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Patients choosing less-expensive options in plastic surgery

The economic downturn means that patients are less apt to have major plastic surgery but more likely to take advantage of increasingly available, minimally invasive cosmetic procedures. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons surmises that because of rising unemployment, fewer people are willing or able to pay for major procedures. But people are willing to pay for BOTOX® injections or other procedures they think would make them look more attractive to employers. "If a patient is interested in getting a more youthful appearance, there are so many more options," said Malcolm Z. Roth, MD, director of plastic surgery at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and vice president of health policy and advocacy for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "They don't have to worry about taking time off of work or a job hunt. If they're in the market for a job or hoping to maintain [a] job, having a more youthful appearance and feeling better about [their] appearance is an advant ...

Sen. Kennedy hailed as health care champion

The Aug. 25 death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D, Mass.) from brain cancer prompted an outpouring of sympathy from health care organizations, which noted how he devoted much of his storied career to fighting tirelessly for their causes. "During his many years in public service, Sen. Kennedy was a champion for America's patients -- working until the end to make improvements on their behalf," American Medical Association President J. James Rohack, MD, said in a statement. "For example, Sen. Kennedy was a leading voice in efforts to expand access to health care for children and to secure fair health coverage for the mentally ill." In March, the AMA awarded the nine-term senator the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service. Dr. Rohack noted that Kennedy, after undergoing brain surgery last year, made an unexpected return to the Senate chamber on July 9, 2008, to cast the deciding vote that led to the passage of legislation preventing a Medicare physician pay cut. The A ...

Half of large practices net bonuses from Medicare P4P demo

The Obama White House has indicated it will continue the move toward more pay-for-performance in Medicare, despite mixed results for physicians in the P4P demonstrations it inherited from the previous administration. On Aug. 17, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services disclosed findings from three ongoing programs -- including first-year results from a small-practice demonstration -- and announced the start of three new value-based purchasing demonstrations. Third-year results were revealed for the Physician Group Practice Demonstration, which is in its fifth year of operation and is slated to end March 31, 2010. Although CMS has extended the demonstration twice beyond its initial three-year limit, the agency said it does not anticipate extending the program again. All 10 of the large physician groups participating in the program achieved benchmark performances on at least 28 of 32 quality-of-care measures, which cover diabetes, congestive heart failure, coronary artery d ...