November 30, 2015

Marshfield Clinic, Aspirus drop joint operating plan

Riverview Hospital (PHOTO: Larry Lee, WSAU)

Riverview Hospital (PHOTO: Larry Lee, WSAU)

Two medical providers have called off a plan to operate in Wisconsin Rapids and expand to Eau Claire.

Aspirus and Marshfield Clinic had been discussing the joint operation of Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids, along with either building or buying a hospital together in Eau Claire. It was only six months ago the two medical systems agreed to the partnership, but it never really got off the ground.

Marshfield Clinic’s officials would only say that the planned partnership would not work. Aspirus Director of Communications told Gannett Media they are focusing efforts and resources, along with their energy on internal initiatives, saying the industry is changing dramatically.


Review finds Obamacare premiums vary widely in Wisconsin

More than 200,000 Wisconsin residents who obtain their health insurance through the federal exchange will pay less than the national average next year, but an advocacy group says premiums vary dramatically across the state, and the real story is a dramatic increase in deductibles.

The average Obamacare Silver plan will cost Wisconsin residents 4.7 percent more in 2016. That’s lower than the 7.5 percent jump in the 37 states that use Healthcare.Gov. But Robert Kraig with Citizen Action of Wisconsin said deductibles in the plans went up an average of 40 percent across the state.

“That’s $1,253 more before insurance actually kicks in for a consumer,” Kraig said, calling that “a dramatic change.” A preliminary review by Citizen Action also found that premium changes vary dramatically across the state, falling 72 percent in Sheboygan, while in Hudson premiums are increasing 52 percent from last year.

“What’s happened is, our state government has been in paralysis over the five-year-old fight on sabotaging and repealing the Affordable Care Act, and there’s very little action going on, on health insurance costs,” Kraig said. “These numbers tell you that this needs to be a major agenda item in Madison. We need to get beyond the old debate over the Affordable Care Act and work together to bring health care costs under control in Wisconsin.”

UW expert says report linking processed meats to cancer no cause for alarm

File photo

File photo

A new report links processed meats to cancer, although one University of Wisconsin expert is urging consumers to consider a more moderate approach before tossing out the bacon.

A World Health Organization panel said there’s strong evidence processed meats are carcinogenic, and found a probable link between cancer and red meat consumption. In both cases, the concerns were largely tied to colorectal cancer.

Andy Milkowski, an adjunct animal sciences professor at the UW-Madison, knows the findings will worry people, and “the net effect will be, at least for a time, people are going to consumer less of these products.” 

However, he argues people don’t have to cut the bratwursts, hot dogs, and salami out completely. “In balance and moderation, there’s not an issue.”

Milkowski, who retired from a job in research and development at Oscar Mayer in 2006, says most consumers can protect their health by eating a variety of foods, exercising, and watching their weight. He says the report, which is based on the findings of a wide variety of other studies, is not something people should obsess over. “Follow your grandmother’s advice and don’t eat too much of any one food. Enjoy your food and move on.”

Cryptosporidium confirmed in Milton

Milton city officials are reassuring residents the water supply is safe after a possible cryptosporidium outbreak at the high school. Rock County Health Department Nursing Supervisor Deb Erickson said one case has been confirmed, and about 20 students are showing symptoms.

Erickson said the Health Department deals with about 20 cases a year. The district has been cleaning the high school in response paying special attention to the swimming pool and sterilizing all the bathrooms and locker rooms.

City Administrator Al Hulick has issued a statement saying the city’s drinking water is routinely tested and appears unaffected.


Saturday is Prescription Drug Take Back in Wisconsin

take-backThere’s another opportunity on Saturday to clean out the medicine cabinet. It’s Prescription Drug Take Back in Wisconsin – the statewide collection of expired prescriptions. “We have great concerns in the state of Wisconsin about prescription painkiller abuse, and that it leads to heroin abuse in Wisconsin, which we know is an epidemic,” said Daneille Long with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

This effort will continue to bring focus to the issue of prescription opiate abuse highlighted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Dose of Reality campaign to prevent prescription painkiller abuse.

“With the opiate epidemic devastating families and communities across our state, we must work together to remove unused prescription painkillers from circulation. They need to be collected and destroyed,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel said. “This program will also reduce the environmental hazards associated with the improper disposal of unused prescription drugs.”

The previous Drug Take Back event in May collected 40-thousand pounds of drugs. “It was two semi trailers that we disposed of,” said Long. “We’ve reserved three trucks for this time around, just because we have so many new departments on board with us.” You can find the nearest drop off location at