Posts Tagged ‘Care

07
Aug
10

Weekly Address: Medicare Officially Safer After Health Reform

NEWS
Weekly Address: Medicare Officially Safer After Health Reform
President Obama Highlights Benefits to Seniors Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Saturday, August 07, 2010

In his weekly address this week, President Obama highlighted a Medicare Trustees report noting the steps we took this year to reform the health care system have put Medicare on a sounder financial footing, which will help to preserve Medicare for generations to come. Additionally, America’s seniors are already seeing more benefits as a result of health reform, including a rebate to cover the cost of their prescriptions if they fall into the Medicare Part D drug coverage gap. In the coming years, as we continue to ramp up reform, we expect seniors to save in premiums and out of pocket costs. And the President will continue to make Medicare stronger to ensure our seniors have access to affordable and quality healthcare.

Forty-five years ago, we made a solemn compact as a nation that senior citizens would not go without the health care they need. This is the promise we made when Medicare was born. And it’s the responsibility of each generation to keep that promise.

That’s why a report issued this week by the Trustees who oversee Medicare was such good news. According to this report, the steps we took this year to reform the health care system have put Medicare on a sounder financial footing. Reform has actually added at least a dozen years to the solvency of Medicare – the single longest extension in history – while helping to preserve Medicare for generations to come.

We’ve made Medicare more solvent by going after waste, fraud, and abuse – not by changing seniors’ guaranteed benefits. In fact, seniors are starting to see that because of health reform, their benefits are getting better all the time.

Seniors who fall into the “doughnut hole” – the gap in Medicare Part D drug coverage – are eligible right now for a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of their prescriptions. Now, I know for people facing drug costs far higher than that, they need more help. That’s why we negotiated a better deal with the pharmaceutical companies for seniors. So starting next year, if you fall in the doughnut hole, you’ll get a 50-percent discount on the brand-name medicine you need. And in the coming years, this law will close the doughnut hole completely once and for all.

Already, we have put insurance companies on notice that we have the authority to review and reject unreasonable rate increases for Medicare Advantage plans. And we’ve made it clear to the insurers that we won’t hesitate to use this authority to protect seniors.

Beginning next year, preventive care – including annual physicals, wellness exams, and tests like mammograms – will be free for seniors as well. That will make it easier for folks to stay healthy. But it will also mean that doctors can catch things earlier, so treatment may be less invasive and less expensive.

And as reform ramps up in the coming years, we expect seniors to save an average of $200 per year in premiums and more than $200 each year in out of pocket costs, too.

This is possible in part through reforms that target waste and abuse and redirect those resources to where they’re supposed to go: our seniors. We’re already on track to cut improper payments in half – including money that goes to criminals who steal taxpayer dollars by setting up insurance scams and other frauds. And we won’t stop there. Because by preventing the loss of these tax dollars, we can both address the runaway costs of Medicare and improve the quality of care seniors receive – and we can crack down on those who prey on seniors and take advantage of people.

So we are no longer accepting business as usual. We’re making tough decisions to meet the challenges of our time. And as a result, Medicare is stronger and more secure. That’s important. Because Medicare isn’t just a program. It’s a commitment to America’s seniors – that after working your whole life, you’ve earned the security of quality health care you can afford. As long as I am President, that’s a commitment this country is going to keep.
Thank you.

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• Source(s): The White House
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26
Jul
10

High-Def Body Scanner Spots Heart Problems Early

NEWS
High-Def Body Scanner Spots Heart Problems Early

HD Scanner Spots Flaws Before Heart Attacks: Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital Use GE Healthcare Device

Monday, July 26, 2010

••• A new high definition body scanner is giving U.K. doctors the clearest ever view inside the human body – helping them spot problems before people suffer heart attacks, Sky News reported Today.
The scanner generates pictures of diseased arteries in the heart that are twice as clear as older machines.

It means doctors at Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital in the South West of England can identify problems at an early stage, long before patients suffer a heart attack or even develop any symptoms.


It’s brilliant. It’s a relief there is no structural problem for the chest pain, so I can get on with life now.
John Hughes, after a HD scan on his heart.

“When we started doing the heart research in 2002, we used to struggle to see the blood vessels, let alone see the narrowings within them,” Professor of radiology, Carl Roobottom, said. “Now, we have a technique that can see to within a fraction of a millimeter.”
In just five seconds, the scanner takes 220 X-rays, each of them a cross section of the heart. Computers then turn the raw snapshots into a 3D image.
Doctors can add color to distinguish between different types of tissue, strip away layers that obscure problem areas, and rotate or flip the image to get the best possible view.
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• Source(s): Sky News / BskyB / News Corporation
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20
Jul
10

“Microneedle” Skin Patch May Replace Flu Shot

NEWS
“Microneedle” Skin Patch May Replace Flu Shot

Disappearing Needles: Vaccine-Delivery Patch with Dissolving Microneedles Eliminates “Sharps” Waste and Improves Protection

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

••• Traditional flu jabs may be rendered obsolete by a hi-tech skin patch which delivers vaccine painlessly through scores of tiny needles.

The patch could revolutionize pandemic control by allowing vaccines to be self-administered, scientists in the U.S. say.

The patch can be easily used at home by someone with no medical training.

When the patch is applied to the skin, its hundred ‘microneedles’ – each measuring just over half a millimetre – deliver the vaccine and simply dissolve away.

The needle arrays are made from a plastic-like polymer that is known to be safe for use in the body. What remains is a water-soluble backing that can safely be discarded.

The head of the research team, professor Mark Prausnitz, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta said: ‘We have shown that a dissolving microneedle patch can vaccinate against influenza at least as well, and probably better than, a traditional hypodermic needle.’

Tests on mice showed that vaccination with the microneedles caused a stronger immune response than an injection by syringe.

The patch could aid mass-immunization in poor parts of the world. It could help to avoid infections such as HIV and hepatitis B that are often spread by re-use of dirty hypodermic needles.

‘We envision people getting the patch in the mail or at a pharmacy and then self-administering it at home,’ said Dr Sean Sullivan, another member of the Georgia team.

‘Because the microneedles on the patch dissolve away into the skin, there would be no dangerous sharp needles left over.’

Other vaccines could be applied with the same technique, the scientists believe.

The cost of mass-produced patches are estimated to be about the same as conventional jabs. But the reduced need for personnel may bring the overall cost of immunization programmes down.

The patch will still have to undergo patient trials to assure its safety and effectiveness before being made generally available.
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• Source(s): Georgia Institute of Technology
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12
Jun
10

U.S. gives BP 48 hours to improve oil spill containment plans

NEWS
U.S. gives BP 48 hours to improve oil spill containment plans

Saturday, June 12, 2010

••• The U.S. Coast Guard has expressed concern that BP’s current plans to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill do not go far enough and has ordered it to improve them within 48 hours.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral James Watson told BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles in a letter that BP must do more, given new U.S. government data this week that suggests the flow is as much as double previous estimates.

‘Because those estimates have now been revised and estimate a substantially higher flow of oil from the Macado 252 well, it is clear that additional capacity is urgently needed,’ said the letter dated June 11 and released on Saturday.
‘I am concerned that your current plans do not provide for maximum mobilisation of resources to provide the needed collection capacity consistent with revised flow estimates,’ Watson said.

‘I am also concerned that your plan does not go far enough to mobilise redundant resources in the event of an equipment failure with one of the vessels or some other unforeseen problem,’ he added.

‘BP must identify in the next 48 hours additional leak containment capacity that could be operationalised and expedited to avoid the continued discharge of oil.’
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12
Jun
10

BP Woes Spill into Markets

NEWS
BP Woes Spill into Markets

Saturday, June 12, 2010

BP shares rallied on Friday on bargain-hunting after recent sharp losses.

The gains came as British Prime Minister David Cameron threw his support behind a ‘financially strong’ BP in talks with its chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, while voicing frustration over the oil spill, his office said.

At the close of trade, the company’s share price soared 7.22 percent to 391.9 pence on London’s FTSE 100 shares index, which was 0.61 percent higher.

Despite the gains, the British oil giant’s share price has plunged by as much as 49 per cent, wiping tens of billions of dollars off its market value since the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig sank on April 22.

The accident, following a explosion that killed 11 people two days earlier, sparked an enormous oil spill from a leaking well head on the sea bed.

The disaster has seen huge amounts of oil wash up on the U.S. Gulf coastline, threatening precious wildlife and local communities, and provoking the wrath of U.S. President Barack Obama, who has demanded BP scrap its shareholder dividend.

‘We are considering all options on the dividend. But no decision has been made,’ BP chief executive Tony Hayward said on Friday.

The group is preparing to defer the payment of its next dividend, according to the BBC and The Times newspaper.

The Times, which cited people familiar with the situation, reported that the money would be held in an escrow account, held by a third party, until its liabilities from the disaster become clear.

The BBC said it understood BP was planning to suspend the dividend, with BP directors due to meet on Monday to discuss the payments.

The meeting ‘will be about when to suspend the payments, how long to suspend the payments, and what to do with the billions of dollars that would be saved and not paid to shareholders,’ BBC business editor Robert Peston said.

A BP spokesman declined to comment on the stories, but stressed that the company was considering all its options.

