Articles Posted in Accessibility of Healthcare

aidpoor-300x200Cash is king. That truism may hold for thrifty savers and businesses and individuals buffeted by economic uncertainty. But this realistic view also may be turned on its head for poorer, uninsured patients trying to cope with bankrupting medical bills.

That’s because hospitals — a leading driver of health care costs — gouge with their premium prices those who pay with cash, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The newspaper, working with previously secret pricing data that institutions across the country must disclose now, has given consumers yet another eye-popping view of the elasticity of hospital charges and how they punish the poor:

aduhelm-300x250The  Food and Drug Administration has back-tracked on a major part of its  accelerated approval of Aduhelm, a prescription medication targeted at Alzheimer’s patients.

The  FDA green light for the drug also has created such consternation among medical specialists, insurers, policy experts, and politicians — including with news reports of hidden, cozy dealings between a top regulator and the medication’s maker —  that the acting agency chief has asked the independent inspector general to investigate what happened.

The fury over Aduhelm is occurring even as another drug maker is pushing legal action that authorities argue also could saddle taxpayers with other soaring costs for other expensive drugs.

covidvaccinepartisansplitjuly21-300x153The rest of the planet may be seeing what roughly half of Americans cannot: The coronavirus pandemic is far from over and it is savaging humanity in a way that is now sadly preventable.

The disease’s global toll now has exceeded 4 million deaths, a number that is likely far under reported, according to the World Health Organization.

The United States still has tallied a disproportionate number of virus fatalities — more than 600,000 deaths.

jJlogo-300x139boyscouts-261x300juullogo-150x150No matter what the carping critics may claim about the shortcomings of the civil justice system, when Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, and big organizations exploit and harm the vulnerable, lawsuits and what follows may provide a  concrete, productive way for the wronged to see remedy and recompense for injuries inflicted on them.

Recent news articles provide more than a billion bits of evidence why, even in terse summaries of what has occurred in big, complex cases:

  • The Boy Scouts, for example, have agreed to an $850 million settlement to try to resolve thousands of suits seeking to hold the venerable youth organization responsible for failing to police its ranks to remove sexual predators and prevent the sexual abuse of minors. Lawyers connected with the cases say the agreements they have struck may result in one of the highest payouts in U.S. legal history for sexual abuse claims involving children — and it opens the way to further payouts from insurers that will only add to the whopping costs of the Scouts’ decades of ignoring or trying to cover up grownups’ gross and unacceptable misbehavior. The settlement offers a painful reminder of how many colleges and universities, as well as the Catholic Church have been ripped by costly, terrible scandals involving sexual abuse of the young.

billsmedical1-300x200Federal regulators have taken a welcome initial step to bar insurers and health care providers from holding patients hostage in their all-too-common fee fights, with draft rules out now to crush “surprise” medical bills.

The politically riven, do-nothing Congress shocked critics by ending 2020 with an actual new law, included in legislation dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, that gave patients new protection from nightmares created when insurers and big corporation sought to reduce their health care costs with so-called narrow networks of pre-approved health care providers.

This scheme allowed insurers and companies to negotiate with doctors, labs, hospitals, and others for preferential prices, and, effectively, guarantees of patient business, in exchange. Patients began howling when their long-time caregivers were excluded from insurer networks, which also often also excluded big-name practitioners as well as well-known academic medical centers and big hospitals.

cdcheatwarn-263x300Climate change — to those who indulge in counter-factual thinking and who hold anti-science beliefs — may be an abstraction and a mere theory. But weather extremes became a startling, real, and deadly health threat to tens of millions in a swath of the Pacific Northwest in this country and Canada.

Days of unrelenting, record-shattering heat have been blamed directly for at least 100 deaths, with hundreds more fatalities occurring during the historic torpor, the New York Times reported in a news article describing the toll in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.

Surges in emergency departments

clevelandmask-300x236With every recent holiday, health officials have warned the public to exercise great caution and to maybe even avoid celebrations in hopes of holding down the spread and deadly consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. But not today.

Independence Day, 2021, is different. Optimism prevails across the country about the quelling pandemic. Tens of millions of Americans hit the roads and took to the skies, traveling with gusto for summer vacations. Gatherings, many of them huge and public, are common.

Will this hustle and bustle cause a difficult and divisive surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths? And will July 4, 2021, mark not only the country’s 245th  birthday, but also the deeper divide of the United States into two nations — one vaccinated and with significant safety from a killer illness, and the other going without vaccines and their protection?

covidnhomedatahhsig-300x175The coronavirus pandemic slammed nursing homes and other long-term care facilities hard in two heart-breaking waves eight months apart. Covid-19 caused the institutions’ fatalities to spike by almost a third over the year before, leaving roughly 170,000 of the elderly, injured, and ill dead, as well as 4 in 10 Medicare-covered residents infected.

Those are some of the grim statistical views of what occurred in nursing homes, notably to residents covered under the federal Medicare program, according to the Office of the Inspector General in the federal Health and Human Services agency (the HHS IG).

The top health watchdog examined “excess deaths” that occurred in 2020 during the pandemic among Medicare beneficiaries, noting that federal officials had exempted nursing homes from reporting Covid-19 cases and deaths in the early part of the year and such infections and fatalities often were not noted in official records, such as death certificates. As the Associated Press reported:

colorectalcancerhotspotmap-300x230While technological advances may help provide crucial warnings to young men, especially those who are black, about their heightened risk of early-onset colorectal cancer, the rise of other high-tech diagnostic aids may only worsen built-in, harmful racial biases in an array of medical practices.

Researchers at the University of Chicago, to their credit, have sought the assistance of health providers across the country to inventory and assess increasingly common medical software and the algorithms on which they rely to ensure whiz-bang decision-making tools don’t discriminate against patients of color.

The early results are distressing, showing how well-intentioned experts inject prejudices into programs that can lead to racially unfair choices about patient care. Ziad Obermeyer, an emergency medicine physician and co-author of the Chicago research, told Stat, the science and medical news site, this about algorithms used in many diagnostic tools:

covidvaxing62521chart-300x144The coronavirus—  little more than submicroscopic flecks of genetic material encased in protein and  barely a life form — is proving still to be a relentless, lethal bane of humanity.

While experts say the coronavirus vaccines may have highly rare side effects affecting the hearts of young recipients (who also respond well to quick treatment), the shots have helped to quell the pandemic, slashing infections, hospitalizations, and deaths in recent days.

That is occurring among the vaccinated, of course. For the unvaccinated, however, the global health menace is far from over, especially because the nasty coronavirus has mutated and its “delta” variant, first detected in India, is proving nastier still.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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