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Apple may limit data-sharing on new health platform


In 2002, in a modification of the primary healthcare information privacy rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HHS removed patient consent as a requirement for the release and disclosure of patient information for most common uses. In so doing, HHS gave a regulatory green light to electronic health data disclosures.

Twelve years later, it looks as if Apple is laying down a big bet in the opposite direction by placing consent-management restrictions on developers who plan to use its HealthKit mobile application platform, which is expected to be part of its new operating system to be released later this month, according to published reports.
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Defense contractors storm the Obamacare contract beach


HHS' Office of Inspector General released a report this week showing a chorus of companies is being paid to build and maintain HealthCare.gov. The familiar names were there, but two companies in particular raised an eyebrow.

Accenture, CGI Federal and Quality Software Solutions (QSSI) unsurprisingly have made millions. They were tasked with some of the biggest functions in creating the insurance marketplace, which so famously failed last fall during its launch. CGI and QSSI have already received more than $318 million combined from the government thus far, while Accenture is owed at least $45 million for its marketplace work.
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Expanding economy got little help from healthcare in last quarter


The national economy grew more robustly than was believed a month ago, but the expansion owed little to health spending—at least according to the latest estimates of the evolving picture of U.S. economic growth and demand for healthcare as millions gained insurance.

But economists caution that another estimate, scheduled for late September, is likely to show a different picture. Survey data on second-quarter health spending will be used for the first time in September estimates. The survey results that help inform the estimate aren't available until mid-September.
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Most-costly ACA plans cheapest for specialty drug patients


Individuals with chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis or cancer will likely spend far less money if they enroll in platinum plans through the exchanges, even though those typically have the highest monthly premiums, according to a new study by researchers at HealthPocket. That's because out-of-pocket expenses incurred through pharmaceutical costs are often significantly lower on platinum plans, which are designed to cover 90% of medical costs.
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Counseling encouraged for overweight patients at risk for heart disease, task force says


Overweight and obese adults at risk for heart disease should be referred to or offered intensive behavioral counseling for diet and exercise interventions, a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation concludes.

The task force had previously recommended only adults with known risk factors be sent for dietary counseling, but now says the evidence shows these interventions offer preventive benefits for all overweight patients.
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International clampdown needed on e-cig use, says WHO

1:45 pm, Aug. 26 |

The World Health Organization on Tuesday called on countries to impose tougher regulations on electronic cigarettes out of concerns over their unknown health risks, recommending bans on indoor use as well as sales to minors.

More regulation of e-cigarettes are needed in light of the boom in popularity of such devices in recent years, with more than 400 brands and sales reaching about $3 billion in 2013, the United Nations health agency said in its report.
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Med staff turnover remains high as doc retirements rise


Fisher
The recovering economy has created challenges for medical staff retention with high turnover rates for doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, according to a survey by the American Medical Group Association and the St. Louis-based Cejka Search recruitment firm.

The physician turnover rate for 2013 was 6.8%, the same as in 2012 and the highest rate seen since the two organizations began the retention survey in 2005.
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What you don't know about Obamacare can't hurt you

5 pm, Aug. 25 |

For some Obamacare opponents running for Congress, when the evidence doesn't support their arguments they simply don't notice it.

Carl Domino, the front-runner in the Republican primary to face off against first-term Democratic congressman Patrick Murphy in the 18th district north of Palm Beach, focused his first TV ad on Murphy's support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
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Southern opposition to Obamacare not monolithic, could change, new report says


Perry
The South has been a hotbed of opposition to Obamacare with the vast majority of states there opting not to expand Medicaid or establish state-based exchanges, two pillars of the federal healthcare law.

But that opposition is not uniform and could evolve with time, according to an academic research report published by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.
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Anesthesiologists pioneered solutions for tubing risks


(Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, Schaumburg, Ill.)
The Joint Commission's Sentinel Event alert last week warning of the hazards of misconnected medical tubes harkened back to how anesthesiologists addressed similar issues in the prehistory of the patient-safety movement.

Two prominent anesthesiologists say the issues are much more complex today and applaud the Joint Commission for putting the industry on alert.
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