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Vermont to explore single-payer option

A new Vermont health care bill could lead to significant changes in the state's delivery and payment structures, including a possible move toward a single-payer system. Governor Jim Douglas announced May 27 that he would allow the bill to become law without his signature. Douglas, whose term ends in January 2011, said he chose not to put his signature on the bill because of his apprehension about two particular features -- the exploration of a single-payer model and the requirement that pharmaceutical companies publicly release information on expenses related to free drug samples. The law will create a health reform commission, which has until Feb. 1, 2011, to propose to the governor and general assembly three design options for creating a single system of health care in the state. It specifies that one of those options will include the design of a government-administered and publicly financed single-payer benefits system. Douglas called the provision "a wasteful expense of ti ...

Graduate medical education getting Medicaid support from fewer states

Several states have ended or considered ending their Medicaid funding for graduate medical education since 2005, but overall funding for GME still grew since then, according to a 50-state survey released in May by the Assn. of American Medical Colleges. "Compared to earlier reports, this is a significant change in direction overall for Medicaid support," said Tim Henderson, MSPH, report author and consultant for AAMC. He's also a professor in the Dept. of Health Administration and Policy at George Mason University in Northern Virginia. Most states provide additional Medicaid payments to teaching hospitals based on their direct and indirect costs of training medical residents. Direct costs include salaries of residents and the cost of their supervision. Indirect costs include higher spending on patients due to additional tests ordered by residents, for example. The federal government matches the state support. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia made Medicaid payments ...

Guillain-Barré risk same for H1N1 and seasonal flu shot

People who received the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) vaccine had nearly the same risk of contracting Guillain-Barré syndrome as did those immunized against the seasonal flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Preliminary data indicate fewer than one excess case of the neurological disorder for every 1 million people vaccinated against H1N1, according to a study in the CDC's June 4 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report ( Seasonal flu vaccine yielded similar results, with about one excess case of Guillain-Barré in a million people immunized. "We conducted a very large surveillance for Guillain-Barré syndrome ... and we found that in respect to [GBS], the H1N1 vaccine seems just as safe as the seasonal flu vaccine. There's no reason to believe they're different," said Oliver Morgan, PhD, a CDC epidemiologist who led the analysis for the report. Researchers examined data from a population sample of about 45 million ...