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News in Brief: Week of Aug. 29-Sept. 2
By News Staff
CMS Releases Data on Annual Wellness Visits
Meanwhile, nearly 900,000 Medicare beneficiaries who fell into the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap received prescription drug discounts, resulting in a savings of $517 for each of these beneficiaries, according to CMS data.
NEJM Study Suggests Azithromycin Can Prevent COPD Exacerbations
The yearlong study was conducted at 17 sites and involved 1,142 patients. The rate of acute exacerbations was 1.48 per patient-year in the azithromycin group, compared with 1.83 per patient-year in the placebo group, and the frequency of acute exacerbations was lower among participants who received azithromycin than among those who received placebo, regardless of the rate of exacerbations per patient-year.
Quality of life, as measured by patients' scores on the St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire and the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Health Survey, improved among patients in the treatment group compared with those in the control group, and the overall incidence of nasopharyngeal colonization with selected respiratory pathogens decreased in those taking the study drug.
Treated patients saw an increase, however, in the incidence of colonization with organisms resistant to macrolide antibiotics, as well as a higher percentage of hearing decrements.
Health Care Fraud Prosecutions Jump Sharply in 2011
Within the United States, the Southern District of Florida, which encompasses Miami, led the nation in activity, accounting for one out of every nine health care fraud prosecutions.
Survey Examines Physician Employment of Mid-level Providers
"Nurse Practitioners, Certified Nurse Midwives and Physician Assistants in Physician Offices," relies on data from the 2009 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Authors cite a forecasted decline in the supply of primary care physicians in the future and note the call for an expansion in the supply of mid-level providers as a solution to the anticipated primary care shortage.
Authors found that primary care physicians were more likely to work with each of the three mid-level groups than physicians in other specialties. Mid-level providers also were more likely to be employed in large and multispecialty group practices, by middle-aged rather than older physicians, and in practices with a higher proportion of revenue from Medicaid and a lower proportion from Medicare.
HHS Awards Grants to Strengthen Public Health
The monies will fund key state and local public health programs supported through the CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, according to the HHS press release. Most of the grant dollars come from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the Affordable Care Act. The awards include
- nearly $5 million to help states and territories enhance and expand the national network of tobacco cessation quitlines, with the goal of increasing the number of tobacco users who quit;
- $1 million to further enhance the nations' public health laboratories by hiring and preparing scientists for careers in public health laboratories, providing training for scientists, and supporting public health initiatives related to infectious disease research; and
- $2.6 million to the Emerging Infections Programs around the country to continue improving disease monitoring, professional development and training, information technology development, and laboratory capacity.
Report Helps Physicians Transition to Accountable Care
The report, Transitioning to Accountable Care; Incremental Payment Reforms to Support Higher Quality, More Affordable Health Care, (49-page PDF; About PDFs) was written by the center's executive director Harold Miller, who also serves as president and CEO of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement.
Miller offers expertise on payment reforms that support accountable acute care and accountable medical home and specialty care. The report explains how physicians can set prices, manage risk, ensure quality, develop a transition strategy and obtain support from payers.
News in Brief: Week of Aug. 29-Sept. 2