IHOP offers free pancakes to raise money for children’s medical centers; U.S. health care dollars have come from drastically different places since 1970, according to study; and a Medicare proposal targets “outdated or overly burdensome” regulations. These stories and more top public health news on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013.
Kaiser Health News — Health care spending in America, in two graphs
Spending on health care has, of course, been rising in the U.S. for decades. Health care now accounts for 18 cents of every dollar Americans spend, up from 7 cents in 1970. But where, exactly, is all that money going? And, for that matter, where is the money coming from to pay for all that health care? We found answers to both of these questions in this data set. First, here’s where the money is going. Despite huge changes in medicine and medical technology, the share of health dollars that flows to each major category has changed little in the past 40 years. In other words, spending on each category — drugs, hospitals, doctors, etc. — has increased at about the same rate. What has changed dramatically is where the money comes from.
Los Angeles Times — IHOP gives away free pancakes for charity Tuesday
Early bird today gets the pancakes. A stack of them. For free from IHOP. And it’s all in the name of charity. The restaurant chain is trying to encourage diners taking advantage of the complimentary meal to donate $3 million to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which raises funds for 170 nonprofit children’s medical centers. The company, owned by Applebee’s parent DineEquity in Glendale, has been hosting the giveaway for eight years and has raised $10 million. The more than 1,500 IHOP restaurants will offer a complimentary tower of buttermilk pancakes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. IHOP has dubbed Feb. 5 to be National Pancake Day — a holiday it says is based on a tradition several centuries old of making pancakes to use up all the dairy products forbidden during Lent.
Washington Post — New technology helps doctors link a patient’s location to illness and treatment
Epidemiologist David Van Sickle spent years studying asthma, but like many researchers of the chronic disease, he was frustrated by the obstacles to determining precise triggers of an individual attack. That frustration gave him an idea for a rescue inhaler topped with a GPS sensor. The invention would map the user’s location every time he took a puff and send that information back to his doctor. Such a device, Van Sickle thought, would give doctors data about when and where attacks occurred, helping them figure out possible environmental causes and allowing them to plan treatment accordingly. In 2006, he began work on a prototype, an endeavor that turned out to be harder than he had imagined, chiefly because the sensor attachment had to be as durable as the inhalers themselves.
Reuters — US proposes scrapping some obsolete Medicare regulations
The Obama administration on Monday proposed eliminating certain obsolete Medicare regulations, a move it said would save hospitals and other healthcare providers an estimated $676 million a year, or $3.4 billion over five years. The Department of Health and Human Services described the targeted regulations as unnecessary or excessively burdensome and said their proposed elimination would allow greater efficiency without jeopardizing safety for the Medicare program’s elderly and disabled beneficiaries.”We are committed to cutting the red tape for healthcare facilities, including rural providers,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “By eliminating outdated or overly burdensome requirements, hospitals and health care professionals can focus on treating patients,” she added.
CBC News — Sperm counts lower with more TV time
Men who watch television for 20 hours per week have almost half the sperm count of those who watch very little television or none at all, a new study has found. US researchers recruited 189 young men aged between 18 to 22, questioned them about their exercise, diet and TV habits and asked them to provide a sperm sample. Men in the top quarter of TV-watchers — those who watched for 20 hours or more — had a 44-per cent lower sperm count than those who watched least, meaning they said they watched “none or almost none.” Another big factor was exercise, according to the study, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.