The Rundown | Week of 8.6.2018

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Employment Organization Says Healthcare Jobs Among Most Difficult to Fill

A recent report by CareerCast discovered healthcare professions are among the most difficult jobs to fill. Citing statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, professional associations, and other economic forecasts, researchers predict that the need for home health and personal care aides is projected to grow 47 and 39 percent, respectively, largely as a result of an aging population. These specialties within outpatient healthcare delivery could add more than 500,000 positions over the next decade as demand rises and home-health employment opportunities surge by 60 percent. Other roles expected to increase are nurse practitioners, physical therapists, and medical services managers. One barrier to filling these roles is salary; the mean salary for a home health aide is $23,130. As demand increases, so to may compensation.
>>Read More: The 5 ‘Toughest Jobs to Fill’ in health care, according to CareerCast. Here’s our take

CMS Takes Steps to Reduce Part B Drug Costs

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are taking steps to lower drug spending in Medicare Advantage plans through cross-negotiation of Part B and Part D drug prices. In the past, Part D drugs (usually picked up at the pharmacy) and Part B drugs  (given to outpatients and usually have corresponding Part D generic) were separated. This initiative seeks to lower the $12 billion spent annually on costly Part B drugs through step therapy where patients must receive approval to bypass a cost-effective Part D drug for a more expensive Part B one. Proponents argue patients and payers will save money, but critics rebut the bureaucracy involved with step therapy saying it delays access to necessary medication. CMS’s new approach will take effect during the 2019 annual Medicare open enrollment.
>>Read More: CMS is allowing Medicare Advantage plans to cross negotiate Part B and D drug prices

Meat Consumption Linked to Higher Risk of NAFLD

A recent study indicated a link between meat consumption and a 40 percent higher risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). As NAFLD risk didn’t increase with fructose consumption, researchers remarked this finding “shifts focus from the carbohydrate and fat debate toward the third, previously unexplored, macronutrient: protein.” Experts speculate the preservatives, antibiotics, and hormones present in meat may be responsible. One suggestion proposed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) is a sustainable diet, which is “protective and respectful for biodiversity and ecosystems, culturally acceptable, accessible, economically fair and affordable; nutritionally adequate, safe, and healthy while optimizing natural and human resources.”
>> Read More: ‘Sustainable diet’ a worthy goal — but getting there can be challenging, experts say

Lung Cancer Rates to Rise for Women

A new study in the Journal of Cancer Research predicts that rates of death from lung cancer will rise in women worldwide. Though overall death rates for cancer in women have declined for years, an analysis of 52 countries from 2008 to 2014 from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Mortality Database suggest that deaths from lung and breast cancer will rise 43 percent and 9 percent, respectively, by 2030. In the United States, 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer cases are attributable to smoking, and smokers are up to 30 times more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer than non-smokers. The projected increase in cases of lung cancer among women is likely due to greater access to income and decreased social stigmas, both of which restricted women’s access to — and usage of — tobacco products.
>>Read More: Lung cancer deaths among women expected to increase worldwide: Study

Measles Outbreak in Brazil

Brazilian health officials are working to thwart an outbreak of measles likely triggered by Venezuelan refugees. Fleeing political turmoil, these refugees are concentrated in the northern areas of Brazil, namely Amazonas and Roraima. The outbreak has already spread to more than 1,000 people, five of whom have died. Though measles is an immunizable disease — and was eradicated in 2016 — only 70 percent of Brazil’s population is up-to-date on their vaccinations. In 2016, Brazil was exposed to another communicable epidemic: the Zika virus. To avoid further spread, Ministry of Health officials have instituted a goal to vaccinate 95 percent of children between the ages of one and five and enlisted the help of celebrity spokespeople to raise awareness. The campaign aims to open 36,000 vaccination clinics by August 18. This initiative coincides with National Immunization Awareness Month, celebrated in America every August.
>>Read More: Brazil rushes to thwart measles outbreak from Venezuelans

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