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Special Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation conference to focus on issues surrounding addiction

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Professionals in Residence program in collaboration with the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and the Scaife Family Foundation will host a special conference June 20-21 in Minnesota for primary health care providers to learn more about the issues surrounding addiction. [More]
Research roundup: New medical coding system; choosing a hospice; revamping Medicare

Research roundup: New medical coding system; choosing a hospice; revamping Medicare

On October 1, 2014, all health plans, health data clearinghouses, and health care providers that transmit health information electronically must use a new, significantly broader, coding system, called ICD-10, for diagnoses and inpatient procedures. [More]
Prescriptions of opioid analgesics increased during U.S. emergency department visits

Prescriptions of opioid analgesics increased during U.S. emergency department visits

George Washington University (GW) researchers report dramatic increases in prescriptions of opioid analgesics, such as Percocet, Vicodin, oxycodone and Dilaudid, during U.S. emergency department visits from 2001 to 2010. [More]
Research roundup: Palliative care and ACOs; employers and Supreme Court case on contraception

Research roundup: Palliative care and ACOs; employers and Supreme Court case on contraception

In preparation for the new ACO environment, leaders recognized the contribution palliative care can make to health care "value," especially in the care of our sickest (and most expensive) patients ... [More]

Pairing school and home programs most effective in curbing teen prescription drug abuse

Programs that aim to curb teen prescription drug abuse have vastly differing effectiveness, ranging from big drops in drug abuse to no measurable effect, according to a new study of 11,000 teenagers by researchers at Duke and Pennsylvania State universities. [More]
Viewpoints: Health law distorting--or 'undistorting' the labor market; gas stations should follow CVS' lead; ways to fight heroin

Viewpoints: Health law distorting--or 'undistorting' the labor market; gas stations should follow CVS' lead; ways to fight heroin

On Wednesday, Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, said the obvious: losing your job and choosing to work less aren't the same thing. [More]

Viewpoints: Shinseki's efforts haven't yet solved VA's problems; treating children with mental illness is complicated; abuse of painkillers

Just in time for Veterans Day, the embattled secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki, announced last week that his department had reduced its backlog of overdue disability claims from more than 600,000 in March to about 400,000. "The trend line is in the right direction," Shinseki told reporters, noting that the VA had cut the number of claims older than a year by 93%. With hundreds of thousands of cases still unresolved, Shinseki hasn't gotten much credit so far -; but to the surprise of his critics, he's on track to achieve his goal of eliminating the backlog by 2015. Still, that won't solve all the VA's problems; far from it (Doyle McManus, 11/10). [More]

Access to health care increases prescription opioid abuse

Researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis say one way to gauge the extent of prescription opioid pain reliever abuse in any Indiana county is to count the number of health care providers, particularly dentists and pharmacists. [More]

Viewpoints: House Republicans help themselves, and the country, with smart, tough questions to Tavenner; Kentucky senators out of step with eager constituents; replace health law with single payer system

When House Republicans direct their opposition to Obamacare toward aggressive oversight rather than apocalyptic budget shenanigans, they can do themselves and the country a lot of good. That was obvious when the House Ways and Means Committee posed some smart, tough questions about HealthCare.gov to Marilyn Tavenner, who, as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is perhaps the person most directly responsible for the fiasco. Yes, there were a few "gotcha" questions meant to showcase individual representatives' hatred of the health-care law. But for the most part, the queries seemed designed to find a path toward more competent management of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (10/29). [More]
State highlights: Calif. Gov. Vetoes 'biosimilars' bill; health data gateway opens in Calif.; L.A. health workers required to get flu shots

State highlights: Calif. Gov. Vetoes 'biosimilars' bill; health data gateway opens in Calif.; L.A. health workers required to get flu shots

A selection of health policy stories from California. A bill that would have allowed "biosimilar" drugs to be substituted for biologic drugs was vetoed over the weekend by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who said it was premature to pass the law until the Federal Drug Administration has worked out standards for the new drugs. [More]

First Edition: October 16, 2013

Today's headlines including stories detailing how certain health law provisions are factoring in to the continuing congressional budget stalemate. [More]

State highlights: D.C. to use cash reserves to pay Medicaid providers off; Texas, Planned Parenthood reach overbilling settlement; Veteran health centers at colleges

How do you spend $48 million in unbudgeted taxpayer money without getting an OK from elected lawmakers? In the District of Columbia, there's pretty much only one way, and that's the way Mayor Vincent C. Gray is proposing to settle a high-stakes dispute with D.C. Chartered Health Plan. Gray spokesman Pedro Ribeiro confirmed Wednesday that the plan is to pay the District's share of the settlement -- a little over $35 million, with federal Medicaid dollars accounting for the rest -- out of the city's contingency cash reserve (DeBonis, 7/24). [More]
Poor, less educated patients are less likely to receive opioid pain medications in emergency rooms

Poor, less educated patients are less likely to receive opioid pain medications in emergency rooms

Patients in moderate to severe pain in emergency rooms across the U.S. are less likely to receive opioid pain medications if they are black, Hispanic, poor, or have less education, compared to more affluent patients, according to a University of Rochester Medical Center study reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. [More]
Novel approach to pain therapy paves way for lower dosage painkillers

Novel approach to pain therapy paves way for lower dosage painkillers

For patients managing cancer and other chronic health issues, painkillers such as morphine and Vicodin are often essential for pain relief. The body's natural tendency to develop tolerance to these medications, however, often requires patients to take higher doses - increasing risks of harmful side effects and dependency. [More]
1 in 4 teens misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime

1 in 4 teens misused or abused a prescription drug at least once in their lifetime

New, nationally projectable survey results released today by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and MetLife Foundation confirmed that one in four teens has misused or abused a prescription (Rx) drug at least once in their lifetime - a 33 percent increase over the past five years. [More]

Ameritox study shows correlation between positive marijuana tests, misuse of prescription drugs

Ameritox, one of the nation's leaders in pain medication monitoring, announced new research today showing a correlation between positive marijuana tests and higher rates of potential prescription drug non-adherence among chronic pain medication users. [More]

Viewpoints: Looking for the budget's true bottom line; The debate on Plan B reignited; Medicare cuts have impact

President Obama will release his overdue budget on Wednesday. It will doubtless project a reduction in the federal budget deficit-;a projection that journalists, commentators and policy makers should ignore. [More]
OMT offers moderate to substantial pain relief from chronic low back pain

OMT offers moderate to substantial pain relief from chronic low back pain

The numbers are staggering. More than 632 million people worldwide suffer from low back pain, and it is a leading cause of disability. According to the Institute of Medicine, one-third of all Americans suffer from chronic pain, which exceeds the number of people who are affected by heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined. [More]

Viewpoints: Other GOP governors should note what Scott wrangled out of HHS; Curbs on painkillers need to be tougher

Those governors who earlier embraced ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion-;here's looking at you, Jan Brewer-;might be feeling a little cheated. If only they had held out a bit longer, they might have been able to obtain something from the Obama administration in return, as Florida's Rick Scott purports to have done. [More]

Low testosterone levels occur more often among men on long-acting opioids

Low testosterone levels occur five times more often among men who take long-acting instead of short-acting opioids for chronic pain, according to a new Kaiser Permanente study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain. [More]