Premiums and deductibles in 2018 were 10 percent or more of the median income for workers in 42 states, including Ohio, according to a Commonwealth Fund report. In Ohio, the average premium contribution and deductible made up 11.1 percent of median household income, compared with 6.9 percent in 2008. Rising deductibles could make employees more likely to delay or skip care or, to not take prescription medications, an analysis from the Health Policy Institute of Ohio stated.
In 2018, Texas had about 54 primary care physicians per 100,000 people—one of the lowest ratios in the country, far below the national ratio of 76 per 100,000. More than a quarter of Texans live in an underserved county, according to the Texas Observer. As a result, Texans often have to travel for hours to get care, which ultimately leads to poorer outcomes and higher mortality.
A recent report from the University of Colorado Denver revealed that there are 71 census tracts in Colorado where a high rate of housing insecurity and mental health needs overlap, according to The Colorado Independent. The interactive map included in the report will be used by officials and lawmakers to more efficiently target services and funding. These preliminary findings support a 2019 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that found households that struggle with greater housing cost burdens also see poorer health outcomes. Experts hope this map will allow policymakers to locate the best areas to provide additional support to produce better outcomes.
Sutter Health and a group of physicians will pay the federal government $46 million to settle allegations that they violated the Stark law by billing Medicare for services provided by professionals with whom the entities had improper financial relationships, reports Modern Healthcare. This is the second federal settlement by Sutter this year – In April, Sutter and several of its affiliated medical foundations agreed to pay $30 million to resolve allegations that the foundations submitted inaccurate information about the health status of Medicare Advantage enrollees, resulting in plans and providers being overpaid.
The Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program did not improve patient safety in Michigan beyond existing trends, according to an independent evaluation published in Health Affairs. While rates of all hospital-acquired conditions declined from 133 per 1,000 discharges in the pre-program period to 122 in the post-program period, greater improvements were observed for non-targeted measures.
Maryland legislators announced that the Health Education and Advocacy Unit within the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General closed 1,974 cases in Fiscal Year 2019 and assisted consumers in saving or recovering almost $2.5 million. The Annual Report on the Health Insurance Carrier Appeals and Grievances Process estimates that when consumers seek assistance from the Health Education and Advocacy Unit, carrier denials are overturned or modified over 50 percent of the time.
Connecticut’s state comptroller and Office of Health Strategy are developing a “healthcare affordability standard” to calculate how much money individuals and families in the state must earn in order to afford healthcare without compromising other basic needs, like food and housing, reports Hartford Business. According to officials, understanding the threshold at which healthcare becomes unaffordable is vital to creating sound policies. The tool is anticipated to launch in Spring of 2020.
Florida likely suffered the second-highest total of deaths attributed to not expanding Medicaid —2,776 between 2014 and 2017— trailing only Texas, which has an estimated 2,920 deaths, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. A bill to expand Medicaid with work requirements is making its way through the legislature, but advocates fear its chances are slim, an analysis from the Miami Herald states. Legislators in the state have already shortened the time period Medicaid can retroactively pay for hospital bills and criticized the costs of Medicaid for people with disabilities.
The Delaware Division of Public Health announced updates to its My Healthy Community data portal, which delivers neighborhood-focused population health, environmental and social determinant of health data to state residents. Data indicators in areas like community safety, maternal and child health, healthy lifestyles and health services utilization help users understand and explore the factors that influence community health. Additionally, the data collected aids Delaware's efforts to bring transparency to healthcare spending and to set targets for improving the health of Delawareans.
As the need for mental health treatment in Missouri grows, patient advocates say the state’s refusal to enforce mental health parity may worsen barriers to access, according to KCUR. Missouri remains one of the last holdouts in the battle against the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which requires insurers to cover mental healthcare no differently than treatment for physical conditions. The federal government intended for states to enforce the law, passed in 2008, but Missouri officials insist they lack the authority. Every other state, except for Oklahoma, actively upholds the law.