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Latest healthcare news and updates

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Hospitals pose more danger than flying

Hospital visits could me more risky than flying. Hospital errors and hospital acquired infections are more likely to kill a person than a flying, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

Four arrested for Medicare fraud

Detroit -- The U.S. Justice Department said four people in Michigan were arrested on healthcare fraud charges as part of an investigation that has now included 21 arrests.

John Thomas, a physical therapist, Sherry Prescott, an office employee, and Maira Suleman and Myra Jones, both patient recruiters, were arrested on charges of billing Medicare for services that were either not performed or unnecessary, The Detroit News reported Tuesday.

The four individuals worked for All American Home Care. Jones also worked for Patient Choice Health Care. Both companies are located in Oak Park, Mich.

Authorities charge the scheme, including all of those arrested, has bilked Medicare out of $14.5 million.

Unemployment rate in Canada drops

Ottawa -- The unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percentage points in Canada in November to 7.6 percent, its lowest point since January 2009, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Among business sectors, the economy added 28,000 healthcare and social work positions in November. Wholesale and retail trades added 26,000, compared to a loss of 28,000 retail jobs in the United States in November.

Manufacturing in Canada lost 29,000 jobs, bringing the percentage down to 10 percent of all jobs, the lowest since 1976 when the data was first tracked.

Healthcare spending growth slows in Canada

Ottawa -- Healthcare spending in Canada has risen 1.4 percent in 2010 to $5,700 per person, the Canadian Institute for Health Information said Thursday.

Although spending is projected to reach a total of $191.6 billion, the 1.4 percent rate of growth is the slowest advance in healthcare spending in Canada in 13 years, Postmedia reported.

"Over the last 10 years, obviously, there have been a significant investment in healthcare, it was a priority of Canadians," said CIHI manager of healthcare costs Chris Kuchciak. "However, in the last couple of years we're seeing a deceleration in that rate of growth," he said.

Kuchciak said provincial governments hurt by the economic slowdown had trimmed healthcare spending.

9 percent Americans depressed, reveals CDC report

Nine percent of all adult Americans are currently suffering from depression, including 3.4 percent who are facing major depression symptoms, federal officials reported Thursday.

Employers gearing up for healthcare reform

New York -- A majority of U.S. employers in a survey indicated they were updating communication materials to comply with the recently passed healthcare reform laws.

Of 1,000 companies responding to a survey sponsored by healthcare consulting firm HighRoads, 63 percent indicated they were creating new material to communicate changes to their staff and 65 percent indicated they had "no idea" how much communicating the changes to employees would cost.

But HighRoads said, "The biggest change expected in the next few years is updating summary plan descriptions for employees with 71 of the respondents indicating that was a likely company project within the next year."

Copyright 2010 United Press International

Stem cell financing continues for now, scientists feel future hazy

Though temporary, but a federal appeals court has on Thursday approved financing stem cell research, till it considered the last month’s order that banned funding the research.

White House to take healthcare to TV

Washingotn -- The Obama administration is taking to the airwaves to sell U.S. seniors, a key voting bloc, on Medicare provisions in the healthcare reform law, officials said.

With polls showing a majority of seniors skeptical of health reform, the White House is buying $700,000 worth of cable television advertising time for commercials featuring actor Andy Griffith talking up the included benefits, Politico reported.

"With the new healthcare law, more good things are coming -- free checkups, lower prescription costs and better ways to protect us and Medicare from fraud," Griffith says in the 30-second spot, which premiered Friday as part of a Medicare open enrollment campaign that will continue through December.

Final rules for healthcare IT funding set

Washington -- The U.S. government has issued its final rules on regulations professionals and hospitals must follow to access $27.3 billion in funding for record keeping.

The money was allocated from the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act for developing and implementing electronic health record technology, the American Business Journals reported Tuesday. The act makes available between $44,000 and $63,750 available to individual health professionals from Medicare and Medicaid, and makes millions available for eligible hospitals, officials said.

"We very much wanted well-intended providers to become meaningful users," David Blumenthal, national coordinator for Health Information Technology, said during a webcast Tuesday.

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