In the News

Sebelius Resigns; Obama Names OMB Chief Burwell to Head HHS, Kaiser Health News, 4/11/14

Mary Agnes Carey reports that President Barack Obama officially announced the resignation of Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  In a White House ceremony, the president also announced that he plans to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace Sebelius.

Heartbleed Bug Could Affect Healthcare Sites, Modern Healthcare, 4/11/14

Joseph Conn writes that Healthcare sites could be facing major security issues and yet-to-be-determined fix-it costs because of the latest encryption bug Heartbleed, health information technology experts agreed.  Possibly vulnerable healthcare sites include provider websites, physician and patient portals, secure e-mail services, medical monitoring devices, remote-access PACS/RIS systems.

Some Docs Welcome CMS Data Dump, Modern HealthCare, 4/10/14

Andis Robeznieks reports that the April 9 release of a database of Medicare payments by the CMS disclosed $77 billion in payments made in 2012 to 880,000 individual doctors and other providers.  While this allows the media and public to search the numbers for signs of fraud and abuse by individual providers, some doctors are welcoming the release for providing transparency to the public.

These Maps Tell You Everything That’s Wrong with Our Drug Pricing System, The Washington Post, 4/11/14

Steven Rich and Peter Whoriskey report that the kind of health care you get and how much it costs depends on where you live.   Diseases are treated differently across the U.S. although no evidence supports that the disease varies place to place.  But as recent Medicare data show, the way that doctors’ treat it does, and those choices have huge effects on the U.S. and personal budgets.  Such variety in treatment, analysts say, calls into question whether doctors are treating patients based on the best available evidence, or other considerations.

Stockpiles of Tamiflu a Waste of Money, Studies Conclude, Modern HealthCare, 4/10/14

Sabriya Rice reports that stockpiling drugs intended to treat symptoms in patients suffering from the flu is essentially a waste of money, according to two new studies finding that the effectiveness of the antivirals is vastly overstated and the harms underplayed.  The companies that make the drugs and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are challenging those conclusions.

How Much Data is Too Much?, Medpage Today, 4/10/14

Fred N. Pelzman, MD writes that while new technology is enabling doctors to acquire and deal with infinitely more data about patients, when does too much data become a bad thing?  As this fascination with collecting more and more medical data from each individual goes to further extremes, we may be soon receiving a continuous data dump of massive amounts.  But the question remains, what should be done with all of this data?

Meet the Woman who is About to Become the Biggest Name in Health Care, The Washington Post, 4/10/14

Jason Millman reports that Sylvia Mathews Burwell is about to become the biggest name in health care after news broke Thursday night that she will be the nominee to replace the resigning Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  If confirmed, Burwell will become the key figure leading implementation of the Affordable Care Act at a crucial time for the health-care law.

Doctors Shun Insurance, Offering Care for Cash, The New York Times, 4/10/14

Alexa Ura writes that while efforts at both the state and federal level are underway to decrease Texas’ sky-high rate of residents without health coverage, doctors such as Gustavo Villarreal, MD, are shifting to “direct primary care.”  Those who use the model say they can keep costs down by avoiding the bureaucracy of the health insurance system and the high processing costs associated with accepting coverage.  Some health care specialists worry that if too many practitioners choose this path, the state could be left struggling to find doctors to accommodate patients with insurance.

Want to see how Problematic Medicare Pricing is? Look to Ophthalmology, The Washington Post, 4/9/14

Max Ehrenfreund writes that with the government release of a trove of information on Medicare pricing a striking example in the new data has emerged, billing in ophthalmology.  As The Post reported in December, the story of Avastin and Lucentis, two nearly identical drugs for blindness, offer a glimpse into the problematic world of Medicare pricing.


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