According to a new Altarum survey, 81 percent of residents say they are “worried” or “very worried” about being able to afford some aspect of healthcare in the future, such as prescription drug costs and health insurance. WTTW reports that Illinois residents have continuously reported concern about rising healthcare costs, and how they will pay for them in the future.
Legislation aimed at ending surprise bills for emergency hospital visits in Georgia under certain insurance plans passed unanimously out of the Georgia Senate. According to Marietta Daily Journal, Senate Bill 359 would prohibit hospitals from handing patients unexpectedly large bills for emergency procedures done by specialists who are outside that hospital’s coverage network.
The Florida Agency for Health Care, armed with 31 percent of Florida’s total state budget, is exploring new strategies to address resident and other stakeholder concerns. For one, the state wants to focus on shifting spending upstream (towards early intervention and prevention instead of the ED) due to worry about inconsistent health outcomes. Though the state has already launched a health price finder, the agency is looking do reduce utilization of low value services, according to the Sun Sentinel. Other strategies target issues related to nursing home care, mental health, provider competition. These priorities were developed through provider and health expert convenings throughout the state.
The New York State Department of Health announced that 150,000 New Yorkers enrolled in healthcare through the state’s Marketplace in 2019, bringing the total enrollment to almost 5 million, according to News10. The Department of Health explains that the numbers are consistent with the state’s historically lowest uninsured rate of 4.7%. A more detailed report, including county data, for 2020 Marketplace enrollment is underway at the Department.
The Minnesota Attorney General unveiled a task force report that makes 14 recommendations for lowering prescription drug prices, ranging from new legislation to stronger enforcement, according to the Crookston Times. The 14 recommendations mentioned in the report fall into three broad categories: to make the markets work better for consumers; to use the government’s purchasing power to make drugs more affordable and accessible; and to require more transparency and accountability in the market.
An Alabama woman and her husband were sued by Flowers Hospital for the entire amount of her bill for an emergency appendectomy, plus interest, even after they paid what they could monthly for three years, reports CBS News. The couple are small business owners and could no longer afford health insurance in 2015, when she had her emergency surgery. Had the couple had insurance, the original $31,000 bill would have been significantly lower; Medicare would have been charged by a hospital, on average, around $5,800.
A children’s health education museum in St. Louis has created an on-line community guide to over 100 health services in an effort to help Missouri residents find free or low cost care, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. Users can search by type of service needed (such as prescription assistance, vision or emotional health) or can search by location within several state regions and counties. “While a visit to the museum can help motivate children and adults to strive for healthier lives, we recognize there are a number of families throughout Missouri who struggle to afford medical care and other health services,” said Shannon Laine, museum CEO. “By creating the community guide, we aim to help those in need by offering a one-stop resource for those looking to access healthcare organizations, programs and resources at a discounted rate.”
One in four direct caregiver positions at Wisconsin’s nursing homes and assisted-living facilities are vacant, up from one in five two years ago, reports the Wisconsin State Journal. A 2020 survey revealed that as many as 20,655 jobs are open at long-term care facilities, compared to 16,500 in 2018. Citing these alarming statistics, experts have called for expanding a state program aimed at increasing the number of nurse aides and reducing required training for certified nursing assistants from 120 hours to 75 hours.
A recent Commonwealth Fund case study reported on New Mexico’s community health workers (CHWs) who link vulnerable residents to organizations that address the need for stable housing, legal assistance and job training. The practice of embedding CHWs into medical settings in New Mexico began in earnest more than a decade ago with a pilot between University of New Mexico Hospital and a Medicaid managed care organization. The CHWs provided both navigation and social supports — connecting members to medical homes, making home visits and encouraging adherence to treatment recommendations. A study found these efforts reduced emergency department visits and hospital admissions as well as use of prescription drugs (including narcotics) and produced a fourfold return for the health plan that sponsored it.
Legislation increasing access to, and the affordability of, health insurance for New Mexico families passed both the state House and Senate, reports the Los Alamos Daily Post. The bill codifies Affordable Care Act requirements for state-based health insurance exchanges and authorizes BeWellNM to continue moving toward becoming a fully state-based exchange.