Month: November 2017

 

Alcohol use in movies influences onset of drinking among 10- to 15-year-olds

Early adolescence is a high-risk period for alcohol experimentation and initiation. Adolescent drinking is linked to exposure to alcohol use in the media.

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Researchers unlock genetic processes underlying cancer

For many, breast cancer is more than just a disease – it’s personal. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives. But through new discoveries at the genetic level, the personal nature of cancer will eventually be what helps to beat it.

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Study: Fewer new cases of lung cancer found in communities with strong smoke-free laws

A recent study by University of Kentucky BREATHE researchers shows that fewer new cases of lung cancer were found in communities with strong smoke-free workplace laws.

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Scientists take step toward solving puzzle about heart health in type 2 diabetes

Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center have taken another step toward solving a long-standing puzzle about heart health in type 2 diabetes, with a finding that eventually may point towards more personalized patient care.

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Tailored Activity Program for older veterans with dementia provides positive results

People with dementia often have behavioral symptoms. These include problems with memory, language, and decision-making abilities. People with dementia can also experience changes in mood, such as increased irritability, depression, and anxiety.

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New genetic study of mosquitoes demonstrates movement of insecticide resistance across Africa

The largest ever genetic study of mosquitoes reveals the movement of insecticide resistance between different regions of Africa and finds several rapidly evolving insecticide resistance genes. Reported today) in Nature, this genetic resource will be used to develop new tools for monitoring resistance and managing insecticide use, and for designing novel control methods.

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Massachusetts Proposed Legislation to Curb Health Care Costs by Regulating Hospital Reimbursement Rates

Massachusetts State Sign

In a previous blog post, we began to dissect the new Massachusetts State Senate bill, “An Act Furthering Health Empowerment and Affordability by Leveraging Transformative Health Care,” and focused on a provision that would ban hospitals from billing payors for many common outpatient hospital services.  In this second of a multipart series, we review how this bill proposes to improve the affordability of health care in the Commonwealth.

During the debate before the Massachusetts Senate Working Group on Health Care Costs and Containment Reform, the Senate Working Group stated that this proposal will curb costs associated with health care and predicted a savings of $425 million by 2020 to achieve goals including slowing the rate of premium increases.

Setting a Target Hospital Rate Distribution to Help Moderate Costs

One of the primary ways the bill proposes to moderate costs is by establishing a hospital alignment and review council which will set a “target hospital rate distribution,” the minimum floor payment that an insurance carrier must reimburse a hospital for services. The Senate Working Group hopes that setting a floor payment for carriers will address the price variation across hospitals in the Commonwealth and subsequently stabilize the market. During the hearing, Senators requested industry feedback on setting the rate at 0.9%. Some argue that setting a floor will help hospitals that currently receive lower reimbursement rates to “thrive and survive.” Others assert that setting a floor is not sufficient, rather, a cap on reimbursement rates should be implemented as well to compress rates and control spending.

To make sure that the target hospital rate distributions are met, Section 111 tasks insurance carriers with submitting annual certifications to the review council. If a certification uncovers that any hospital received an increase in reimbursement, all other hospitals contracting with that carrier must have received a similar increase.

Other Items to Achieve a Slower Growth Rate

The proposed bill provides the review council with other tools to achieve a slower growth rate. One such measure is that the council will set a “target growth in hospital spending.” In the event that hospital spending is greater than the target rate, the council may penalize the top three hospitals that contributed to above target spending. Each of these three hospitals will be required to pay its proportional share of the difference between the actual growth in hospital spending and the council’s target growth in hospital spending. Some view this penalty as needed government intervention to correct price variation in the market. In contrast, others argue this is penalty unfairly attacks three hospitals and will create perverse incentives for hospital spending just below the top three.

Setting a target hospital rate distribution will be one mechanism for addressing price variation, but the Working Group is still collecting industry feedback to determine the ultimate amount of governmental control needed in the Commonwealth’s health care market.

This bill is currently open for comments.  Any interested parties should strongly consider commenting on the State Senate bill.

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Kessler Foundation researcher wins NIDILRR subaward to improve outcomes in patients with SCI

Amanda Botticello, PhD, MPH, received a $605,000 subaward from the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research to study a cognitive-behavioral intervention in the outpatient population with spinal cord injury (SCI).

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Babies exposed to antibiotics during labor have delay in maturation of their gut bacteria

Antibiotics administered during labor for Group B Streptococcus affect the development of gut bacteria in babies, according to a study from McMaster University.

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Tufts professor receives early-career award from AFOSR for ultra-high-resolution bio-imaging

Xiaocheng Jiang, assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering at Tufts University, has been awarded an early-career award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research for his work developing graphene-based microfluidics for ultra-high-resolution, dynamic bio-imaging.

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