CA Access News

September 2012


In this Issue: Features | Advocate Advantage | Calendar | Welcome New Partners | In the News | Interesting Information | Contact Us


Tracking Rx Misuse: State Programs Making Gains

By Bonnie Darves
iHealthBeat, September 4, 2012

Prescription monitoring programs (PMPs) that track when and where prescriptions for controlled substances are filled and who receives the medications are beginning to show results. The programs, now operational in 41 states and "on the books" legislatively in 49, neither purport nor promise to eradicate the country's narcotic-abuse epidemic -- deaths related to opioid use more than tripled between 1999 and 2008. But monitoring appears to be making a dent.

States with well-established PMPs are reporting reductions in doctor shopping and diversion of controlled substances and are finding that their programs are helping health care professionals make better informed clinical prescribing decisions, according to a recent report from the PMP Center of Excellence at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

Recent surveys in California and Ohio showed that prescribers altered either their overall prescribing practices or individual-patient prescribing based on PMP reports. In Kentucky, 90% of pharmacists and prescribers surveyed reported that they had refused to either prescribe or dispense a controlled substance after viewing an individual's PMP report.

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What to Know About 2012 Medicare Open Enrollment

Kimberly Lankford
Kiplinger's Personal Finance, September 6, 2012

What changes will there be to open enrollment for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans this year? When do I need to decide on my 2013 plan?

After some big Medicare changes last year, such as expanding preventive-care benefits and bumping up the time frame for Medicare open enrollment, this year's changes are much smaller. The doughnut hole (the period during which you must pay out of pocket) for Part D prescription-drug coverage continues to close: The discount on brand-name drugs in the coverage gap will rise from 50% to 52.5%, and the federal subsidy to help pay for generics will rise from 14% to 21% in 2013. And people can now switch Medicare Advantage plans outside of open enrollment if they're in an area that has a plan with a five-star quality rating (only 12 plans qualified in 2012, but more are expected to make the cut in 2013).

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates that the average premiums for Part D plans will continue to be about $30 per month, essentially the same as last year's average cost. But, as we've seen in the past, plans can make other changes - -such as boosting co-payments or changing pricing tiers for your medications -- that don't show up in those averages but that result in higher out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Advantage plans, which cover drugs and medical expenses, can also change coverage and prices. Jan Berger, chief medical officer for Silverlink Communications, which helps Medicare Advantage plans with consumer outreach programs, also expects some Medicare Advantage plans to narrow their networks -- that is, you can't assume that your doctors will remain in the plan's network in 2013.

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Advocate Advantage

Medical Body Networks Poised to Change Health Care

By John Kehoe

October 1, 2012 will be the start of the new era in health care, as Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN) will go online. This new wireless system will allow health professionals to better serve patients, eliminating wires and cables that have traditionally served patients to keep them hooked up with sensor devices on one's body.

Hospital rooms cluttered with these wires and their connections will become a thing of the past. With the wireless connection for data collection and transmission there will be a clear clean-up of the support systems in a hospital room. Through the data storage, a patient's records can be maintained by networked mobile medical devices, ultimately giving consumers greater control over their health information. Doctors, nurses and health specialists will have the information technology to better serve patients.

The benefits of the "MBAN Era" are endless. Training and communication between health disciplines will be enhanced. Rural areas will have greater access to meaningful healthcare; their isolation can become a thing of the past via the data collection and patient service MBANs provides. While this new phenomenon will greatly improve technological efficiencies, the cost of health care services can be greatly reduced. The challenge for the future will be the management of the many paths MBAN will open up. Training existing professionals, making certain the medical schools and other professional schools incorporate this newfound approach into their programs will be vital. We should see costs shrink, and health quality greatly improve


Check out our CPAT partner events occurring this month!

Were you unable to attend a CPAT event? All program materials are housed on our website, including the July 26 webinar on the California Health Benefit Exchange.

Would you like to see your organization's event listed? Contact Jason Dumont at to help advertise your upcoming event.

Welcome New Partners


Join Now

Do you know a group who would be interested in joining CPAT? Please send your referrals to:

Northern California - Contact Jason Dumont at

Southern California - Contact Brandon Stephenson at

In the News

Video Dial-a-Doctor Seen Easing Shortage in Rural U.S.

By Ryan Flinn
Bloomberg, September 5, 2012

Dr. Maurice Cates, Orthopedic Surgeon, conducts a live Orthopedic consultation remotely by video with a patient.

Until recently, when children in Ware County, Georgia, needed to see a pediatrician or a specialist, getting to the nearest doctor could entail a four- hour drive up Interstate 75 to Atlanta.

Now, there’s another option. As part of a state-wide initiative, the rural county has installed videoconferencing equipment at all 10 of its schools to give its 5,782 students one-on-one access to physicians. Telemedicine sites for adults have also sprung in the area. Instead of taking a full day off from work or school, residents can now regularly see their specialist online.

The program places Georgia among a half-dozen U.S. states turning to telemedicine to address a shortage of doctors in rural areas, a gap the Obama administration has said is a serious health-care shortcoming.

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Hepatitis C drugs offer hope for cure

By Erin Allday
San Francisco Chronicle, September 12, 2012

Scientific breakthroughs, one piled on top of another at breakneck speed over the past few years, have put medical researchers on the cusp of curing almost everyone who suffers from hepatitis C, if not wiping out the disease entirely.

With 180 million people in the world thought to be infected with the virus - 12,000 of them in San Francisco alone - that's potentially a huge public health coup, doctors and scientists say. In a little more than a decade, a virus that was once almost untreatable could be made nearly extinct.

"It is just a remarkable moment in the history of hepatitis C," said Dr. Warner Greene, director of the virology and immunology division at the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco. "I think hepatitis C and its sequela - liver cancer, cirrhosis, liver transplants - can largely be gone in the future. We just won't have to worry about it."

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Interesting Information

What Percentage of Health Care Providers Use Smartphones During Patient Consultations?

iHealthBeat, September 5, 2012

Seventy-four percent of surveyed physician assistants say they use smartphones during patient consultations, according to a recent report by Manhattan Research.

Sixty-seven percent of surveyed registered nurses and 60% of surveyed advance practice RNs said they use smartphones at the point of care. Among surveyed physicians, 40% said they use smartphones during patient consultations.

The report is based on a survey of 1,019 U.S. practicing nurses and physician assistants conducted during the second quarter of 2012, as well as a survey of 3,105 U.S. practicing physicians conducted during Q1 2012.

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