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National prevention strategy unveiled

Washington -- The Obama administration has released a national plan that aims to improve the health of children, adults and seniors. The national prevention strategy was drafted over the past year by a public health council composed of more than a dozen federal agencies and various stakeholders. The report, which was authorized by the national health system reform law, outlines several basic approaches designed to guide health policy toward quality improvement. "As a family physician, I understand the importance of stopping disease before it starts," U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD, said in a June 16 statement on the report's release. "The leadership of this council and the strategy will help us create a healthy and fit nation by making prevention a part of our daily lives." The strategy offers evidence-based proposals, including several aimed at physicians. The clinical recommendations found in the report are: Support efforts to improve cardiovascular health. ...

Performance measures for coronary artery disease, hypertension released

New performance measures are expected to help physicians care for adult patients who have two of the nation's most widespread chronic conditions -- coronary artery disease and hypertension. The measures were developed by the American College of Cardiology Foundation, the American Heart Assn. and the American Medical Association-convened Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement. They were concurrently published online June 12 in Circulation and June 13 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The measures, which update metrics issued by the three organizations in 2005, examine whether cardiac risk factors are treated and controlled to target levels. Testing of these measurements is expected to start this year, said Joseph Drozda Jr., MD, co-chair of the writing committee. When testing is completed, the metrics can be used in accountability programs, including public reporting and pay-for-performance programs. Coronary artery disease and hypertension "are ...

New Jersey plan would slash Medicaid eligibility

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has proposed several changes to the state's Medicaid program in an effort to achieve $540 million in savings in one year. The proposals are mostly noncontroversial, with at least one big exception. Christie's 2012 budget request would close Medicaid enrollment to parents who earn more than about 27.5% of the federal poverty level, or $5,100 for a family of three, according to details released in early June. That would be a decrease from the existing limit of 133% of poverty, which was a reduction from 200% last year. New Jersey's Medicaid spending will grow by nearly $1 billion next year, even after subtracting $240 million of Medicaid savings in the fiscal 2012 budget proposal and $300 million in projected savings from Medicaid reforms, Christie said during his February budget presentation. "That is the definition of an out-of-control program." The proposed eligibility reduction is part of a larger state effort to expand Medicaid managed care en ...