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Senate moves forward with first bipartisan healthcare plan Print E-mail
Written by FHInews   
Thursday, 27 June 2019 00:00

Tami Luhby
reports for CNN on 6.26.19:

A key Senate committee passed a sweeping, bipartisan bill Wednesday, marking the chamber's first effort to address several major healthcare issues plaguing the nation. The Senate Health Committee voted 20-3 to advance the legislation, which seeks to tackle surprise medical billing, lower drug prices and increase transparency in the cost of health care. The bill was cosponsored by the committee's chair, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and ranking member, Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state. Also included is a provision sponsored by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, and Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, that would raise the minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21, from 18. Alexander and Murray hope the full chamber will vote on the bill before the August recess.

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See also: An examination of surprise medical bills and proposals to protect consumers from them

Last Updated on Friday, 28 June 2019 17:08
Senators Agree Surprise Medical Bills Must Go. But How? Print E-mail
Written by Rachel Bluth | KHN   
Tuesday, 18 June 2019 00:00

Two years, 16 hearings and one massive bipartisan package of legislation later, a key Senate committee says it is ready to start marking up a bill next week designed to contain health care costs. But it might not be easy since lawmakers and stakeholders at a final hearing Tuesday <6.18.19> showed they are still far apart on one simple aspect of the proposal. That sticking point: a formula for paying for surprise medical bills, those unexpected and often high charges patients face when they get care from a doctor or hospital that isn't in their insurance network. The wide-ranging legislative package on curbing healthcare costs is sponsored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chairman and ranking member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Given the committee's influence, and because this legislation has bipartisan support in the Senate where not many bills are moving, industry observers are taking the HELP panel's proposal very seriously. Alexander and Murray's bill lays out three options for paying surprise medical bills but does not specify which path the final legislation should take. Advocates for each of the choices were among the five witnesses Tuesday.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 22 June 2019 16:00
New Study IDs Molecular Aging 'Midlife' Crisis Print E-mail
Written by University of Miami Miller School of Medicine   
Monday, 10 June 2019 00:00

Just as a computer requires code to work, our bodies are regulated by molecular "programs" that are written early in life and then have to do their job properly for a lifetime. But do they? It's a question that has intrigued researchers for years.
Claes Wahlestedt, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and associate dean for therapeutic innovation at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is senior author of a new study - "Longevity Related Molecular Pathways Are Subject to Midlife 'Switch' in Humans" - published June 6 in Aging Cell.

Working with first author Jamie Timmons, PhD, of King's College London and Stirling University Science Park, United Kingdom, and an international group of researchers on human aging, Dr. Wahlestedt made a striking observation: Key molecular programs known to promote longevity do not last beyond midlife.
The study provides a possible new reason why the human disease burden increases so sharply from the sixth decade of life onward as health-protective mechanisms disappear. Which raises the question: If one wishes to boost these established "anti-aging" programs with drugs, nutrients, or lifestyle choices, is it too late to start by the time you reach your 60s? Possibly, said Dr. Wahlestedt - at least if you hope to benefit fully from such interventions.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 June 2019 12:15
Doctors Were Alarmed Print E-mail
Written by FHI's Week in Review   
Monday, 03 June 2019 16:50

Secret recordings of meetings between physicians at UNC Children's Hospital reveal several doctors doubted and questioned the quality of care for children with serious heart issues. On May 31, The New York Times published a nearly 7,000-word investigation of the Chapel Hill, North Carolina hospital's pediatric heart surgery program, entitled Doctors Were Alarmed: 'Would I Have My Children Have Surgery Here?'

According to Santiago Leon, JD, Associate Director, Health and Benefits at Willis Towers Watson, "This illustrates a fundamental problem with fee for service medicine: the possible pressure to suspend clinical judgment in the face of financial considerations."  
What should be done? Professional associations seem to play a positive role. Mr. Leon recommends looking up children's heart surgery programs that report to the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. There are nine of them in Florida, of which eight are two-star and one, UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, is three-star.

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Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2019 17:07
High LDL linked to early-onset Alzheimer's Print E-mail
Written by Medical Xpress   
Tuesday, 28 May 2019 00:00

Researchers with the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Emory University have found a link between high LDL cholesterol levels and early-onset Alzheimer's disease. The results could help doctors understand how disease develops and what the possible causes are, including genetic variation. According to Dr. Thomas Wingo, lead author of the study, the results show that LDL cholesterol levels may play a causal role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. The results appear in the May 28, 2019, issue of JAMA Neurology.

"The big question is whether there is a causal link between cholesterol levels in the blood and Alzheimer's disease risk," says Wingo. "The existing data have been murky on this point. One interpretation of our current data is that LDL cholesterol does play a causal role. If that is the case, we might need to revise targets for LDC cholesterol to help reduce Alzheimer's risk. Our work now is focused on testing whether there is a causal link."

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 May 2019 17:16
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