Fitness, well-being, disease, medical research and issues related to Seton and St. David's Healthcare, Austin Regional Clinic and other health care providers in Austin and Central Texas

SCOTUS Health Care Ruling Today?

Jun 28, 2012

Excuse us if we sound like a broken record, but the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Affordable Care Act today. NPR's health blog Shots has a quick primer on the issues at stake in the decision.

Several dozen people know how the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of President Obama's health care law. And it'll stay that way until sometime after 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, when the court releases its opinion to the rest of us.

The decision will have broad societal, economic and legal ramifications, and will play a featured role in the November presidential election. But the justices and their young law clerks — the only ones privy to the deliberations — don't leak opinions. It's virtually unheard of.

When it comes to health care, even the seemingly easy things become hard.

Take coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act.

Despite wide speculation the U.S. Supreme Court would decide on the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature health care law today, no ruling was forthcoming this morning.

Instead, the high court issued decisions on four other cases, which you can find on the Supreme Court website.

A new survey of 38 former clerks of current Supreme Court justices and 18 attorneys who have argued cases before the high court found that most of them think the court will rule that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. The mandate is the centerpiece of the Obama administration's signature health care law and it is unknown whether the law can survive without that piece.

People's Community Clinic

An Austin health clinic is getting $650,000 from the federal government as part of the Obama Administration’s health care overhaul.

People’s Community Clinic is one of more than 200 clinics nationwide to receive money. People’s Community Clinic is using the money to expand access for patients by creating more clinic space.

“Every day there are people who call who would like appointments who we can’t see. And so this is an opportunity to make sure that we have more capacity to meet more of the needs in our community,” said Regina Rogoff, People’s Community Clinic CEO.

Two members of the Senate's Judiciary Committee are asking the Supreme Court to provide live coverage of its proceedings when it hands down its decision on the constitutionality of the 2010 health care law.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

A Texas A&M University System-led team has won a major federal contract to develop one of three new national centers — the only one led by a public university system — for developing and manufacturing medicine and vaccines to respond to pandemic diseases and bioterror threats.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the contract on Monday. The other contracts were awarded to Emergent BioSolutions in Baltimore and Novartis in North Carolina.

After the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009, federal officials realized the need to significantly improve the speed of its response to pandemics. These three centers are expected to be the lead responders in the event of a major national biological outbreak, whatever the cause. The center in College Station is expected to first come online in December 2015.

All eyes these days are trained on the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule sometime this month on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

But some people are waiting more anxiously for the court to rule than others. Among them are those with a major financial stake in whether the law goes forward or not and if so, in what form.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Local officials are warning of an increase in HIV infections in Austin’s adolescent population.

“We’ve identified just in the last few months about five newly confirmed HIV cases,” Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Medical Director Dr. Philip Huang tells KUT News. “By comparison, all of last year in Travis County, we had six cases.”

Dr. Huang couldn’t speak to specific cases, but cited Centers for Diseases Control statistics regarding sexually-active adolescents: some 52 percent of Texas high school students have had sex at least once, and only 54 percent of sexually active students used a condom the last time they had sex.

Photo by kcdsTM

Though shocking and disturbing, many gunshot wounds to the face are not as serious as they appear, Harvard surgery professor and trauma surgeon George Velmahos reminded an audience of trauma surgeons and nurses this morning.

Velmahos joined several other surgeons in giving quick lessons about surgical techniques or advancements as part of the Austin Trauma and Critical Care Conference at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on the University of Texas Campus.

In between surgeon-centered jokes, Velmahos showed provocative photos of patients with gunshot wounds to the face because he said he knew they would elicit a strong response.

Photo by rbbaird

The classic backyard entertainment may be more dangerous than assumed warned University of Oklahoma professor of surgery Roxie Albrecht today at a conference focused on trauma and critical care.Her lecture, called “Trampolines are Fun?” explained to surgeons how to treat patients afflicted with a trampoline related injuries.

She said most injuries come from jumping with more than the recommended amount of people on the trampoline. Most trampolines are made for one person.

Albrecht cited research showing children are more likely to get hurt on trampolines in the early evening when guardians are too busy or distracted to watch over them.

“They are more into making dinner and the kids are out on the trampoline trying to hurt themselves,” she said.

Photo courtesy

The City of Austin wants everyone to take 10 minutes to learn hands-only CPR.

Each year, about 600 people in Austin and Travis County experience cardiac arrest and are treated by EMS. When bystanders perform CPR, survival rates can double or even triple.

Hillary Funk is the Community Integration Coordinator with Austin-Travis County EMS. She says some people are hesitant to perform mouth-to-mouth.

Photo courtesy

A group of students called Texas 4000 will embark tomorrow from Austin on the world’s longest annual charity bike ride – all the way to Anchorage, Alaska.

Riders from the community can join the group on the first leg of their 4,687 mile journey this Saturday morning. They leave from Running Brushy Middle School in Cedar Park at 8 a.m. There are several other events leading up to the kick-off that provide opportunities for the community to interact with the riders.

This is the group’s ninth year to make the ride. To date the organization has raised more than $3 million for the Livestrong Foundation.

Photo by Wells Dunbar for KUT News

President Obama’s signature healthcare reforms calls for an automatic review of any increase in health insurance costs ten percent or higher.

But an organization promoting better health care access across Texas says the agency in charge of monitoring and reviewing these hikes isn’t doing its job.

The Texas Department of Insurance is responsible for determining whether or not price increases for insurance premiums are justified. This is supposed to help protect consumers from overpaying for insurance.

FDA Rules Corn Syrup Can't Change its Name to Corn Sugar

May 31, 2012

Corn-based-sweetener manufacturers may be singing a sour tune today. The Food and Drug Administration just ruled that the ubiquitous high fructose corn syrup that sweetens many of our candies, sodas and snacks cannot be called "corn sugar." But much like Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator character, they'll probably be baaack.

You know all those lawsuits now pending around the country charging that the Obama administration's rule requiring most health insurance plans to offer no-cost contraception is a violation of religious freedom?

Well, a whole bunch of supporters of the rule are chiming in now to say that argument has no legal merit.

Trained Interpreters Can Help Prevent Medical Errors

May 22, 2012

When someone arrives at the hospital who doesn't speak English very well, it's common for workers at the hospital who are fluent in that language —doctors, nurses, even administrative staff — to step in and act as the patient's interpreter.

So much for compromise.

A total of 43 Catholic educational, charitable and other entities filed a dozen lawsuits in federal court around the nation Monday, charging that the Obama Administration's rule requiring coverage of birth control in most health insurance plans violates their religious freedom.

It turns out we may not know nearly as much about all the money spent on health care in the U.S. as we thought we did.

But there's a new group that wants to, well, remedy that.

The problem, Martin Gaynor, chairman of the Health Care Cost Institute, told Shots, is that "two-thirds of the population has private [health] insurance, but most of the information comes from Medicare."