MASSDEVICE ON CALL — House speaker John Boehner warned hard-line GOP members who want to defund healthcare reform not to go through with their dramatic gestures.
Speaking to his cohorts last week, Boehner warned that holding federal functions hostage to healthcare reform negotiations could result in backlash from the public. Boehner issued his advice after receiving a letter with signatures from 80 Republicans in Congress urging him to block Obamacare at all costs.
Rather than threaten a government shut-down, Boehner outlined a short-term plan to keep federal functions funded through December, Reuters reported.
Electrical stimulation brings new promise for spine cord injury patients
A new procedure that uses electric stimulation during treatments for patients with spinal cord injuries offers new hope for the nation’s 250,000 paraplegic and quadriplegic patients and for the 11,000 people injured every year. The technique, called biphasic electrical stimulation, seems to prevent cell death during a stem-cell transplant therapy. Stem cells are a promising therapy to restore damaged spinal cords, but they often die quickly after being transplanted. Researchers at the Beihang University School of Biological Science and Medical Engineering hope their technique will be adopted to improve transplant success in the future.
Fitness apps use gaming techniques to encourage movement
Certain apps that employ virtual reality gaming techniques, similar to the popular 1990s Tamagotchi "pets" that need constant care, are powerful health motivators, researchers said. A Stanford study used an Android app to evaluate a game’s influence on participants’ routines, tying healthy activities to a virtual bird’s health. The more participants walked, jogged and remained active, the healthier their pet bird became. Conversely, if they sat all day, the bird became sluggish and sickly.
In this study, 3 different apps were used to test different positive health motivators. The 2nd app relied on competition and social network accountability as a motivator. The 3rd app, for data-oriented users, used graphs and reports to provide feedback about health progress measures.
Business is booming for biotech companies working in infectious disease
Biotech companies working on infectious disease solutions saw a boost in value this year, especially in the wake of rising threats from antibiotic resistance. Several companies in the field saw increased investments, including Watertown, Mass.-based Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals, which saw a 22% increase in stock prices after going public earlier this year. Cubist Pharmaceuticals recently announced it will buy 2 smaller biotechs working on infectious disease solutions, Trius Therapeutics and Optimer Pharmaceuticals.
Watchdog report calls CMS Medicare claims processes inconsistent
The U.S. Government Accountability Office called Medicare claims practices inconsistent, and said they place an unfair burden on healthcare providers. The GAO report concluded that different claim reviews from different types of contractors need to be streamlined. CMS employs 4 different claims contractors and, while the general requirements are the same for all, the nuanced processes can lead to inefficiencies and should be revamped, according to the report.