Trending News Today: Real-World Success of Medical Breakthroughs in Question

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

The long awaited replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was unveiled yesterday, The New York Times reported. The proposed health law would be significantly more the free market-oriented and will change a vast part of the American economy. The bill would roll back the Medicaid expansion that has provided coverage to more than 10 million individuals in 31 states, and would reduce federal payments to many new beneficiaries. Furthermore, it would get rid of the requirement that all individuals have health insurance and scrap tax penalties for those who are uninsured. The requirement for larger employers to offer full coverage to full-time employees would also be eliminated. According to the NY Times, individuals who let their insurance coverage lapse would face a significant penalty. Insurers would have the ability to increase their premiums by 30%, meaning Republicans would replace the penalty for being uninsured with a new penalty for allowing insurance to lapse. House Republican leaders noted that popular provisions in the ACA would be kept: the prohibition on denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, the ban on lifetime coverage caps, and the rule that allows young individuals to remain on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. Republicans also hope to undo other major parts, including income-based tax credits that help Americans buy insurance, taxes on individuals with high incomes, and the penalty for individuals who are uninsured.

Only about half of medical breakthroughs reported in 199 English-language newspapers actually hold up when tested in further studies, according to NPR. In a new study, investigators used the Dow Jones Factiva database of newspaper articles to identify 156 stories about various medical issues, including Alzheimer’s disease, autism, breast cancer, depression, and glaucoma. The investigators conducted a meta-analysis of the data, which showed that approximately half of the original findings panned out in follow-up studies. Investigator Estelle Dumas-Mallet advises that readers take caution when reading about these exciting medical breakthroughs. “Keeping mind that when a study is an initial study, even if it’s very exciting and amazing and a breakthrough—–or whatever you want to call it––it still needs to be confirmed,” Dumas-Mallet told NPR.

The heavy use of social media platforms among young adults may be associated with feelings of social isolation, according to NPR. In the study, investigators surveyed 1787 adults in the United States, aged 19 to 32 years, regarding their usage of 11 social media platforms outside of work. Social isolation was gauged by asking participants questions such as how often they felt left out, NPR reported. The results of the study revealed that individuals who self-reported spending more than 2 hours per day on social media had twice the odds of perceived social isolation compared with those who spent a half hour per day or less on those sites. Furthermore, individuals who visited social media platforms most frequently—–58 visits per week or more––had more than 3 times the odds of perceived isolation than those who visited fewer than 9 times per week. The investigators warned that the results should not be interpreted as suggesting that all social media accounts be eliminated, but rather that further research needs to be done into how to best use them.