Transportation to Health Care Appointments

Lyft teams up with USC to give low-income seniors rides to the doctor, By Christina Farr, September 22, 2017, CNBC: “Lyft and the University of Southern California are getting $1 million from insurance giant UnitedHealth to help seniors more easily access the transportation they need. As part of the grant, USC’s researchers will study whether taking rides can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation in seniors and improve their health by helping them get to medical appointments on time…”

State Medicaid Programs – New Mexico, Colorado

Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2016

  • How health-care reform affected America, in 51 graphs, By Philip Bump, September 14, 2017, Washington Post: “Last year, 8.6 percent of Americans lacked health insurance. Three years earlier, that figure was 14.5 percent, meaning that the rate dropped by 5.9 percentage points over the period that the Affordable Care Act went into effect, a 40 percent decline from the 2013 figure. In real terms, that’s about 19 million fewer people lacking health insurance, per estimates released Tuesday by the Census Bureau…”
  • States with the highest and lowest uninsured rates, By Mattie Quinn, September 13, 2017, Governing: “As discussions about the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continue on Capitol Hill, at least one thing is certain: The law has led to a record number of people having health insurance. According to data released this week from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 8.8 percent of Americans were uninsured in 2016. That’s down from 13.3 percent in 2013, the year before much of the ACA took effect. Since then, every single state has seen their uninsured rate drop…”
  • Obamacare keeps shrinking the ranks of N.J.’s uninsured, Census data shows, By Disha Raychaudhuri, September 12, 2017, NJ.com: “About 66,000 more people in New Jersey had health insurance in 2016 than the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The latest data shows that the number of uninsured N.J residents has continued to drop, a trend that policy analysts attribute to the success of the Affordable Care Act…”
  • Uninsured rate continues to drop in Indiana under Obamacare, By Maureen Groppe, September 13, 2017, Indianapolis Star: “The number of Hoosiers without health insurance fell 41 percent after the coverage expansion elements of the Affordable Care Act went into effect, according to new federal data. The 8.1 percent of residents who still lacked insurance last year is now lower than the national 8.6 percent rate, the Census Bureau reported. But Indiana still has a higher share of its population uninsured than do its neighboring states, which expanded their Medicaid programs before Indiana did…”
  • Young, low-income Kansans more likely to be uninsured than counterparts in other states, By Jim McLean, September 14, 2017, KCUR: “Low-income Kansans are less likely to have health insurance than their counterparts in other states, according to an analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The uninsured rate among Kansans living below the federal poverty level has been worse than the national rate for many years. But the gap has widened in recent years, mainly because of the state’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, said Robert St. Peter, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Kansas Health Institute…”

Rural Mental Health Center – Iowa

Rural mental health center draws plenty of praise, but it’s faltering for lack of money, By Tony Leys, September 8, 2017, Des Moines Register: “An innovative program that provides mental-health help in a rural area desperate for such services is on the cusp of closure, partly because state officials haven’t arranged a way for it to bill Medicaid. Numerous southern Iowans who’ve used the Oak Place center are stepping forward to explain why they want it to stay open, pushing aside fears about being identified publicly as people who were hamstrung by depression or anxiety — and who sought help…”

Community Paramedic Program

These house calls save money for EMS, social services, By Robert Mittendorf, September 4, 2017, Bellingham Herald: “Bellingham Fire Capt. Jeff Brubaker carries a pager like any other firefighter, and he still uses his paramedic skills to help people. But these days he’s not riding a fire engine or an ambulance and most of his patients haven’t called 911. Not as much as they used to, at least. Brubaker is Bellingham Fire Department’s community paramedic, a relatively new position that puts him in touch with people who are frequent 911 callers but who don’t need emergency care…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • Oregon removes nearly 55,000 people from Medicaid after they failed eligibility checks, By Hillary Borrud, August 31, 2017, The Oregonian: “Oregon has kicked nearly 55,000 people off its Medicaid program, after the state found they no longer qualified or failed to respond to an eligibility check…”
  • How much Health-care freedom should Trump give states?, By Mattie Quinn, September 2017, Governing: “From the onset of the Affordable Care Act, critics protested that it amounted to federal overreach and was too strict on states. That fight has besieged the two political parties for the past decade. Now, much of the federal battle over health care has coalesced around how much freedom states should have in crafting their Medicaid programs…”
  • As health care debate simmers, Mead laments lack of Medicaid expansion in Wyoming, By Seth Klamann, August 27, 2017, Casper Star-Tribune: “Gov. Matt Mead lamented the $100 million that Wyoming left on the table by choosing not to expand Medicaid, and he expressed concern for the state’s hospitals while discussing health care with the Star-Tribune recently…”

