The Daily Rise: Tuesday, April 5

Cell Therapy Helps Heart Failure Patients

There’s good news for the more than 2.5 million Americans who live with heart failure. New research suggests that cell therapy might slow the rate of decline.

Dr. Amit N. Patel, director of the clinical regenerative medicine program in the University of Utah Department of Surgery, told CNN, “This would be considered a huge success because this much of a reduction has not been shown with any other (cell) therapy.”

“The researchers found that, during the year following the treatment, the patients who received the cell therapy had a 37% lower rate of death and hospitalization for heart failure-related problems, such as fluid buildup in the body or shortness of breath, compared with the placebo group. In the cell therapy group, 3.4% of the patients died and 51.7% were hospitalized for heart problems, whereas 13.7% of the placebo group died and 82.4% were hospitalized.”

Don Runs Another Marathon

Three cheers for our friend Don Wright, who remains on track to meet his personal goal of running in at least 100 marathons. And, what makes this so significant, is that Don has run all 93 marathons to-date with cancer, while undergoing treatment.

By the way, he’s also 75 years old!

Don will be in Nampa, Idaho, near Boise, for the Lake Lowell Marathon, on April 9th – his 94th marathon with cancer.

Don was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of cells in the bone marrow, in 2003. He had been taking a pill powerful enough to keep him in remission for seven years. But recently, there were signs that the cancer was returning, so his doctors have been trying new treatment regimens to see what is most effective for him.

“I am living proof that the incredible advances in medicine can work,” says Don. “There is no cure for multiple myeloma, however, I am excited to be taking advantage of the latest approach to treating cancer, a combination of medications that harnesses the body’s own immune system. Thanks to medical innovation, I have already survived more than 10 years past what my doctors expected when I was first diagnosed.”

Regular readers of The Daily Rise already know Don’s story. Every time, Don runs a marathon, you can expect us to share it again here in The Daily Rise. Don’s an inspiration to us, and we know there are patients that can benefit from hearing his story, too.

Value-Based Insurance Reduces ER Visits

University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation shares an idea for boosting preventive services and reducing emergency room visits. It’s called value-based insurance plans.

Connecticut’s Health Enhancement Program, which provides coverage to 64,000 Connecticut state employees and their dependents, has been able to reduce costs by encouraging more use of preventive services, “increased medication adherence for chronic conditions, and reduced visits to the emergency department.”

The program is using Value-Based Insurance Design, or V-BID, which “is based on the idea that if financial barriers are removed and people can use high-value, low-cost services (health screenings, vaccinations and other preventive care services) and are provided medications at a reasonable cost (to ensure they’ll take them as prescribed), the enrollees will be healthier and their care will cost the system less over the long haul.”

“Overall, V-BID worked very well in this program,” Richard Hirth, a member of the Institute for HealthCare Policy and Innovation, said in a press announcement.

Money Talks

Kaiser Health News’ Shefali Luthra pushes for doctors to start introducing “cost” in the exam room when making treatment decisions.

Cost shopping on some things is a good idea. Everything costs more at a hospital than it does at independent facilities. Costs can sometimes change based on zip codes.

We should have a conversation about costs that are intended to help save patients money on routine procedures and medications. But, we have a real problem with cost being introduced in an effort to nickel-and-dime patients with life-saving and chronic illnesses. There is target on the backs of new, innovative therapies for rare diseases like myeloma and cystic fibrosis — and there is even a target for a cure for hepatitis C.

Cost cutting for the normal routine procedures — yes, we’ll drink to that. But, cost-cutting in the form of your money or your LIFE … not so much.

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