What’s New in Health Care Reform: Dec. 19

What's New in Health Care Reform provides an overview of the past week’s news, updates, and commentary in health care reform and utilization management.

NIH to Spend up to $20 Million on Search for Alternatives to Fetal Tissue for Research

The National Institutes of Health wants to fund up to $20 million worth of research into alternatives to using human fetal tissue to study disease, the agency announced. The announcement is largely preliminary. The formal funding opportunity announcements will be published at some date in the future, the agency said, and scientists cannot yet submit proposals to be funded. The total amount of money available has not been determined, according to the announcement, but the agency is “interested” in investing $20 million over the course of two years. Via STAT.

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Hospital Beds Get Digital Upgrade

A major manufacturer of hospital beds is seeking to transform the ubiquitous furniture into a source of medical data, the latest sign of hospitals’ digital transformation. Hill-Rom Holdings Inc. said its newest hospital-bed model will include sensors to monitor patients’ heart and respiratory rates. The sensors will check a patient’s vital signs 100 times a minute and alert nurses when signs suggest the patient’s condition may worsen, said Hill-Rom Chief Executive John Groetelaars. Via Wall Street Journal.

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CDC Confirms Minnesota's Ninth Case of Acute Flaccid Myelitis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Minnesota's ninth case of acute flaccid myelitis, a polio-like illness that causes paralysis. So far, all the cases in Minnesota have been pediatric cases. Via KMSP.

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Cocaine Deaths Increase Amid Ongoing National Opioid Crisis

Deaths from cocaine sharply increased from 2011 to 2016 across the United States, adding another dimension to a crisis of fatal overdoses that has primarily been driven by opioids, according to new data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Overdose deaths from cocaine increased by about 18 percent each year during the five-year period. The data also showed a staggering rise in the number of deaths from fentanyl, with deaths from the powerful synthetic opioid increasing about 113 percent each year from 2013 to 2016. Via Washington Post.

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Fentanyl Surpasses Heroin as Drug Most Often Involved in Deadly Overdoses

Fentanyl is now the drug most frequently involved in overdose deaths in the U.S., according to a National Vital Statistics System report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report sheds a bright light on the changing nature of America's drug landscape—and the devastating number of overdose deaths that have occurred in the U.S. in recent years. Via NPR.

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NIH to Scrutinize Private Donations to Scientific Research Projects

Six months after halting a study of moderate drinking that was underwritten by donations from the alcohol industry, the National Institutes of Health outlined a series of steps to prevent similar conflicts of interest and to safeguard the integrity of its research and its reputation. In a report, NIH officials said its 27 institutes must evaluate all current research projects that receive private donor support for conflicts of interest of the kind that compromised the alcohol trial. The institute directors are to report their findings to Dr. Francis Collins, director of NIH, early next year. Via NY Times.

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Teen Vaping Soared in 2018

There's yet more disturbing news about kids vaping nicotine. Vaping jumped dramatically again among high school students between 2017 and 2018. In fact, it was the biggest one-year spike of any kind in the 44 years the Monitoring the Future survey has been tracking substance abuse by young people. Via NPR.

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Health Care Is Where the Jobs Are. But What Kind of Jobs?

More Americans are now employed in health care than in any other industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tallies job creation, says that for most of this year the health sector outpaced the retail industry. Only government, on all levels, employs more people. One of the consistent features of the BLS reports is that health care has reliably added thousands of jobs to the economy each month. November was no different. The health care industry created 32,000 jobs, adding to the 328,000 health care positions created since early 2017. But what kinds of jobs? Via Kaiser Health News.

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Suicide Deaths Increase Significantly in Minnesota

The rate of suicide increased significantly in Minnesota in the last several years, according to new data from the Minnesota Department of Health. Data analysis by the department shows that suicide was up by 5% overall in 2017 over the previous year. But while suicides by women dropped significantly, the number of men who took their own lives jumped by 9% overall and by 18% in the Twin Cities over those two years. Gun suicides by white men in the metro area rose by a third in 2017 alone. Via MPR.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.