The Week in Health Care

May 18, 2012

Obesity continued to dominate the news cycle in D.C. and across the U.S. this week, but there are strides toward controlling the Alzheimer’s epidemic. CBS News announced HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a plan to eliminate Alzheimer’s by 2025. The plan includes a partnership between several federal agencies, such as the FDA and NIH, and funding for two clinical trials. The first trial has $7.9 million for testing medication and the second allots $16 million for prevention for people at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Caring for people with dementia will cost the US $200 billion this year alone. The announced plan is a significant step in lowering health care costs, improving outcomes for patients and providing support for their caregivers. Additional health care news of interest can be found below.

  • On Wednesday, the Obama Administration set a November 16 deadline for states to submit details of how they intend to operate health care exchanges starting in 2014. The health care exchange markets are a component of the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges would provide a marketplace to buy insurance for individuals who do not receive affordable coverage through an employer.  For more information about the health exchanges, go to Kaiser Health News.
  • A bit of news we can all perk up about: a CNN article reported on a study that examined the possible health benefits of coffee and its role in increasing longevity.  The study – the largest of its kind – is a joint project by AARP and the National Institute of Health that followed 400,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 70 for up to 13 years, during which 13% of the participants died. Compared to their non-coffee drinking counterparts, men and women who drank six or more cups of coffee – regular or decaf – were 10 percent and 15 percent less likely, respectively, to die during the span of the study. According to the article, the findings held true when the researchers separated the data by cause of death (heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, accidents, etc.). Cancer was the only cause of death that was not associated with coffee consumption. The study cannot conclusively claim that coffee lowers the risk of chronic disease due to the nature of the research—a self-reported survey distributed in the mid-1990s.

Finally, we end this week excited to share that the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease is growing.  The Detroit Free Press announced that Michigan will be the newest state to operate a PFCD chapter, helping coordinate and organize 35 Michigan organizations to advance PFCD’s goals at the state level. Dr. Joe Shwartz, a former congressman, will chair the coalition. As we work to raise awareness of the growing incidence of chronic disease in America and explore policy and program solutions that will improve lives and reduce health care costs, expanding our efforts into individual states will be critical.  Welcome aboard, Michigan!