Health Insurance Coverage in the US

  • More people remain insured since Obamacare, CDC says. But many pay more out of pocket, By Daniel Chang, August 29, 2017, Miami Herald: “More Americans had health insurance during the first three months of 2017 than before the Affordable Care Act became law in March 2010, according to the National Health Interview Survey released Tuesday — but more have coverage with high out-of-pocket costs, which can discourage patients from visiting the doctor and filling a prescription…”
  • Bipartisan group of governors calls on Congress to shore up elements of Affordable Care Act, By Amy Goldstein, August 31, 2017, Washington Post: “A bipartisan group of governors is trying to jump-start efforts to strengthen private insurance under the Affordable Care Act, urging Congress to take prompt steps to stabilize marketplaces created by law while giving states more freedom from its rules…”

Medicaid Expansion – Nevada

High-stakes health-care debate hits Nevada’s Medicaid program, By Ben Botkin, August 5, 2017, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Marta Jensen, Nevada’s point person on Medicaid, watched on C-SPAN recently as the U.S. Senate debated health care reform. She had four different bills pulled up on her computer. The stakes were high for Nevada. Each of the bills would have repealed at least parts of the Affordable Care Act and affected Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides poor and disabled Americans with medical coverage. More than one-fifth of the state’s residents now receive their health insurance through Medicaid…”

Health Disparities in Appalachia

  • Report: Appalachians’ health ‘dramatically’ poorer than the US as a whole, By Kristi L. Nelson, August 24, 2017, Knoxville News Sentinel: “Heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, drug overdose, diabetes, stroke and suicide – they’re all killing Appalachians at a higher rate than the rest of the country as a whole. On Thursday, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky issued a report, ‘Health Disparities in Appalachia,’ outlining what it called ‘dramatic disparities’ in both health issues and outcomes in the 420-county Appalachian Region, compared to nationwide numbers…”
  • Death comes sooner in Appalachia. It comes much sooner in Eastern Kentucky, By Bill Estep, August 24, 2017, Lexington Herald-Leader: “The years of life Appalachian Kentucky residents lose to health maladies such as heart disease and cancer is 63 percent higher than the national average, according to a report released Thursday. The news was not good in Eastern Kentucky and other parts of Appalachia on just about every indicator of health: heart disease deaths were 17 percent higher in Appalachia than the country as a whole; cancer deaths were 27 percent higher; stroke deaths were 14 percent higher; and the rate of deaths from poisoning, which mostly means from drug overdoses, was 37 percent higher…”

Adverse Childhood Experiences

Baltimore uses trauma research to improve life for poor parents and their children, By Mark Beckford, August 20, 2017, Washington Post: “One day, when she was 14 and feeling ill, Daylesha Brown’s mother took her to a Baltimore hospital and did not return for her. Child Protective Services (CPS) placed her in a group home and she was forced to move to other homes for the next three years. ‘My mother, she pushed me away,’ Brown, now 23, said softly. ‘I was always getting in trouble with my mother.’  So last year when Brown discovered her daughter, Sa-Maji, had lead poisoning, a lingering problem in Baltimore where the rate of poisoning among children is nearly twice the national average, she was wary that she would lose her child to CPS because of her transient lifestyle. She wanted to spare her child the misfortunes she had experienced…”

SCHIP Reauthorization

Deadline looms for Congress to reauthorize insurance program for low-income kids, By Jennifer Brooks, August 22, 2017, Star Tribune: “Time is running short for Congress to fund a program that covers health care for more than 100,000 Minnesota children. When federal lawmakers return to work in September, they will have until the end of the month to hammer out the entire 2018 federal budget, avoid a government shutdown, reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, prevent the National Flood Insurance Program from lapsing and tackle tax reform…”

Home Visiting Programs

Home visits help parents overcome tough histories, raise healthy children, By Anna Gorman, August 21, 2017, National Public Radio: “Seated at a kitchen table in a cramped apartment, Rosendo Gil asks the parents sitting across from him what they should do if their daughter catches a cold. Blas Lopez, 29, and his fiancée, Lluvia Padilla, 28, are quick with the answer: Check her temperature and call the doctor if she has a fever they can’t control…”

Infant Mortality

Cities enlist ‘doulas’ to reduce infant mortality, By Michael Ollove, August 17, 2017, Stateline: “This city has opened a new front in its effort to give black newborns the same chance of surviving infancy as white babies: training ‘doulas’ to assist expectant mothers during pregnancy, delivery and afterward. The doula initiative is the latest salvo in the Baltimore City Health Department’s 7-year-old program to combat high infant mortality rates among black newborns…”

