HEALTH

HHS: States must ask for more Medicaid funds

BY Jim Frederick

When President Barack Obama signed an emergency federal spending bill Aug. 13, it gave cash-strapped states a chance to share $16.1 billion to extend an enhanced Medicaid spending program, not to mention $10 billion in stopgap funds for teachers in danger of being laid off. But the states still have to ask for it.

That was the message from Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius to all 50 state governors. In an Aug. 16 letter, Sebelius told every state chief executive that the emergency spending measure “can stave off the deep cuts to Medicaid that many had feared, and sustain jobs in hospitals, health centers and communities across the country.” However, she added, “these funds are only available for your state if you request them within 45 days of enactment, or by Sept. 24, 2010.”

The spending bill extends for six months the enhanced federal medical assistance percentage. “The FMAP increase was initially authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act … and is set to expire this December,” the HHS secretary told the governors. “Under the new law, states that request these funds will receive a 3.2 percentage point increase in their FMAP from January to March 2011, and a half percentage point increase from April to June 2011. Additional FMAP increases are available for each calendar quarter during this period for states with high unemployment rates,” Sebelius added.

“I encourage you to take advantage of extended Medicaid support available to you through the Education Jobs and Medical Assistance Act,” Sebelius told the governors. “This new law, along with the Affordable Care Act, will help support jobs and build a healthcare system with lower costs, more choices and higher-quality health care for all Americans.”

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The Apothecary Shops earns spot on Inc.’s fastest-growing private companies list

BY Alaric DeArment

PHOENIX Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy isn’t the only one to earn a spot on Inc. magazine’s list of the fastest-growing private companies.

The Inc. 5000 also listed specialty pharmacy The Apothecary Shops, ranking 2,394. That marked a jump of 322 spots from last year and 1,682 spots from 2008 in its fourth annual appearance on the list.

Drug Store News reported Thursday on Diplomat’s inclusion on the list.

“It’s no secret that we have undertaken a very aggressive growth strategy for The Apothecary Shops, but our approach, particularly in a down economy, has been targeted and strategic to be in a solid position to leverage that growth when the economy turns,” The Apothecary Shops president Keith Cook said. “Our movement on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies reflects the success of our strategic direction.”

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Type 2 diabetes linked with cognitive impairments, study shows

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON A small study conducted by Canadian researchers found factors that may link Type 2 diabetes with such cognitive impairments as dementia.

Older adults with diabetes who also have high blood pressure, walk slowly or lose their balance, or believe they’re in bad health, are more likely to have poorer cognitive functions than those without these problems, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada and published in the September issue of Neuropsychology

The study of older Canadians — 41 adults with Type 2 diabetes, ages 55 to 81 years, and 458 matched healthy controls (ages 53 to 90 years) — found that systolic blood pressure, a low combination score for gait and balance, and a patient’s own reports of poor health all played a statistically significant role in the relationship between diabetes and cognitive impairment.

“Awareness of the link between diabetes and cognition could help people realize how important it is to manage this disease, and to motivate them to do so,” said co-author Roger Dixon, PhD, of the University of Alberta.

Type 2 diabetes has been found by other researchers to nearly double the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, said Dixon, who studies how health affects cognition in aging. As diabetes becomes more common, this heightened risk could dramatically hike the number of older people with dementia.

The prevalence of diabetes in the United States for people older than age 60 — according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases — is more than 23%, while Canadian prevalence is nearly 19%, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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