Is there really a looming doctor shortage?

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Question markSome Experts Dispute Claims Of Looming Doctor Shortage

By Julie Rovner
KHN

You hear it so often it’s almost a cliché: The nation is facing a serious shortage of doctors, particularly doctors who practice primary care, in the coming years.

But is that really the case?

Many medical groups, led by the Association of American Medical Colleges, say there’s little doubt. “We think the shortage is going to be close to 130,000 in the next 10 to 12 years,” says Atul Grover, the group’s chief public policy officer.

While few dispute the idea that there will be a growing need for primary care in the coming years, it is not at all clear whether all those primary care services have to be provided by doctors.

But others, particularly health care economists, are less convinced. “Concerns that the nation faces a looming physician shortage, particularly in primary care specialties, are common,” wrote an expert panel of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in a report on the financing of graduate medical education in July. “The committee did not find credible evidence to support such claims.” Continue reading

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Create your family health portrait on Thanksgiving: National Family Health History Day

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Ninety-six percent of Americans believe that knowing their family history is important. Yet, only one-third of Americans have ever tried to gather and write down their family’s health history. The Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait tool is a free resource that helps people collect and privately share their family history information through a secured system.

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 From HHS

Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. today declared this Thanksgiving day, November 27,  as the eleventh annual Family Health History Day.

Over the holiday or at other times when families gather, Americans are encouraged to talk about and keep a record of the health problems that seem to run in their families. Continue reading

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Stop five stories of the week

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Credit: Dan Shirly

Credit: Dan Shirly

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Minimum wage a health issue? States take a broader view of health disparities.

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Minnesota_population_map_croppedBy Michael Ollove
Stateline

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.— For years, proposals to raise the minimum wage in Minnesota bogged down over economic concerns: Would a raise impel businesses to leave the state? Would it decrease employment? Would it touch off inflation?

The supporters’ main argument, that raising the minimum wage would put more money into the pockets of low-wage workers and their families, fell short.

This year, proponents seized on a new strategy: They convinced the legislature to ask the Minnesota Department of Health to analyze the health impact of the state’s minimum wage of $6.15 an hour, which is among the lowest in the country.

The department’s subsequent analysis revealed that health and income levels were inextricably linked. Whether it was rates of adequate prenatal care, infant mortality, diabetes, suicide risk, or lack of insurance, the results for poorer Minnesotans were vastly inferior to residents with higher incomes.

In fact, Minnesotans living in the highest income areas of the Twin Cities region lived eight years longer than those living in the poorest.

The report virtually ended the debate. The legislature voted to phase in an increase in the minimum wage to $9.50—one of the highest in the country—with automatic subsequent increases indexed to the rate of inflation. Continue reading

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Campaign targets health threats posed by sugar

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SugarScience_Web_Ads_300x250By Lisa Aliferis
KHN and the Washington Post

Dean Schillinger is a primary-care physician at San Francisco General Hospital. He first came to the city in 1990 at the peak of the AIDS epidemic. “At that point, one out of every two patients we admitted was a young man dying of AIDS,” he says.

Today, that same ward is filled with diabetes patients.

“I feel like we are with diabetes where we were in 1990 with the AIDS epidemic,” Schillinger said. “The ward is overwhelmed with diabetes — they’re getting their limbs amputated, they’re on dialysis. And these are young people. They are suffering the ravages of diabetes in the prime of their lives. We’re at the point where we need a public health response to it.”

Schillinger and other researchers at the University of California at San Francisco are setting up a project called Sugar Science, to spell out the health dangers of too much added sugar in our diets.

The project aimed at consumers includes a user-friendly Web site and materials such as television commercials that public health officials can use for outreach. Health departments from San Francisco to New York City have agreed to participate.

Photo: Courtesy of Lauri Andler, Phantom under Creative Commons License.
Continue reading

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Wall Street is ‘bullish’ on 2015 Obamacare enrollment

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bullish-enrollment-obamacare-570By Julie Appleby
KHN

A group of Wall Street analysts predicted Friday that enrollment in health law insurance plans will be higher than the 9 million projected by the Obama administration because insurers are aggressively courting new customers and more small businesses are likely to send workers to the online exchanges in 2015.

Health sector analyst Carl McDonald of Citi Investment Research said he expects about 11 million people to enroll in individual health plans, based on his firm’s survey of clients in October.

“I’m more optimistic,” McDonald said at the 19th annual “Wall Street Comes to Washington” roundtable, sponsored by the Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy.

More aggressive outreach by insurers and fewer glitches with the online marketplaces will create a “robust 2015,” agreed Ralph Giacobbe, an analyst at Credit Suisse. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – November 22nd

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Global health news – November 22nd

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Seniors’ obesity-counseling benefit goes largely unused

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ScaleBy Phil Galewitz
KHN

Three years ago, the Obama administration offered hope to millions of overweight seniors when it announced Medicare would offer free weight-loss counseling.

Officials estimated that about 30 percent of seniors are obese and therefore eligible for counseling services, which studies have shown improve the odds of significant weight loss.

But less than 1 percent of Medicare’s 50 million beneficiaries have used the benefit so far. Experts blame the government’s failure to promote the program, rules that limit where and when patients can go for counseling as well as the low fees for providers.

Since November 2011, about 120,000 seniors have participated, including about 50,000 last year, according to federal data.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Dr. Scott Kahan, an obesity medicine specialist at George Washington University.

“It’s a huge lost opportunity,” said Bonnie Modugno, a registered dietician in Santa Monica, Calif., who advises doctors how to provide weight loss counseling.

By  comparison, about 250,000 seniors last year used Medicare’s tobacco cessation counseling benefit, which started in 2005 and offers greater flexibility about how providers can offer it. Nationally, 9 percent of seniors smoke, while 30 percent are obese. Continue reading

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Fred Hutch recruits D. Gary Gilliland as its new president and director

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1416499943573Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center announced today that it has named an expert in cancer genetics and precision medicine. D. Gary Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D., a physician-scientist with a background in academic medicine and the pharmaceutical industry, as its new president and director. Gilliland will take the helm as Fred Hutch’s new leader on Jan. 2.

via Fred Hutch recruits D. Gary Gilliland as its new president and director.

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Graco recalls nearly 5 million strollers after fingertip amputations – Chicago Tribune

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Graco recalled nearly 5 million strollers Thursday after 11 reports of finger injuries, including six fingertip amputations.

The company recalled 11 models of Graco and Century branded strollers and travel systems with model names Aspen, Breeze, Capri, Cirrus, Glider, Kite, LiteRider, Sierra, Solara, Sterling and TravelMate. The strollers were made from August 2000 to Sept. 25, 2014.

via Graco recalls nearly 5 million strollers after fingertip amputations – Chicago Tribune.

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Health news headlines – November 20th

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Glucometer showing a blood sugar of 105

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Global health news – November 20th

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Boeing’s new accountable care health plans with UW Medicine and Providence-Swedish take off – Puget Sound Business Journal

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boeing-logoThe accountable care plans aim to lower costs for both employees and the company by incentivizing employee wellness and creating a more coordinated system to provide health care. By creating contracts directly between the employer and the health systems, the goal of these new systems is to reduce costs and confusion that often come from dealing with third parties while also improving care.

via Boeing’s new health plans with UW Medicine and Providence-Swedish take off – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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