Tuesday, January 13, 2009

SC Tobacco Collarborative news conference

The South Carolina Hospital Association and its partners in the South Carolina Tobacco Collaborative will hold a news conference to release the results of a new statewide cigarette tax poll and to discuss the public health community's position on increasing the state cigarette tax at 10:30 a.m., Jan. 14 in the first floor rotunda of the South Carolina State House.

(Enter the State House from the public entrance facing Sumter Street and turn left into the lobby.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Medicare proposes revision to bariatric surgery coverage

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Nov. 17 proposed covering bariatric surgery for Medicare beneficiaries with type 2 diabetes who have a body-mass index of 35 or more. Currently, Medicare covers four types of bariatric surgery for patients with a BMI of 35 or more and at least one serious health condition. It proposes to specify diabetes as one of those health conditions. The agency will accept comments on the proposed decision for 30 days and issue a final decision within 90 days.

"CMS wants to be sure that these patients have access to a solution to help them achieve a healthier weight and avoid some of the most serious complications of type 2 diabetes," said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems. The agency said it did not find convincing medical evidence that bariatric surgery improved health outcomes for diabetes patients with a BMI under 35.

from AHA News

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SC ranks last in tobacco prevention spending

Ten years after the tobacco settlement, a national report ranks South Carolina as worst in the nation in what it spends to keep people from smoking. A coalition of public health groups released the report of states' tobacco prevention funding Tuesday.

The report by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the American Heart Association says South Carolina will collect $114 million this year from the tobacco settlement and taxes. South Carolina is scheduled to spend $1 million on tobacco prevention, which is 1.6 percent of the $62.6 million recommended by the CDC. The money will be from a federal grant.

The president for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids called South Carolina the most disappointing state in the nation when it comes to protecting kids from tobacco. South Carolina legislators are continued to ask to raise the lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax - still at 7 cents a pack.

If Hospitals Suffer, Communities Suffer

In an ad this week in Washington-area publications (view ad), the AHA outlines five steps Congress can take now to ensure hospitals “remain a bedrock source of jobs and economic growth in America’s communities.” The economic crisis “is taking its toll on patients, communities and hospitals alike,” the ad states, urging Congress to rescind the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ payment cuts to teaching hospitals and halt pending cuts to Medicaid outpatient services through a moratorium.

The ad also encourages Congress to increase the federal matching rate for state Medicaid programs, ban self-referral to physician-owned hospitals, and protect employees’ defined benefit pension plans from the impact of the credit crisis. “If hospitals suffer, communities suffer,” the ad states, noting that hospitals directly employ more than 5 million people and support $1.9 trillion in economic activity.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Uninsured children continue to increase in state

The number of children without health insurance in South Carolina has grown 29 percent in three years, according to a national health care advocacy, making the state 13th worst in the nation.

The report by Families USA said 132,000 Palmetto State children were uninsured based on U.S. Census Bureau data for 2005-2007. That's about 12 percent of all South Carolina children are without health insurance.