Less than a year after low-income Arkansans started receiving health coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s controversial Medicaid expansion, the state is declaring its so-called “private option” experiment a success.
Hospitals saw fewer uninsured patients, state coffers were spared millions in health care costs and private insurers reported record-low premium hikes.
Most important, Arkansas’ uninsured rate fell from 23 percent to 12 percent, the sharpest drop in the country.
Arkansas calls its ‘private option’ Medicaid plan a success, and early estimates indicate next year’s insurance rates in the state will be an average of 2 percent lower than this year.
But lawmakers in Arkansas, where Gov. Mike Beebe is a Democrat and the legislature is controlled by Republicans, have already asked the federal government for adjustments to their groundbreaking plan, under which Arkansans used Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance on the insurance exchange created under the ACA.
Meanwhile, other states are customizing their own alternative approaches to expanding Medicaid to cover adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,105 for an individual).Continue reading →
Flu shots are recommended for just about everyone over six months of age, but less than half of people get vaccinated each year.
A new HuffPost/YouGov poll of 1,000 adults found that the flu is perceived as only slightly more threatening than the Ebola virus, however.
Forty-five percent of people polled said that the flu posed a bigger threat to Americans than Ebola, but a substantial 40 percent said it was the other way around. Fifteen percent said they weren’t sure.
“Ebola is new, mysterious, exotic, highly fatal and strange, and people don’t have a sense of control over it,” says William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University.
Influenza, on the other hand, is a familiar illness that people often think they can easily control, Schaffner says. “They think, ‘I could get vaccinated, I could wash my hands’ and prevent it.”
Yet that familiarity may lead to complacency. Flu shots are recommended for just about everyone over six months of age, but less than half of people get vaccinated each year.
Now there’s even more reason to get a shot. The health law requires most health plans to cover a range of preventive benefits at no cost to consumers, including recommended vaccines. The flu shot is one of them. (The only exception is for plans that have been grandfathered under the law.)
The provision making the vaccine available with no out-of-pocket expense is limited to services delivered by a health care provider that is part of the insurer’s network.
Depending on the plan, that could include doctors’ offices, pharmacies or other outlets.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
Two doctor visits a year linked to better blood pressure control | Reuters – “People who went to their doctor’s office at least twice a year were more likely to keep their blood pressure under control compared to those who went once a year or not at all, says a new study. Having health insurance and following treatment for high cholesterol were also linked to better blood pressure control.”
U.S. security agency ill-prepared to deal with pandemic: audit | Reuters – “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which protects sites ranging from land borders and airports to the White House, may not be able to maintain operations in a pandemic due to inadequate supplies of protective gear and drugs for its staff, according to a government report on Thursday.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which supports the supported Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has launched a new mobile-friendly website, shoptobaccofree.org, that will allow shoppers to take their business to retailers that don’t sell tobacco products.
Plug in your ZIP code, city or state, and you’ll get a handy interactive map showing where to find tobacco-free shops and stores in your area.
Microsoft billionaire and philanthropist Paul G. Allen today increased his commitment to efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to at least $100 million and called on the global community to join the cause.
“The Ebola virus is unlike any health crisis we have ever experienced and needs a response unlike anything we have ever seen,” Allen said. “To effectively contain this outbreak and prevent it from becoming a global epidemic, we must pool our efforts to raise the funds, coordinate the resources and develop the creative solutions needed to combat this problem. I am committed to doing my part in tackling this crisis.”
To help individuals contribute to the effort, Allen has created crowd-sourcing website — TackleEbola.com.
The donation platform is designed to coordinate and optimize individual global giving, Allen said
Donations of all sizes will go to funding the solutions required to treat, contain and prevent the spread of Ebola.
Donors will be able to select the need that they are most interested in funding and 100 percent of that contribution will be applied to that need.
The site also offers a way for donors to view the impact of their combined contributions with updates on progress towards goals.
Nearly half of Americans age 65 and older, totaling about 18 million people, require help with routine daily activities like bathing, handling medications or meals.
A new study in Milbank Quarterly reveals a growing need for improved services and support for older Americans, their spouses, their children and other “informal caregivers.”
While 51 percent of older Americans in the study reported no difficulty with routine tasks, “29 percent reported receiving help with taking care of themselves or getting around in the previous month,” said co-author Vicki A. Freedman, Ph.D., a research professor with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
“Another 20 percent reported that they had difficulty carrying out these activities on their own,” she said.
Nearly half of Americans age 65 and older require help with routine daily activities such as bathing, meals or taking medications.
Substantial numbers of older adults living outside of nursing homes experience adverse consequences from unmet care needs.
There is a growing need for improved community-based services and support for older Americans and their caregivers.
IN THE battle against Ebola, mobile phones could be invaluable—not just in themselves, as devices that can be used to send people public-health information or let them call helplines, but also because of the data they generate.
In the U.S., one in five children struggles with a learning and/or attention issue. That’s 15 million kids ages 3–20, and many of their issues go undiagnosed.
The adults in their lives often have a hard time understanding their issues due to misconceptions and a lack of information and resources.
As a result, these children often face both academic and social challenges.
However, with the right strategies and support, they can succeed in the classroom—and outside of it, too.
This campaign stems from the idea that parents can sense when their children are struggling but may not know why. Or what to do.
By demonstrating the realities that children with learning and attention issues face daily, the campaign aims to increase the number of parents who are actively helping and seeking help for their kids.
Parents are encouraged to visit Understood.org, a comprehensive free online resource that empowers parents through personalized support, daily access to experts and specially designed tools to help the millions of children with learning and attention issues go from simply coping to truly thriving.
All interested clinicians are invited to participate in the initiative.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell today announced an initiative that will fund successful applicants who work directly with medical providers to rethink and redesign their practices, moving from systems driven by quantity of care to ones focused on patients’ health outcomes, and coordinated health care systems.
These applicants could include group practices, health care systems, medical provider associations and others.
This effort will help clinicians develop strategies to share, adapt and further improve the quality of care they provide, while holding down costs.
Strategies could include:
Giving doctors better access to patient information, such as information on prescription drug use to help patients take their medications properly;
Expanding the number of ways patients are able communicate with the team of clinicians taking care of them;
Banned Supplements Still on the Market – “Many dietary supplements recalled by the FDA for containing banned ingredients find their way back on the shelves, still adulterated, researchers found. “
Camel Cigarette Maker Bans Smoking In Offices – “Camel cigarette maker Reynolds American Inc has banned smoking from its offices and buildings. The company has informed its employees that the use of traditional cigarettes, cigars or pipes will no longer be allowed at desks or offices, conference rooms, hallways and elevators. The ban enters into force next year, once the company builds smoking areas for those still wanting to light up indoors.”
Hospital patients rarely wash their hands, may spread disease | Reuters – “Although healthcare workers are urged to wash their hands often and hand sanitizer dispensers are everywhere in hospitals, patients are less scrupulous and may be contributing to the spread of hospital-acquired infections, say Canadian researchers. After tracking hundreds of patients in a transplant ward for nearly a year, the study team found that hand washing followed less than a third of bathroom visits, and washing or hand-sanitizer use happened only rarely after patients entered or left a room.”