Today's News and Commentary

About health insurance

CMS extends Medicare coverage for ambulatory blood pressure test: Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (that is blood pressure readings taken outside the doctor’s office ) is the current medical recommendation for following hypertension. CMS has just approved Medicare coverage.

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Five states seek to join hearing to determine fate of CVS-Aetna merger: As previously reported, federal Judge Richard Leon is reviewing this merger, claiming it was not adequately vetted. Now attorneys general from California, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi and Washington have repeated a request to speak before the court in favor of the deal.

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Accuracy Of The Relative Value Scale Update Committee’s Time Estimates And Physician Fee Schedule For Joint Replacement: Physicians’ time is one element that CMS uses to pay for services. This research was based on actual electronic record time stamps rather than self-reported times. The results were that “the fee schedule overestimated the operating time of original hip replacements by 18 percent and original knee replacements by 23 percent. Revision hip replacements were overestimated by 61 percent and knee replacements by 48 percent.” Keep in mind that the payment recommendations come from an AMA committee largely composed of surgical specialists, so reform in payment will be problematic.

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About the public’s health

Facebook to tackle content with misleading health claims: The headline is self-explanatory.

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Exclusive: FDA enforcement actions plummet under Trump: Again, the headline is self-explanatory.

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Microbiota-Driven Tonic Interferon Signals in Lung Stromal Cells Protect from Influenza Virus Infection:Despite the complex title, this research’s method is important. Because antibiotics do not help treat viral infections like influenza, physicians should avoid using them. Another reason to avoid use is fostering the emergence of drug resistance. This article provides a third reason.
Intestinal bacteria are known to have a number of beneficial effects. One benefit that this research found is that they help attack viral infections. Use of antibiotics that can kill these bacteria may make viral infections worse.

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