand the association between cancer and obesity." He adds that while people "know about the links (from obesity) to diabetes, heart disease and arthritis...many don't know about this." The new report was "published Wednesday in the journal Cancer." Also covering the story are HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, Reinberg), WebMD Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, Boyles), and Reuters Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29, Beasley).
        Study: Half Of Cancers Could Be Prevented If People Adopted Healthier Behaviors. AFP Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (3/29) reports, "Half of all cancers could be prevented if people just adopted healthier behaviors, US scientists argued" in Science Translational Medicine. The study suggested that "exercising, eating right and refraining from smoking are key ways to prevent up to half of the 577,000 deaths from cancer in the United States expected this year, a toll that is second only to heart disease." AFP points out that "smoking is blamed for a third of all US cancer cases and being overweight leads to another 20 percent of the deadly burden that costs the United States some $226 billion per year in health care expenses and lost productivity."