New Devices Doctors Can Test Out In Offices Responsible For Spike In Medicare Spending
The way Medicare sets payments for new services can make doing the tests lucrative for doctors who invest in the machines.
The Wall Street Journal:
Big Driver Of Medicare Spending: Doctors Doing More Tests In Their Offices
A Wall Street Journal analysis of recently released Medicare billing data showed that four of the top 10 fastest-growing Medicare services from 2012 to 2014 involved new devices. Medicare’s tab for those four services rose by $123.5 million from 2012 to 2014, to $135 million, the data show. In each case, a small cadre of doctors adopted the services much faster than their peers. Less than 10% of doctors accounted for more than half the rise in spending for each service, the Journal found. The Journal studied only services performed throughout that period with at least $5 million in 2014 payments. (Weaver and Jones, 8/9)
Clinton Urges Congress To Reconvene, Pass Zika Bill
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged federal lawmakers currently on summer recess back into session to pass a crucial funding bill to combat the Zika virus as she visited a health clinic at the heart of a local outbreak in Miami on Tuesday. Lawmakers should pass the $1.1 billion bipartisan bill for the mosquito-borne virus, Clinton said, or come up with a new compromise. The funding comes as Florida grapples with at least 21 cases of locally transmitted Zika. (8/9)
The Washington Post:
Americans Are Still Not Worried About Zika, Poll Finds
Zika’s first mosquito-borne transmission in the United States has not sparked alarm for the vast majority of Americans, who do not fear infection by the disease, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Sixty-five percent of Americans say they are “not too” or “not at all" worried about being infected with Zika or about having an immediate family member become infected, which is hardly changed from 67 percent in June. Just over one-third of the public, 35 percent, is at least somewhat worried, though only 12 percent say they are “very worried” about infection. (Guskin and Clement, 8/9)
What Happens To Developmentally Disabled As Parents Age, Die?
As the number of older caregivers grows, and their need for help becomes more dire, a few states have passed laws to give older caregivers a chance to help decide where, and how, the person they care for will live. Tennessee passed a law in 2015 to ensure that anyone with an intellectual disability and a caregiver over 80 got the services they needed, and this year the state expanded the law to those with caretakers over 75. (Fifield, 8/10)
Olympic Athletes Still Use Some Rx Drugs As A Path To 'Legal Doping'
When tennis star Maria Sharapova admitted in March to having taken the heart drug meldonium, the public got a rare glimpse of a common practice that's often called "legal doping." It involves taking a legal prescription drug that may improve performance, but hasn't been banned by anti-doping authorities. And lots of athletes competing in the Rio Olympics will be taking advantage of this loophole, doping experts say. (Hamilton, 8/10)
The Washington Post:
Hypertension Is Now More Common In Poor And Middle-Income Countries Than Rich Ones
Middle- and lower-income countries now have a higher rate of hypertension than high-income countries. Worldwide, the prevalence of hypertension is at a record high, according to a new study in the journal Circulation. From 2000 to 2010, the rate of hypertension in middle- and lower-income countries increased by nearly eight percentage points. For higher-income countries in that same time period, it decreased by nearly three percentage points. (Beachum, 8/9)