News in Brief: Week of June 4-8

June 06, 2012 05:15 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Survey Finds Women 40, Older Struggle With High Cholesterol

The CDC's National Center for Health Statistics has released a survey brief( that details findings from the 2009-10 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey regarding total and HDL cholesterol levels in adults. According to the survey

  • an estimated 13.4 percent of adults 20 and older had high total cholesterol in 2009-10, a decrease from the previous year's findings and in line with HHS' Healthy People 2010 goals;
  • women 40 and older were the only group that failed to achieve the target of 17 percent or lower with elevated total cholesterol;
  • 21.3 percent of adults 20 and older had low HDL cholesterol (less than 40 mg/dL);
  • the percentage of adults with low HDL cholesterol was higher for men (31.4 percent) than for women (11.9 percent); and
  • about 68 percent of adults (i.e., 66 percent of men and 70 percent of women) had their cholesterol checked within the past five years, failing to meet the Healthy People 2010 goal of 80 percent.

House Bill Seeks to Help Physicians Re-Enter Workforce

Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., has introduced legislation designed to ameliorate the nation's primary care physician workforce shortage.

The legislation, H.R. 5888(, known as the Physician Reentry Demonstration Program Act, would create a grant program to establish or expand physician re-entry programs at qualified medical training institutions. These institutions would include medical schools, hospitals and nonprofit organizations, according to a bill summary( released by Sarbanes' office.

The institutions would train re-entering physicians by providing a streamlined process for credentialing and obtaining CME. The legislation also would provide funding to assist re-entering physicians with credentialing fees, loan repayment and salaries. In exchange, physicians would be required to work for at least two years at a community health center, a Veteran's Administration medical center or a school-based health center.

The bill is intended to "help alleviate the country's shortage of family physicians, primary care providers and pediatricians," the bill summary states. Physicians most likely to benefit from the program are mid-career physicians who left the workforce to raise a family or care for a family member or retired physicians who now want to re-enter the workforce.

"Both groups of physicians would be able to practice on a full or part-time basis and would be covered under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which provides physicians with medical liability protection," says the bill summary.

Health Care Hiring Grows Faster Than Overall U.S. Job Growth Rate

The hiring rate in the health care industry continues to outpace the U.S. job growth rate, according to figures( released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In May, the health care sector increased by 0.2 percent, adding 32,800 new jobs and bringing the industry's total employment to 1.43 million. The U.S. unemployment rate, by contrast, increased 0.1 percent -- from 8.1 to 8.2 percent -- in May, and only 69,000 jobs were added overall, according to the statistics.

Physician offices, meanwhile, registered a healthy increase in the number of new hires during the past year by adding 84,000 jobs from May 2011 to May 2012, a net gain of 3.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In May, physician offices added 9,900 new jobs, an increase of 0.4 percent, which has increased physician office staffing to 2.4 million.

The health care sector overall added 340,100 jobs between May 2011 and May 2012, a growth rate of 2.4 percent, according to the statistics.