Nicotine Redeems Itself in New Research. Somewhat.

“That’s bad for you, you know,” is the one statement repeated over and over again by ardent anti-smokers. Years of smoke-shaming, cancer research, and cigarette legislation have been successful in cementing one thing in almost everyone’s mind: cigarettes and everything that comes along with them are bad for you. Not necessarily, says Victor Uteshev, associate professor of pharmacology and neuroscience at UNT Health Science Center. Uteshev, while acknowledging the negative health effects of smoking, is researching the positive effects nicotine can have on the brain. Nicotine—when absorbed into the blood stream through smoking, nicotine gum, or other methods—creates an electric current… Full Story

Accolades (8/12/13)

Recognized this week are Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne, Methodist’s Dallas and Charlton medical centers, and JPS Health Network. Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne’s radiology department has earned a Gold Seal of accreditation in nuclear medicine by the American College of Radiology. The ACR reviewed the hospital’s radiology department in the areas of image quality, procedure evaluations, facility equipment, quality control procedures, quality assurance programs, and personnel qualifications. A Gold Seal accreditation denotes the highest level of image quality and patient safety in a department responsible for the diagnosis of a plethora of diseases, including heart disease, neurological… Full Story

Report: 18 Million Could Be Covered Through ACA Expansions

Nearly 18 million Americans could be eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program if all states expanded these programs as allowed under the ACA, according to a report from the Kaiser Foundation and the Urban Institute. If the ACA’s expansions were implemented nationwide, the rate of uninsured would fall below 15 percent in each state. Only 23 states have agreed to implement the expansions; 21 have declined, and six are still undecided. Texas, not surprisingly, has declined. Currently, Texas ranks among the bottom few states with the lowest rates of insured citizens. Texas has consistently had an uninsured… Full Story

Schizophrenia Linked to Autism Through Brain Gene

Schizophrenia, a disease that has long baffled brain-scientists and geneticists, has been linked to autism, another confounding phenomenon in the psychological world, through a common biological pathway. A team of researchers from around the world has uncovered the gene TOP3B as key to an increased risk of schizophrenia as well as with impairment in intellectual function and learning. The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, focused its research on a selection of individuals from northeast Finland, where schizophrenia is three times more prevalent than in the typical population. TOP3B, while rare in most parts of the world, was particularly prevalent in the… Full Story

Helpful Happiness Leads to a Longer Life, Study Finds

Happiness, optimism, and laughter are all linked, not surprisingly, to longer lives. However, not all happiness is created equal. A recently published study shows a certain type of happiness related to service and purpose is more pertinent to health and longevity than the happiness related to personal gain. University of North Carolina psychologist Barbara Fredrickson examined the two types of happiness,  “eudaimonic” and “hedonic” pleasures, repectively, and found eudiamonic to be far more beneficial to a person’s health and well-being than hedonic. The study, published in the National Academy of Sciences, quizzed 84 volunteers on their happiness levels, using different… Full Story

Texans Lament Longer Applications Caused by ACA

Objections to the Affordable Care Act are continuing to roll in from Texas officials. Starting in January, eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program will be different from that of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The new metrics for determining eligibility mean families applying for assistance now will have to file separate applications for the different programs. Stephanie Goodman with the Health and Human Services Commission in Texas worries that, even though the new Medicaid application system would be simpler, the separate applications could lead to a heavier workload for Texas HHSC.… Full Story

Ted Cruz’s “Defund Obamacare” Tour to Hit Dallas Aug. 20

As a central opposition voice to the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz has vowed to vote against any federal spending bill that includes funding for the law. Now he’s joined forces with conservative powerhouse Heritage Action for America in announcing a new grassroots campaign called the “Defund Obamacare Tour.” The tour will make nine stops across the country and rally conservative voices in an effort to stop the ACA. The Heritage Foundation has promoted the use of a government shutdown to stop the ACA in the past, and it will use the events as an opportunity to promote this tactic… Full Story

Dalpiaz to Lead Texas Veterans Health Care Network

Joseph M. Dalpiaz will return to Texas to head Arlington’s Veterans Affairs Heart of Texas Health Care Network, after serving three years as director of the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. The former Dallas VA North Texas Health Care System director will take office at the medical center within 45 to 60 days. Dalpiaz brings nearly 30 years of experience in strategic planning, financial management, and organization design to a healthcare system that reaches a population of more than a million veterans. He has prioritized workforce development, customer service, clinical quality management, and leadership training. Texas is home to the second-largest population… Full Story

Affordable Care Act Ignites Job Growth In and Out of Hospitals

An influx of first-time health insurance buyers is bludgeoning the market with questions about the Affordable Care Act. Thousands of jobs are being added across the county at call centers, IT companies, and community organizations in response to the increased demand. The exchanges—healthcare marketplaces negotiated between the federal or state government and the individual or small-business buyers—will require a workforce estimated in the tens of thousands to provide customer service and support to those seeking answers among the new healthcare provisions, laws, and structures. Virginia companies Maximus, Vangent, and Serco all plan to hire thousands of new employees to work… Full Story

$10 Million Investment Boosts Moncrief Institute’s Cancer Services

The Moncrief Cancer Institute in Fort Worth recently bolstered its ability to provide cancer services through a $10 million investment from UT Southwestern Medical Center and the Moncrief Cancer Foundation. The Institute, a branch of UT Southwestern, is staffed with a coalition of social workers, licensed and registered dietitians, nurse educators, genetic counselors, clinical psychologists, a medical bill consultant, and outreach advocates. Its newest facilities opened in the fall of 2012, offering diet and fitness classes, as well as genetic and financial counseling to cancer patients. The Institute now will be able to increase its services under the investment to… Full Story