Doctors Continue Use of Tool Which FDA Claims May Have 1 in 300 Chance of Spreading Cancer

Months after the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) warned against using laparoscopic morcellators, a gynecological tool used to remove fibroids during hysterectomies, many doctors have continued to use the device. The FDA warned that the tool, used to slice uterine tissue into fragments for removal, may leave behind benign and undetected malignant cancers. In fact, the FDA has assed the risk of the device spreading cancer at 1 in 300 to 1 in 1000. of.

Gynecologists who have decided to continue using the morcellator argue that the FDA’s data has been exaggerated, and it is getting in the way of patient treatment. They believe the benefits of using the tool outweigh the risks, claiming patients who undergo a morcellator procedure have lower bleeding risks, less infection, and recover more quickly than those undergoing other minimally invasive procedures.

Read more here.

A Medicaid Card Does Not Necessarily Mean Access to Healthcare

Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), millions of Americans have enrolled in Medicaid. However, the government has not ensured that the new beneficiaries will have access to doctors. In fact, many Medicaid recipients are finding that they have to wait months due to shortages of doctors who accept Medicaid. Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, blames the lack of access on variations in standards between states. More specifically, most states rely on private insurance companies to comply with Federal rules in providing Medicaid beneficiaries with “adequate access to all services covered.” However, “adequate” is defined by each state. Some states opt for a “time and distance” standard for access, others set a maximum number of days a patient may have to wait to see a doctor, and some base the standard on a doctor/patient ratio. The result has left many Medicaid patients waiting up to 60 days to see a specialist, while others are forced to travel great distances because their state only requires one primary care provider for every 2,500 beneficiaries.

Mr. Levinson believes that the federal government should be more involved in developing and enforcing state standards of access. However, insurance companies worry that if the federal government forces a larger pool of doctors who accept Medicaid, it will upset the low premiums resulting from insurers limiting access.

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Liver Transplants Do Not Necessarily Go to the Sickest Patients

Liver transplants are usually available for patients who are deemed the sickest on the national transplant waiting list. Currently, the United Network for Organ Sharing (“UNOS”), divides the country into 10 regional transplant boundaries. This means that sometimes geography, and not the severity of illness, determines the recipient of a liver. The Midwestern and the Southern regions have more organ donors per capita but less demand for transplants than people living in coastal regions. As a result, patients with “means” often avoid the wait in high demand regions by traveling to low demand regions, but the poor are left to wait. This has prompted UNOS to consider new regional boundaries which incorporate parts of high demand transplant regions into lower demand regions. Some lawmakers oppose this reorganization plan fearing that their regions will become “organ farms” for other parts of the country. They blame high demand on a failure to run effective grassroots campaigning to increase rates of donation.

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State Senator Wants to Increase Availability of Medical Marijuana in New York

Currently, the Department of Health (“DOH”) has authorized three medical marijuana licenses for the entire state of New York. State Senator Diane Savino has been pushing DOH to issue additional licenses believing insurance companies and customers would benefit from more locations to fill marijuana prescriptions. She asserts that marijuana is a cheap alternative to many costly drugs and that each drug substituted is one less co-pay to be paid.

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The “War on Drugs” May Be Over

The Global Commission on Drug Policy, a 21-member commission made of former world leaders, has been pushing for the decriminalization and regulation of most illegal drugs. Among the commission’s members are former United States Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former United States Secretary of State George Shultz. The commission’s report focuses on the failure of the so-called “War on Drugs” and the commission aims to introduce the report to the United Nations General Assembly in 2016.

The report proposes a shift from the current law enforcement/criminalization approach toward decriminalization and regulation. The commission asserts that the new focus should be on drug trafficking rather than drug users, pointing to the fact that the War on Drugs has not effectively reduced drug trafficking. The report contends that drug lords have become powerful enough to destabilize entire regions of the world, resulting in violence and human rights violations. However, the commission does not go as far as to say that all drugs should be decriminalized. In particular, it provides that crack cocaine and other potentially lethal drugs should remain illegal.

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Cyber Attack Implants a “Malicious Code” within Healthcare.gov

According to an anonymous source working for Health and Human Services, a “malicious code” was inserted into the healthcare.gov website in July. The website contains personal information about millions of Americans who purchased health insurance following implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Although it appears that no personal information was compromised, the hacker bypassed the website’s security in an attempt to control the website during future attacks, raising concerns about the website’s vulnerability.

Read more here.

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Gitenstein Thought Leadership Conference

 

spoonful

 

 A Spoonful of Sugar, Ethics and Practice:

Will It Help the Medicine Go Down?

 

Friday, October 24, 2014 | 8 a.m.-noon

David S. Mack Hofstra Student Center | Multipurpose Room East

More info | Register

Questions? Contact Melissa Kessler at Melissa.J.Kessler@hosftra.edu.

Taxpayers are Illegally Funding Abortions

Other than carve outs for pregnancies caused by rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is in jeopardy, the Affordable Care Act prohibits the use of taxpayer funds for abortions. However, a recent report issued by the Government Accountability Office asserts that taxpayers are illegally funding abortions. The report reviews 18 issuers of health plans offered through the exchanges. All 18 issuers offer abortion services, but only three were found to be in compliance with the law. The non-complying plans offered no restrictions or limitations on abortion services even though the health-care law requires that issuers must estimate and segregate the cost of an abortion from premiums collected by the plan.

Read more here.