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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Fixes For Health Website Running Up Against The Clock

The New York Times: Health Care Site Rushing To Make Fixes by Sunday
As the Obama administration’s weekend deadline for a smoothly functioning online marketplace for health insurance arrives, more than a month of frantic repair work is paying off with fewer crashes and error messages and speedier loading of pages, according to government officials, groups that help people enroll and experts involved in the project. But specialists said weeks of additional work lie ahead, including a major reconfiguration of the computer hardware, if the $630 million site, Healthcare.gov, is to accommodate the expected flood of people seeking to buy health insurance (LaFranier, Lipton and Austen, 11/29).

The Wall Street Journal: Health Site Is Improving But Likely To Miss Saturday Deadline
Despite recent progress at HealthCare.gov, a raft of problems will remain beyond the Obama administration’s Saturday deadline to make the troubled federal insurance website work. The news isn’t all bad: Users say the site looks better, pages load faster, and more people are getting through to sign up for health plans. But technical problems still affect HealthCare.gov’s ability to verify users’ identities and transmit accurate enrollment data to insurers, officials say. The data center that supports the site faces continuing challenges, and tools for processing payments to insurers haven’t been built (Radnofsky and Ante, 11/29).

The Washington Post: HealthCare.gov Will Meet Deadline For Fixes, White House Officials Say
Administration officials are preparing to announce Sunday that they have met their Saturday deadline for improving HealthCare.gov, according to government officials, in part by expanding the site’s capacity so that it can handle 50,000 users at once. But they have yet to meet all their internal goals for repairing the federal health-care site, and it will not become clear how many consumers it can accommodate until more people try to use it (Eilperin and Goldstein, 11/29).

Politico: Inside The War Room, Watchful Eyes As D-day Hits
From a Maryland war room, a team of HealthCare.gov fixers hosts two troubleshooting calls a day, monitors the site in real time from 15 large screens and demands that the operation work at “private sector speeds.” The remarkable part: None of this was in place when the website launched the first time. President Barack Obama pledged for years that HealthCare.gov would rival top e-commerce sites, but it wasn’t until after the disastrous Oct. 1 rollout that the White House began setting up the kind of operation that could even come close to delivering on the promise (Budoff Brown, 11/30).

Politico: D-Day For Obamacare Website Fixes
Time’s up. It’s deadline day for the repair of HealthCare.gov, a psychological milestone that could revive confidence in the embattled health law or send it into a political tailspin. The administration is taking pains to not characterize Saturday as a deadline. The site, officials acknowledge, will still struggle at times. Repairs and upgrades will go on for months. But the public and many politicians see Nov. 30 as pivotal for both the policy and politics surrounding Obamacare (Cheney, 11ቺ).

The Hill: D-Day For HealthCare.gov Fixes
Today marks the deadline for federal health officials to fix massive problems with ObamaCare’s enrollment website. Meeting the Nov. 30 deadline would provide a major boost for the administration, which has been mired in unprecedented conflict over its healthcare rollout for two straight months. It would also help push back against criticism surrounding the administration’s decision to delay the law’s online sign-up system for small businesses. Another month of serious problems at HealthCare.gov would be disastrous (Viebeck, 11/30).

CNN: Deadline Day: Will Obamacare Website Work?
Another stumble now, after recent revelations of policy cancellations and premium increases for some under the reforms known as Obamacare, would further weaken public trust in the administration’s ability to implement the 2010 Affordable Care Act intended to help millions of uninsured Americans get coverage. Continued problems also would provide more ammunition for fierce attacks led by conservative Republicans seeking to dismantle a law they consider unworkable and the ultimate example of big government run (Cohen, 11/30).

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New route to smoking addiction for adolescents: electronic cigarettes

E-cigarettes have been widely promoted as a way for people to quit smoking conventional cigarettes. Now, in the first study of its kind, UC San Francisco researchers are reporting that, at the point in time they studied, youth using e-cigarettes were more likely to be trying to quit, but also were less likely to have stopped smoking and were smoking more, not less.”We are witnessing the beginning of a new phase of the nicotine epidemic and a new route to nicotine addiction for kids,” according to senior author Stanton A.

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When the living and the deceased don't agree on organ donation

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the 2006 Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) or enacted similar legislation giving individuals the “First Person Authorization” (FPA) to consent to organ donation after death via a signed donor card or driver’s license, or by enrollment in a donor registry. While such laws give hospitals legal authority to proceed with organ procurement without consent of the registered donor’s family, a new study shows that organ procurement organizations’ implementation of FPA has been inconsistent and incomplete.

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Misfolded proteins are capable of forming tree-like aggregates in Alzheimer's disease

A method by Rice University researchers to model the way proteins fold – and sometimes misfold – has revealed branching behavior that may have implications for Alzheimer’s and other aggregation diseases.Results from the research appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.In an earlier study of the muscle protein titin, Rice chemist Peter Wolynes and his colleagues analyzed the likelihood of misfolding in proteins, in which domains – discrete sections of a protein with independent folding characteristics – become entangled with like sequences on nearby chains.

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New method found to increase survival in sepsis

Sepsis, the body’s response to severe infections, kills more people than breast cancer, prostate cancer and HIV/AIDS combined. On average, 30 percent of those diagnosed with sepsis die.A new study conducted by Jamey Marth, director of UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Nanomedicine and professor of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, reports a new method to increase survival in sepsis. The results appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Limited resources available for injured surgeons

Nearly half of orthopaedic surgeons sustain at least one injury during their career and, in many cases, the resources available to them are inadequate, according to a Vanderbilt study in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.The study is the first to demonstrate that many surgeons are injured on the job during their careers, according to lead author Manish Sethi, M.D., assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation.

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Two-thirds of parents unaware of opportunities for their children in medical research

Almost half of parents said they’d allow their children to take part if their child had the disease being studied, according to U-M’s National Poll on Children’s Health To improve healthcare for children, medical research that involves kids is a must. Yet, only five percent of parents say their children have ever participated in any type of medical research, according to a new University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

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Measuring the value and impact of orthopaedic care

Healthcare expenditures currently account for 18% of the United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Some experts have suggested that an emphasis on value may be an effective strategy to evaluate healthcare costs. In a recent article published in the inaugural issue of JBJS Reviews, authors Benedict U. Nwachukwu, MD, MBA; Kamran S. Hamid, MD, MPH; and Kevin J.

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New technique for testing drugs to treat cystic fibrosis and epilepsy

Researchers from the University of Southampton, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Quebec at Montreal, have developed a new microsystem for more efficient testing of pharmaceutical drugs to treat diseases such as cystic fibrosis, MG (myasthenia gravis) and epilepsy.A large percentage of pharmaceutical drugs target ion channels, which are proteins found in a cell’s membrane, that play a pivotal role in these serious disorders and that are used to test the effectiveness of new drugs.

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How probiotics could affect hay fever

A study has shown that a daily probiotic drink changed how cells lining the nasal passages of hay fever sufferers reacted to a single out-of-season challenge. However, it did not lead to significant changes in hay fever symptoms, although this challenge test may not have accurately represented natural allergen exposure.Our immune system must distinguish between “friends” that can be beneficial to our health and “foes” that can have harmful effects. There is now a growing body of evidence that the gut microbiota, the trillions of bacteria that live in our gut, influences that recognition.

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