Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Morning Drill: September 28, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments for your day.

Delta Dental to cut payments to Idaho dentists
Idaho has become the second U.S. state this year to be hit with reductions in reimbursement by Delta Dental. And the cuts will likely have much larger ramifications, according to the state dental association.

Starting in November, dentists in various parts of the state will be paid anywhere from 4% to 13% less for care they provide under Delta Dental's preferred provider organization (PPO) dental plans, according to an article in the Idaho-Statesman.

According to Delta Dental, 649 dentists in the state participate in the PPO plan. But the Idaho State Dental Association (ISDA) said the changes will affect all 825 dentists in the state, the Idaho-Statesman reported.

"This change will affect all dentists in the state, even those who don't contract with Delta in the PPO plan because they are going to be reducing the allowable for non-contracting dentists as well," Gregory Bengston, DDS, president of the ISDA, told "We all understand the need to share the pain, but there needs to be balance. This is a huge hit to what are, after all, very small businesses."

The ISDA found out about this change two weeks ago, Dr. Bengston said, and has since met with the CEO of Delta Dental of Idaho twice to get the company to reconsider or at least postpone the effective date until January 1, 2012.

"But so far we have been unsuccessful in getting them to reconsider their position or the effective date," Dr. Bengston said. "Their explanation of why they feel this is necessary is to remain viable in 'an ever-changing healthcare marketplace.'"

Earlier this year, Washington Dental Service (WDS) -- a member of the Delta Dental Plans Association -- announced that it was cutting its reimbursement rates by 15% starting in June.
Cantaloupe-related outbreak of illness linked to 13 deaths
An outbreak of illness linked to consumption of tainted cantaloupes has been linked to 13 deaths and 72 illnesses in 18 states, a federal disease agency reported Wednesday.

The outbreak -- blamed on the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes -- was first reported September 12, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 15 people in four states had been infected. The illnesses were traced to consumption of Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms' fields in Granada, Colorado.

The deaths reported as of Tuesday morning occurred in Colorado (two), Kansas (one), Maryland (one), Missouri (one), Nebraska (one), New Mexico (four), Oklahoma (one), and Texas (two).

The illnesses occurred in those states as well as in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Listeriosis primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC website.
Strict diabetes treatment does not improve memory
Strict lowering of blood sugar in older diabetics preserved some of their brain volume, but it did nothing to slow memory loss, researchers said on Tuesday.

The findings are the latest from the large U.S.-backed study to show that aggressively treating longtime diabetics to achieve near-normal blood sugar levels does not offer much of an added benefit.

The large trial of type 2 diabetics dubbed ACCORD was stopped early in 2008 because there were more deaths among those who got intensive treatment than among those who got standard treatment.

The latest findings looked specifically at the effects of aggressive management of diabetes on memory in a subset of 3,000 type 2 diabetics aged 55 to 80 who had a high risk of heart disease and high blood glucose levels.
Employers’ Health-Care Premiums Rose 9% This Year
A survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust shows that employers’ health-insurance premiums for the average family rose 9% to $15,073 this year, while premiums for single workers rose 8%, the WSJ reports. The survey estimates only about 1.5 percentage points of the 9% increase came from the health-care overhaul law. The CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans says higher medical costs were responsible for premium increases.
Women May Be Able to Put Off First Colonoscopy
The common recommendation for screening colonoscopy to begin at age 50 for both men and women should be reconsidered because adenomas develop at younger ages in men, Austrian researchers suggested.

Among men ages 50 to 54, the prevalence of adenomas was 18.5% (95% CI 17.5% to 19.6%) compared with 10.7% (95% CI 9.9 to 11.6) for women of that age (P=0.001), according to Monika Ferlitsch, MD, of the Medical University of Vienna, and colleagues.

In fact, the prevalence of these lesions in men in their early 50s was similar to the 17.9% (95% CI 16.7 to 19.1) seen in women ages 65 to 69, the researchers reported in the Sept. 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings of earlier adenoma development in men should be considered as "suggesting that male sex constitutes an independent risk factor for colorectal carcinoma and indicating new sex-specific age recommendations for screening colonoscopy," Ferlitsch and colleagues argued.

However, not all experts agree.

"Other factors, particularly African-American ethnicity, but also obesity, heavy smoking, and diabetes are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and adenomas of about the same magnitude as gender," Dennis J. Ahnen, MD, of University College Denver, explained in an email message to MedPage Today.

"Similarly, there are protective factors such as physical activity and aspirin usage that decrease risk of adenomas and cancer to about the same extent as female gender. It is scientifically inconsistent to make recommendations to change screening ages on the basis of only one of the relevant risk factors," Ahnen wrote.

Despite some data showing that men develop adenomas and colorectal cancer at younger ages than women, the ideal age for screening has not been fully explored, according to the study authors.
Enjoy your morning!

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