Op-Ed: By Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Secretary of the Department of Defense Ash Carter
Antibiotics save millions of lives every year. Today, however, the emergence of drug resistance in bacteria is undermining the effectiveness of current antibiotics and our ability to treat and prevent disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that drug-resistant bacteria cause two million illnesses and approximately 23,000 deaths each year in the United States alone.
Antibiotic resistance also limits our ability to perform a range of modern medical procedures, such as chemotherapy, surgery, and organ transplants. That’s why fighting antibiotic resistance is a national priority.
Combating and preventing antibiotic resistance, however, will be a long-term effort. That’s why, today, the Administration is releasing the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (NAP).
The NAP outlines a whole-of-government approach over the next five years targeted at addressing this threat:
1. Slow the emergence of resistant bacteria and prevent the spread of resistant infections
The judicious use of antibiotics in health care and agriculture settings is essential to combating the rise in antibiotic resistance. We can help slow the emergence of resistant bacteria by being smarter about prescribing practices across all human and animal health care settings, and by continuing to eliminate the use of medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals. Continue reading
By Michelle Andrews
The good news: Three-quarters of people who were eligible for the most generous financial subsidies on the federal health insurance exchange this year signed up for coverage, according to a new analysis by Avalere Health.
The puzzler: Enrollment dropped off substantially for people with only slightly higher incomes who would also have qualified for significant subsidies.
Stiffer penalties for not having coverage and redoubled efforts to reach out and educate people about the health law and their obligations may be keys to increasing enrollment for people in these income groups, says Caroline Pearson, a senior vice president at Avalere Health.
Subsidies alone aren’t enough, she says.
“The carrots as a standalone don’t work,” Pearson says, referring to subsidies that are available to make coverage more affordable for people with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. “You have to make people aware of the mandate, and as the mandate penalties increase that will strengthen the effect.”
Unless they qualify for an exemption, most people are required by the law to have health insurance or face fines. The penalty for not having health insurance in 2014 was the greater of $95 or 1 percent of annual income.
On Thursday, a new report out from the Commonwealth Fund finds the health insurance industry is doing just fine, thank you very much.
That’s contrary to the deep-seated fears of some as the Affordable Care Act launched back in 2010. But with three years’ worth of data on the books now, and insurers’ stock prices soaring, those fears have faded.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich doesn’t think Obamacare should be repealed, and congressional Republicans who say they want to repeal it really don’t want to either, he told a Washington, D.C. health conference Wednesday.
Instead, he thinks more minor parts of the law that aren’t working will be addressed because the core parts of the law have broader support than is often acknowledged.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Gage Skidmore
A Kirkland woman who says she developed a ‘superbug’ infection after a treatment at Harborview Medical Center is suing the maker of the scopes. Harborview officials say they have no record of infections tied to the devices.
Olympus Corp, the largest maker of a medical device at the center of recent U.S. superbug outbreaks, issued new cleaning instructions for its equipment on Thursday, urging health providers to adopt them “as soon as possible.”
Olympus said in a 13-page letter that a small-bristle brush required for the new procedures to clean potentially deadly bacteria from the devices would be shipped “no later than May 8.”
From the National Institutes of Health
The Ebola virus circulating in humans in West Africa is undergoing relatively few mutations, none of which suggest that it is becoming more severe or transmissible, according to a National Institutes of Health study in the journal Science.
The study compares virus sequencing data from samples taken from patients in Guinea (March 2014), Sierra Leone (June 2014) and Mali (November 2014).
Ebola virus, isolated in November 2014 from patient blood samples obtained in Mali. The virus was isolated on Vero cells in a BSL-4 suite at Rocky Mountain Laboratories.
“The Ebola virus in the ongoing West African outbreak appears to be stable—that is, it does not appear to be mutating more rapidly than viruses in previous Ebola outbreaks, and that is reassuring,” said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH. “We look forward to additional information to validate this finding, because understanding and tracking Ebola virus evolution are critical to ensuring that our scientific and public health response keeps pace.” Continue reading
To mark the 5th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act, Washington State Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican, asked her Facebook followers to share with her their Obamacare nightmare stories.
She didn’t get the response she was expecting. Most responders are giving it a big “thumbs up.”
By Jay Hancock
Got a high-deductible health plan? The kind that doesn’t pay most medical bills until they exceed several thousand dollars? You’re a foot soldier who’s been drafted in the war against high health costs.
Companies that switch workers into high-deductible plans can reap enormous savings, consultants will tell you — and not just by making employees pay more.
Total costs paid by everybody — employer, employee and insurance company — tend to fall in the first year or rise more slowly when consumers have more at stake at the health-care checkout counter whether or not they’re making medically wise choices.
Consumers with high deductibles sometimes skip procedures, think harder about getting treatment and shop for lower prices when they do seek care.
What nobody knows is whether low-cost, high-deductible plans will backfire, resulting in higher costs later on.
A new study delivers cautiously optimistic results for employers and policymakers, if not for consumers paying a higher share of their own health care costs. Continue reading
The pro-gun control group States United To Prevent Gun Violence opens a “gun store” in NYC as a hidden camera social experiment to debunk the myth that you are safer if you won a gun. Learn more at gunswithhistory.com.
QuitGuide is a free smartphone app that can help you:
- track your cravings and moods,
- monitor your progress toward achieving smokefree milestones,
- identify your reasons for quitting,
- identify smoking triggers and develop strategies to deal with them,
- provide guidance on quitting smoking, and a variety of other strategies to help you successfully become and stay smokefree.
QuitGuide is a product of Smokefree.gov (SfG)—a smoking cessation resource created by the Tobacco Control Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute in collaboration with tobacco control professionals and smoking cessation experts and with input from ex-smokers.
QuitGuide provides tips to use during cravings. Use these tips to help you manage your mood and stay smokefree. To get more tips and support, you can also visit the smokefree.gov website.
Washington – In order to expand eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it will change the calculation used to determine the distance between a Veteran’s residence and the nearest VA medical facility from a straight line distance to driving distance.
The policy change will be made through regulatory action in the coming weeks.
The method of determining driving distance will be through distance as calculated by using a commercial product. The change is expected to roughly double the number of eligible Veterans.
Today, claims become faster, easier and more accurate
Starting today, March 25th, VA is streamlining claims processes; to deliver benefits faster and more accurately.
Three important changes are now in affect.
To learn how the new standardized forms and intent to fileprocess affects you: