PHARMACY

CBO: Government health spending to hit $1.8 trillion

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON — A projection issued by the Congressional Budget Office concluded that healthcare spending in the United States would reach a substantial high.

Citing the aging population and rising costs, CBO said spending on the government’s major mandatory healthcare programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, will reach $1.8 trillion over the next decade. That spending is expected to represent 7.3% of GDP in 2022, an increase of nearly 2 percentage points from its share this year. CBO also said mandatory spending is projected to climb from 13.3% of GDP in 2013 to 14.3% in 2022.

"If that rising level of spending is coupled with revenues that are held close to the average share of GDP that they have represented for the past 40 years (rather than being allowed to increase, as under current law), the resulting deficits will increase federal debt to unsupportable levels," CBO said. "To prevent that outcome, policy-makers will have to substantially restrain the growth of spending for those programs, raise revenues above their historical share of GDP, or pursue some combination of those two approaches."

If current laws remain unchanged, the federal budget deficit is projected to be $1.1 trillion for fiscal year 2012.

Click here for the full report.


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PHARMACY

Rx text alerts arrive from CVS/pharmacy

BY Allison Cerra

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS/pharmacy has introduced a program that allows pharmacy patients to receive immediate notification via text message when their prescription is ready to be picked up, the drug store chain said.

Order Ready Text Messaging, which is available on nearly all mobile carriers, offers text alerts in English and Spanish. Customers interest in enrolling into Order Ready Text Messaging can do so by speaking to a pharmacy staff member or visiting CVS.com/text. Standard message rates apply.

The new offering complements the chain’s current mobile features, including the CVS/pharmacy mobile application, available for iPhone and Android phones, which has the ability to scan and order prescription refills to their local CVS/pharmacy (up to six prescriptions at once) by using the camera in their mobile devices and the CVS/pharmacy app.

"CVS/pharmacy’s new prescription Order Ready Text Messaging program allows for easy prescription pick-up by letting our patients know the moment the pharmacist has completed their order," CVS/pharmacy SVP and chief marketing officer Rob Price said. "The introduction of prescription text alerts is the latest addition to our enhanced mobile offering and is designed to make filling prescriptions at CVS/pharmacy even more convenient."


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Women with diabetes may be at risk for hearing loss, research finds

BY Allison Cerra

DETROIT — Female diabetes patients may experience a greater degree of hearing loss as they get older, particularly if their condition is not well-controlled by medication, according to a new study conducted at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Researchers at the hospital reviewed records for 990 patients that had audiograms performed between 2000 and 2008 at Henry Ford. Patients were categorized by gender, age (younger than 60 years old, between ages 60 to 75 years and older than 75 years old), and if they had diabetes. Those with diabetes were divided into two groups: well-controlled or poorly controlled, as determined by the American Diabetes Association guidelines. After examining patients’ pure tone average — a measurement that determines hearing level at certain frequency — as well as speech recognition, the team evaluated pure tone average ranges that focus on the frequency at which most people speak, in addition to the very high frequencies used in music and alarms.

The Henry Ford team concluded that women ages 60 to 75 years with poorly controlled diabetes had significantly worse hearing, compared with those with well-controlled diabetes and the control group. What’s more, women younger than 60 years old — regardless of whether or not it was being controlled — had worse hearing than nondiabetic women. Meanwhile, there was no significant difference in hearing between men with diabetes that well-controlled or poorly controlled, as well as those men who did not have diabetes.

"A certain degree of hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process for all of us, but it is often accelerated in patients with diabetes, especially if blood-glucose levels are not being controlled with medication and diet," said Derek Handzo, of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford. "Our study really points to importance of patients controlling their diabetes, especially as they age, based on the impact it may have on hearing loss. Younger males in general have worse hearing, enough so to possibly mask any impact diabetes may have on hearing. But our findings really call for future research to determine the possible role gender plays in hearing loss."


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