Daily Rounds: Mass. Reform Punts On Prices; Salt & Ice; No Malpractice Money; Fear Ages Cells?

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Health cost bill may not attack key problem (The Boston Globe) - "As legislative leaders close in on a major health care cost-control bill, key efforts to attack one of the most-cited reasons for rising medical spending — the market power of caregivers who demand high prices for their services — appear to be in jeopardy....Now, the impact of two major proposals in the House plan that are ­intended to level the playing field — a one-time luxury tax on high-priced providers and restrictions on contract negotiations — is in doubt after lobbying by hospitals."

Troubled New York hospitals forgo coverage for malpractice (The New York Times) - "Several of the city’s most troubled hospitals are partially or completely uninsured for malpractice, state records show, forgoing what is considered a standard safeguard across the country. Some have saved money to cover their liabilities, but others have used up their malpractice reserves, meaning that any future awards or settlements could come at the expense of patients’ care, and one hospital has closed its obstetric practice, in part out of fear of lawsuits."

Salt and ice dare draws warning from medical experts (The Boston Herald) - "Table salt and ice cubes are the latest tools in thrill-seeking teens’ bad-idea arsenal. Known as the “salt and ice challenge,” the dare has kids sprinkle an area of their skin with salt, press an ice cube on top, and see how long they can withstand the pain. Many upload their feat on YouTube to compare with other challenge-takers. But while the pain may be temporary, the game is not harmless. 'The potential danger is that it can cause frostbite, which can lead to permanent scarring or tissue loss, depending upon what part of the body is involved,' said Dr. Anne Stack, clinical chief of emergency medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital."

Is it possible to counteract aging effects of stress? (The Boston Globe) - "A new study suggests that a common form of anxiety is associated with shorter telomeres and perhaps an earlier risk of dying. Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers looked at data from 5,200 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and found that women with high levels of phobic anxiety — an exaggerated fear of crowds, heights, enclosed spaces, and certain social situations ­— had shorter telomeres on average compared with those of the same age who didn’t have this anxiety disorder."

This program aired on July 16, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.