Arkansas has the high rate of food insecurity, with 16.6 percent of residents experiencing food
insecurity between 2020 to 2022, reports KARK. The Arkansas rate marked the biggest jump in
food insecurity for all states against the previous measure, a 2.8 percent increase from the rate
during the period from 2017 to 2019.
Columbus city leaders announced $335 million in medical debt forgiveness for residents, reports
The Columbus Dispatch. The City Council partnered with the Central Ohio Hospital Council to
provide debt relief for Columbus residents who were treated at any and all of the four area
hospital systems that make up the council from 2015 through 2020. Patients earning between
200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for relief. The council estimates
340,660 Columbus residents will receive debt forgiveness, with an average of $984 in debt
relieved per patient.
A survey has found that Texas respondents are concerned about consolidation in the health
care industry, reports D Magazine. The survey from Texas 2036 found that 30 percent of
respondents were concerned about health care prices and 87 percent are concerned about
health care consolidation. In addition, more than half supported greater antitrust enforcement by
the government to address consolidation, and more than half wanted prohibitions on hospitals
and insurance companies from owning physician groups and pharmacies.
A recent AARP survey in Wyoming found that affordable health care close to home was
a top priority for respondents, reports Wyoming News Now. Eighty-nine percent of those
surveyed reported that it is extremely or very important to be able to afford health care
expenses, including premiums and copays. Additionally, 88 percent of respondents felt
it was extremely or very important to afford adequate health insurance coverage.
New Mexico’s superintendent of insurance issued an order requiring state-regulated commercial
health insurers to expand access to behavioral health services, reports Rio Rancho Observer.
Insurers are now required to cover out-of-network behavioral health services at in-network rates,
including services from primary care physicians, specialist visits, and inpatient hospital stays.
Connecticut residents, regardless of immigration status, now have access to a state-run
prescription drug discount card, reports NHPR. Beginning October 2, 2023, residents can sign
up for a free ArrayRx discount card that can be used at about 98 percent of pharmacies in the
state. All FDA-approved drugs are eligible for a discount, and it is estimated that the discount
card will decrease the costs of generic medications by upwards of 80 percent.
The Health Policy Commission (HPC) published annual health care cost trends reports,
showcasing a wide range of data points that reveal significant strain on patients and employers,
reports WWLP 22 News. The report found health care costs growing faster than wages and that
the pace of spending growth is faster in Massachusetts than the national average. The HPC
recommended greater regulatory scrutiny of pharmaceutical companies, producing affordability
and equity targets, and strengthening its enforcement mechanisms.
The Oregon Health Authority found the state spent $31 billion on health care in 2021, a 40
percent increase from 2013, reports the Oregon Capital Chronicle. On average, households
spend 22 percent of their budget on premiums, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter items—
nearly $8,000 per year per person. Costs rose 3.5 percent between 2020 and 2021, close to the
3.4 percent cost growth benchmark limit. The report found that rising costs have
disproportionately affected communities earning the least.
Mississippi passed a law exempting hospital acquisitions and mergers from state antitrust laws,
reports the Missouri Independent. Senate Bill 2323 classifies community hospitals as
government entities, which are immune from antitrust enforcement, in an attempt to prevent
rural hospitals from closing by allowing larger hospital systems more flexibility to merge with or
acquire rural hospitals and keep them open. Notably, national studies have found that increased
hospital consolidation can increase costs for patients.
In an effort to prevent medical debt and improve transparency, Texas hospitals are now
required to provide itemized bills to patients, reports Becker's Hospital Review. Beginning
September 1, 2023, hospitals must give patients an itemized bill, including plain language
descriptions of each charge and the payment amount, before sending them to collections.