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June 2, 2014

Hospital charges to treat chest pain jump 10 percent in a year

WASHINGTON — The charge to treat Medicare patients with chest pain at U.S. hospitals rose 10 percent to $18,568 in just a year, the biggest rise seen among the most common inpatient procedures, according to federal data.

Average charges for most hospital services, meanwhile, rose less than 5 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It is the second year CMS has released the data, gathered from more than 3,000 hospitals that take patients in Medicare, the U.S. program for the elderly and disabled.

Last year, CMS reported that hospital pricing for medical care varied widely, and that trend continued in the latest report. In California alone, for instance, the price of treating chest pain averaged $58,988 in the Sacramento area and $11,619 around Los Angeles, according to the fiscal 2012 data.

The numbers "provide a better understanding of Medicare utilization, the burden of chronic conditions among beneficiaries and the implications for our health-care system, and how this varies by where beneficiaries are located," said Bryan Sivak, chief technology officer for the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare.

Medicare released data on hospital charges for the first time last year. Medicare and private insurance companies tend not to pay the full amount of what hospitals bill. The average Medicare payment for chest pain is $2,874, according to the data. Today, the government also made available information on outpatient services and chronic conditions.

The release, required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, came during the annual Health Datapalooza conference that brings together technology experts and government officials to discuss trends in health care.

Officials from the Food and Drug Administration are scheduled to talk at the conference Tuesday about the agency's release of adverse event data on drugs from 2004 to 2013. The information will be available in a format technology developers can use to construct health applications, the agency said Monday.

Adverse events had been accessible only through Freedom of Information requests. The agency plans to expand the available data to recalls and product labeling, the FDA said in a statement.

 

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Obituaries
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    Kingston, N.H. — Mr. Alan James Walker, 68, passed away peacefully at his home on July 8, 2014, after a long, brave battle with cancer.

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  • James Reese

    Raymond, NH — James Edwin Reese, 74, passed away on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, surrounded by his family and friends at his home in Raymond, N.H. He was the son of John and Ruth Reese, born on Oct. 29, 1939 in Edensburg, Pa. James graduated from Central Cambria High School in Pennsylvania before proudly serving in the U.S. Army as a food inspector. His military service was followed by 31 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a meat inspector. Mr. Reese was an avid outdoorsman and spent much of his time fishing, camping and hiking in the White Mountains. He became involved in the Boy Scouts and enjoyed passing on his vast knowledge of the wilderness to others. Throughout his retirement years he enjoyed woodworking, raising rabbits and working in his garden.

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  • Velma J. Reid

    South Hampton, NH — Velma J. Reid, 80, died peacefully on July 17, 2014 at Exeter Hospital, surrounded by family. She was born in Haverhill, Mass. on June 8, 1934, the daughter of the late George C.W. and Alta I. (Kimball) Haynes. A graduate of Haverhill High School, Velma worked at Western Electric until she had children. For years, she was a devoted “stay-at-home” mom who raised her three children in a loving, nurturing environment. She later worked various manufacturing jobs until her retirement. After retiring, she volunteered her time at various organizations and was very involved at the East Kingston Community United Methodist Church as a member of the women’s guild, assisting with the holiday fair, and helping out wherever she could. She had a passion for animals, and would donate money, food, and blankets to the NH SPCA. She loved to sew and made a personalized quilt for every member of her family. She was also a member of the “Ugly Quilts” group, which made blankets and sleeping bags for the homeless using recycled fabric. She is survived by her husband, Clyde Reid of South Hampton, N.H.; daughter, Pam Eaton of Danville, N.H.; son and daughter-in-law, Douglas and Kim Reid of Raymond, N.H.; daughter, Shirley Reid of South Hampton, N.H.; two sisters, Gwen Stuart of Haverhill, and Norma Taplin of Dracut; four grandchildren, Cheryl and Marc Welch, and Kristen and Joshua Reid, and several nieces and nephews.

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  • Carleen A. Knowlton, 80

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  • Miriam O. (Graham) Graham, 84

    Kingston, NH — Miriam O. (Graham) Graham, 84, a resident of Kingston since 2001, and former longtime resident of Grafton, Mass., died peacefully, surrounded by her family, on July 11, 2014, following a long illness.

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