WEEKLY DOSE OF HEALTH NEWS November 24-29, 2013

This week’s summary is brief and early in order to get to you before the beginning of the Thanksgiving holiday. But you’ll find an interesting op-ed from the NY Times regarding hormone replacement therapy and prescription drug access; a debate happening in Israel regarding genetic testing for breast cancer  and a NPR  blog entry on pilot programs for Obamacare.

Hormone Replacement and Prescription Drug Access Read this fascinating New York Times op-ed on hormone replacement and prescription drug access, written by an entrepreneur and scientist whose life has been turned upside down by illness.  She illustrates the powerful effects of hormones and her ongoing struggles to access the right medical care and neurochemicals to keep her alive.  As a sophisticated medical consumer, she still spends hours every month wrangling with our health system to ensure her own access to information and timely treatments, including prescription drugs.

Israeli Scientists Push for National Breast Cancer Gene Screening Campaign The New York Times also reports on a debate happening in Israel, a country with one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world.  Israeli scientists are pushing for a national screening campaign to test women for cancer causing genes that are common among Jews.  Jews of Ashkenazi, or central and eastern European background, are at increased risk for both breast and ovarian cancer.  Israeli women are facing difficult choices about getting tested and the proposal has impacted the divide between Jews of different ancestry.

Pilot Programs for Obamacare Obamacare is creating hundreds of pilot programs in hospitals across the country to change the way health care is delivered.  The goals are to increase the quality and cost effectiveness of hospital care.  For example, more hospitals will begin using check lists for operating room services to make sure that certain tasks are completed and done on time.  In some facilities, Medicare will begin providing one payment for doctors and hospitals, instead of the long-standing practice of paying them separately.  A big push will be in hospital discharge follow-up care to help prevent costly readmissions.