Daily Rounds: E-Cigarettes Debate; Checking Medical Bills; BPA Naysayer; 'Bring Health Care Home!'

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E-Cigarettes: Threat or therapy? (The Boston Globe) - "Like many supporters of e-cigarettes, Schwaber believes the devices have saved her from a lifetime of smoking-related health problems. Yet public health and tobacco control officials have been loath to embrace them. Following the lead of at least 10 other communities in Massachusetts, the Boston Public Health Commission last week voted to ban the use of e-cigarettes in workplaces in the city, effectively prohibiting them from most places where smoking is also banned. The commission also prohibited sale to minors." (The Boston Globe)

Biz keeps an eye on med costs (Boston Herald) - "CoPatient, which launched in October, provides free audits of patients’ medical bills to identify billing errors and overcharges and to determine if costs can be appealed. The company differentiates itself from similar services by crowd-sourcing medical bills, according to co-founder Katie Vahle. “We aggregate the experiences of all the people who we help, and we learn from those experiences and then apply them to the next individual who comes to us with their medical bills,” Vahle said." (The Boston Herald)

Harvard prof spins scary soup story: media swallow (Forbes) - "Imagine, also, that one of the world’s top endocrinologists, who specializes in looking at the potential risks of tiny amounts of chemicals to humans, calls the study “majestic,” for the way it was carried out, and says its conclusion effectively rules out the possibility that rodent experiments, where the chemical caused adverse effects, have any relevance for humans. Well, such a study exists – but it might as well be a dream or a work of fiction, because the mainstream media just couldn’t be bothered to report it, despite publishing hundreds upon hundreds of stories about the alleged dangers of BPA in the past six years." (

Bring health care home (The New York Times) - "The good news is that last year’s health care reform act included provisions for the creation of Independence at Home Organizations — groups of doctors and nurses who treat patients in their homes — and incentives to make that work appealing. The organizations can invest in extra services and home visits (for which Medicare typically will not reimburse them) because they will share in a cut of the savings that result from avoiding hospital visits and expensive procedures. The program is to go into effect no later than Jan. 1. However, Medicare is behind schedule and has not yet issued the rules or applications to begin the process." (

Health official takes parting shot at 'waste' (The New York Times) - "The official in charge of Medicare and Medicaid for the last 17 months says that 20 percent to 30 percent of health spending is “waste” that yields no benefit to patients, and that some of the needless spending is a result of onerous, archaic regulations enforced by his agency. Dr. Donald M. Berwick testifying before the Senate Finance Committee in November 2010. The official, Dr. Donald M. Berwick, listed five reasons for what he described as the “extremely high level of waste.” They are overtreatment of patients, the failure to coordinate care, the administrative complexity of the health care system, burdensome rules and fraud." (

This program aired on December 5, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.