Weekly Dose of Health News

In this week’s summary, you’ll find information on hospital care studies, the Affordable Care Act, the NYS Medicaid Redesign Team and more!

Please let us know us what you think and if there is a particular topic you would like to see covered. 

The New York Times writes that the Internal Revenue Service’s interpretation of provisions of the Affordable Care Act may keep insurance out of the reach of working-class families. Under the law, most Americans will be required to have health insurance starting in 2014. Low- and middle-income people can get tax credits and other subsidies to help defray the cost of coverage, unless they have access to affordable coverage from an employer. The controversy is over how to define “affordable” under provisions of the law (Pear, 8/11).

Bloomberg News reports  that a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that doctors who order tests for hospital patients don’t always read the results before the patient is discharged. The study’s author, Enrico Coiera, argues these findings should encourage doctors to better manage tests they order in order to prevent missed or incorrect diagnosis of patients (Ostrow, 8/13).

A study  published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine this month found that white children are more likely than black or Hispanic children to be given CT scans when arriving at hospital emergency rooms with minor head trauma.

While many hospitals around the country have been struggling to stay solvent, the New York Times profiles a hospital system that is bucking that trend with record profits.  The article examines HCA, a 163 facility hospital system, which is experiencing significant profit growth (Creswell and Abelson, 8/14).

Many health care experts have assumed that the Baby Boomer generation will live longer than their parents’ generation.  Indeed, federal budget projections have counted on boomers longer life spans when calculating Medicare and other government costs. However, new evidence shows that the high rates of obesity and cancer in the boomer generation could reverse or slow the increase in human life spans (Stern and Heavey, 8/14).

The number of Americans who are taking steps to meet physical activity goals is on the rise.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  reports that the percentage of adults who met federal guidelines for aerobic exercise also grew, to 48 percent in 2010 from 42 percent in 2005.

A study published in Health Affairs  found that the number of retail clinics located in pharmacies, supermarkets and shopping malls is on the rise. These clinics offer convenience to consumers who cannot see a health care professional during regular business hours. The study shows that the number of patient visits grew from 1.48 million in 2006 to 5.97 million in 2009.

The New York State Department of Health has begun publication of a newsletter to keep the public abreast of the implementation of Medicaid Redesign Team’s reforms to the state Medicaid system. You can find the inaugural issue of the newsletter on our website.

-Jaime Venditti, 8/17/12