I’ve taken a bit of a summer hiatus, but now I’m back. I’ll start by sharing a few headlines of interest from the last month. I will reserve any comment on these for now and merely summarize the articles linked:
Free birth control: Starting next August, insurance companies will have to cover birth control and other preventive services for women. This following a report by the Institutes of Medicine.
Should the state intervene when children are obese? An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Lindsey Murtagh and David Ludwig suggest that for children in the 99th percentile of the body mass index, and counseling, parenting training or other interventions aren’t effective, these children, foster care should be considered.
The ‘Google Effect’: Psychologists are looking at how the internet has changed the way we remember things. We all know that you can google (or bing or whatever your preferred search engine might be) anything. Interestingly, it’s not that we can’t remember things or rely too heavily on the internet. In fact, if we know we won’t have access to a computer, we remember facts better. And if we know it’s online, we will remember how to find the information.
Medicare News: Medicare Prescription Drug premiums will not increase next year and will remain about $30 per month based on the bids by the insurers who run these plans. Other initiatives from the Affordable Care Act including preventive services and the free Annual Wellness Visit for those with Medicare have proven effective. Since January 17,336,421 people, or 51.5%, with Medicare receiving one or more free preventive. And 1,061,780 have taken advantage of Medicare’s new Annual Wellness Visit. Those in the ‘donut hole’ or 899,000 Americans with Medicare have benefited from the 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs with savings of $461 through June 2011. These reduced costs for prescriptions and free services will ensure that many of our elderly remain healthy and financially stable. This can be seen as hospital and nursing home spending has fallen since the Medicare prescription drug programs (Part D) started in 2006.
Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding: A lawsuit against Obama’s funding of embryonic stem cell research was dismissed in Federal court last month. The lawsuit alleged that research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) violated the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Act as it allows taxpayer monies to be used for research that harms embryos. Obama has expanded embryonic stem cell research to include more than 128 stem cell lines that federally funded scientists can research (George W. Bush only allowed 21 – many of which were contaminated and almost useless). His order allows use of stem cells from already destroyed embryos or embryos to be destroyed in the future (though parents who donate the embryo must be notified of their options).
There have been a plethora of interesting research studies published, new developments in health care policy (particularly implementing the Affordable Care Act and dealing with government finances), and important international events. I apologize for my absence. I am glad to be back and look forward to writing some interesting new posts.