Articles Posted in Accessibility of Healthcare

trumphealtheo-300x205President Trump has made good on his promise to try to blow up the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. His latest, twin executive actions seek to gut the national health insurance program that Republicans have reviled but could not unwind with seven years of congressional action.

If the American health care system was rocky before, and if it breaks, Trump and the GOP now own it, analysts insist. That’s because the president, effectively, has officially given the nation Trumpcare, though it, too, has an uncertain path ahead.

Although partisans had vowed that their ACA repeal and replacement would result in better, more affordable, and more accessible health coverage for Americans, Trumpcare goes nowhere close to any of those goals, experts say.

LV100117-300x215Caregivers and the community in Las Vegas, Nev., deserve a salute for their response to the gun violence last week, which could have overwhelmed a less-prepared community’s medical system.

Las Vegas  isn’t a giant metropolis (pop. 2 million in its metro area), and, due to the high costs to operate such a facility, it has just one Level 1 trauma center. That’s a facility staffed and equipped to provide a “gold standard” of emergency care. In the state of Nevada, the only such center is at the 541-bed University Medical Center of Southern Nevada.

It was slammed with more than 100 critical patients, many with life-threatening or fatal gunshot wounds.  A torrent of patients also was routed to the hospital, some for treatment of injuries they suffered while fleeing Stephen Paddock’s rampage. First-responders soon were flooding another facility, Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas—a Level II trauma facility—with hundreds more.

Donald_Trump-1-225x300Even as President Trump belittles Puerto Rican political leaders, the Americans on the island have been swamped by a hurricane-caused health care crisis, according to doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes there.

The disturbing news reports show that sick and injured patients, with gas supplies limited, are struggling to navigate tree-blocked roads to get to hospitals that often lack power for cooling and to provide medical services. Doctors are reporting shortages of drugs and medical supplies.

Public health experts increasingly fear that health conditions will worsen, even as more rescue and recovery aid slowly trickles to a spot that long has wrestled with poverty and the isolation of many of its rural communities.

Tom_Price_official_Transition_portrait-240x300Tom Price, the orthopedist and  foe of the Affordable Care Act, may have been jettisoned from his job as Health and Human Services secretary,  but his agency’s effort to sabotage Obamacare smolders on.

Politico, the  online site, deserves a taxpayers’ salute for its dogged pursuit of Price’s self-entitled obsession with feeding at the public trough, traveling to swanky resorts in Aspen, Colo., Maine, and Georgia on the priciest public dime possible—private charter jet flights that cost thousands of dollars a pop. He purportedly did so in the people’s interest, with his agency initially claiming he was jetting off to combat the opioid drug abuse epidemic or woes connected with the recent, catastrophic hurricanes.

But over a few weeks his fabrications unraveled. Politico caught the secretary—who knew the media were scrutinizing his profligacy—jetting to Philadelphia, rather than taking a fast, cheap, and easy train. Price claimed he needed to attend a parley of health care swells in Georgia but also made tracks to a coastal resort area where he owns property. He publicly defended his travel by saying it helped him avert missed, key duties as HHS chief, only to have Politico debunk that tale by discovering Price became angry and started flying private jets because a storm-canceled commercial flight caused him to miss a stay at a session of health care execs at a luxe Ritz Carlton on the Southern California coast.

ravensLet’s give a hurrah for Maryland health officials — they threw a red flag at a high-tech startup that planned with the Baltimore Ravens football team to serve up a mass genetic screening test at a recent game. The blunt reality is this would have been genetic malarkey.

This incident should serve as a reminder, caveat emptor, to consumers, even in settings of good cheer. It should offer a caution to those who stage big public events, like sports leagues, that health matters and highly personal and confidential medical information isn’t handled well at spectacles.

Shall we also offer a Bronx cheer for Orig3N, a Boston company that offers direct-to-consumer “genetic testing,” and talks on its web site about everything from organ donation to regenerative and personalized medicine as well as its commitment to public service? The company, a new Ravens sponsor, planned a recent promotional Sunday when it would offer its mouth swab tests to 55,000 fans flocking to the contest against the Cleveland Browns.

mwhc-front-entrance-300x174MedStar Washington Hospital Center, described by its chief medical officer as “the most important hospital in the most important city in the most important country in the world,” is under investigation by regulators in the District of Columbia due to maintenance failures that allowed sewage to seep down walls and onto operating room floors.

USA Today deserves credit for reporting on problems  in the 900-plus-bed hospital, which serves many of the District’s poor as well as providing trauma care sufficiently vital that it is supposed to be the go-to place of emergency treatment for top officials.

Its elite patients have included House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was taken to MedStar Washington after a deranged gunman wounded him while shooting up a Congressional baseball practice. USA Today says a room where Scalise was treated, later, after he was out of it, was among those affected by maintenance and sanitation woes.

kaiser-drugs-300x225Big Pharma and medical device makers have mastered the art of crying “Poor me!” complaining without end about the time and costs of getting products to the market and the need for regulators to lighten up. New information, however, undercuts this industry whine—and it reminds that the nation’s watchdogs need, if anything, to be tougher and more vigilant.

Let’s start with new research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, that calls into question Big Pharma’s long-espoused position that its whopping prices (which the public wants official action on—see graphic) are warranted because a new drug costs upward of $3 billion to research and develop. But based on a scrutiny of public information about expenses to develop 10 new cancer drugs—among the most costly to get to market—researchers found drug makers’ R&D costs were far less — closer to $650 million.

Although independent experts praised the new study, drug makers challenged the cheaper R&D estimates, with backing from Tufts researchers’ who had set the earlier, pricier benchmark. It’s difficult to make apples and oranges comparisons. That’s because Big Pharma wants any tally of its drug development expenses to include its costly failures.

lindsey-300x200
As the 40th President of the United States used to mutter, well, there they go again.

The Republicans in the 115th Congress apparently will make another go at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, what may be their 70-something such try. It may come in the form of legislation advanced by GOP Senators Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

The so-called Graham-Cassidy bill, which analysts say would slash tens of millions of Americans from health coverage, cut tens of billions of dollars in federal aid for health care, and convert the ACA into state-controlled block grant funding, must overcome major obstacles to advance.

hookworms-300x201It can be too easy to forget the unfortunate, inequitable legacy of the Old South, especially how racist Dixie created stark racial health disparities. But sometimes a foreigner’s jab in the ribs can remind us how making America great again could mean tending much better to our collective p’s and q’s in public health, especially so poor, rural people of color don’t get tropical parasite infections and they do get reasonable access to critical maternal care.

The Guardian, a British news outlet, has pointed out that new, published research shows a disgusting resurgence in Americans, notably in Alabama, testing positive for hookworms, a debilitating “gastrointestinal parasite that was thought to have been eradicated from the U.S. decades ago.”

As the Guardian reports:

vision1-300x200With youngsters now back to school, it’s worth noting how attention to seemingly small matters can make big differences in children’s health, well-being and academic achievement.

Kudos to Politico, the much-followed national political news web site, for following up on an excellent Baltimore initiative to test and improve school kids’ vision, including providing them with glasses if they need them. The idea here is simple and worth support: How can kids read, study, and excel if they don’t see well? Don’t they need help with glasses, which aren’t cheap and as accessible as they could be, especially for poorer youngsters?

That’s what led to the establishment of Vision for Baltimore—a public-private coalition that includes the city health department and public schools, Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Education, eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, and a national nonprofit called Vision To Learn. As Politico has reported, the group has set up a program with:

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