APTA's summary on the rules governing the establishment of health insurance exchanges and qualified health plans (QHP) highlights provisions pertinent to physical therapists, such as the QHP network adequacy standards that require issuers to maintain sufficient amounts and types of providers to ensure that all services will be accessible without unreasonable delay. The summary covers provisions related to initial and annual open enrollment periods, the eligibility determination process for the Small Business Health Options Program, consumer assistance tools and programs, privacy and security of information, and more.
Several provisions in this final rule were published as interim final and are open for public comment until May 11.
Association members can access the summary on APTA's Summaries of Health Care Reform Rules & Regulations Web page under the heading "Additional Summaries."
High-voltage pulsed current (HVPC) improved the healing rate of recalcitrant Stage II and Stage III pressure ulcers in patients enrolled in a prospective, randomized controlled clinical study in Poland, according to an article published in Ostomy Wound Management. Research to compare the effectiveness of using cathodic and anodal stimulation combined or alone, and to determine the optimal duration of these 2 types of electrical stimulation, is warranted, say the article's authors.
Patients admitted for care and eligible to participate in this study received standard supportive care and topical treatments covered with wet-to-moist dressings. Patients assigned to the treatment arm of the study also received HVPC (100 V; 100 μs; 100 Hz) continuously for 50 minutes once daily, 5 times per week. Over a 4-year period, researchers enrolled 26 patients in the treatment and 24 in the control group. Researchers followed patients until healing or for a maximum of 6 weeks. Wound tracings and measurements were obtained weekly.
Ulcers had existed for an average of 3.17 and 2.83 months in the treatment and control groups, respectively. Most were classified as Stage II (17 in the treatment and 16 in the control group) with an average baseline size of 4.54 cm2 and 3.97 cm2, respectively. Wound areas and linear measurements decreased significantly in both groups, but increases in granulation tissue were significant in the treatment group only. Wound area, linear measurement, wound volume, and granulation tissue changes were statistically significantly greater in the treatment group than in the control group starting in the second week of treatment. Week 6 surface area change was 88.9% (SD 14) in the treatment group and 44.4% (SD 63.1) in the control group. Correlation coefficients between changes in wound surface area, longest length, and longest width were R = 0.96 and R = 0.98 in the treatment group and R = 0.94 and R = 0.89 in the control group.
In recognition of LGBT Health Awareness Week, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is emphasizing its ongoing efforts to address the specific health concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans, especially through implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Such efforts include incorporating data collection on LGBT populations into national health surveys, releasing rules requiring hospitals to allow same-sex partners the ability to visit each other in the hospital, and setting up an internal working group to ensure the agency is effectively coordinating policies to best address LGBT health needs.
In addition, HHS outlines several recommendations for future action. For example, the agency is planning to add information to HealthCare.gov that is of specific relevance to LGBT populations. In particular, the Web site will allow LGBT consumers to identify health insurance policies available to them that include coverage of domestic partners. HHS also will conduct outreach to organizations that serve LGBT communities to make them aware of available funding opportunities and highlight programs that may particularly benefit LGBT populations.
More information and resources on some of the health issues and inequities affecting LGBT communities can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site. Some of this information is designed for members of the general public. Other information has been developed for health care providers, public health professionals, and public health students.
A new Web-based interactive anthology will provide psychologists, economists, anthropologists, sociologists, and other scientists with the latest research methods and tools to address emerging challenges in public health, such as the obesity epidemic and the rise of chronic diseases. With contributions from international experts, the anthology provides authoritative answers to methodological questions and sets quality standards for the research community.
The goal of the program is to demonstrate the potential of behavioral and social science research, focusing on applying research findings to public health activities and the potential to enhance biomedical research. It is also a useful training resource for biological scientists, providing them with a basic foundation for collaborations with behavioral and social scientists.
The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) collaborated with New England Research Institutes to create e-Source.
Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether it has to wait to hear challenges against the health care reform law until 2015 when the first penalties must be paid following the implementation of the individual mandate in 2014. Neither the government lawyers nor those representing the 26 states believe the court is barred from hearing the case under the Anti-Injunction Act, which prohibits a person from bringing a lawsuit claiming that a tax is unlawful until after the tax has been paid. So the High Court appointed an independent, private attorney to argue that the Court did not have jurisdiction to decide the matter. That attorney's argument hinged on the theory that the penalty assessed under the law on those who fail to obtain health insurance is the same as a tax, thus the court must wait to hear the case until after 2015. According to NPR, the justices "appeared not to be buying" that argument.
Yesterday's arguments are available in audio files and a transcript.
Today's arguments focused on the individual mandate and if such a regulation is permissible under the Commerce Clause that allows the federal government to regulate interstate activity. Challengers of the law believe that the decision not to buy health insurance is economic inactivity, rather than activity, and therefore not a behavior the federal government can regulate, says the Washington Post. Proponents argue that the decision to not purchase health insurance has an economic effect because taxpayers essentially pay for the uninsured.
Tomorrow the justices will hear arguments on whether the law can stand if the individual mandate is struck down. Additionally, lawyers will argue the part of the law that expands Medicaid.
A ruling is expected in June.