Daily Rounds: Nobel For Immunity; Foreclosures Hurt Health; Reining In MassHealth; Daily Aspirin Risk

Immune System Discoveries Earn Nobel In Medicine (AP via NPR) — STOCKHOLM— "Three scientists whose discoveries on the immune system opened up new avenues for prevention and treatment of infections, cancer and inflammations won the Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday.American Bruce Beutler and French scientist Jules Hoffmann shared the 10 million-kronor ($1.5 million) award with Canadian-born Ralph Steinman, the Nobel committee at Stockholm Karolinska institute said. Beutler and Hoffmann were cited 'for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity.'"

Foreclosures Are Killing Us (NY Times) — "A growing body of research shows that foreclosure itself harms the health of families and communities. In our 2008 survey of 250 people undergoing foreclosure in the Philadelphia area, 32 percent reported missing doctor’s appointments and 48 percent said they let prescriptions go unfilled, significantly higher rates than others in their community. A paper released last month by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that people living in high-foreclosure areas in New Jersey, Arizona, California and Florida were significantly more likely than those in less hard-hit neighborhoods to be hospitalized for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure. More than one-third of homeowners in our study had symptoms of major depression." (NY Times)

Can The State Rein In MassHealth? (Gatehouse News Service) — "After growing rapidly during the recession, the state's enormous Medicaid health insurance program for the poor and disabled is at a turning point this year as Massachusetts leaders try to rein in soaring costs and renew its federal support. Enrollment in MassHealth began rising after the state's 2006 health care reform law required most residents to get health insurance. More recently, chronically unemployed people are among the fastest growing groups joining MassHealth, which took on nearly 100,000 new clients in just the last three years, according to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. MassHealth's spending shot up about $2 billion in the same period, totaling a record $10.4 billion last year. This year, Gov. Deval Patrick said he is trying to contain the program's rising costs - which now take up more than a third of the state budget."  (Gatehouse News Service)

Daily Aspirin Tied To Risk Of Vision Loss — Study — (Reuters) - "Seniors who take aspirin daily are twice as likely to have late stage macular degeneration, an age-related loss of vision, than people who never take the pain reliever, according to a European study. The data do not show that aspirin causes vision loss. But the findings, published in Opthalmology, are of concern if aspirin somehow exacerbates the eye disorder, given how many seniors take it daily for heart disease."For people who have age-related macular degeneration, it probably isn't wise to recommend taking aspirin," said William Christen of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who was not involved in the study."

Home Health Firms Blasted (Wall Street Journal) — "An inquiry by the Senate Finance Committee has found that the nation's three largest home-health companies tailored the care they provided to Medicare patients to maximize their reimbursements from the federal program.
The committee launched its investigation following an article last year in The Wall Street Journal that used Medicare-claims data to analyze the companies' patterns of dispensing care. The article described how the companies' Medicare patients received a high number of the most profitable home-therapy visits but few of the least profitable ones."

This program aired on October 3, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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