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Daily Rounds: Other Spinal Injection Risks; Uninsured Do Die; Walmart Surgeries; VP Medicare Debate

Before wave of meningitis, shots were tied to risks (The New York Times) - "The outbreak of fungal meningitis that has killed 14 people and sickened 156 more has focused attention on the risk of infection from spinal injections. But the same injections have also long been linked to other rare but devastating complications, including nerve damage, paralysis and strokes. The Food and Drug Administration is already reviewing how to reduce the risk of “catastrophic neurological injuries” from the injections, said Dr. James P. Rathmell, chief of pain medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, who is involved in the review. The risk of infections did not even factor into the review, though it will now, he said."

Related: Meningitis symptoms could be dormant for months (NPR)

Romney: People don't die for lack of insurance (NPR-Shots) - "But Romney was talking about something slightly different in Ohio: the idea that the U.S. doesn't have people who become ill or die because they don't have insurance. That, however, is belied by a large and growing body of academic studies, starting with a landmark study from the nonpartisan Institute of Medicine in 2002 that found 18,000 people died in the year 2000 because they lacked health insurance. Various updates of that study have come up with even larger numbers, mostly because of a growing number of uninsured people, combined with the increasing cost of medical care. In other words, there's a growing gap between what you can get with insurance and without. And it's not just deaths. Studies also show people who get sick have worse outcomes if they don't have insurance than if they do, across a wide array of ailments, from cancer to heart disease to asthma."

Walmart workers to get no-cost surgeries at Mayo Clinic, other top hospitals (Huffington Post) - "Under what Walmart calls the "Centers of Excellence" program, employees and dependents enrolled in the company's health benefits won't pay out-of-pocket for medical care or related travel when they receive complex, expensive procedures including open-heart surgery, spinal fusion and organ transplants at select facilities. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and the Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa., are among the health systems participating in the program. Health care costs for employers and workers have been rising for decades and Walmart's initiative is founded on the principle that paying more for treatments at top-quality medical providers ultimately will save money by reducing costly complications."

Election 2012: Fact-Check — That Medicare debate (The Washington Post) - "The $700 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years (2013-2022) between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as “the baseline”) and the changes that the law makes to reduce spending. The savings mostly are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries — who, as a result of the health-care law, ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs. While it is correct that anticipated savings from Medicare were used to help offset some of the anticipated costs of expanding health care for all Americans, it does not affect the Medicare trust fund. Ryan, as House Budget Committee chairman, probably knows he’s playing a rhetorical game here. Federal budget accounting is so complex that it is easy to mislead ordinary Americans — a tactic used by both parties."

This program aired on October 12, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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