News & Information
Health Spending Growth Drops in 2013
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 01:49 PM

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that in 2013 overall health spending increased by 3.6% in 2013, the lowest annual rate of increase since 1960.

Last year total health expenditures in the U.S. were $2.9 trillion, or about $9,200 per person.

Spending growth for physician and clinical services was also down, dropping from an increase of 4.5% in 2012 to 3.8% growth in 2013. "Slower price growth in 2013 was the main cause of the slowdown [in this sector], as prices grew less than 0.1%,” CMS said. 

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CDC: Severe Flu Season Possible
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 01:30 PM

This winter's flu season could be more severe than usual, the CDC is warning. Most of the circulating virus is the H3N2 strain of influenza A, according to CDC Director.  When H3N2 virus predominates, "we tend to have seasons that are worse flu years, with more hospitalizations from flu and more deaths from influenza," Frieden told reporters in a telephone briefing.

In the week ending Nov. 22, he said, 91% of 1,200 samples tested were influenza A -- almost all of them H3N2 -- and 9% were influenza B. Only a small fraction were H1N1 influenza, which has predominated in recent years.  But a second factor might foretell a bad flu season, Frieden said: Of the H3N2 samples, only 48% were matched to this year's vaccine and the majority of samples were "drifted" variants with slightly different immunogenic molecules.  The seasonal vaccine now distributed across the country might be less effective than usual. "There's no way to predict with certainty what's going to happen," he said.  Frieden said some 150 million doses of vaccine have been distributed and urged people to get their shot.

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If High Court Strikes ACA Health Reform Exchange Subsidies, What Then?
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 01:27 PM

What would happen to the Affordable Care Act if the Supreme Court invalidates tax credits in the three dozen states where the federal government runs the program?  Legal scholars say a decision like that would deal a potentially lethal blow to the law because it would undermine the government-run insurance marketplaces that are its backbone, as well as the mandate requiring most Americans to carry coverage.

In King v. Burwell, the law’s challengers argue that Congress intended to limit federal tax credits to residents of states running their own insurance exchanges. Currently only 13 states and the District of Columbia operate exchanges on their own; another 10 are in some sort of partnership with the federal government. Federal officials run the rest.

The court is slated to hear the case in early 2015. Should it find that subsidies in federally run exchanges are not allowed, “I don’t think there are any rosy scenarios,” said a law professor. “It’s a complete disaster.” The immediate impact is that the Internal Revenue Service would stop paying subsidies to those in federally run exchanges. In 2014, more than 4.6 million people were getting those subsidies but the number may grow to as many as 13.4 million by 2016.

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FDA Advises Steer Clear of Cold Meds for Babies
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 01:23 PM
For the 30+ years of my chiropractic career Doctors of Chiropractic were ridiculed for making such statements. Now, it seems, the Federal Government has taken note of what chiropractors have held for decades.  
–Editor

Most babies and young children don't need medicines if they have a cold, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine should not be given to children younger than 2 because they could cause serious and potentially deadly side effects, the agency warned.

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FDA Advisory Panel Says Steroid Shots for Back Pain Can Continue
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 01:21 PM

An expert advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided not to recommend the agency issue a strong warning against the general use of steroid injections for back pain.

The shots are commonly used to treat back pain, but they have never been approved for this use by the FDA, and whether their risks outweigh their benefits has long been a matter of debate.  The FDA's Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee, essentially leaves the continued use of steroid shots for back pain largely unchanged.  Experts have been divided for years on whether steroid shots actually ease back pain.

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