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December 3, 2012
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  Top Story 
  • Cost of one-year SGR fix increases by $7 billion, CBO says
    The Congressional Budget Office said a one-year fix of Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula for 2013, to stop a 26.5% physician pay cut, will cost $25 billion, $7 billion more than earlier estimated. AAFP President Jeffrey Cain, M.D., said the SGR cut, combined with a 2% reduction in Medicare payments, would "devastate family physicians' ability to care for elderly and disabled Americans" because it also will lead to losses in Medicaid and private insurance. American Medical News (free content) (12/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Clinical News 
  • Birth rates in U.S. dip to lowest level on record
    The number of births in the U.S. dropped to a record low in 2011, to 63.2 babies for every 1,000 women of childbearing age, according to a Pew Research Center study. The low birth rate was led by a decline in the number of immigrant women giving birth and due in part to the recent recession, researchers said. Los Angeles Times/Booster Shots blog(tiered subscription model) (11/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Longer hours of sleep may lessen pain sensitivity
    Adults who slept two hours longer than usual for four nights had decreased pain sensitivity compared with those who kept their normal sleep schedule, according to a study in the journal Sleep. The findings failed to explain why more sleep reduces pain, but researchers said that sleep loss and pain each raise levels of inflammatory markers. WebMD (12/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Steroid shots may cause bone loss in older women
    Researchers tracked 28 older women who received steroid injections for their back pain and found that they lost six times more bone mass in the hip over six months than women who didn't get the shots. The findings suggest that doctors should be careful in prescribing steroid injections to older women, particularly those who are prone to osteoporosis, researchers said. The study was published in the journal Spine. HealthDay News (12/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Higher diabetes risk seen in overweight men who smoke
    Overweight men who smoked had a 33% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a study in Diabetes Care. Researchers also found cigarette smoking was associated with a 48% reduced risk of autoimmune diabetes in current smokers and 58% reduced risk in heavy smokers. (12/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Practice Management 
  • Hospital trend of employing physicians causes controversy
    The hospital trend of buying up physician practices has hit a boiling point in Boise, Idaho, as the area's largest health system is accused of having too much market control, affecting patient care and procedure costs. While some policy experts say moving away from independent practices makes health care less fragmented and expensive, some physicians say hospitals are pressuring them to admit more patients to meet financial targets. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (11/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Health Policy & Legislation 
  • House panel probes CMS anti-fraud efforts
    CMS has had some success in rooting out fraud and abuse but has not made use of all available tools, House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee members said last week. Speaking at a hearing, a WellPoint official outlined the company's efforts to track prescriptions for controlled substances that have reportedly saved "many millions of dollars." MedPage Today(free registration) (11/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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  Professional Issues & Trends 
  • Study looks at student debt for primary care physicians
    Most primary care physicians just entering the profession will be able to pay off their student debt, which was about $160,000 in 2011, within 10 years, according to a study from Boston University and the Association of American Medical Colleges. Researchers said physicians with $200,000 or more in student debt may have to negotiate an extended payment plan or move to an area with a lower cost of living. The Boston Globe(tiered subscription model) (12/3) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Wis. medical schools say pay hampers physician recruitment
    Efforts by medical schools in Wisconsin to increase the number of primary care physicians in the state are hampered by low pay levels. Some insurers have begun initiatives to increase primary care physician reimbursements through programs tied to meeting quality goals and reducing hospital admissions. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel(tiered subscription model) (12/1) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Inside the AAFP 
  • Va. AFP Helps Craft State Legislation Clarifying Physician, NP Roles
    The Virginia Academy of Family Physicians recently received a State Advocacy Leadership Award from the AAFP for the chapter's efforts to help promote and pass legislation that designates physicians as leaders of the health care team and nurse practitioners as members of physician-led teams. Learn more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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--Gladys Bronwyn Stern,
British writer

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