Today’s Headlines: Medicare, Paralysis and Honey

Small slice of doctors account for big chunk of Medicare costs: “A tiny sliver of doctors and other medical providers accounted for an outsize portion of Medicare’s 2012 costs, according to an analysis of federal data that lays out details of physicians’ billings. The top 1% of 825,000 individual medical providers accounted for 14% of the $77 billion in billing recorded in the data.” Together, the 1,000 highest-paid Medicare physicians were paid $3.05 billion. A third of these high-earning providers are ophthalmologists and one in ten are radiation oncologists. One physician billed over $20 million in a year. Doctors’ groups cautioned the data, which contains gaps, could be misinterpreted, but “health-care economists say the data – despite several limitations – could help pinpoint doctors who overtreat patients, performing far more surgeries, procedures and other services than their peers.” (The Wall Street Journal

Electrical pulses help paralyzed patients move: “Four people who were paralyzed below the waist for more than two years were able to voluntarily wiggle their toes and flex their legs, thanks to a promising study that some are heralding as a breakthrough in spinal-cord-injury treatment.” To achieve their remarkable results, the study’s authors used an implantable electrical stimulator usually used to treat pain. The device sends electrical signals to the spinal cord, which are then related to the lower extremities. The four patients in the study “were able to voluntarily move their legs, feet and ankles within a week of starting the electrical stimulation.” While they’re not able to walk, they are able to move muscles that were previously entirely paralyzed. (TIME)

Just because it’s sweet and sticky doesn’t mean it’s ‘honey’: FDA: Honey just isn’t honey if it’s mixed with sugar or other sweeteners, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Consequently, “only manufactures that do not add sugar, corn syrup or other sweeteners should label their products as pure ‘honey,’ the FDA said in draft guidelines posted online.” Americans eat over 400 million pounds of honey every year, much of which is imported. “Pure honey is generally more expensive than those mixed with corn syrup and traditional sugar, and prices reached a record high of $2.12 a pound last year.” The new guidelines, if accepted, will not be mandatory. (Reuters)