Monday, March 26, 2012

The Morning Drill: March 26, 2012

Good Monday morning!

On to today's dentistry and health headlines:

Members of Congress see ‘chilling precedent’ in FTC proceedings

Five bipartisan members of Congress urged the Federal Trade Commission March 2 “to cease any further intrusion in the state regulation of the practice of medicine or dentistry and withdraw from the actions you have already taken.”

The FTC issued an opinion and final order Dec. 2, 2011, asserting that the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners “sought to, and did, exclude nondentist providers from the market for teeth whitening services.” The board Jan. 13, 2012, filed an application for “stay of order” pending review by the U.S. Court of Appeals, which the Commission granted Feb. 10, an action temporarily delaying the administrative proceedings for judicial review.

The five lawmakers from three committees of the House of Representatives cited this and other recent FTC actions “which we respectfully submit are a direct interference with the state regulation of the practice of medicine and dentistry. Specifically, the FTC’s targeting of state legislatures’ and state health regulatory boards’ decisions, proposed rules and legislation regarding who may provide certain services to patients are of serious concern,” they told Commission Chair Jonathan Leibowitz.

Dental Laboratories Association Launch 'The British Bite Mark'

NHS & Private dental patients in the UK who are about to have a new crown, implant, denture or veneer fitted are now being offered the opportunity to find out where their appliances have been made, following the launch of the 'British Bite Mark' by the Dental Laboratories Association.

In recent months, there have been a significant number of dentists looking to send their prescriptions to dental laboratories in the Far East to help reduce their overheads, rather than using the traditional route of dental laboratories based in the UK.

Dental Laboratories operating in the UK comply with strict regulations in terms of materials used; they also have to employ dental technicians that are registered with the General Dental Council. This level of regulation is in place to protect the patient; however, appliances imported are not manufactured by registered Dental Technicians nor do the UK regulators inspect the dental laboratories that manufacture the appliances in the Far East.

The Dental Laboratories Association appreciates that the different levels of regulation and professional requirements can be confusing and difficult for patients to understand and therefore have looked to design a logo that at a quick glance will help inform the patient that their dental appliance has been manufactured in the UK and meets the UK regulatory requirements.

US Supreme Court begins hearings on health care reform

The US Supreme Court opened blockbuster hearings Monday on President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law, a case with huge implications for the nation and the 2012 elections.

As the nine justices took their seats in a packed courtroom, hundreds of people were gathered outside, some chanting and marching for and against the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to -- usually by detractors -- as "Obamacare."

The law has been polarizing for the United States: it would provide health insurance to some 32 million Americans lacking coverage, a major social accomplishment for some, but also would force people to buy insurance -- an intrusion into civil liberties for others.

The justices have set aside an unprecedented three days to hear arguments from lawyers representing the government and 26 states who are challenging the law's constitutionality.

Monday's 90 minute hearing is devoted to the narrow question of whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the case before the law has fully gone into effect.

A ruling is not expected until June, but if the court decides it does not have jurisdiction, any action on the law would be set aside at least until 2015.

The government and the states both agree that the court does have jurisdiction, but the court has designated its own lawyer to argue that it does not.

The law's most controversial provision -- the so-called "individual mandate" requiring all Americans to buy insurance from 2014 or pay a fine -- is to be taken up Tuesday.

Bariatric Surgery May Outrank Standard Diabetes Treatment

Bariatric surgery performed considerably better than traditional medical therapy for obese patients with type 2 diabetes, independent of weight loss, according to findings from 2 randomized trials published online March 26 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The unique ability of surgery to improve blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels as well as reduce weight makes it an ideal approach for obese patients with type 2 diabetes," lead author of one of the studies Geltrude Mingrone, MD, chief of the Division of Obesity and Metabolic Diseases and professor of medicine at Catholic University in Rome, Italy, said in a news release.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 8.3% of the global population worldwide had type 2 diabetes in 2010, with a projected increase in prevalence to 9.9% by 2030.

Nearly one quarter (up to 23%) of patients with morbid obesity also have type 2 diabetes, and treatment is particularly challenging in these patients because insulin and other hypoglycemic agents often cause additional weight gain. Bariatric surgery may be cost-effective for obese patients with diabetes because of the tremendous healthcare burden associated with this chronic disease.

Enjoy your morning!

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