April 5, 2013
By Sarah Kitchell*
Match Day Leaves Hundreds of Medical Students without Residency Spots
Fortune (4/1) reported that this year's Match Day, when medical students learn where they will continue their training in residency, left "hundreds of [residency] applicants without an immediate professional berth." The article noted that four new medical schools added "nearly 1,000 students to this year's residency matching pool." Advocates have been working to encourage Congress to provide more funding to support expanded residency programs, but more assistance is needed to prepare for the anticipated shortage of primary care physicians in the future.
Senator Grassley Seeks Information on 340B Drug Program and Hospital Profits
BNA's Health Care Daily Report (4/5) reported that Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the agency with oversight of the 340B discount drug program, asking for the agency to investigate whether hospitals profit from the program. The 340B program requires drug manufacturers to provide drugs at a discount to safety-net hospitals providing care to uninsured and underinsured patients. Grassley's letter follows his investigation into three North Carolina hospitals' participation in the program. Grassley requested a response from HRSA by April 22, noting his concerns about the lack of oversight of the program and the fact that hospitals profiting from the 340B program are not reinvesting these funds appropriately. (Note: registration is required to access this article.)
Recent Survey Shows Physician Departures Due to Stronger Economy, Health Reform
Amednews.com (4/1) reported that physician departures from current positions are at an eight-year high, likely due to "improving housing and investment markets" and uncertainty in the face of a changing industry. The survey, conducted by the American Medical Group Association, showed that the physician departure rate has been increasing, with more physicians looking for employed positions rather than practice ownership. The study showed that 73% of physicians left for another practice, while 12% retired. The article cited health reform and a search for "stability in a rapidly evolving health care environment" as reasons for physicians' desires for change.
Walgreens to Provide More Primary Care Services at Retail Clinics
MedPageToday (4/4) reported that Walgreens stores will offer increased healthcare offerings to customers, including "diagnosing and treating patients for chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and high cholesterol." Walgreens' clinics, located in 18 states and Washington DC, will staff their clinics with nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The company's spokesperson citied the shortage of primary care physicians as one reason for the initiative. Similar clinics at Walmart, CVS, and Target do not currently offer these diagnostic services.
Study: Alzheimer's, Dementia Most Expensive to Treat
The Boston Globe (4/3) reported that dementia is the "most expensive malady in the United States, costing families and society $157 billion to $215 billion a year." A study, conducted by RAND Corp., showed that "daily care" for individuals with dementia, as opposed to medications or other treatments, was most expensive, and that the 4.1 million Americans with dementia require care from nursing homes, family members, and others that pushes the cost of care higher than other diseases such as heart disease and cancer. The article indicated that because the country's population is aging, these costs will continue to increase.
*We would like to thank Sarah Kitchell, Esquire (McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Boston, MA), for providing this week's update. We would also like to thank Amy E. Kaufman, Esquire (Patton Boggs LLP, Washington, DC), for coordinating the weekly update.