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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

No new measles cases since outbreak first began 

Here’s some good news on the measles front: U.S. officials reported yesterday that for the first time since the current measles outbreak began, no new cases were reported last week. This still means that 1,241 have become ill with the disease in 31 states since the start of the year. The majority of the cases have been in those who haven’t been vaccinated against the disease. The sheer number of cases have come close to threatening the U.S.’s measles-elimination status, since this recent outbreak is the worst since measles was considered eliminated here in 2000. “I think it’s a hopeful sign,” STAT’s infectious disease reporter Helen Branswell tells me about yesterday’s news. “There is a possibility the elimination status won’t be lost, but the next few weeks are going to be important.” 

Weill Cornell will provide free education to medical students in need 

Medical students in need of financial aid will be able to attend Weill Cornell Medicine for free, the school announced yesterday. More than half of Weill Cornell’s nearly 400 students are eligible for financial aid, and a single year at the school can cost nearly $95,000. The announcement is the latest in a series of actions medical schools around the country — including those at NYU and Washington University in St. Louis — have been taking to address the rising student debt crisis. In a departure from other schools, Weill Cornell will waive tuition costs in addition to covering housing, food, and other educational expenses. Columbia University's medical school set up a similar program last year for those most in need, and that covers roughly 20% of students. 

American College of Cardiology calls for more equitable wages among cardiologists

The American College of Cardiology just issued its first policy statement on compensation among cardiologists and is calling for more wage equity. Women cardiologists can be paid up to $38,000 less than their male colleagues, the report states, and cardiologists from a minority background are often more disadvantaged. The statement also asks health care facilities to not necessarily fall back on things that have systematically been sources of inequity — including past salaries — but to instead reward non-billable work including community service and mentoring. As far as what good compensation would look like, “An equitable compensation plan should avoid falling back on subjective or personal criteria to establish compensation,” the report states, including employees’ negotiation skills, since who chooses to negotiate and how effectively they do so could be subject to bias.   

Inside STAT: How AARP became the drug industry's biggest opponent in Washington


(ALEX HOGAN)

Planes waving a “CUT DRUG PRICES NOW” banner, TV ads proclaiming “price gouging” from drug companies, and senior citizens dressed as pill bottles outside a senator’s office — these are just some of the tactics in a new multimillion-dollar campaign from AARP to take on the pharmaceutical industry. The group’s new push is not being met kindly by PhRMA, the drug industry’s lobbying arm. Already, PhRMA has launched counter-ads that focus on the $600 million that AARP earns from selling Medicare Advantage plans. Although it’s still unclear which of the two groups will sway voters and lawmakers toward supporting any legislation, they seem evenly matched. “PhRMA is an 800-pound gorilla. And I think they’re meeting another 800-pound gorilla in AARP,” Max Richtman, head of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, tells STAT’s Nicholas Florko. Read more here

Men are less aware of HPV vaccine and cancers caused by the virus than women

A survey of more than 6,200 Americans finds that men are less knowledgeable about the HPV vaccine and the various cancers caused by the virus. Here’s more: 

  • HPV vaccine: About half the men were unaware of the HPV vaccine, which protects against various cancers. In contrast, at least 70% of women knew about the vaccine, and a higher percentage of women aged 45 and younger knew of it. 

  • Cervical cancer: Among those younger than 26, 60% of men and 30% of women did not know that HPV causes cervical cancer. Men over the age of 65 were least likely to know about the link to cervical cancer. 

  • Other cancers: Across all age groups, men were less likely to be aware of the relationship between HPV and other cancers, including anal, oral, and penile.

More people are seeking care from a small number of hospitals

A small number of hospitals in many U.S. metro areas are increasingly seeing most of the country’s hospital admissions, according to a new report. Some 67% of U.S. metro areas — 75 cities and towns — had high concentrations of hospitals in 2012, but those figures increased by 2016. In that year, some 81 metro areas — had high concentrations of health care facilities. Rural areas tended to have more patients who sought their care from only a few hospitals. Springfield, Mo., for instance, was ranked the most concentrated such metro area, while New York City, which has a large share of hospitals and therefore more options for patients, was ranked the least concentrated area in the ranking of 112 metro areas. One possible reason for these trends: more hospitals are now merging to form large networks. 

What to read around the web today

  • A shadowy industry group shapes food policy around the world. The New York Times
  • Makers of spiked CBD vapes exploit gaps in enforcement. The Associated Press
  • Despite calls for a moratorium, more ‘three-parent’ babies expected soon. OneZero
  • Why is it so hard to stop people dying from snakebite? Mosaic
  • As Texas cracks down on abortion, Austin votes to help women defray costs. NPR

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Shraddha

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

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