O2 is okay, Rx passe
Rain shuts down Nero's palace: Authorities in Rome have closed Nero's Golden Palace to the public after days of heavy rain filled the monument with mud and damaged the electrical system. The closure was a safety precaution, and the palace has not been significantly damaged by the severe storms that hit Rome over the past week. Built by the emperor Nero in the first century A.D., the Domus Aurea has been plagued by structural problems and humidity that threaten its frescoed halls.
Roman battlefield discovered in northern Germany: Archaeologists say they have uncovered a third-century battlefield in northern Germany that could prove that Roman legions were fighting in the region much later than historians have believed. The most famous incursion was a Roman defeat in the Teutoberg Forest in 9 A.D. But a field found about 125 miles north of that, near Kalefeld-Oldenrode, suggest a later battle. About 600 artifacts, including coins and weapons, have been found, suggesting up to 1,000 Roman legions.
Medicare wants to clear the air on Oxygen availability: Medicare officials tried on Monday to quell growing worry by the elderly that they could lose access to lifesaving oxygen supplies with the start of the new year. The concerns are unfounded and stem from misleading representations from medical equipment companies, which are unhappy with a change in federal law that kicks in Jan. 1, said Laurence Wilson of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Out of concern that Medicare overpaid for oxygen, lawmakers capped at three years the length of time the government will pay a rental fee for oxygen concentrators. However, the supplier is required to continue to maintain the equipment for up to five years. With the start of the new year, the three-year cap will kick in for some patients. The agency has heard from consumers and insurance counselors in several states. Wilson described the information as having an "organized flavor." Medicare spends about $3-billion annually to provide oxygen to an estimated 1-million participants who need assistance breathing. About a third of those customers will use oxygen for more than three years.
Doctors encouraged to drop the pad and embrace e-prescriptions: The push for paperless prescriptions is about to get a boost: Starting in January, doctors who e-prescribe can get bonus pay from Medicare. For patients, the benefits are obvious — from shorter drugstore waits to increased safety, as pharmacists no longer squint to decipher doctors' messy handwriting. Only about 10 percent of doctors have taken the plunge, but the movement is likely to gain steam as Medicare will offer bonus payments until 2012. What's a paperless prescription? When the doctor writes it by computer and sends it directly to the drugstore by computer, with no little piece of paper to get lost or stolen anywhere along that trail. In December 2007, 35,000 doctors were writing at least some paperless prescriptions, according to SureScripts-RxHub, which tracks the drugstore network. The 2008 count isn't finished yet, but SureScripts estimates that number at more than 70,000. Narcotic painkillers and other controlled substances that account for 20 percent of all prescriptions are banned from electronic prescribing. The Drug Enforcement Administration is working on rules to allow that switch.