Substantial health benefits could be achieved by implementing taxes on sugary drinks and foods high in saturated fats, as well as subsidizing fruit and vegetables. According to researchers, the foods that should be taxed are those which pose serious health risks to the general public. Soft drinks are known to increase blood pressure and can cause obesity. Foods high in saturated fat increase a person’s levels of bad cholesterol which increases their risk of developing serious life threatening conditions such as atherosclerosis, stroke and even heart attack.
Archive for May, 2013
As an international community, our collective failures on climate change are having critical consequences. Today climate change has become one of the major challenges to the basic human rights to life, food, health, water, housing and self-determination.
What does it mean then to be deprived of your roots and home? Losing the security of the place where you sleep can be devastating. Being forced from the place we call home – the place you were born, where your family, friends, habits and culture reside by circumstances over which you have no control and had no part in creating.
And it is exactly this kind of forced migration that is now emerging on a massive global scale, with millions mainly among our planet’s poorest and most vulnerable being forced to move. These are the new refugees, “climate refugees” driven from their homes by changes in climate, the primary result of the developed world’s inability or refusal to understand the impacts of its development on the global environment and on others far less fortunate.
Nonrefractive visual impairment, not due to needing glasses, has increased significantly among Americans in recent years, and the higher incidence of diabetes may be responsible. The finding came from new research, conducted by a team at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and was published in JAMA, December 12 issue.
In 2010, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said to find out what was in President Obama’s health care bill Congress would have to pass it. After nearly three years, it has become obvious why Congressional Democrats wanted to hide the facts from the public before the president’s health care bill became the law. You’ve probably read about the 21 new taxes the bill requires in an effort to impose an individual insurance mandate, and how the law cuts more than $700 billion out of Medicare to fund a new entitlement. But you may not know about the impact that President Obama’s health care law will have on the states.
The Affordable Care Act also required states to expand Medicaid to cover more individuals beginning in 2014, but fortunately the Supreme Court’s ruling made this expansion optional. Even though the federal government is supposed to pick up a significant percentage of states’ expansion cost, the Obama administration is already seeking to limit its support to states that don’t expand their programs as much as the law originally required. It sounds as though a bad deal has the potential to get worse – and our state can offer some clues as to what will happen for states that choose to expand their program.
The Lessons of Medicare’s Prospective Payment System Show That the Bundled Payment Program Faces Challenges
Policy makers have been trying to replace Medicare’s fee-for-service payment system for years with approaches that pay one price for an aggregation of services. The intent is to reward providers for offering needed care in the most appropriate and cost-effective manner. Medicare’s first payment change designed to accomplish such a change was the hospital prospective payment system, introduced during 1983–84. But because it focused only on hospital care, its impact on total Medicare spending was limited. In 2011 Medicare began a new initiative to expand the “bundled payment” concept to link payments for multiple services that patients receive during an episode of care.
The goal of Medicare’s current bundled payment initiative is to provide incentives to deliver health care more efficiently while maintaining or improving quality. This article provides a detailed analysis of how Medicare implemented the hospital prospective payment system, how hospitals responded to the new incentives, and lessons learned that are applicable to the bundled payment initiative. The lessons include that any Medicare payment reform needs to continuously respond to the many different components of the health system and that payment reform should be coupled with analogous reforms in private insurance payment, so that providers receive consistent signals to alter their behavior.
Share of Cost, Medicare’s New Hospital Value Based Purchasing Program is Likely to Have Only a Small Impact on Hospital Payments
Medicare’s new hospital pay-for-performance program for all acute care hospitals will begin in October 2012. It will be the largest Medicare quality improvement initiative for hospitals to date. Using 2009 data on hospital performance, we calculated hospital performance scores and projected payments under the new program for all eligible hospitals. Despite differences across hospitals in terms of performance, expected changes in payments were small, even for hospitals with the best and worst performance scores. Almost two-thirds of hospitals would experience changes of just a fraction of 1 percent. Although the program will in effect redistribute resources among hospitals, our data suggest that the redistribution is not likely to cause major problems because the amount being redistributed is also small. These results raise questions about whether the new pay-for-performance program will substantially alter the quality of hospital care, and they highlight the challenges of designing effective quality improvement incentives.
Since his days in the Nixon White House, Stuart Altman has searched for ways to bring America’s health care needs and aspirations in sync with America’s pocketbook.
A new law that renews and extends user-fee arrangements for drug and device approvals also aims to speed effective new therapies to patients and the market.
Medicare Postacute Care Payment Reforms Have Potential to Improve Efficiency of Care, But May Need Changes to Cut Costs
The Affordable Care Act mandates changes in payment policies for Medicare postacute care services intended to contain spending in the long run and help ensure the program’s financial sustainability. In addition to reducing annual payment increases to providers under the existing prospective payment systems, the act calls for demonstration projects of bundled payment, accountable care organizations, and other strategies to promote care coordination and reduce spending. Experience with the adoption of Medicare prospective payment systems in postacute care settings approximately a decade ago suggests that current reforms could, but need not necessarily, produce such undesirable effects as decreased access for less profitable patients, poorer patient outcomes, and only short-lived curbs on spending. Policy makers will need to be vigilant in monitoring the impact of the Affordable Care Act reforms and be prepared to amend policies as necessary to ensure that the reforms exert persistent controls on spending without compromising the delivery of patient-appropriate postacute services.
For an average of six years after undergoing gastric bypass surgery, severely obese patients not only lost a lot of weight, but also showed frequent remission and lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, plus lower rates of high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and other cardiovascular risk factors, compared with a control group of similar patients who did not have the surgery. These were the findings of a JAMA study published on 19 September, that was led by researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, in the US.
Although the federal government’s 1996 reform of welfare brought some improvements for the nation’s poor, it also may have made extremely poor Americans worse off, new research shows. The reforms radically changed cash assistance – what most Americans think of as ‘welfare’ – by imposing lifetime limits on the receipt of aid and requiring recipients to work.
New research adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that there’s a link between allergies and reduced risk of a serious type of cancer that starts in the brain. This study suggests the reduced risk is stronger among women than men, although men with certain allergy profiles also have a lower tumor risk.
Has a summer cold or mold allergy stuffed up your nose and dampened your sense of smell? We take it for granted that once our nostrils clear, our sniffers will dependably rebound and alert us to a lurking neighborhood skunk or a caramel corn shop ahead. That dependability is no accident.
Drugs prescribed to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia may increase patients’ risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents, according to a recent study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Based on the findings, the researchers suggested doctors should consider advising patients not to drive while taking these drugs.