Daily Rounds: Don’t Blame Health Reform; Harvard’s Primary Care Boost; Food Labeling Highlighted; Health Care Abuse Tops List; Meningitis Booster For Teens

Health Law Hardly At Fault For Rising Premiums : NPR “Celinda Lake runs the Democratic polling firm Lake Research. She said her firm's premiums are going up 20 percent.
"My broker told me that it's because of health insurance reform," she says. But is it really? Absolutely not, says Jay Angoff, who heads the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "It would be inaccurate and silly to blame it on the new law," he says.” (

Harvard looks to lift primary care – The Boston Globe “Harvard Medical School has received a $30 million anonymous gift to create a major center to transform primary care medicine, a specialty that provides routine front-line care to millions of people but that many doctors consider unglamorous and underpaid.” (Boston Globe)

Food Companies Plan Front Label With Nutritional Data – “Responding to pressure from federal regulators, a major food manufacturers organization said Wednesday that it would develop a labeling system for the front of food packages that would highlight the nutritional content of foods, including things like calories, unhealthy fats and sodium that many consumers want to limit. The group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said the labeling system would be introduced early next year.” (The New York Times)

Top 10 Federal Fraud Settlements Had Health Twist : Shots – Health News Blog : NPR “The government recovered $2.7 billion in the top 10 cases during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to TAF. Even we, who also pay more than a little attention to these cases, were a little surprised that all the biggest settlements last year involved health care. Drugmaker Allergan led the settlement ranks last year, paying $600 million to settle claims it went too far in selling Botox.” (

CDC panel: Teens need another meningitis shot – “Teens should get a booster dose of the vaccine for bacterial meningitis because a single shot doesn't work as long as expected, a federal advisory panel said Wednesday.” (Boston Globe)

Daily Rounds: Medicare Fraud; Hope For Hauser?; Legalizing Pot; Heavy Smoking And Alzheimer’s; Thyroid Radiation Threat

Medicare Database Offers Window Into Doctor Fraud and Abuse – One New York City-area family-practice doctor "pocketed more than $2 million in 2008 from Medicare, the federal insurance program for the elderly, government records suggest. That made her one of the best-paid family-medicine physicians in the Medicare system. But more noteworthy than the sum is her pattern of billing, which strongly suggests abuse or even outright fraud, according to experts who have examined her records. This doctor didn't do typical family medicine. Instead, she administered a wide array of sophisticated tests, including polysomnography sleep analyses, nerve conduction probes and needle electromyography procedures—some of which have been flagged by federal antifraud authorities for special scrutiny.” (Wall Street Journal)

Harvard Case Against Marc Hauser Is Hard to Define –“The still unresolved case of Marc Hauser, the researcher accused by Harvard of scientific misconduct, points to the painful slowness of the government-university procedure for resolving such charges. It also underscores the difficulty of defining error in a field like animal cognition where inconsistent results are common.” (The New York Times)

Pot Legalization Divides California's Black Voters : NPR “Voters across California are divided on the issue of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, but the division is especially true for black voters throughout the state. The California NAACP is endorsing Proposition 19. But some black religious leaders fear that passing the ballot measure would only hurt already struggling communities.” (

Heavy smoking in midlife may be associated with dementia in later years “Heavy smoking in midlife is associated with a 157 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and a 172 percent increased risk of developing vascular dementia, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.” (EurekAlert)

Thyroid Cancer Patients Shield Others From Radiation – “One person alarmed about the situation is Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, whose office has been studying the issue. He accuses the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of turning a blind eye to the problem. ‘My investigation has led me to conclude that the levels of unintentional radiation received by members of the public who have been exposed to patients that have received ‘drive through’ radiation treatments may well exceed international safe levels established for pregnant women and children,’ Mr. Markey said in a statement.” (The New York Times)