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Health Management Technology News
  March 14, 2014
In this issue:

Health care law helps entrepreneurs quit their day jobs

New diabetes prevention website launched to stop growing epidemic in Asia

Healthcare innovations in the ‘Shark Tank’

GE Healthcare study quantifies economic impact of Madison operation

DePasquale launches audit of Pittsburgh hospital research programs

Why casino workers hate health care act

Health care law helps entrepreneurs quit their day jobs

The Affordable Care Act — which many see creating challenges for businesses — could benefit a particular group of business people: entrepreneurs. Joshua Simonson was reluctant to give up his job at a Portland, Ore., area grocery store, New Seasons Market, which he says had provided excellent health care for him and his family. He had a pre-existing condition that has prevented him from getting insurance in the private market, but one key development helped convince him to quit and start a farm.

"One of the biggest factors was the Affordable Care Act," Simonson says, "that our family would be able to be covered by health care starting the beginning of 2014."

Now, the young entrepreneur runs a 26-acre farm near Sheridan, Ore., where chickens till through the flower beds and goats graze on the lawn. He has 3,000 egg-laying hens, whose eggs he and his partner will sell in the Portland metropolitan area. Soon, they'll add pigs and raise chickens for meat.

It had been hard to leave a job that provided health care, especially since he had trouble getting coverage in the past.

"I was ineligible for any health care. I'd been denied by five different companies because I have back problems," says Simonson, who's broken three vertebrae in his back. "Nobody wanted to cover me because of that."

Economists call what held Simonson back job lock, or entrepreneur lock.

Read the full NPR article here

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New diabetes prevention website launched to stop growing epidemic in Asia

The rapidly emerging diabetes epidemic in Asia has the potential to overwhelm health care systems, undermine economic growth, and inflict unprecedented levels of disability on the world’s most populous continent. A new website—the Asian Diabetes Prevention Initiative—aims to put a stop to this deadly epidemic by offering Asian countries authoritative, science-based information to stop the spread of type 2 diabetes.

The website——a joint initiative between the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health (SSHSPH) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), gives the public, health professionals, and public health practitioners quick and easy access to information about the causes of type 2 diabetes, its dire consequences, and what can and must be done to decrease the prevalence of this disease in Asia.

“Asia has become the epicenter of the global diabetes epidemic,” says Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and co-editorial director of the new website. “By providing the latest advances in research on epidemiology and state-of-the-art practices for diabetes prevention through lifestyle and environmental changes, this website will raise the public’s awareness about this ‘silent’ epidemic and spur urgent actions to address it.”

Read the full Harvard School of Medicine press release here

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Healthcare innovations in the ‘Shark Tank’

Seizguard, a detection device in a bracelet that alerts patients to oncoming seizures and Baby Beat, a wireless continuous external monitor in the form of a lightweight flexible abdominal binder that monitors fetal heart rate, fetal movement, and maternal contractions, were the judge’s top two choices in the School of Nursing’s inaugural version of ‘Shark Tank’.

The competition, on March 10, was modeled after the television reality show where up-and-coming entrepreneurs present their ideas to a panel of angel investors, also called “sharks”, in hopes of earning funding for their fledgling companies.

The School of Nursing’s version of the competition is an outgrowth of a course in nursing leadership. Nearly 100 senior students taking the class were divided into 13 teams to present their healthcare innovations to a panel of judges representing research, pharmaceuticals, economic development, and health care.

Working in groups of six to 10, students were asked to identify a clinical problem that could be addressed with an innovative solution. They were challenged not only to understand the process of developing such a solution, but also to explore the role of nursing entrepreneurs in the health care system.

Read the full UConn Today article here

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GE Healthcare study quantifies economic impact of Madison operation

GE Healthcare has had a significant presence in Madison, WI, since 2003, when it bought Datex-Ohmeda, a company that traced its local roots to the opening of an Ohio Medical Products manufacturing facility in 1946.

Today there are 630 people working at GE Healthcare’s 200,000-square-foot facility on the outskirts of Madison, the U.S. hub for the company’s life care solutions business. The Madison operation makes up nearly one-tenth of GE Healthcare’s Wisconsin employee base of 6,500, most of them concentrated in the Milwaukee area.

Madison employees develop and manufacture anesthesia delivery systems and respiratory equipment that gets shipped to 196 countries. Their research is part of GE’s effort to remain on the cutting edge, where it’s managed to stay for well over a century, developing the first light bulb, the first jet engine in the U.S., and the first MRI machines, to name three innovations.

But GE Healthcare has stayed relatively quiet in Madison over the past decade, and it’s been hard to gauge the part the facility plays in the state’s economy.

Yesterday, GE tried to rectify that. It opened the facility’s doors to government officials, business leaders, and the media for the presentation of a study showing that GE Healthcare’s Madison business has a $341.9 million impact on the economy each year. That includes $200.4 million in direct spending by GE and $141.5 million in spending by its suppliers, its employees, and its employees’ households.

Read the full Xconomy article here

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DePasquale launches audit of Pittsburgh hospital research programs

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has announced his office will perform audits of five healthcare research programs across the state including, Pittsburgh’s Magee-Women’s Research Institute and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

DePasquale will investigate whether the programs funded by the Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement Program (CURE) are using the money as intended. Funding for CURE comes from the landmark tobacco settlement of 1998, which provided Pennsylvania with roughly 300 million dollars annually for state health care needs through 2025. Nearly three-quarters of those funds are currently threatened by an arbitration ruling that could cause huge cuts to the state budget.

Tobacco companies involved in the agreement requested arbiters to ensure 15 states were following the terms of agreement by leveling the marketplace so other tobacco companies would not gain a competitive advantage. Arbiters found in 2003 that Pennsylvania and five other states had not met the requirements of the agreement resulting in the loss of 60 percent of its settlement funds next year. Last week, Pennsylvania’s  Attorney General appealed the decision.

DePasquale says if the state’s appeal is denied, these cuts to settlement funds are going to be a problem for the state economy in the future.

“There is a broader concern, if this arbitrator’s decision is upheld by the court system Pennsylvania’s out at least 200 million dollars, that money is already being counted on in the current state budget,” DePasquale said.

Read the full WESA article here

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Why casino workers hate health care act

Casino workers are preparing to strike against several Las Vegas establishments, but their real target is President Barack Obama.

Culinary Workers Union Local 226 is pushing about a dozen of its employers to contribute more money to its health insurance fund to cover rising Affordable Care Act costs. Currently, employers pay 100 percent of the premiums.

Union workers picketed outside the Stratosphere over the weekend, ahead of a March 20 vote that would give the union the right to call a strike.

At issue are Affordable Care Act fees and mandates that have greatly increased the health insurance fund's expenses in recent years. What's angering the local, along with many unions nationwide, is that the fund doesn't qualify for federal subsidies to cover low-income workers that for-profit insurers do. The union fund wants these subsidies to help offset the added costs.

Those subsidies, which go directly to insurers, help lower-income Americans purchase insurance on the individual market through state and federal exchanges. But since union plans are considered employer-sponsored plans, there is no federal money to subsidize its members.

So far, White House officials have not made an exception for the unions.

"The administration has made change after change to meet other groups' needs," said Yvanna Cancela, the local's political director, noting the union would like to see the president keep his promise. "Our members want to keep their health plans."

Read the full KXLY article here

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