Health Groups Turn Up Heat on 2021 Medicare Fee Schedule

WASHINGTON — Physician groups and other healthcare providers continued expressing their dissatisfaction with the 2021 Medicare physician fee schedule proposed rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

“While we support the CPT coding revisions and revaluations of office and outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) services recommended by the AMA/Specialty Society RVS Update Committee [RUC], we strongly oppose the proposed budget neutrality reduction proffered by CMS for these and other physician fee schedule changes proposed for 2021,” said a letter sent Monday to CMS Administrator Seema Verma from 47 medical and health specialty groups including the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Radiology, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The groups represent 1.4 million providers, including physicians, social workers, and speech-language pathologists.

If adopted as proposed, the fee schedule would “reduce Medicare payment for services provided in patients’ homes, physician offices, non-physician practices, therapy clinics, skilled

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Soda Consumption Declines in Most Groups

In the United States, the percentage of children and adults who have a “heavy intake of sugar-sweetened beverages” — defined as consuming at least 500 calories from these beverages or drinking the equivalent of 3.5 x 12-oz cans of soda each day — is dropping, researchers report.

From 2003-2004 to 2015-2016, heavy intake of sugar-sweetened beverages declined from 10.9% to 3.3% among children (aged 2-19) and from 12.7% to 9.1% among adults (aged 20 and older).

However, diving deeper reveals that while the rate of heavy intake of sugary drinks fell among children and younger adults (20- to 39-year-olds), it rose among adults aged 60 and older, and it remained unchanged among non-Mexican Hispanics and 40- to 59-year-olds. 

These findings suggest that “attention must be paid to certain subgroups with high intake for whom trends are not decreasing, particularly 40- to 59-year-olds and non-Mexican Hispanic adults,” the investigators urge.

The

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Trump positive for COVID-19, is in high risk groups for severe case

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President Donald Trump said Tuesday it’s “a shame” that the U.S. reached the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19. But he said had his administration not taken the actions it did, that number would’ve been “substantially more.” (Sept. 22)

AP Domestic

President Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus, as have more than 7 million other Americans. Here’s what we know about the usual course of the disease.

So far the President’s doctor has said only Trump is “well.” No information is available as to whether he is experiencing symptoms.

About 40% of people who are exposed to COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms at all. It’s too early to know if the President will be among them as symptoms typically appear two to 14 days after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease.

Trump was presumably exposed by his aide, Hope Hicks. It was announced that she

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Wisconsin business groups sue to keep COVID lists secret

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Three business groups filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to block Gov. Tony Evers’ administration from releasing the names of more than 1,000 businesses with employees who have tested positive for COVID-19, saying the release would blacklist those operations as the disease surges across the state.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce along with the Muskego and New Berlin chambers of commerce filed the lawsuit in Waukesha County, a Republican stronghold. They allege that Evers is preparing to release on Friday a list of more than 1,000 businesses that have had two or more employees test positive in response to media requests.

Waukesha County Circuit Judge Lloyd Carter issued an injunction blocking any release for five days pending a hearing.

WMC argues that the data is extrapolated from employee medical records that are private under state law. Releasing the information would violate the employees’ privacy and ruin the businesses’

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Day cares are reopening. But they can only serve small groups and fear for their survival.

The industry already operates at the margins, and facilities that are open are running undercapacity to comply with strict health guidelines. Many centers have delayed paying their rent or mortgages until they can afford it. Owners say that many workers have left for babysitting gigs or other minimum-wage jobs that reopened sooner.

The demand for child care is growing but is inconsistent and unpredictable, day-care owners said in interviews. They have fewer young infants in their care. But centers with accredited prekindergarten programs say the slots are in high demand, with parents opting for these in-person programs instead of the virtual public school ones. While some centers are turning parents away, others have capacity but no families registered.

And now a new challenge for some day cares: The District announced this month that it would change the way it pays them subsidies — money the city pays directly to day-care

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FDA Advises Against Mercury Dental Fillings in High-Risk Groups

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised against the use of dental amalgam that contains mercury for certain groups of people who may be at high risk for potentially harmful health effects as a result of mercury being released from the fillings.

These groups are pregnant women and their developing fetuses; women who are planning to become pregnant; nursing women and their newborns and infants; children, especially those younger than 6 years of age; people with preexisting neurologic disease, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease; people with impaired kidney function; and those who are known to have heightened sensitivity to mercury or other components of dental amalgam.

Dental amalgam releases small amounts of mercury vapor over time.

Although most evidence suggests that exposure to mercury from dental amalgam does not have negative health effects in the general population, “little to no information” is known about

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