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Helpful information on the world of beauty and aesthetics supplies.
H1N1 on the horizon: Here's how to prepare your practice -- and staff
The exact number of people who will contact A(H1N1)-related illnesses is unpredictable. The disruption around the office when H1N1 hits is certain. This fall and winter promise lots of patients sick with some kind of flu -- or fearful that they are -- as well as depleted staff levels when employees get sick or have to stay home with someone who is. That's why experts are advising physicians to plan now for what is expected to be a very unusual, active flu season. Those who don't prepare will quickly be overwhelmed, said John Fontanesi, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He is working with the American Medical Association to create tools for physicians to make planning easier. Beyond managing vaccine schedules, physician practices are advised to consider cross-training employees, having staff work from home, keeping those with H1N1 symptoms away from other patients, and even directing patients elsewhere to minimize disruption and illness spre [Read more]
Pharmacists seek to block Medicaid drug pay rule
Pharmacists are urging lawmakers to rewrite a Bush administration rule that would reduce their Medicaid payment for many generic drugs to below acquisition costs, possibly reducing Medicaid enrollees' access to prescriptions. Pharmacists' trade associations celebrated in 2007 and 2008, when first a federal court and then Congress blocked the implementation of a Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services rule lowering federal Medicaid payment limits for generic drugs. The rule -- required by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 -- would have lowered the pay for many generic Medicaid drugs to less than what the drugs cost pharmacists, according to a 2006 Government Accountability Office report. CMS disagreed with that conclusion, saying the GAO report did not account for other provisions in the act that would mitigate the rule's impact. The CMS rule was a response to findings that federal upper payment limits were overly generous. For example, a 2007 report by the Dept. of Health and [Read more]
Pfizer pays record $2.3 billion in off-label drug marketing settlement
A $2.3 billion settlement with Pfizer Inc. over off-label drug promotion has industry observers wondering whether the record-breaking deal will deter drugmakers from talking up unapproved medication uses with doctors. A Pfizer subsidiary, Pharmacia & Upjohn Co., agreed to plead guilty in early September to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for misbranding its COX-2 inhibitor, Bextra, for off-label uses. The company agreed to pay $1.3 billion in criminal fines for systematically promoting off-label Bextra use to physicians through marketing materials, drug rep talking points and more. Pfizer will pay another $1 billion to settle whistle-blower lawsuits filed under the False Claims Act that alleged the company promoted off-label uses of Bextra, Geodon, Zyvox and Lyrica from 2001 to 2008. According to whistle-blower lawsuits and the settlement, Pfizer allegedly used tactics such as ghostwritten articles and drug rep-falsified doctor requests for off-label informa [Read more]
Web site shows what health insurers pay Minnesota doctors, clinics
Minnesota has announced what Gov. Tim Pawlenty called the first online tool in the nation that allows patients to see what insurance companies pay for common medical procedures. Minnesota Community Measurement, a coalition of health plans and medical organizations that includes the Minnesota Medical Assn., in August began offering cost reports on its Web site (www.mnhealthscores.org/). Pawlenty announced the site at an Aug. 26 news conference and hailed it as a big step forward in letting patients comparison-shop by looking at the cost data on 105 procedures, as well as the quality information that the site has collected over the last five years. "This is just a first step for us," said Jim Chase, president of Minnesota Community Measurement. "We're going to have to get better at providing more information and a way that consumers will be able to act on." Noel Peterson, MD, a urologist with Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., who serves as president of the Minnesota [Read more]
Some states still prohibit hospitals from hiring doctors; physicians want to keep it that way
Medical associations in California and Texas have been battling legislation that would allow rural hospitals to directly hire doctors -- a move some physicians say threatens to undermine their independent medical judgment and hinder patient care. Most states allow for direct hospital employment of physicians -- a growing trend in recent years as doctors increasingly seek more financial stability. California and Texas, however, are among only a handful of states that generally prohibit hospitals from employing doctors, under long-standing laws aimed at preventing corporate interference with the practice of medicine. Hospitals have sought the right to hire doctors in the Golden and Lone Star states, saying the changes are necessary to recruit doctors to underserved areas. The California and Texas medical associations don't dispute the need to address shortages. But they say there are other ways to recruit doctors without thwarting medical independence, such as reducing medical s [Read more]
Women surgeons want more flexibility with schedules, child care
Although male and female surgeons say they are satisfied with their career choice, women would prefer more flexibility in work schedules and more on-site child care facilities, according to a national survey of 895 surgeons. The survey found that 83% of women and 78% of men who responded said they were well-satisfied with their careers and would choose surgery as a profession again. But female surgeons were far more likely than male surgeons to postpone having children or not have children at all, according to the survey in the July Archives of Surgery (archsurg.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/144/7/635/). Significantly more men (55%) than women (33%) disagreed with the survey statement that surgeons should have more part-time work opportunities with call cross-coverage by other surgeons, survey authors noted. Also, 87% of women versus 70% of men said child care should be available at work. Surgery traditionally has been one of the most male-dominated specialties in medic [Read more]
Medical equipment increasingly likely to be leased, financed
The amount of health care equipment being leased or financed has grown, according to an annual survey of Equipment Leasing and Finance Assn. members. "There's less demand for equipment in general, but health care is a growing segment of the industry," said Ralph Petta, vice president of research and industry services for the association. The "2009 Survey of Equipment Finance Activity," released July 14, found that new business in the industry as a whole decreased 2.2%. But the proportion of leasing and financing to the health care sector increased from 8.9%, or $8.2 billion, in 2007 to 9.2%, or $8.6 billion, in 2008. Medical equipment leasing and financing also grew from 6.3% or $6.3 billion of total annual new business in 2007 to 7.2% or $7.2 billion of new business volume in 2008. Experts suspect that health care leasing and financing business is growing because, although the sector has not been immune from the recession, it is still faring better than others. Also, healt [Read more]
Industry gift bans slammed for overreaching
Pressure is mounting on Capitol Hill to reveal the financial relationships among doctors, drug companies and devicemakers through the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. Six states already have enacted payment-disclosure laws or bans on gifts to doctors. Meanwhile, more medical centers are restricting doctors' and students' interactions with industry, as calls grow for medical societies and educators to turn down drugmakers' dollars. But now some doctors and physician organizations say the push to police financial relationships with industry has gone too far. In late July, a new organization called the Assn. of Clinical Researchers and Educators held its charter meeting before a 200-plus crowd in an amphitheater at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Participants assailed conflict-of-interest rules that they argue impede physician-industry collaboration. Recent statements from organizations representing cardiologists and endocrinologists also have defended the value of ind [Read more]
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