News in Brief: Week of Sept. 8-12

September 12, 2014 03:02 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

CVS Changes Name, Launches Tobacco Cessation Program

CVS Caremark Corp. announced Sept. 3 that it is changing its name to CVS Health to reflect its broader health care commitment, according to a news release( The company also reported that it had finished eliminating tobacco sales at its CVS/pharmacy retail business outlets as of Sept. 3, which is a month earlier than originally targeted.

In addition, CVS Health announced the launch of a comprehensive, personalized tobacco cessation program intended to help millions of Americans quit smoking. The program will combine the efforts and resources of CVS/pharmacy; the company's walk-in medical clinics business, known as CVS/minuteclinic; and its pharmacy benefit management business, known as CVS/caremark, to

  • assess smokers' readiness to quit,
  • educate them about quitting,
  • offer medication that can assist them by curbing the desire to use tobacco, and
  • coach them to stay motivated and prevent relapses.

CDC Director Calls for More Aid for Ebola Epidemic

On Sept. 2, CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., reported his experience after returning from trips the previous week to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in a news release( His main message was that efforts to respond to the Ebola virus disease epidemic need to be stepped up through international assistance.

"What I saw was a continuing need to strengthen the health care system by increasing the number of treatment centers, providers, access to supplies -- as well as a need to improve clinical management by handwashing, infection control and other methods," Frieden said in the news release. "I went to a new ward that opened with 35 beds -- and in less than a week, they had 63 patients, many lying on the floor.

"There is a need for data to better trace where Ebola is beginning to spread. And there is a basic need for infrastructure like trucks, jeeps and motorcycles. Perhaps most importantly, there is need for a functional emergency operations center at either the national or the district levels directing an efficient response."

Since the CDC ramped up its Ebola response in early July, more than 500 CDC staff members have provided logistics, staffing, communication, analytics, management and other support functions, according to the news release. As of Sept. 2, about 100 U.S. government personnel have been deployed and are working in the affected countries responding to the outbreak, assisting with various vital response efforts such as surveillance, contact tracing, database management and health education.

Frieden called on all countries to join the United States in meeting the World Health Organization's appeal for $490 million in support.

Many Family Physician Jobs Remain Unfilled

Demand for family physicians continues to grow, and many institutions are left with unfilled positions because of the intense competition, according to a recent survey.

Family physicians were the most sought after position in 2013, followed by hospitalists and internists, the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters found in its latest survey( In all, 70 percent of organizations surveyed searched for a family physician last year.

In addition, the percentage of primary care positions overall that go unfilled each year is increasing. Specifically, the percentage of family physician positions that went unfilled rose from 36 percent in 2012 to 47 percent in 2013. For internists, the percentage rose from 41 percent to 52 percent during the same period.

The survey detailed more than 5,000 physician and advanced practice nurse searches by 145 health care organizations across the country.

PCORI Offers $90 Million in Research Funding

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Institute (PCORI) recently issued the third in a series( of funding announcements affiliated with its Pragmatic Clinical Studies initiative. The Washington-based PCORI is offering as much as $90 million to support research that addresses practical comparative questions that physicians, their patients and other health care decision-makers face.

PCORI added three new priority topics to an existing topic list to highlight where evidence gaps have been identified. The new topics are comparative effectiveness of

  • medical treatments versus invasive procedures for patients with asymptomatic carotid artery disease;
  • different surgical options for hip fracture in older patients; and
  • different types of surgical mesh, as well as use versus nonuse of mesh, in the repair of pelvic floor dysfunction.

Funding also is still available on other topics. Letters of intent are due by Oct. 1; key dates and additional details are available online(

Get Free Education Credits for Web-based Training Courses

On Sept. 10, CMS announced the availability of education credits for three web-based training courses posted by CMS earlier this summer. The new courses, available on YouTube, cover the

To access all of CMS' web-based training courses, visit the Medicare Learning Network's Web-Based Training Courses page(

CMS Reports Number of Uninsured Projected to Drop Sharply by 2023

The number of individuals without insurance is expected to decline from 45 million in 2012 to 23 million by 2023 as a result of expanded coverage provided by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to the latest report from CMS.

Health spending growth during 2013 is projected to remain slow at 3.6 percent, marking the fifth consecutive year of spending growth of less than 4 percent. The National Health Expenditure projections report, issued annually, includes estimates of U.S. spending on health during the next decade. The report( was published in the September issue of Health Affairs.

For 2014, the health spending growth rate is expected to be 5.6 percent as 9 million Americans obtain health insurance coverage, predominantly through Medicaid or the insurance marketplaces. National health expenditures are projected to grow at an average rate of 5.7 percent from 2013 through 2023, about 1.1 percentage points faster than the expected average annual gross domestic product growth rate.

By 2023, health expenditures financed by federal, state and local governments are projected to account for 48 percent of national health spending. In 2012, such expenditures constituted 44 percent of national health spending.

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