Senator Ben Cardin seeks to expand Medicare to include dental benefits: Medicare does not pay for dental benefits; nor does any private health insurance plan (unless problems are due to trauma or medical conditions). Recognizing that dental care is important for proper nutrition and overall health, from where is the money for these services coming? The proposal claims it will pay for itself in longterm savings. We have heard that one before.
Read the announcement
About information technology
Annual Update on the Adoption of a Nationwide System for the Electronic Use and Exchange of Health Information: The Office of the National Coordinator has submitted to Congress its annual report. Briefly, it says interoperability is still a problem and “we’re working on it.” The news here is that there is nothing new or groundbreaking that will finally have a significant impact on interoperability.
Walgreens Tests Digital Cooler Doors With Cameras to Target You With Ads: Although this technology is geared to purchasers of soft drinks from the drugstore coolers, it raises issues about what else is being monitored. For example, if you go to a Walgreens and pick up a prescription, then get a drink from the cooler, are those two purchases linked? Read the article and think about other privacy issues as your preferences are tracked in a pharmacy.
AI approach outperformed human experts in identifying cervical precancer: A NIH-developed algorithm does better than physicians in visually identifying precancerous cervical disease after acetic acid application. This visual inspection can link to the algorithm via cell phone/camera, so it can be used in areas remote from medical care. Obviously, medical followup must be available if an abnormality is found.
About the public’s health
Total Fertility Rates by State and Race and Hispanic Origin: United States, 2017: This annual CDC document reveals that the US has its lowest birthrate since 1978. However, average statistics are not valuable because of the large geographic and racial differences. (The report has maps showing these divisions by state.) This document is an important planning source for healthcare professionals ranging from those in public health to marketing managers.
Louisiana adopts ‘Netflix’ model to pay for hepatitis C drugs: File this one under “old wine in new bottles.” Louisiana’s plan is to pay pharmaceutical companies a subscription fee in return for access to medications when needed by patients. This model was named after Netflix because of the subscription financing. More than 25 years ago, managed care organizations paid Pharmaceutical Benefit Management (PBM) companies a per member per month fee in return for unlimited pharmaceutical use. Many arrangements had upper and lower limits to the deals whereby PBM profits and losses were limited. It is nice to see that one more good idea from the past has been rediscovered.