Articles Posted in Accessibility of Healthcare

brooks-lasure-150x150With millions of Americans now eligible to seek affordable health insurance on Obamacare exchanges newly re-opened to them, even more consumers will want to see if Congress’ impending action on the $1.9 trillion coronavirus pandemic response plan pushed by President Biden further expands coverage options.

The Democrats in Congress have made clear that they hope to get Biden’s financial package passed and in place by mid-March, when earlier approved pandemic plans, notably for unemployment insurance and other economic aid, are set to expire.

Their vote margin is so narrow, however, that they may need to rely on so-called budget reconciliation paths to pass the “American Rescue Plan,” a measure that includes an array of Democratic initiatives, notably those involving their plans to improve the access and affordability of health care, especially with greater coverage of the aged, poor, children, as well as the chronically physically and mentally ill.

corridorhospital-300x200Although politicians have obsessed for a decade about affordable health insurance, frustrated patients have seen little or no relief on another crucial concern — the skyrocketing costs of medical services. What policy paths could best offer dollars-and-cents help to struggling people with health care prices?

New research from the independent, nonpartisan RAND Corporation offers intriguing clues about billions of dollars in annual savings, based on complex modeling of actual options confronting the public and policy makers.

These choices, the experts say, may come to the political fore with new force due to the economic shocks the U.S. health system has been hit with due to the coronavirus pandemic.

airliftwatertexasfreeze-300x227The climate change deniers can holler their heads off. But for all too many people from coast-to-coast, Mother Nature’s fury is tragically clear — as is the importance of not only future thinking but also emergency planning, by individuals and institutions.

This includes knowing common sense steps to safeguard one’s self and loved ones, in unusual circumstance, from misuse and abuse of ordinary products that also may have their own shortcomings, defects, or dangers.

Huge hurrahs, of course, are in order for the overworked, overstressed, and valiant doctors, nurses, and other health workers who — even while battling the over load of the coronavirus pandemic — have kept up medical services in hard hit areas of Texas and elsewhere during a brutal winter storm and its harsh freeze. The nightmarish conditions afflicted not only big hospitals but also those who provide desperately needed at-home care to the vulnerable.

chartjhavax-300x189The national campaign to quash the coronavirus pandemic with what appears to be a highly safe and effective means — new vaccines — has hit more chop as the Biden Administration pushes to increase supplies, sites, and credible public information about the shots.

While the White House has worked with makers to boost the complex production of vaccines  and officials are ferreting out unused stashes, demand still exceeds supplies, and rotten weather in the central part of the country disrupted deliveries of millions of shots, causing coast-to-coast cancellations of appointments for patients hoping to get shots. This snag affected the region around Washington, D.C.

The White House has said the supply chains will be restored, pronto.

cmsjan2021nhomedeaths-300x156The campaign to vaccinate millions of residents and staff in the nation’s thousands of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities against the coronavirus is gaining momentum and showing early, positive effects.

At the same time, however, information is emerging on shabby treatment of the vulnerable, including their exposure to illness exported into their facilities from hospitals, explaining the increasing number of civil lawsuits that owners and operators face.

Good news has been so rare with the pandemic that it may be worth considering first the coast-to-coast drive for long-term care facility vaccinations.

After months of giving chaotic and counter-factual guidance — or none at all — on the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government now under President Biden has weighed in on vital concerns: individuals redoubling their self-protection, notably by wearing better or two face masks, and safely reopening schools for younger kids.

The new counsel from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may rile parts of the public, notably teachers’ unions and those who have fought health restrictions with cavalier and extreme claims that they somehow infringe on their personal rights.

mckinseylogo-300x169The opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis has tarred yet another of the nation’s business titans: McKinsey, a globally renowned consulting firm, has discovered that providing corporate clients sketchy advice about addictive, debilitating, and even lethal prescription medications can have consequences.

The firm, which has apologized for its conduct, has agreed to pay $573.9 million in a settlement with 47 states over consulting work it did for multiple Big Pharma companies, notably with Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the drug OxyContin.

Critics of Purdue, citing media investigations and in civil lawsuits filed by states and local governments, have argued that Purdue pioneered aggressive and deceptive advertising, marketing, and sales practices that fueled the abuse of powerful prescription painkillers and opened the door to overdoses of those drugs, synthetic versions of them, as well as illicit narcotics.

covidkillerfactors-300x130Roughly a tenth of adult Americans (~37 million people) have gotten coronavirus vaccinations, as the Biden Administration pushes to increase vaccine supplies and shot sites, while also boosting disease testing capacity and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.

The battle against Covid-19 may seem still to be a slog, with vaccine demand exceeding supply and frustration high as to why the nation has not made greater progress in quashing the pandemic and returning to normality.

As expected, Republicans in Congress have declined to join the new president and his administration in the Democratic plan to fast track and go big with a pandemic response — especially with a $1.9 trillion relief plan that will follow hard on the heels of a $900 million package that was stalled for months by the GOP but finally approved in December.

autowreck-300x178Congressional investigations may be coming none too soon on revelations about predatory billing by big hospitals and hospital chains against patients for costly care they received after they were hurt in vehicle wrecks.

The New York Times reported that its investigations showed that patients, especially the poor and vulnerable, too often have gotten ripped off on treatments that their health insurance could have covered when they were involved in car crashes. Instead, hospitals and hospital chains seek to maximize profits — and purportedly to protect themselves against financial losses — by making legal claims against wreck victims and their finances.

The claims, permitted under centuries-old practices, are called liens. They are a legal “claim on an asset, such as a home or a settlement payment, to make sure someone repays a debt,” the New York Times reported.

candidacdcauris-300x135Patients long have dreaded the possibility that — when already seriously ill or hurt — they also would be hit with debilitating or deadly hospital- or health care-associated infections, aka HAIs. The most nightmarish of these cases involve bacteria or fungi difficult to subdue, even with powerful treatments.

Now, with care institutions overwhelmed by coronavirus pandemic cases, drug-resistant HAIs are increasing — and in worrisome fashion because they are so difficult on their own for patients, doctors, and hospitals to deal with, the New York Times reported:

“’Seeing the world as a one-pathogen world is really problematic,’ said Dr. Susan S. Huang, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California at Irvine Medical School, noting that the nearly singular focus on the pandemic appears to have led to more spread of drug-resistant infection. ‘We have every reason to believe the problem has gotten worse.’ A few data points reinforce her fears, including isolated outbreaks of various drug-resistant infections in Florida, New Jersey, and California, as well as in India, Italy, Peru, and France. Overall figures have been hard to track because many nursing homes and hospitals simply stopped screening for the germs as resources were diverted to Covid-19. When even modest screening picked up again early in the summer, the results suggested that certain drug-resistant organisms had taken root and spread. Particularly troublesome have been growing case counts of a fungus called Candida auris [shown in CDC photo, above], which authorities had tried to fight before the pandemic with increased screening, isolation of infected patients and better hygiene.”

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