New preventive health services approved for no-cost coverage

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ACA health reform logoBy Michelle Andrews
KHN

The list continued to grow of preventive services that people are entitled to receive without paying anything out of pocket.

In 2014, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended two new servicesand tweaked a handful of others that had previously been recommended.

Under the health law, preventive care that receives an “A” or “B” recommendation by the nonpartisan group of medical experts must be covered by health plans without charging consumers. Only grandfathered plans are exempt from the requirement.

The new recommended services are: Hepatitis B screening for adolescents and adults at high risk for infection, and low-dose aspirin use for pregnant women who are at high risk for preeclampsia, a condition characterized by an abrupt increase in blood pressure that can lead to serious complications for the woman and baby.

In its Hepatitis B screening recommendation, the task force said there was new evidence that antiviral treatments improved outcomes in people at high risk for the liver infection, including those from countries where the infection is common, people who are HIV-positive and injection drug users. Continue reading

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FDA Panel Endorses Women’s Libido Pill – WebMD

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fda-logo-thumbnailAn advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended approval Thursday of what many call the “female Viagra” pill.

The panel voted 18-6 that the FDA grant approval to the drug, flibanseri, which is designed to boost a lack of sexual desire in premenopausal women.

However, the panel members who voted yes said full FDA approval should come with certain conditions.

Source: FDA Panel Endorses Women’s Libido Pill – WebMD

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Pentagon appeals for scientists’ help tracking anthrax shipments | Reuters

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AnthraxThe Pentagon on Thursday asked microbiologists for help in tracking samples of anthrax that the army shipped to at least 51 labs in 17 U.S. states and three foreign countries, according to an announcement shared with Reuters.

The request indicates that the Pentagon does not know where the anthrax wound up.

Source: Pentagon appeals for scientists’ help tracking anthrax shipments | Reuters

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Every Virus a Person Has Had Can Be Seen in a Drop of Blood, Researchers Find – NYTimes.com

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MERS virus

Using less than a drop of blood, a new test can reveal nearly every virus a person has ever been exposed to, scientists reported on Thursday.

The test, which is still experimental, can be performed for as little as $25 and could become an important research tool for tracking patterns of disease in various populations, helping scientists compare the old and the young, or people in different parts of the world.

It could also be used to try to find out whether viruses, or the body’s immune response to them, contribute to chronic diseases and cancer, the researchers said.

Photo: MERS virus by NIAID

Source: Every Virus a Person Has Had Can Be Seen in a Drop of Blood, Researchers Find – NYTimes.com

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Fracking Has Not Had Big Effect on Water Supply, E.P.A. Says While Noting Risks – NYTimes.com

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rain-dropsLandmark Environmental Protection Agency report on the impact of hydraulic fracturing has found no evidence that the contentious technique of oil and gas extraction has had a widespread effect on the nation’s water supply, the agency said Thursday.

Nevertheless, the long-awaited draft report found that the techniques used in hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, do have the potential to contaminate drinking water.

Source: Fracking Has Not Had Big Effect on Water Supply, E.P.A. Says While Noting Risks – NYTimes.com

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NIH researchers sequence healthy volunteers’ DNA and find they aren’t so healthy after all – The Washington Post

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ChromosomePrevious studies have estimated the number of people with a genetic condition at less than 0.02 percent.

The new study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics on Thursday, indicates that the number may actually be 3 percent or more.

Translated to the population of the United States that means that some 9 million people, a group the size of the population of New Jersey, may be living with a genetic condition they don’t know about.

Source: NIH researchers sequence healthy volunteers’ DNA and find they aren’t so healthy after all – The Washington Post

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Melanoma rate doubled over past three decades – CDC

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img1Melanoma rates doubled between 1982 and 2011 but comprehensive skin cancer prevention programs could prevent 20 percent of new cases between 2020 and 2030, according a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer. More than 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers are due to skin cell damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure.

The report says that without additional community prevention efforts, melanoma will continue to increase over the next 15 years, with 112,000 new cases projected in 2030.

More than 65,000 melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed and more than 9,000 die from the disease in the US each year.

Successful programs feature community efforts that combine education, mass media campaigns, and policy changes to increase skin protection for children and adults.

“If we take action now, we can prevent hundreds of thousands of new cases of skin cancers, including melanoma, and save billions of dollars in medical costs,” said Lisa Richardson, MD, MPH, Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

This report highlights the recommendations for communities from the Community Guide for Preventive Services. According to these guidelines, communities can: Continue reading

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Doctor’s office research – What is it? What’s it to you?

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SEATTLE COMMUNITY CONVERSATION SERIES JUNE 9, SEATTLE.

“DOCTOR’S OFFICE RESEARCH. WHAT’S IT TO YOU?”

Facilitated by Benjamin Wilfond MD, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

speech-bubbleJoin us for an engaging and intimate discussion about research that happens in your doctor’s office.

What? You thought research only happened at universities or hospitals, right?