State Medicaid Programs

  • In Florida, Medicaid is a matter of life and death, By Noreen Marcus, August 14, 2017, U.S. News & World Report: “The first thing Kristina Iavarone wants to buy when her son gets Medicaid is an asthma inhaler. He and his sibling lost their health insurance six months ago due to family finances. ‘They’ve been off health care for six months and six months is long enough,’ says Iavarone, a waitress in Tampa. Fortunately her son, 16, hasn’t had to go to the emergency room.  Since the teenaged Iavarones should be able to qualify for Florida KidCare, the state’s main Medicaid program for residents under 19, they shouldn’t have to wait much longer…”
  • Climbing cost of decades-old drugs threatens to break Medicaid bank, By Sydney Lupkin, August 14, 2017, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Skyrocketing price tags for new drugs to treat rare diseases have stoked outrage nationwide. But hundreds of old, commonly used drugs cost the Medicaid program billions of extra dollars in 2016 vs. 2015, a Kaiser Health News data analysis shows. Eighty of the drugs — some generic and some still carrying brand names — proved more than two decades old…”
  • With changes approved, Nebraska will continue Medicaid program that pays premiums for some, By Martha Stoddard, August 15, 2017, Omaha World-Herald: “Federal officials have approved changes that will allow Nebraska to continue a program in which Medicaid helps pay private health insurance premiums for some people…”
  • New life for Medicaid after GOP’s health care debacle, By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar (AP), August 14, 2017, Washington Post: “It may not equal Social Security and Medicare as a ‘third rail’ program that politicians touch at their own risk, yet Medicaid seems to have gotten stronger after the Republican failure to pass health care legislation…”

Opioid Epidemic

New numbers reveal huge disparities in opioid prescribing, By Christine Vestal, August 14, 2017, Stateline: “For most of the last decade, this once thriving city had the highest unemployment rate in Virginia. Its disability and poverty rates are consistently double the state average, and its population is aging. In July, the former textile and furniture manufacturing mecca earned another dubious distinction. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, its drugstores dispense the highest volume of opioid painkillers per capita in the nation…”

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs

Programs that fight teenage pregnancy are at risk of being cut, By Pam Belluck, August 10, 2017, New York Times: “At age 14, Latavia Burton knows something about teenage pregnancy. Her mother gave birth to her at 18 and couldn’t attend college because of it. And Latavia’s former best friend became pregnant at 16.  So a pregnancy prevention program in eighth grade and another in her neighborhood this summer hit home…”

Disability Financial Assistance – Ohio

Ohio budget bill ended cash assistance program for people with disabilities, By Jackie Borchardt, August 7, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers last month quietly eliminated a state safety net program that provided cash benefits to about 6,000 disabled Ohioans with little or no income.  The state stopped accepting new applications for the Disability Financial Assistance program July 1 — a change buried in the 3,300-page state budget bill…”

State Medicaid Programs – Texas, Maine

  • How Medicaid expansion could help Texas mothers, By Behrouz Zand, August 3, 2017, Houston Chronicle: “Texas has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. Between 2010 and 2012, the rate doubled. And the rate in Texas between 2012 and 2014 remained high, with approximately 35 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Texas’ rates are about seven times greater than in Canada and European countries. As a result, the Texas Legislature established the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force in 2013. This 15-member task force of mostly physicians and healthcare experts set out to find out why pregnancy-related deaths have skyrocketed and what can be done to decrease them…”
  • Maine moves ahead with plan to charge Medicaid recipients, make them work, By Patty Wight, August 3, 2017, Bangor Daily News: “People who receive MaineCare — the state’s version of Medicaid — may soon have to work and pay monthly premiums in order to get benefits. Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services officially filed an application this week to the federal government to make those changes. Critics say Maine’s plan would erect barriers to health care that will drive up costs for everyone…”

Medicaid Coverage

  • States that expanded Medicaid saw drop in medical debt, U study finds, By Christopher Snowbeck, July 24, 2017, Star Tribune: “The federal health law’s Medicaid expansion delivered a degree of economic stability to low-income Americans in states that adopted the program, according to a new report from University of Minnesota researchers. Low-income residents in states like Minnesota that expanded eligibility for Medicaid coverage saw a bigger decline in unpaid medical bills between 2012 and 2015 than people living in states that didn’t expand coverage, according to the study published in a blog by the journal Health Affairs…”
  • How crisis pregnancy center clients rely on Medicaid, By Sarah McCammon, July 24, 2017, National Public Radio: “When Taylor Merendo moved to Bloomington, Ind., nearly two years ago, fleeing an abusive marriage, she needed help. ‘I was six months pregnant and at that point in time, I really didn’t have a stable place to live,’ Merendo says. That’s where the Hannah Center in Bloomington stepped in. It’s what’s known as a crisis pregnancy center, where women are counseled against abortion and often get support after their babies are born…”
  • Alabama officials abandon Medicaid reform plan, By Amy Yurkanin, July 27, 2017, al.com: “State officials have abandoned a plan to transform Medicaid in Alabama from a fee-for-service model into managed care system led by local healthcare organizations due to uncertainty about funding and high start-up costs…”

Safety Net Clinics – Minnesota

Safety net clinics in Minnesota face loss of federal funds, By Glenn Howatt, July 27, 2017, Star Tribune: “While the U.S. Congress continues to debate the future of Obamacare and Medicaid, Minnesota’s safety net clinics worry that they will lose $27 million in federal aid that helps pay for health care of the uninsured. Unless Congress acts by October to renew the funding, Minnesota’s 17 safety net providers would have to cut services and possibly close some of the more than 70 clinics across the state…”