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One Foot Out the Door, Medicare Chief Launches His Own Twitter Barrage

January 19, 2017

Government bureaucrats are not often Twitter celebrities. But Andy Slavitt, current head of the agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid, is making a name for himself with a barrage of fiery Tweets in defense of the Affordable Care Act, breaking with the traditionally mute posture taken by federal employees.As the

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Inside Hospital, Families Find Refuge With Recliners, Tissues And Cake

January 18, 2017

NEW YORK — Clutching a railing for balance, 89-year-old Alan Epstein searched the hospital waiting rooms for families in distress. He paused when he came across a young woman standing alone in the hallway, making a phone call about her grandfather’s faltering health.“Are you aware of the caregiver support center?” Epstein

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Sky-High Prices For Orphan Drugs Slam American Families And Insurers

January 17, 2017

Before Luke Whitbeck began taking a $300,000-a-year drug, the 2-year-old’s health was inexplicably failing.A pale boy with enormous eyes, Luke frequently ran high fevers, tired easily and was skinny all over, except his belly stuck out like a bowling ball.“What does your medicine do for you?” Luke’s mother, Meg, asked

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When Your Bladder or Bowels Control Your Life

January 1, 2017

Everybody has to go. For those of us with neurological conditions like spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, or even complications from a stroke, you can often feel tethered to the toilet. In fact, bladder and bowel control consistently rank among the most important functions to regain among people living with

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Standing Up To CMS to get Needed Number of Catheters

January 1, 2017

Marjorie Williams had grown accustomed to regular calls from her medical equipment provider to check on how many catheters she had left, so when they called this July she didn’t think anything of it. She couldn’t have known that her world was about to be turned upside down.  “Thank God

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Latest Hospital Injury Penalties Include Crackdown On Antibiotic Resistant Germs

December 21, 2016

The federal government has cut payments to 769 hospitals with high rates of patient injuries, for the first time counting the spread of antibiotic-resistant germs in assessing penalties.The punishments come in the third year of Medicare penalties for hospitals with patients most frequently suffering from potentially avoidable complications, including various

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Caring For A Loved One At Home Can Have A Steep Learning Curve

December 12, 2016

The mother and daughter live together in Yeadon, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia.Perez is literally in the center of the family. She spends much of her day tucked under a fleece blanket on a recliner in the middle of the living room. The 87-year-old doesn’t seem to notice as her

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Five Quick Ways A New HHS Secretary Could Change The Course Of Health Policy

December 9, 2016

Prospective Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, currently the chairman of the House Budget Committee, brings a distinctive to-do list to the agency.  And, if confirmed by the Senate, he will have tremendous independent power to get things done.While he will report to the president, heads of major agencies

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Grab Bag Of Goodies In 21st Century Cures Act

December 7, 2016

This story originally published Dec. 2 and has been updated.A sprawling health bill that passed the Senate Wednesday and is expected to become law before the end of the year is a grab bag for industries that spent plenty of money lobbying to make sure it happened that way.Here are some of the

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Back To The Future: Insurance Pools For High-Risk Patients Could Be Revived

November 23, 2016

It wasn’t so long ago that health insurance horror stories fueled discussions around the family dinner table and the national debate over health care reform.“One company said I was too heavy,” said Scott Svonkin, of Los Angeles, of the time he was denied an individual health policy in 2005. Svonkin,

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Long-Stalled FDA Reform Sits On Senate’s Lame-Duck Calendar

November 23, 2016

Republicans in Congress are pushing to pass long-stalled legislation by January that gives the Food and Drug Administration new powers to more rapidly approve drugs and medical devices.Over five years, the complex legislation would include $550 million in additional funding for the agency, as well as $1.75 billion annually in

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To Get Disability Help In Kansas, Thousands Face A 7-Year Medicaid Waitlist

November 22, 2016

For 22 years, Nick Fugate washed dishes at a local hotel near his home in Olathe, Kan.“There was nothing easy,” said the 42-year-old man who has an intellectual disability, chuckling. “I just constantly had to scrape the dishes off to get them clean.”The work did sometimes get tedious, he said,

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Some Panic, Others Shrug At Prospect Of Losing Obamacare

November 15, 2016

Denise Martinez Gascoigne, 49, and her husband, Paul Gascoigne, 49, are paying $1,130 in premiums each month for a health plan they say they can’t afford to use. (Photo courtesy of Denise Gascoigne)The 20 million Americans who have gained health coverage under the Affordable Care Act don’t yet know exactly

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Medical Device Employees Are Often In The O.R., Raising Concerns About Influence

November 15, 2016

They are a little-known presence in many operating rooms, offering technical expertise to surgeons installing new knees, implanting cardiac defibrillators or performing delicate spine surgery.Often called device reps — or by the more cumbersome and less transparent moniker “health-care industry representatives” — these salespeople are employed by the companies that make

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Study: Many Caregivers Spend $7K Annually Out Of Pocket

November 14, 2016

Denise Sleeper has sold her home, spent most of her retirement savings and quit her job to care for her husband since his Alzheimer’s disease struck two years ago.“It’s been like a tsunami in my life,” said Sleeper, of Gilford, N.H.She’s drained $168,000 from the couple’s retirement account since her

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