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Helpful information on the world of beauty and aesthetics supplies.
U.S. uninsured total again tops 46 million
The number of uninsured Americans increased by about 600,000 in 2008, despite government health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid enrolling in excess of 4 million more people than they did the year before. (See correction) Although America's uninsured population reached 46.3 million in 2008, according to an annual U.S. Census Bureau report released Sept. 10, the percentage of Americans who are uninsured was virtually unchanged at 15.4%. Part-time workers and people approaching middle-age increased the uninsured numbers significantly, while there was a significant decrease in the number of children who are uninsured. American Medical Association President J. James Rohack, MD, said having so many people without coverage is unacceptable. "As Congress gets back to work, the plight of the growing number of uninsured should be front and center in the health reform debate." Still, Dr. Rohack said the exact number of uninsured people is not the most crucial issue at hand. "Wha [Read more]
Mass. turns spotlight on insurance executives' pay
Compensation for nonprofit health system executives and directors will be under a higher-powered microscope from now on, the Massachusetts attorney general told the state's biggest hospitals and insurers. Attorney General Martha Coakley on Sept. 2 presented a letter to four health plans and the Massachusetts Hospital Assn. informing them that her office will require nonprofit hospitals and health plans to expand their public reporting of pay for board members and executives (www.mass.gov/Cago/docs/nonprofit/bcbs_memo_090209.pdf). Coakley also asked the insurers -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan and Fallon Community Health Plan -- to justify their compensation to their board members, given that paying directors is "extraordinarily rare" among other charitable organizations. Marylou Buyse, MD, president of the Massachusetts Assn. of Health Plans, said the justification is that hospitals and health plans are substantially d [Read more]
HHS releases $33 million for training health professionals
The Dept. of Health and Human Services announced Sept. 11 the release of $33 million in funding to help bolster training programs for health care professionals. Most of the money, part of the most recent economic stimulus package, will go toward establishing or expanding efforts to aid medical students, including providing scholarship, tuition and stipend programs. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius estimated that 65 million Americans don't have access to a primary care physician due to local shortages. "That's why the reform effort also needs to look at expanding our very critical health care work force to give more Americans access to the care they need," Sebelius said. "But we can't wait for Congress to act." The grants are being distributed through six programs operated by the Health Resources and Services Administration: * $19.3 million for scholarships to full-time health professions students, with priority given to those with financial need. * $4.9 million for [Read more]
Harkin new head of Senate health committee
Senate Democrats moved quickly to fill the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chair vacated by the late August death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D, Mass.). Sen. Tom Harkin (D, Iowa) took over the helm. Although Sen. Chris Dodd (D, Conn.) was the committee Democrat with the most Senate experience -- he was elected in 1980 -- Dodd announced on Sept. 9 that he would instead retain the chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Committee chairs are distributed based on seniority, but senators can't hold more than one chair at a time. At Kennedy's request, Dodd chaired the HELP Committee's health reform hearings over the summer, concluding with the panel's party-line approval of the Affordable Health Choices Act in July. Dodd said he would continue to lead the committee's health reform effort. The bill is expected to be merged eventually with a measure from the Senate Finance Committee. After Dodd's demurral, Harkin announced on Sept. 9 th [Read more]
Surgical quality program cuts complications, patient deaths
Nearly 120 hospitals participating in a surgical quality program cut their complication rates by an average of 11% and slashed mortality rates by 18%, according to a study in the September Annals of Surgery. Two-thirds of the hospitals that took part in the American College of Surgeons' National Surgical Quality Improvement Program from 2006 to 2007 saw reductions in their mortality rates, and 82% lowered their number of surgical complications, the study found. If each hospital in the U.S. could achieve similar results, millions of complications could be avoided each year, researchers estimated. Postoperative complications are not only deadly, accounting for one in five preventable deaths according to previous research, but also very costly. Caring for one surgical site infection can cost nearly $30,000, for example. The college's initiative is modeled after a successful program developed in the 1990s in the Veterans Health Administration that cut surgical mortality and morbid [Read more]
Insurers say system reform won't put them out of business
Insurance executives during a September meeting assured investors that, no matter what happens in health system reform, their companies would continue to exist. A few days later, before members of Congress, a panel of executives for some of the same companies laid out reasons why the companies should continue to exist. The timing was coincidental. But as the debate over health system reform began to narrow in focus, health plans appeared confident that their business model would stay essentially the same, and could even get a boost from reform. With the potential for a public plan that would compete with private plans in flux, and a requirement for people to have health insurance gaining traction, executives told investors that reform could represent a large pool of new customers, rather than a threat to profits. "We think the ability to reform the insurance markets has the potential to bring a substantial number of new customers to the market," Aetna Chief Executive Office [Read more]
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 [Read more]
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 [Read more]
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