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The Cost Of Treating Kidney Disease

Medical spending to treat kidney disease totaled on average $25.3 billion annually from 2003 to 2007 (in 2007 dollars). Almost half of the expenditures ($12.7 billion) were spent on ambulatory visits.

On average, 3.7 million adults (1.7 percent of the population) annually reported getting treatment for kidney disease, reports a statistical brief from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. During 2003-2007, for those ages 18 to 64, more than half of the total kidney disease expenditures were from ambulatory visits (53.1 percent) compared with about one third (30.3 percent) from inpatient visits. Among those age 65 and older, ambulatory visits accounted for 46 percent of the total kidney disease expenditures and hospital stays were 43 percent.

Similar amounts were spent on prescription medicines ($1.4 billion) and emergency room visits ($1.5 billion). Hospital stays amounted to $9.1 billion. Medicare paid 40 percent of the total expenditures to treat kidney disease.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Addressing Healthcare Spending: “Cowardice” Or Bravery?

In assessing the “best and worst” of the recommendations from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein accuses the Commission of “cowardice” in addressing healthcare spending:

“The plan’s healthcare savings largely consist of hoping the cost controls . . . and various demonstration projects in the new healthcare law work and expanding their power and reach. . . In the event that more savings are needed, they throw out a grab bag of liberal and conservative policies . . . but don’t really put their weight behind any. . .[their] decision to hide from the big questions here is quite disappointing . . . ”

Pretty harsh words, considering that in other respects Klein gives the Commission high marks. But I think there is a lot more to the Commission’s recommendations on healthcare spending than meet’s (Klein’s) eyes, even though I have my own doubts about the advisability and political acceptability of many of them. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

Doctors Postpone Care Until Medicare Issue Resolved

Threats of lowered Medicare payments have been postponed again until June 1.

ACP’s Neil Kirschner, Ph.D., had reported that some physicians were postponing non-emergency appointments until the issue resolved.

Medicare had announced Thursday that it would start paying doctors’ claims at the lower rate. Now, restored payment levels are retroactive to April 1, so internists will be paid at the 2009 rate for all services provided in April.

Included in the legislation are extensions of unemployment benefits to restore aid to thousands of Americans who had exhausted their benefits or whose eligibility was expiring.

(MedScape, Washington Post, New York Times)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

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