Medicare Proposes to Pay Doctors to Have End-of-Life Care Discussions

Federal health officials are proposing that Medicare begin paying doctors to discuss end-of-life issues with their patients, six years after the “death panel” controversy erupted in the early days of the debate over President Obama’s health-care legislation.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the new plan Wednesday as part of its annual Medicare physician payment rule. The proposed rule includes reimbursement for “advance care planning.” The final rule is due Nov. 1, and payments would start Jan. 1. The discussions would be voluntary. (more…)

Supercomputing Reveals the Genetic Code of Cancer

Cancer researchers are now using one of the world’s fastest computers to detect which parts of the genetic code may cause bowel and prostate cancer.

Cancer researchers must use one of the world’s fastest computers to detect which versions of genes are only found in cancer cells. Every form of cancer, even every tumour, has its own distinct variants. (more…)

Predicting Death in Advanced Cancer

Study offers clues to guide clinicians, families about end of life.

Late-occurring signs of declining neurocognitive function proved to be highly specific and highly likely markers of impending death in patients with advanced-stage cancer, investigators reported. (more…)

Study Finds Fear of Cancer Can Be Either a Facilitator or Deterrent to Getting Colorectal Cancer Screenings

People who worry a lot about cancer are more likely to want to get screened for colon cancer—perhaps due to a desire for reassurance—but having a more visceral negative response to thinking about cancer acted as a deterrent to actually getting screened, according to a British study by Vrinten et al. Understanding the different aspects of cancer fear and their effects on the decision and action processes leading to screening participation might help in the design of effective public health messages. The study is published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. (more…)

Number of Young Patients with Newly Diagnosed Colorectal Cancer Anticipated to Double

November 5, 2014 – In the next 15 years, more than one in 10 colon cancers and nearly one in four rectal cancers will be diagnosed in patients younger than the traditional screening age, according to researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. This growing public health problem is underscored by data trends among 20- to 34-year-olds in the U.S., among whom the incidence of colon and rectal cancer (CRC) is expected to increase by 90% and 124.2%, respectively, by 2030. (more…)

Dangerous Drug Shortages

Dozens of essential medications are in critically short supply. Here’s what you need to know

Emergency medical technicians in Dayton, Ohio, have had such difficulty obtaining the seizure drug benzodiazepine the last few years that they’ve realized their best option is to “step on the gas and get to the hospital as quick as possible,” says David Gerstner, who helps coordinate emergency medical services for the area. (more…)

Scientists Detect Early Sign of Pancreatic Cancer

Researchers say they’ve identified a sign of early development of pancreatic cancer, a leading cause of cancer death. And, they add, their discovery might lead one day to a new test to detect the disease in its initial and more treatable stages.

The early sign is an increase in levels of certain amino acids, and this occurs before patients develop symptoms and the disease is typically diagnosed.

The finding came from analyses of blood samples from 1,500 people taking part in large health-tracking studies. (more…)

Phase III Trial Data Suggest Potential New Treatment Strategies for Prostate Cancer

In the last few years we witnessed the approval of several new agents for metastatic prostate cancer that have resulted in improved overall survival (OS)

Currently, androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) remains a central part of treatment for patients with high-risk non-metastatic and also metastatic prostate cancer. Despite the generally good response of metastatic disease to this approach, many men will eventually develop castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), for which prognosis is still poor. Data from randomised phase III trials presented at yesterday’s Proffered Paper Session on GU, Prostate, have shown a significant OS benefit in patients with ‘high-volume’ metastatic prostate cancer receiving combined antiandrogen and docetaxel as first-line treatment and have suggested a benefit of adding local radiotherapy to androgen deprivation in newly diagnosed high-risk non-metastatic (M0) prostate cancer. (more…)

In War on Cancer, Patients At Risk of Becoming Commoditized

Over the past 40 years, the global medical community has made significant strides in the war against cancer. More Americans with cancer face longer life expectancies as a result of increased awareness among at-risk populations, better preventative care, early screenings, and new therapies. Furthermore, when patients have access to quality cancer care the odds of survival are significantly increased. According to a report released recently by the American Association of Cancer Research, today Americans have more chances of survival and better quality of life after a cancer diagnosis than ever before.  (more…)

Report Confirms Obamacare Restricts Access to Life-Saving Medical Care

by Jennifer Popik, JD

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report now documents that Obamacare exchange plans, while often cheaper, are restricting access to life-saving medical care.

According to the CBO’s recently released “Updated Estimates of the Effects of the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, April 2014,” Obamacare’s insurance provisions will cost $104 billion less than projected over the next decade. However, these savings will come at tremendous cost. The CBO goes on to describe the reality — that while there are savings on insurance premiums, there is solid and growing evidence that these plans restrict access to life-saving medical treatment for ourselves, our family members, and our loved ones.

CBO writes,

elderlypatnt5“The plans being offered through exchanges in 2014 appear to have, in general, lower payment rates for providers, narrower networks of providers, and tighter management of their subscribers’ use of health care than employment-based plans do. Those features allow insurers that offer plans through the exchanges to charge lower premiums (although they also make plans somewhat less attractive to potential enrollees). As projected enrollment in exchange plans grows from an average of 6 million in 2014 to 24 million in 2016, CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] anticipate that many plans will not be able to sustain provider payment rates that are as low or networks that are as narrow as they appear to be in 2014.”

Last year, when hundreds of thousands of Americans lost plans they liked, the administration claimed that “the new exchange plans would be better than your old plan.” This could not be father from the truth for tens of thousands.

As millions of Americans are attempting to start using their new Obamacare exchange health insurance plans, stories about denial of payment keep piling up. You can read more on this The newly issued CBO report confirms, that exchange plans are restrictive. What’s worse, this is by design.

Rarely reported in the mainstream media is an Obamacare provision under which exchange bureaucrats must exclude health insurers who offer policies deemed to allow “excessive or unjustified” health care spending by their policyholders.

Under the Federal health law, state insurance commissioners are to recommend to their state exchanges the exclusion of “particular health insurance issuers … based on a pattern or practice of excessive or unjustified premium increases.” The exchanges not only exclude policies in an exchange when government authorities do not agree with their premiums, but the exchanges must even exclude insurers whose plans outside the exchange offer consumers the ability to reduce the danger of treatment denial by paying what those government authorities consider an “excessive or unjustified” amount.

This means that insurers who hope to be able to gain customers within the exchanges have a strong disincentive to offer any adequately funded plans that do not drastically limit access to care. So even if you contact insurers directly, outside the exchange, you are likely to find it hard or impossible to find an adequate individual plan. (See documentation

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When the government limits what can be charged for health insurance, it restricts what people are allowed to pay for medical treatment. While everyone would prefer to pay less–or nothing–for health care (or anything else), government price controls prevent access to lifesaving medical treatment that costs more to supply than the prices set by the government.

While Obamacare continues to roll out in 2014, it is important to continue to educate friends and neighbors about the dangers the law poses in restricting what Americans can spend to save their own lives and the lives of their families. You can follow up-to-date reports