Daily Rounds: Medicare Fraud; Hope For Hauser?; Legalizing Pot; Heavy Smoking And Alzheimer’s; Thyroid Radiation Threat

Medicare Database Offers Window Into Doctor Fraud and Abuse – WSJ.com One New York City-area family-practice doctor "pocketed more than $2 million in 2008 from Medicare, the federal insurance program for the elderly, government records suggest. That made her one of the best-paid family-medicine physicians in the Medicare system. But more noteworthy than the sum is her pattern of billing, which strongly suggests abuse or even outright fraud, according to experts who have examined her records. This doctor didn't do typical family medicine. Instead, she administered a wide array of sophisticated tests, including polysomnography sleep analyses, nerve conduction probes and needle electromyography procedures—some of which have been flagged by federal antifraud authorities for special scrutiny.” (Wall Street Journal)

Harvard Case Against Marc Hauser Is Hard to Define – NYTimes.com“The still unresolved case of Marc Hauser, the researcher accused by Harvard of scientific misconduct, points to the painful slowness of the government-university procedure for resolving such charges. It also underscores the difficulty of defining error in a field like animal cognition where inconsistent results are common.” (The New York Times)

Pot Legalization Divides California's Black Voters : NPR “Voters across California are divided on the issue of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, but the division is especially true for black voters throughout the state. The California NAACP is endorsing Proposition 19. But some black religious leaders fear that passing the ballot measure would only hurt already struggling communities.” (npr.org)

Heavy smoking in midlife may be associated with dementia in later years “Heavy smoking in midlife is associated with a 157 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and a 172 percent increased risk of developing vascular dementia, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.” (EurekAlert)

Thyroid Cancer Patients Shield Others From Radiation – NYTimes.com “One person alarmed about the situation is Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, whose office has been studying the issue. He accuses the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of turning a blind eye to the problem. ‘My investigation has led me to conclude that the levels of unintentional radiation received by members of the public who have been exposed to patients that have received ‘drive through’ radiation treatments may well exceed international safe levels established for pregnant women and children,’ Mr. Markey said in a statement.” (The New York Times)

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