The company’s share price was meanwhile boosted after U.S. bank Goldman Sachs issued an upbeat outlook for embattled BP.

‘BP shares now have as much upside potential as the rest of the European integrated oil sector,’ Goldman said in a research note.

The stock had plunged on Thursday, striking a low of 330 pence, as investors fretted about the financial impact of the oil spill and the possible loss of the group’s shareholder dividend.

CMC Markets analyst James Hughes described Friday’s gains as an ‘inevitable bounce after the moves of the last few days’ but warned that the share price has further to fall.

Cameron will discuss BP’s handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with Obama over the weekend amid fears of an anti-British backlash in the United States.

BP chairman Svanberg has been summoned to meet Obama at the White House next week, as several US media reported the Swede was being lined up as a ‘fall guy’ for the disaster.

Cameron, who is visiting Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates, had a ‘constructive’ telephone conversation with Svanberg, a Downing Street spokesman said.

‘The prime minister explained that he was frustrated and concerned about the environmental damage caused by the leak but made clear his view that BP is an economically important company in the UK, US and other countries,’ he said.

Cameron said: ‘It is in everyone’s interests that BP continues to be a financially strong and stable company.’

Svanberg met with finance minister George Osborne and other senior officials in Downing Street on Friday.

After the talks, the Swede told ITN television: ‘I think we have done everything we can to try to fill the well, and we have said we would do everything expected from us in cleaning up the beach, taking care of all the claims and learn from this incident and make deepsea drilling an even safer place.’
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09
Jun
10

Oil spills and human health

NEWS
Oil spills and human health

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Earth

••• Seventy-one people in Louisiana have suffered health problems that officials believe are linked to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the state’s department of health and hospitals said on Wednesday.

Fifty of those who have reported symptoms including throat irritation, cough, shortness of breath, eye irritation, nausea, chest pain and headaches, worked on oil rigs or were part of the effort to clean up the spill.

Thirty of the workers said their illness came on after they were exposed to emulsified oil and dispersant, said the report, which is updated weekly.

Eight people – all of them rig or clean-up workers – have been hospitalised with spill-related illnesses, the report said.
All hospitalisations were short, generally one day, it said.

Twenty-one reports of illness came from members of the general public and were overwhelmingly related to odors from the oil spill.

Most of the members of the public who reported symptoms were at home when they fell ill, the report shows.

The most common symptom associated with the spill was headache, followed by nausea, cough and throat irritation.

The Louisiana state health authority began gathering reports of human exposures to oil from the slick or chemicals used to disperse it four weeks after the April 20 explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon that caused the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The report was compiled using data gathered from emergency departments, outpatient clinics, doctors’ offices and the Louisiana poison control centre.
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14
May
10

Surgery Tool Shows Route Map To The Brain

NEWS
Surgery Tool Shows Route Map To The Brain

Brain Surgery Advance: Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Using BrainLAB Navigation To Remove Tumours

Friday, May 14, 2010

••• A sat nav-style guidance system has given surgeons a precise route map deep inside the brain.

The technique, unveiled by Alder Hey children’s hospital in the U.K., allows doctors to remove tumours and other abnormal tissue more safely.

And for the first time in Europe, surgeons can also wheel their patient straight into an MRI scanner to double-check all diseased areas have been removed.

Patients remain anaesthetised and only have their wound closed up once the scan gives the all-clear.

Paediatric surgeon Sasha Burn told Sky News that a brain tumour can re-grow if any cells are left behind in an operation.

The new set-up gives peace of mind, she said.

‘With children’s tumours it’s very important that we take away all the tumour at the first operation. It increases the survival after the operation enormously,’ she said.

The navigation system – called BrainLAB – synchronises pre-operative brain scans with the child’s position on the operating table.

It shows surgeons the best route to the target area in the brain.

The scans can be updated during the operation, allowing the route map to be refreshed.

Millimetres matter because diseased tissue can be next to crucial parts of the brain, including those controlling speech and vision.
One of the first patients to benefit from the system is 12-year-old Bradley Martin.

He has epilepsy caused by a pea-sized cyst on his brain – and surgeons were able to remove it in a five-hour operation, which could prevent future seizures.

Before the surgery, his dad, Brett, said: ‘He loves mountain biking, but it’s a terrible worry for us that he might have an episode when he is cycling quickly.

‘To have him fit-free would be a wonderful thing.’

Afterwards Miss Burn said he had ‘an extremely good chance of being completely seizure free’.

The operating theatre was made possible with a £3 million ($4.432 million) donation from the Barclay Foundation.
• Source(s): Sky News / British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. (BSkyB) / News Corp.
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