Managed Care e-News
Apr. 24, 2012

US watchdog blasts Medicare quality insurance project
Medicare, the U.S. healthcare program for the elderly, is spending more than $8 billion on a quality-improvement project for private health coverage that mainly rewards plans with mediocre performances, a U.S. government watchdog said. A report by the Government Accountability Office recommends canceling the Medicare Advantage quality bonus payment project in preference for quality improvements prescribed by President Barack Obama's healthcare law.More

Health costs growth limited as Americans avoid hospital stays
Kaiser Health News
Americans continued to seek moderate amounts of medical care in the first quarter, helping insurer UnitedHealth Group beat profit expectations amid signs of continued restraint in healthcare spending. In an early look at medical-cost trends for 2012, the nation's biggest private insurer said a recent increase in outpatient treatments was partly offset by a lack of growth in hospital stays.More

Competition cuts down Medicare fraud
The Associated Press via Yahoo News
A yearlong experiment with competitive bidding for power wheelchairs, diabetic supplies and other personal medical equipment produced $200 million in savings for Medicare, and government officials said they are expanding the pilot program in search of even greater dividends. The nine-city crackdown targeting waste and fraud has drawn a strong protest from the medical supply industry.More

FDA: Infection risks from contaminated ultrasound gel
ABC News
The Food and Drug Administration is warning doctors, hospitals and clinics that contaminated ultrasound gel produced by a New Jersey company infected 16 cardiac patients and could pose serious risks to pregnant women and others who undergo ultrasound imaging and treatment.More

FDA warns of fentanyl patch dangers to children
The Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer advisory, reminding parents, caregivers and medical personnel of the deadly consequences posed to children from accidental contact with, or ingestion of fentanyl patches, which are marketed under the brand name Duragesic.More

Researchers: Breast cancer not 1 disease, but 10
In a wide-ranging new study, researchers have classified breast cancer into 10 different subtypes — a finding that could change the future of breast cancer diagnoses, treatment and survival. The research team analyzed the genetic makeup of 997 breast tumors from nearly 2,000 women from the U.K. and Canada who were diagnosed five to 10 years ago.More

Cancer patients rarely speak up about care problems
In a new survey of cancer patients, many people who'd had problems with their treatment never said anything to the doctor they thought was responsible — and almost none formally reported the problems to the hospital. Patients cited delays in treatment, surgical complications and other issues related to medical care, in addition to communication barriers or breakdowns between them and their doctors, as the most common potentially harmful problems.More

Kidney stone mystery solved
Bioscience Technology
Kidney stones strike an estimated 1 million Americans each year, and those who have experienced the excruciating pain say it is among the worst known to man. New research provides evidence to explain why some people are more prone to develop the condition than others. Their discovery opens the door to finding effective drug treatments and a test that could assess a person’s risk of kidney stones.More

Everest climbers in test for keys to heart treatment
A team of U.S. scientists have departed to conduct research on Mount Everest climbers in an effort to further knowledge of the cardiovascular system at extreme altitudes and help improve treatment for heart and lung patients. Bruce Johnson, a consultant on cardiovascular diseases at the Mayo Clinic and leader of the group, said the study subjects will be a team that plans to replicate the first 1963 ascent of the mountain by a U.S. team.More

Study: Birth defects more common in IVF babies
Babies conceived through certain fertility treatment techniques are about one-third more likely to have a birth defect than babies conceived without any extra help from technology, according to a new review of several dozen studies. The researchers did not determine why fertility treatments are tied to a higher risk of birth defects, or whether the technology is even responsible.More

After heart attack, turning scar tissue back into beating heart cells
PBS Newshour
A study in the journal Nature revealed that scientists have managed to convert damaged tissue into functioning heart muscle by inducing mild heart attacks on lab mice then coaxing their hearts into rebuilding themselves.More

Any kind of physical activity lowers Alzheimer's risk
USA Today
A higher level of physical activity is linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease even in people over 80, suggests research published in the journal Neurology. Protective activities include washing dishes, cooking, cleaning, gardening — even playing cards. People who scored in the bottom 10 percent of physical activity were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's. More

Brain freeze: Why ice cream makes some scream
Most people have likely experienced brain freeze — the debilitating, instantaneous pain after eating something frozen — but researchers didn't really understand what causes it, until now. Previous studies have found migraine sufferers are actually more likely to get brain freeze. Because of this, researchers thought the two might share some kind of common mechanism or cause, so they decided to use brain freeze to study migraines.More