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TIME (6/26, MacMillan) reports a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found “people who did more moderate-intensity physical activity were more likely to have healthy patterns of glucose metabolism in their brains—a sign of healthy brain activity—than those who did less.” The authors found large doses of high-intensity exercise may be needed to offer the benefits of “a modest increase” in moderate activity, “suggesting that you don’t have to exercise to the extreme to get brain benefits.” Lead author Ozioma Okonkwo, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Public, says, in general, the evidence suggests that “light activity is insufficient, and vigorous activity might be unnecessary.”
— “How Exercise May Protect the Brain From Alzheimer’s Disease,” Amanda MacMillan, Time, June ,26 2017.
In “Well,” The New York Times (6/26, Brody, Subscription Publication) reports that symptoms of anxiety or depression can “masquerade as an as-yet undiagnosed physical disorder.” Psychiatric Times recently published a “partial listing” of 47 medical illnesses that may first present as anxiety and a “partial listing” of 30 categories of medications that could cause anxiety, including antidepressants like SSRIs. The lists were included in an article “meant to alert mental health practitioners to the possibility that some patients seeking treatment for anxiety or depression may have an underlying medical condition that must be addressed before any emotional symptoms are likely to resolve.”
— “When Anxiety or Depression Masks a Medical Problem,” JANE E. BRODY, New York Times, June 26, 2017.
HealthDay (6/23, Dotinga) reported that “a new federal report finds that fewer U.S. teens and young adults are indulging in frat-party style drinking because their levels of binge drinking have gone down over the past six years.” However, “fourteen percent of young people from 12 to 20 years old reported binge drinking at least once within the past four weeks.” Frances Harding, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention at the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, said, “We’ve made plenty of progress through prevention efforts, yet the work still needs to continue.”
— “Fewer U.S. Kids Binge Drinking,” Randy Dotinga, HealthDay, June 22, 2017.
Medscape (6/23, Davenport) reported that a meta-analysis indicates “deaths directly related to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) are rare events and seem to be decreasing in incidence.” In “the pooled analysis of more than 750,000 ECT procedures performed since the mid-1970s,” investigators found “that the rate of deaths related to ECT itself was only around two per 100,000 treatments – less than that seen with general anesthesia for surgery.” The research was presented at the 13th World Congress of Biological Psychiatry and published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.
— Medscape (requires login and subscription)
The New York Times (6/22, Pear, Kaplan, Subscription Publication) reports that on Thursday, Senate Republicans “took a major step” towards their goal of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act by “unveiling a bill to cut Medicaid deeply and end the health law’s mandate that most Americans have health insurance.” The measure “would create a new system of federal tax credits to help people buy health insurance, while offering states the ability to drop many of the benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, like maternity care, emergency services and mental health treatment.” The article says that although GOP senators had promised their ACA repeal bill would significantly modify the American Health Care Act which the House passed last month, the proposal which was put forward maintains the AHCA’s “structure, with modest adjustments.”
USA Today (6/22, Kelly, Collins) reports the Senate’s bill differs from the AHCA in that “it does away with a controversial House provision – which critics dubbed an ‘age tax’ – that would greatly increase costs for older Americans who need subsidies to pay for medical coverage.” In addition, the Senate’s version “would tie subsidies to income rather than age,” but this would “make it harder for people to qualify for the subsidies by tightening the income requirements.” Republican leaders are saying this bill is the party’s best option to keep conservatives’ promise to repeal and replace the ACA.
The Wall Street Journal (6/22, A1, Armour, Peterson, Radnofsky, Subscription Publication) reports on its front page that the bill would unwind major provisions of the ACA, such as its expansion of Medicaid. The article says Republicans are hoping to move quickly to pass an ACA repeal bill before the July 4 recess. However, some GOP lawmakers in the Senate say they are worried about some of the changes included in the measure.
The Los Angeles Times (6/22, Levey, Mascaro) reports that the bill includes “a drastic reduction in federal healthcare spending that threatens to leave millions more Americans uninsured, drive up costs for poor consumers and further destabilize the nation’s health insurance markets.”
On its website, ABC News (6/22, Stracqualursi, Adam Kelsey, Rogin) says top medical groups criticized the bill. For instance, the American Psychiatric Association’s CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, MD, said, “The Senate proposal represents a significant move in the wrong direction, resulting in fewer people having access to insurance, fewer patient protections, and less coverage for essential behavioral health care.”
The Huffington Post (6/22, Holmes) reports, “Mental health organizations have been expressing concern about how the Republican effort to repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act “could affect people living with mental illness.” For example, “American Psychiatric Association officials noted that they were not consulted on the House version or the Senate’s draft legislation.”
Psychiatric News (6/22) quotes Dr. Levin, who also said, “We urge the Senate to reject this harmful legislation and start again on a health care bill that puts patients first.” Meanwhile, APA President-Elect Altha Stewart, MD, said in a June 21 press release, “Eliminating requirements for coverage of key benefits, including mental health and substance use disorders and other patient protections that are part of the Affordable Care Act, will have detrimental impacts for millions.” Dr. Stewart added, “Mental health is critical to overall health and needs to be equally accessible.”
— “Senate Health Care Bill Includes Deep Cuts to Medicaid,” ROBERT PEAR and THOMAS KAPLAN, New York Times, June 23, 2017.
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