July 26, 2013
By Sarah Kitchell*
Edited by Amy Kaufman
Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Patients Persist
The New York Times (7/23) reported on a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found that differences in breast cancer survival between black and white women did not substantially change between 1991 and 2005. The study found that "white women with breast cancer lived three years longer than black women" with breast cancer. The authors indicated that the problem stems not from more aggressive cancers in the black community, but instead from late diagnosis of breast cancer, leading to their conclusion that "screening and early detection campaigns have failed to reach black communities."
Doctors: Responsibility for Reducing Healthcare Costs is on Others
FierceHealthcare (7/24) reported on a recent survey conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, which found that a majority of physicians responding to the survey felt that other stakeholders—trial lawyers, patients, and health insurance companies—had more responsibility for holding down the costs for healthcare than physicians. The study found that only 36% of respondents "thought practicing physicians had a 'major responsibility' to reduce healthcare costs" while approximately 60% believed lawyers or insurance companies were to blame for rising costs.
IT Vendors and Hospitals Urge Delay for Meaningful Use
Bloomberg BNA (7/25) reported that health information technology industry leaders urged the Senate Finance Committee to delay Stage 2 of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Programs by one year to allow for more time to implement changes. The article noted that small and rural providers in particular were concerned that they were not prepared for the 2014 start. This follows other efforts to delay implementation of the programs. Regulators have argued that such a delay would be detrimental to the progress made thus far. (Note: registration is required to access this article.)
HRSA Awards $12 Million to Teaching Health Centers
FierceHealthcare (7/23) reported that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $12 million to "train more than 300 primary care residents at 32 teaching health centers" in the upcoming year. Teaching health centers, created by the Affordable Care Act, expand residency training for family and internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and dentistry in community settings. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the award, stating that "students exposed to training opportunities in health center settings are more likely to stay in these communities."
FDA Admits Confusion in Risk-Reduction Approach to Potentially Dangerous Drugs
Law 360 (7/25) reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "acknowledged confusion" in its approach to risk evaluation and mitigation strategies (REMS) "which are meant to ensure proper use of potentially hazardous medications." REMS include "medication guides given to patients, letters educating doctors about risks, and strict controls on how drugs can be distributed." The article also noted that a report from HHS was critical of the FDA's approach to REMS, indicating that these strategies did not appear to meet the goal of ensuring patients' safety when using these dangerous drugs. (Note: registration is required to access the full article.)
*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 and editing the weekly update.