It turns out that plenty of decisions, like which hand gel to use or which blood pressure medicine to prescribe, vary by a lot without much rhyme or reason.

Doctors want better evidence for these decisions.  But how much should patients know and be able to agree to?

Learn more at rompethics.iths.org

Each Conversation in the series explores a topic in biomedical science and its role in society, connecting people to the biomedical research community

Details  and REGISTRATION

WHEN?

Tuesday June 9
5:45 – 7:30 PM

WHERE?

Kakao Chocolate + Coffee
415 Westlake Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98109

HOW MUCH?

$5 NWABR members| $10 General admission, Includes discussion, appetizers, espresso and first glass of beer or wine if 21+

Everyone is welcome.  No science background necessary.

SUGGESTED READINGS AND RESOURCES

Description of research in your doctor’s office

Influence of doctors’ demographic on their medical practice

Making evidence-based medicine doable in everyday practice

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The Supreme Court Decision In King v. Burwell Could Affect Your Wallet

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If the challengers win, more than 6 million Americans would lose the subsidies that have helped them afford health insurance. So, if you bought your policy through healthcare.gov – the federal exchange – you would no longer receive that help.

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Bring doctors to patients who need them most

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Jennifer Vargas, a second year resident at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center, treats patient Maria Sanchez, 54, at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center on April 21, 2015.    Sanchez says she feels comfortable with Vargas because she speaks Spanish (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

Jennifer Vargas, a second year resident at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center, treats patient Maria Sanchez, 54, at Riverside County’s Regional Medical Center on April 21, 2015. Sanchez says she feels comfortable with Vargas because she speaks Spanish (Photo by Heidi de Marco/KHN).

By Andrew L. Wang and Heidi de Marco

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. — Jennifer Vargas’ path toward becoming a doctor took her from UCLA to Guadalajara before it ultimately led back home, to California’s vast Inland Empire east of Los Angeles.

“Today, our country is largely training the sons and daughters of wealthy people to be physicians… You wonder why we have a problem with people not serving in underserved communities; it’s because they don’t know what an underserved community looks like.”

When the Chino Hills, Calif. native graduated from medical school in Mexico, her first choice for residency training was Riverside County’s public medical center, which serves among the fastest growing and most medically deprived parts of California.

It was just what she wanted:  To serve a vulnerable patient population facing high barriers to care, particularly immigrant patients from Mexico who would benefit from a Spanish-speaking physician.

“It offered the best fit for me,” said Vargas, 32, a second-year resident in family medicine at Riverside County Regional Medical Center. Continue reading

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Social Security announces new online service for replacement Medicare cards

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From the Office of the Insurance Commissioner

apple-touch-iconThe Social Security Administration introduced the expansion of online services available through its my Social Security portal.

Medicare beneficiaries can now get a replacement card if they’ve lost, damaged, or simply need to replace it using a my Social Security online account.

Medicare beneficiaries can now get a replacement card if they’ve lost, damaged, or simply need to replace it using a my Social Security online account.

Requesting a replacement card through my Social Security account is a convenient, cost-effective and secure way to ensure you have a critical piece of identification available when required by medical providers as proof of Medicare coverage.

You can access your online my Social Security account atwww.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and select the “Replacement Documents” tab.

Then select “Mail my replacement Medicare card.” After you request a card, it will arrive in the mail in approximately 30 days.

For more information about my Social Security or to establish an account, go to: www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

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Inside Indiana’s HIV rural epidemic

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ProPublica Podcast

More than 150 people in southeast Indiana have been diagnosed with HIV, the largest outbreak in state history.

Even though the first reports trickled in to state health officials last December, they didn’t tell their local counterparts in Scott County for two months when it became a full-blown epidemic.

Investigative reporter Bob Segall has been looking into the outbreak for WTHR, NBC’s Indianapolis affiliate. He joins ProPublica senior health reporter Charles Ornstein on the podcast this week to discuss:


ProPublica on Facebook and Twitter, and get ProPublica headlines delivered by e-mail every day.

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What patients gain by reading their doctor’s notes

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Shelves packed with medical records

By Shefali Luthra

During a recent physical, Jeff Gordon’s doctor told him he may be pre-diabetic. It was a quick mention, mixed in with a review of blood pressure numbers, other vital statistics like his heart rate, height and weight, and details about his prescription for cholesterol medication.

Normally, Gordon, 70, a food broker who lives in Washington, D.C., would have paid it little attention.

But his physician, who recently joined MedStar Health, uses the system’s Web portal that allows him to share his office notes with patients. For Gordon, seeing the word “pre-diabetic” in writing made it difficult to ignore, and he took action.

He contacted MedStar about joining a pre-diabetes clinical study. In the course of taking the tests required to participate, the otherwise healthy septuagenarian found out his blood sugar wasn’t elevated enough to qualify.

Still, the experience of seeing the term in his doctor’s notes was a “wake-up call,” inspiring him to pay more attention to his diet and exercise. “It’s harder to ignore when it’s in your face,” he said. Continue reading

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