Medical expenses, school and work absences, and deaths associated with asthma cost the US about $82 billion a year, and the figure is probably higher when people with untreated asthma are included, according a CDC study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. Some 15.4 million people were treated for asthma annually from 2008 to 2013 at a cost of $3,266 per patient, covering $1,830 for prescriptions, $640 for medical office visits, $529 for inpatient care, $176 for outpatient care at hospitals and $105 for emergency department care.
The CDC reported that influenza was widespread in 49 states during the week ending Jan. 6, with flu hospitalizations nearly twice the level seen the previous week and seven additional pediatric deaths reported, bringing the season's total to 20. Flu activity may have already peaked, but 11 to 13 weeks remain in the season, said Daniel Jernigan, M.D., director of the CDC's influenza division.
An FDA Constituent Update said the agency rejected a qualified health claim request from the Burdock Group, on behalf of Bayer, that taking vitamin D may reduce the risk for multiple sclerosis in healthy people. The agency said a review of studies showed no credible evidence that vitamin D consumption reduces the risk of MS.
A study in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that compared with current recommendations, a one-time HIV screening at age 25 was cost-effective and associated with improved outcome measures. Screening teens without risk factors at age 18 or younger was found to be a less efficient strategy.
A study in Gastroenterology showed that obese adults who received the weight-loss medications liraglutide, lorcaserin, naltrexone-bupropion, orlistat or phenterimine-topiramate had an average blood glucose reduction of 4.0 mg/dL and a drop in LDL cholesterol by a mean of 0.1 mg/dL. Researchers analyzed 28 randomized controlled trials involving 29,018 patients and found that these drugs also resulted in an almost 2 mmHg reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure and decreases in waist circumference that ranged from 2.3 cm to 7 cm among patients.
US women with moderate-to-severe iodine deficiency had a 46% reduced likelihood of becoming pregnant during each menstrual cycle, compared with women who had adequate iodine levels, researchers wrote in Human Reproduction. The study of 467 women who wanted to get pregnant showed about 56% had adequate iodine levels, 22% had a mild deficiency, 21% were moderately deficient and 1.7% had severe deficiency.
The Idaho State Board of Education is proposing a 10-year plan that would increase residency training programs in the state at a cost of $5.2 million for the first year and increasing each year after. The proposal is aimed at bringing more physicians to the state who will stay to practice after their training is completed.
According to the CMS, 561 accountable care organizations will participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program this year -- 124 new participants, 372 continuing participants and 65 organizations that renewed agreements -- covering 10.5 million lives. The majority of ACOs will be in the upside-only Track 1, but 55 will be in Track 1+, which transitions participants toward accepting some downside risk, eight will be in Track 2 and 38 will be in Track 3, both of which carry downside risk.
Kentucky is the first US state to get approval to add work provisions to its Medicaid program, and nine other states are awaiting decisions on similar requests, although the details of their proposals vary. Arkansas, for instance, would count a class on healthy living or health insurance toward education hours, while Indiana would count an English as a second language class; Utah, Maine and Kansas would exempt parents of children younger than age 6 from work provisions; and North Carolina would waive work requirements for any adult who has a dependent child.
Health care has passed manufacturing and retail to become, for the first time, the biggest source of jobs in the US. An aging US population, the stability provided by public health program funding, and an industry sector that's more resistant to globalization and automation were factors leading to the rise of the health care job sector.
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The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw, playwright
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