Headlines: June 15, 2011
by Tony Kikendall
Some Republican Governors are fighting the current Medicaid rules. Under the current rules, states can expand coverage, but not retract coverage. 29 Republican Governors appealed to Congress to give them greater ability to control Medicaid expenditures. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will directly ask the Obama Administration to rein in Medicaid eligibility, and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has requested the same from the Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, Medicaid cost close to 22% of state budgets, receiving more money than K-12 public education. Last year's health care reform law will expand the current Medicaid system. President Obama may face a difficult decision regarding this issue, as taking a stand on either side may alienate his supporters or the middle ground.
The F.D.A. has increased regulation of sunscreen this week. In order for sunscreen to be labeled as having 'broad spectrum' protection, it must now protect equally against both UVA and UVB rays. While both UV rays cause cancer, UVA rays cause the skin to wrinkle, whereas UVB rays cause the skin to burn. Sunscreen companies will no longer be allowed to claim that their products are waterproof; they will only be allowed to advertise the amount of time for which the sunscreen is water resistant. Only sunscreens have that an SPF of 15 will be allowed to claim that they reduce cancer risks. Sunscreens with an SPF of less than 15 will have to warn the consumer that they have not been proven to reduce caner risks. The new system is seen as a compromise between giving the consumer more information and making said information easy for the consumer to understand.
Immunotherapy drugs are currently being developed to fight cancer. The F.D.A. recently approved Provenge, for prostate cancer, and Yervoy, for melanoma. Immunotherapy drugs operate by using the person's immune system to combat the cancer. The two new drugs are extremely expensive, costing $93,000 and $120,000 for a course of treatment respectively. Immunotherapy drugs are currently being created to fight other types of cancers as well.
Scientists are re-examining the uses of cardiac resynchronization treatment (CRT) devices. Such devices help coordinate the operation of the heart's left and right ventricles. The device was used to treat patients with a QRS of 120 milliseconds or higher, but recent studies have suggested that patients with a QRS in the range fo 120 to 150 were not helped by the treatment. Patients with a QRS of 150 or higher, however, were 60% less likely to suffer death or other severe heart problems while using the device.
Anthony Kikendall is a rising second year law student at Boston University School of Law. Feel free to email him with any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns.