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Medicaid rolls grew 5% in 2008

Medicaid enrollment increased by an average of 4.8% nationally between December 2007 and December 2008 to reach 44.7 million, according to figures compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Six states experienced double-digit increases: Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland and Wisconsin. Wisconsin led all states with a 16.8% enrollment spike in the 12-month period, in part due to an expansion of Medicaid eligibility in BadgerCare Plus in February 2008. The program increased access to children in families of all incomes, up from 185% of the federal poverty level, said Stephanie Smiley, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services. The state also increased eligibility for pregnant women to 300% of poverty and for parents and caretaker relatives to 200%. Wisconsin Medicaid enrollment increased from 687,000 in December 2007 to 802,700 a year later, according to the Kaiser figures. "We saw an enormous amount of demand," Smiley said. Only four states -- Arkansas, ...

Menopause onset brings higher cholesterol levels, heart disease risk

Cholesterol levels increase sharply at the onset of menopause, which may elevate the risk of coronary heart disease, according to a study in the Dec. 15/22, 2009, Journal of the American College of Cardiology ( The study indicated that early intervention by physicians could reduce this risk. Researchers analyzed data from 1,054 women who participated in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. SWAN is a multisite, epidemiologic study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, that has followed more than 3,000 middle-age American women since 1996. The study indicated that regardless of women's ethnicity, the levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein B were significantly greater around the year of the final menstrual period than levels before and after that time. Author Karen A. Matthews, PhD, suggested that physicians order a lipid panel for their patients nearing meno ...

Epidemiology resources spread thin in state health departments

The number of state health department epidemiologists and the tasks they can perform have decreased since 2006, according to a study published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Dec. 18, 2009, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report ( The report and public health experts indicate that the reduction in health departments' epidemiology capacity is due in part to diminished federal public health preparedness funding, and states' overall budget cuts. Annual grants to states through federal preparedness funding decreased from a high of $1 billion in 2002 to approximately $698 million in 2008. The reduction coincided with a decrease in bioterrorism/emergency epidemiology and surveillance capacity, the report states. For physicians, this means possibly less guidance on how to treat public health emergencies, and more patients with illnesses that potentially could have been prevented had data been available, the report's a ...