Weekly Dose of Health News

In this week’s summary, you’ll find more information on how the Affordable Care Act is being implemented, a significant breakthrough in the treatment of babies born to mothers with HIV/AIDS, details on a new report highlighting the astronomical costs associated with diabetes treatment and MORE!


Affordable Care Act

The New York Times reports that the Department of Health and Human Services will require health insurance companies to report all price increases to the federal government so officials can monitor the impact of the Affordable Care Act and insurers’ compliance with it.  Under current rules, the federal government requires insurers to report information on rate increases of 10 percent or more. New rules being issued by the administration will extend this requirement to all rate increases for all health plans sold to individuals, families and small businesses (Pear, 3/3).

Health care spending last year rose at one of the lowest rates in a half-century, partly the result of cost-saving measures put in place by the Affordable Care ACT, a USA Today analysis finds. Spending for medical care has increased modestly for five consecutive years, the longest period of slow growth since Medicare began in 1966 (Cauchon, 3/4).


HIV/AIDS Breakthrough

A baby born with the virus that causes AIDS appears to have been cured. USA Today profiles the case of a child who’s now 2½ and has been off medication for about a year. Researchers are planning to conduct studies to see whether the treatment can be used for other infants (Szabo,3/4).



The National Commission on Physician Payment Reform is calling for eliminating the fee-for-service model within seven years, starting with a five-year transition period to a blended payment system. The group said the sustainable growth rate repeal should be paid for by cuts in Medicare “physician payments and reductions in inappropriate utilization of Medicare services” (Politico, Haberkorn, 3/4).

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning this week that an especially dangerous group of superbugs has become a significant health problem in hospitals throughout the United States. These germs, known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, have become much more common in the last decade, according to the CDC. And the risk they pose to health is becoming evident (Stein, 3/5).

The rates of C-section deliveries vary widely across the nation, according to the findings of a new study. The study, published this week in the journal Health Affairs, found that the overall rates of C-sections — the most common type of surgery in the U.S. — varied from about 7 to 70 percent  across the nation’s hospitals. Researchers also found a wide variation in C-section deliveries even among women with lower-risk pregnancies, where rates varied from 2.4 to 36.5 percent. According to the study, cesarean deliveries are much more expensive than vaginal births.

USA Today reports on a new study that profiles the rising costs of diabetes across the country. According to a report from the American Diabetes Association, the U.S. cost of diabetes grew to $245 billion in 2012 from $174 billion in 2007. Direct medical costs in 2012 were $176 billion, and medical spending for diabetes patients was more than twice as high as for those without the condition. The full study will be published in the April issue of Diabetes Care (Payne, 3/6).