In The News

Coordinated Approaches to Strengthen State and Local Public Health Actions to Prevent Obesity, Diabetes, and Heart Disease and Stroke

Chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and obesity, are the leading causes of death in the United States and account for most of the nation’s health care costs (1). Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States, accounting for 1 of every 4 deaths (1). Approximately 140,000 Americans die each year from stroke, and it is a leading cause of long-term disability (2,3). It is estimated that more than 9% of the US population has diabetes, which is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations other than those caused by injury, and new cases of blindness among adults (4). Additionally, more than one-third of US adults have obesity, which is associated with several chronic conditions (5,6).

[ Full article ]

AHRQ’s EvidenceNOW Initiative – Reducing Primary Care Patients’ Risk of Heart Attacks

Dr. David Meyers, M.D., AHRQ’s chief medical officer, recognizes the importance of February as Heart Health Month while highlighting important contributions made by AHRQ’s EvidenceNow initiative. AHRQ is working with more than 1,500 primary small- and medium-size care practices to help improve the delivery of services proven to prevent heart attacks and strokes. These include the “ABCS” of heart health – Aspirin use by high-risk individuals,Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation. Dr. Meyers’ blog post describes examples of project successes, including expanded use of medications to prevent heart disease, more effective use of blood pressure measurement among patients at risk for heart attack or stroke, and increased use of smoking cessation counseling. AHRQ’s contributions to heart health are in alignment with the Million Hearts® initiative, a national effort to control risk factors for heart disease, the nation’s number one killer.

HHS Secretary Azar Statement on President Trump’s FY 2019 Budget

Azar: Plans to reduce high drug costs reflect President’s deep commitment to issue

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement today on President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 Budget:

“The President’s budget makes investments and reforms that are vital to making our health and human services programs work for Americans and to sustaining them for future generations. In particular, it supports our four priorities here at HHS: addressing the opioid crisis, bringing down the high price of prescription drugs, increasing the affordability and accessibility of health insurance, and improving Medicare in ways that push our health system toward paying for value rather than volume.

“This budget supports the hard work the men and women of HHS are already doing toward these goals. In particular, the budget’s efforts to reduce the high cost of prescription drugs, especially for America’s seniors, are a reflection of President Trump’s deep commitment to addressing this important issue.”

The HHS Budget in Brief can be found here - PDF.

NIH scientists adapt new brain disease test for Parkinson’s, dementia with Lewy bodies

National Institutes of Health scientists developing a rapid, practical test for the early diagnosis of prion diseases have modified the assay to offer the possibility of improving early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. The group, led by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), tested 60 cerebral spinal fluid samples, including 12 from people with Parkinson’s disease, 17 from people with dementia with Lewy bodies, and 31 controls, including 16 of whom had Alzheimer’s disease. The test correctly excluded all the 31 controls and diagnosed both Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies with 93 percent accuracy.

[ Full article ]

The Human Genome Project is awarded the Thai 2017 Prince Mahidol Award for the field of medicine

The Human Genome Project has been awarded the 2017 Prince Mahidol Award for ground-breaking advances in the field of medicine. The award will be received on behalf of the project by Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the institute responsible for leading NIH’s effort in the project.

[ Full article ]

HHS Marks 2017 Accomplishments Under President Donald J. Trump

Marking the end of the first year of the Trump Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a report highlighting accomplishments from 2017.

“In 2017, HHS took bold action to advance its mission to protect and enhance the health and well-being of the American people. From a newly aggressive approach to combat the opioid crisis to round-the-clock responses to three major hurricanes, the men and women of HHS did extraordinary work this past year to foster healthier Americans, stronger communities, and a safer country,” said Caitlin Oakley, HHS press secretary.

[ Full article ]

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

COPD, a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe, is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. 
[ Full article ]

DASH ranked Best Diet Overall for eighth year in a row by U.S. News and World Report

Diet helps people prevent and treat high blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol.
[ Full article ]

To sleep or not: Researchers explore complex genetic network behind sleep duration

NIH-supported study could lead to better approaches for treating insomnia, other sleep disorders.
[ Full article ]

CMS finalizes changes to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model, cancels Episode Payment Models and Cardiac Rehabilitation Incentive Payment Model

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized the cancellation of the mandatory hip fracture and cardiac bundled payment models that were to be operated by the CMS Innovation Center and implemented changes to the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) Model. These changes will offer greater flexibility and choice for hospitals in providing care to Medicare patients.

“While CMS continues to believe that bundled payment models offer opportunities to improve quality and care coordination while lowering spending, we believe that focusing on developing different bundled payment models and engaging more providers is the best way to drive health system change while minimizing burden and maintaining access to care. We anticipate announcing new voluntary payment bundles soon,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

In the final rule, CMS is reducing the number of mandatory geographic areas participating in CJR from 67 areas to 34 areas. As part of the agency’s ongoing commitment to addressing the unique needs of rural providers, CMS is also making participation voluntary for all low volume and rural hospitals participating in the model in all 67 geographic areas. This regulation also includes an Interim Final Rule with Comment Period, in which CMS is establishing and seeking comment on a final policy to provide flexibility in determining episode costs for participant hospitals located in areas impacted by extreme and uncontrollable circumstances, such as the major hurricanes of 2017.

CMS is also finalizing the cancelation of the hip fracture and cardiac bundled payment and incentive payment models – the Episode Payment Models and the Cardiac Rehabilitation Incentive Payment Model – that were scheduled to begin on January 1, 2018. Not pursuing these models gives CMS greater flexibility to design and test innovations that will improve quality and care coordination across the in-patient and post-acute care spectrum.

Moving forward, CMS expects to increase opportunities for providers to participate in voluntary initiatives rather than large mandatory bundled payment models. The changes in the final rule will help position the agency to engage in future voluntary efforts.

For a technical fact sheet on the changes in this final rule and interim final rule with comment period, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2017-Fact-Sheet-items/2017-11-30.html.

For more information on the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model, please visit: https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/cjr.

The final rule and interim final rule with comment (CMS-5524-F and IFC) can be downloaded from the Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection.