RealClearHealth Morning Scan -- 03/24/2016

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NFL's Concussion Research Is Deeply Flawed
Schwarz, et al., NYT
For the last 13 years, the N.F.L. has stood by the research, which, the papers stated, was based on a full accounting of all concussions diagnosed by team physicians from 1996 through 2001. But confidential data obtained by The Times shows that more than 100 diagnosed concussions were omitted from the studies — including some severe injuries to stars like quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman. The committee then calculated the rates of concussions using the incomplete data, making them appear less frequent than they actually were.

The Word 'Hijack' May Tell It All in Zubik Case
Denniston, SCOTUSblog
“Hijacking” is what a long list of religious institutions that object for reasons of faith to contraceptive methods have used to describe what they say the federal government will do to their health-care plans as it moves toward providing free birth control to those institutions’ female employees and college students. And, if there was a startling moment during the ninety-four-minute hearing on Zubik v. Burwell, it came when Justice Anthony M. Kennedy deployed that word in obvious sympathy to those institutions.

Contraception Case Could Could Have Wide Impact
Caitlin Owens, MC
Liberal Supreme Court justices said Wednesday that altering Obamacare’s contraceptive coverage mandate could have implications that ripple far beyond health care and birth control. If the petitioners win the case, it could profoundly curtail the way many laws — from the military draft to the tax code — are written and implemented.

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Preserve Medicare Advantage to protect those with chronic conditions who need the quality, coordinated care it provides. Learn more.

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Med Students Sidelined Despite Doc Shortage
Gunderman, Conversation
Last year, 52,860 U.S. and international medical graduates applied for residency positions in the U.S., yet only 26,252 actually matched into a program. The painful irony is that the U.S. now faces a substantial shortage of physicians, which is on track to worsen in the decades to come. Increased demand for physicians is driven by advances in medical science and technology, population growth and an aging population that uses more medical care. A study by the Association of American Medical College predicts that by 2025, the U.S. will face a shortfall of between 46,000 and 90,000 physicians.

HIPAA Audits May Lead to Stronger Vendor Contracts
Conn, Mod. HC
The feds appear to be preparing to clamp down on the sometimes porous flow of patient data handled by contractors, whose security failures have been linked to the exposure of nearly 33 million individuals' medical records since 2009. These contractors, termed “business associates” under HIPAA, will be included as primary audit targets in the second round of HIPAA audits by HHS' Office for Civil Rights.

Ransomware Wreaking Havoc on Hospitals
Seung Lee, Newsweek
Last month, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles declared a state of emergency when hackers took its data hostage. The two-week standoff ultimately ended with the institution paying a $17,000 ransom. But for other hospitals in the United States and Canada, the troubles were just beginning.

Paul Allen Pledges $100M for Bioscience Research
Cha, Washington Post
Allen said his commitment grew out of a realization that the biological sciences are at a critical point in history, with technology now able to take the field in a more quantitative direction than ever before. New tools can manipulate DNA, next-generation microscopes measure and create images of the tiniest parts of living systems, and super-powerful computers are able to make sense of massive amounts of data.

Paying for Kidneys Might Boost Donor Rate
Steven Reinberg, HealthDay
If offered $50,000, nearly three out of five Americans would part with a kidney, a new study finds. "It appears that American society is ready to accept the concept of paying kidney donors," said lead researcher Dr. Thomas Peters, an emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Florida College of Medicine, in Jacksonville.

Congress Takes Recess Before Voting on Zika Funds
David Nather, Stat
Lawmakers left town Wednesday for their spring recess without voting on an emergency funding request for the Zika virus, as the Obama administration and congressional Republicans failed to resolve their disagreement over whether federal health agencies need more money to support research and preparedness.

Bill Targets Kids Born Dependent on Opioids
Shiffman & Wilson, Reuters
The bipartisan measure would require federal and state governments to do a better job of monitoring the health and safety of babies born drug-dependent. Last week – and also in response to the Reuters investigation – a similar bill moved to the Senate floor and the U.S. Health and Human Services Department pledged reforms.

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Millions are facing new cuts to Medicare Advantage that will undermine chronic care management for those who don’t qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. That means fewer choices and higher costs. Proposed changes to Medicare Advantage should be delayed to find a solution that works for everyone. Learn more.

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