KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

A Selection Of Recent Studies And Surveys

National Cancer Institute: Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Mortality Are Not Driven by Estrogen Receptor Status Alone -- "Black women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher probability of dying from the disease than white women, regardless of their estrogen receptor status," a study published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finds, according to a NCI description of the document. By comparing the breast cancer rates for black and white women using data from the NCI's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Result (SEER) program, researchers found that the "differences in breast cancer mortality may reflect racial differences in access and response to innovative breast cancer treatments, as well as other biological and non-biological factors" and "differences in outcomes in the first few years post-diagnosis make up nearly all of the disparity" (7/7).

New England Journal of Medicine: The Effect of Medicare Part D on Drug and Medical Spending -- "[Medicare] Part D increased the use of prescription drugs among enrollees who previously had either no drug coverage or modest benefits and that the cost of the increased use was approximately offset by decreases in other medical spending," conclude the authors of a recent study. The findings are based on a comparison between the money spent on "prescription drugs and other medical care 2 years before the implementation of Part D in January 2006 with such expenditures 2 years after the program's implementation in four groups of elderly beneficiaries: Medicare Advantage enrollees with stable, uncapped, employer-based drug coverage throughout the study period (no-cap group), those who had no previous drug coverage, and those who had previous limited benefits (with either a $150 or a $350 quarterly cap) before they were covered by Part D in 2006" (7/2).

Health Affairs: How Well Did Health Departments Communicate About Risk At The Start Of The Swine Flu Epidemic In 2009? -- This paper examines how quickly state and local health departments were able to react to the declaration that H1N1 influenza (swine flu) was a public emergency by the secretary of HHS on April 26, 2009, as measured through the ability of the departments to "provide online information to their constituents within twenty-four hours of the declaration." The analysis revealed, "[t]he overwhelming majority of state health departments, and more than half of health departments participating in the Cities Readiness Initiative" – a federally funded program aimed at increasing the ability of cities to deliver medicines and medical supplies in a public emergency – "were successful" at meeting the 24-hour goal, compared to "only a quarter of smaller, local health departments" (7/7). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.