The Wall Street Journal: UnitedHealth Profit Up On Stronger Enrollments
UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s fourth-quarter income rose 15%, fueled by expanding enrollment and growth in its health-services business, but shares slipped on concerns about future government payments for privately managed Medicare plans. The Minnetonka, Minn., company, the biggest U.S. health insurer, reported a profit of $1.43 billion, or $1.41 a share, up from $1.24 billion, or $1.20 a share, a year earlier. Revenue improved 8.2% to $31.12 billion. The earnings slightly beat analysts' consensus prediction of $1.40 a share (Mathews, 1/16).
The Wall Street Journal: Cigarettes Tied To More Deaths, Types Of Illness
Cigarettes are deadlier and linked to more diseases than previously thought, according to a new report from the U.S. surgeon general being released 50 years after the government first warned that smoking kills. In the report to be released Friday, the nation's top doctor warned that smoking is linked to the deaths of about 480,000 Americans annually. That's a substantial increase over the government's previous estimate of 443,000 deaths, despite the fact that fewer Americans are lighting up and those who do smoke are lighting up less often (Esterl, 1/17).
USA Today: Smoking Causes Diabetes, Colon Cancer, New Report Says
A new report from the surgeon general finds that smoking causes even more physical and financial damage than previously estimated, killing 480,000 Americans a year from diseases that include diabetes, colorectal cancer and liver cancer. The report, released today, represents the first time the surgeon general has concluded that smoking is "causally linked" to these diseases (Szabo, 1/17).
The Texas Tribune/New York Times: Sheriff And Judge Battle Over Medical Care In Jail
Now the judge and Sheriff Ray Nutt of Henderson County are in a pitched battle -; that could turn litigious -; over accountability for medical care in the lockup. Judge Tarrance argues that other inmates have received similarly shoddy treatment and that judges should have the authority to order improved health care when lives could be in jeopardy. Lawyers for the county say the jail's medical services are exemplary and that the judge overstepped his authority (Grissom, 1/16).
Los Angeles Times: California Gets F In Speedy Treatments At ERs From Advocacy Group
An updated national report on U.S. emergency medical care has again awarded California an F for lacking access to speedy treatment, noting that the state has the fewest hospital emergency rooms per capita -; 6.7 per 1 million people -; in the nation. The America's Emergency Care Environment report card, which gauges how well states support emergency care, was released Thursday by the advocacy group American College of Emergency Physicians (Brown, 1/16).
Los Angeles Times: California Hospitals Charge $3,000 To $37,000 For Childbirth, Study Says
Amid growing scrutiny of hospital billing, a new study finds that California hospitals charged mothers $3,296 to $37,227 for a routine delivery. For women having a cesarean section, the UC San Francisco study found patients were billed $8,312 to nearly $71,000. Few of the patients in the study released Thursday had serious health issues, and most were discharged within six days of admission (Terhune, 1/16).
The Washington Post: In Wake Of Son's Death, Creigh Deeds Makes Case For reforms But Meets With Resistance
In a meeting Thursday of a mental-health subcommittee in the Virginia Senate, Deeds made a passionate case for his legislation without delving into the personal tragedy he suffered only two months ago. … Two of Deeds' proposals have met with unanimous support. A review of the training and qualifications of community services board mental health evaluators has gone to the full Senate for a floor vote. A mandate for the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to offer an electronic database of psychiatric bed availability was passed on to the full Senate Education and Health Committee (Weiner, 1/16).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.