Author Archives: LocalHealthGuide

Minimum wage a health issue? States take a broader view of health disparities.

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Minnesota_population_map_croppedBy Michael Ollove
Stateline

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.— For years, proposals to raise the minimum wage in Minnesota bogged down over economic concerns: Would a raise impel businesses to leave the state? Would it decrease employment? Would it touch off inflation?

The supporters’ main argument, that raising the minimum wage would put more money into the pockets of low-wage workers and their families, fell short.

This year, proponents seized on a new strategy: They convinced the legislature to ask the Minnesota Department of Health to analyze the health impact of the state’s minimum wage of $6.15 an hour, which is among the lowest in the country.

The department’s subsequent analysis revealed that health and income levels were inextricably linked. Whether it was rates of adequate prenatal care, infant mortality, diabetes, suicide risk, or lack of insurance, the results for poorer Minnesotans were vastly inferior to residents with higher incomes.

In fact, Minnesotans living in the highest income areas of the Twin Cities region lived eight years longer than those living in the poorest.

The report virtually ended the debate. The legislature voted to phase in an increase in the minimum wage to $9.50—one of the highest in the country—with automatic subsequent increases indexed to the rate of inflation. Continue reading

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Fred Hutch recruits D. Gary Gilliland as its new president and director

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1416499943573Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center announced today that it has named an expert in cancer genetics and precision medicine. D. Gary Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D., a physician-scientist with a background in academic medicine and the pharmaceutical industry, as its new president and director. Gilliland will take the helm as Fred Hutch’s new leader on Jan. 2.

via Fred Hutch recruits D. Gary Gilliland as its new president and director.

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Graco recalls nearly 5 million strollers after fingertip amputations – Chicago Tribune

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Graco recalled nearly 5 million strollers Thursday after 11 reports of finger injuries, including six fingertip amputations.

The company recalled 11 models of Graco and Century branded strollers and travel systems with model names Aspen, Breeze, Capri, Cirrus, Glider, Kite, LiteRider, Sierra, Solara, Sterling and TravelMate. The strollers were made from August 2000 to Sept. 25, 2014.

via Graco recalls nearly 5 million strollers after fingertip amputations – Chicago Tribune.

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Boeing’s new accountable care health plans with UW Medicine and Providence-Swedish take off – Puget Sound Business Journal

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boeing-logoThe accountable care plans aim to lower costs for both employees and the company by incentivizing employee wellness and creating a more coordinated system to provide health care. By creating contracts directly between the employer and the health systems, the goal of these new systems is to reduce costs and confusion that often come from dealing with third parties while also improving care.

via Boeing’s new health plans with UW Medicine and Providence-Swedish take off – Puget Sound Business Journal.

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11-country survey finds U.S. seniors sicker, have the most trouble paying medical bills

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A survey of older people in 11 countries finds that U.S. adults are sicker than their counterparts abroad, as well as the most likely to have problems paying their medical bills and getting needed healthcare. U.S. adults also reported difficulty getting care in a timely fashion and using emergency departments for issues that a primary care physician could treat. Among the bright spots for the United States: having a care plan for chronic illness, and planning for end-­of-­life care.Medicare_Cost_Protection_v3_872px

via International Survey of Older Adults Finds Shortcomings in Access, Coordination, and Patient-Centered Care – The Commonwealth Fund.

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Small business plans now available on the SHOP marketplace

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Small business owners: SHOP coverage is now available online at HealthCare.gov.

Start your SHOP application 

Need help? You can contact a SHOP-registered agent or broker in your area or call 1-800-706-7893 (TTY: 711), Monday – Friday 9am – 7pm ET.

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Eight Washington hospitals identified for Ebola care

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ebolaAlthough all hospitals in the state are making plans to rapidly identify, isolate and safely evaluate people with suspected Ebola, eight hospitals are preparing to care for a person with Ebola for the duration of the illness.

These are:

  • CHI Franciscan Health (Harrison Medical Center – Bremerton campus),
  • MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital,
  • Providence Regional Medical Center Everett,
  • Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital in Spokane,
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital,
  • Swedish Medical Center (Issaquah),
  • Virginia Mason Hospital, and
  • UW Medicine (Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center, Valley Medical Center)

“The chance of a confirmed case of Ebola in Washington is very low, but in the event it happens we want to be sure we have the capacity to provide ongoing care to a patient,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, state Health Officer. “Patients with Ebola can become critically ill and require intensive care therapy. Care needs to be delivered using strict infection control practices. We are working with each of the committed hospitals to ensure we are coordinated and thorough in our response.” Continue reading

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Naloxone kits for overdoses now available in Snohomish County

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Snohomish CountyNaloxone kits for treating opioid overdoses are now available at a number of pharmacies in Snohomish County.

These kits are available just by asking the pharmacists, there is no need to see a doctor to obtain a prescription.The cost of the kits is around $125.

Pharmacists will provide education to those being given a Naloxone kit on how to use it and when to use it.

In 2013 there were 86 opioid drug overdoses in Snohomish County, and 580 within Washington State.

The availability of naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan) could potentially cut down on deaths due to heroin and prescription opioid drugs (morphine, oxycodone/OxyContin, methadone, hydrocodone/Vicodin, and codeine).  Continue reading

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Obama urges Americans to sign up for health insurance:

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Obama urges Americans to sign up for health insurance:

“From November 15 to February 15, Americans across the country can sign up for a plan at HealthCare.gov and join the 8 million Americans who got covered last year. Need coverage? Go to HealthCare.gov to get started. Already covered? This is where you want to be. Share the facts and meet the faces of health care, then commit to get your friend, family member, or someone you know covered for 2015.”

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Washington Healthplanfinder back up and running

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Coverage is hereWashington Healthplanfinder is back up and running after an opening day glitch caused some visitors to receive incorrect tax credit amounts.

The site was taken offline to address the problem, which is now fixed, Richard Onizuka, CEO for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, said in a statement this morning.

“We have identified fewer than 800 customers who had their eligibility determined incorrectly and less than 150 hundred customers who scheduled payment. We will be contacting each person to provide them with their accurate tax credit amount,” Onizuka said.

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Last-minute sign up tips for health insurance

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ACA health reform logoFrom Washington Healthplanfinder 

Washington Healthplanfinder has some last-minute health insurance shopping tips for you. The exchange enrollment period starts today, Nov. 15, 2014, at 8 a.m.

Help will be available across the state for customers who would like to start the application process this weekend. The open enrollment period runs through Feb. 15, 2015.

To help residents get enrolled, Washington Healthplanfinder developed these helpful tips and guidelines: Continue reading

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Perry-Appointed Board Backs Health Coverage Expansion | The Texas Tribune

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200px-Flag-map_of_TexasThe 15-member Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency recommended that the state’s health commissioner be authorized to negotiate a Texas-specific agreement with the federal government to expand health coverage to the poor, “using available federal funds.”

“We’re trying to look at actions whereby more Texans can be covered,” said board chairman Steve Berkowitz, the president and founder 0f SMB Health Consulting. “We’re trying to take the politics out of it.”

via Perry-Appointed Board Backs Health Coverage Expansion | The Texas Tribune.

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