Healthcare News April 10, 2012

  • Lawmakers praise Pentagon on sexual assault prevention progress

    Two Democratic lawmakers praised the Pentagon and Army
    Monday for making progress on military sexual assault prevention, including
    building new databases and increasing sexual assault training.

    Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.)
    pointed to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last week
    that said the Defense Department has put in place 13 recommendations on sexual
    assault and partially implemented another 12.

  • Study recommends coverage of lung cancer screening

    Having insurance companies cover lung cancer screenings for high-risk patients could prevent thousands of deaths every year at a low cost, according to a new study the policy journal Health Affairs is calling a “first-of-its-kind actuarial study.”

    The study examined the costs and benefits of providing lung cancer screenings to smokers and long-term former smokers between the ages of 50 and 64. Assuming about 9 million people a year would take advantage of the benefit if it was offered, the model found that the screening would cost insurance companies about $247 per member tested annually — less than $1 per commercially insured member per month.

    The study also found that 130,000 under the age of 65 would still be alive today if the screening coverage had been in place over the past 15 years. Those figures compare favorably to the costs and benefits of screening for cervical and breast cancer and are comparable to the cost per life-year saved of screening for colorectal cancer.

  • HHS delays new billing system unpopular with doctors

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Monday formally delayed new billing rules that doctors have criticized as overly complicated.

    HHS gave doctors an extra year to begin using a new set of codes when billing insurance companies for their services. The new system, known as ICD-10, adds a slew of new codes to describe specific treatments. For example, there are separate codes for “walked into lamppost, initial encounter” and “walked into lamppost, subsequent encounter.”

  • FDA launches expedited approval for kidney-disease devices

    The Food and Drug Administration said Monday it will work with certain makers of kidney-disease devices to speed up approval of their products and announced the winners among 32 applicants to the program.

    The Center for Devices and Radiological Health’s “Innovation Pathway” was first announced in February 2011 as a pilot program. The first batch of submissions was for brain-controlled, upper-extremity prosthetics.

    The pathway program works within the existing regulatory framework, the FDA explains, while engaging with innovators earlier in the process in order to shorten the overall time and cost it takes for the development, assessment and review of breakthrough medical devices and to improve how FDA staff and innovators work together.

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