Articles Posted in Accessibility of Healthcare

leadpipes-300x178Although the chattering classes may have beat the term infrastructure into a hoary cliché, regular folks may see major benefits over time to their health and well-being from the Biden Administration’s finally passed, bipartisan $1 trillion bill that invests desperately needed money into the nation’s roads, highways, bridges, and more.

The law will send a giant funding surge into improving water quality and eliminating dangerous and antiquated lead pipes. This toxic threat, as evidenced in the mess in Flint, already has resulted in a $600-million-plus settlement — mostly to be paid by the state of Michigan — for residents of the lead-polluted town.

The infrastructure measure will help officials deal with polluting, nerve-wracking, time-sucking transportation logjams, financing repairs and upgrades to public transit, rail, ports, and airports from coast to coast.

debt-300x200Soaring medical costs crush the finances of far too many patients, as the public was reminded by the release of an annual report on the high toll of cancer-care spending and a surprising congressional reverse aimed at reining in runaway prescription drug prices — or at least attempting to.

Leading organizations dealing with cancer treatment — including the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries — found that patients in 2019 (the most recent year data were available) “shouldered a whopping $21.09 billion in costs,” the Washington Post reported.

Patients and their loved ones get hit with major costs in the first year of disease diagnosis, as well as the highest expenses at the ill individuals’ end of life, the report found.

cnncovidicu-300x242When hospitals too often fail to disclose and to adequately deal with their problems, patients and their loved ones suffer. That’s what happened during the coronavirus pandemic, when individuals admitted for other reasons were infected in hospitals and died of Covid-19 at alarming rates.

The federal government, separately, also is stepping up its efforts to get hospitals to comply with U.S. regulations to foster greater transparency in institutions’ pricing of medical goods and services.

The independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News (KHN) service, to its credit, has dug into publicly available data to show how Covid-19 became the latest problem pathogen spread in hospitals — part of the menace long known as HAIs or hospital acquired infections.

dcvaxmayorbowsernbcwashington-300x229Even as the coronavirus batters parts of the country, notably the Mountain West, public health officials are pointing to key ways in which Americans could safely and effectively further quell the pandemic that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and infected tens of millions.

Children ages 5 to 12 have been approved for emergency use for a lower-dose Pfizer vaccine, and a third of parents who told pollsters they were eager to get their youngsters vaccinated have begun to do so at pediatricians’ offices, clinics, schools, pharmacies, and other at-the-ready sites.

Experts say vaccinating young children, atop of already approved shots for kids ages 12 and older, will provide an important safeguard to a vulnerable population of millions as well as helping to ensure they will not spread the coronavirus.

hhsdrugfightingstrategy-300x169Americans have gotten stark reminders of the nation’s struggles with harmful substances and how the coronavirus pandemic has worsened these problems, with the Biden Administration outlining its strategy to combat the opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis and Big Tobacco reporting a rare spike in cigarette sales.

The opioid crisis — which is sending the country toward a grim 100,000 fatalities this year alone — has forced the federal government into urgent steps, including “harm reduction” strategies as one of its four pillars of U.S. plans to combat drug abuse, according to Xavier Becerra, head of the Health and Human Services department.

Harm reduction approaches can be controversial, as critics assail them as officials going soft on law enforcement and criminal prosecution of drug use.

referee-300x176While Republicans and a handful of Democrats in Congress may be filling campaign coffers and pleasing wealthy corporations to the nth degree during the current lawmaking session, regular folks have reason to be aghast at how companies are throwing around their money and weight to get their way.

The signs are evident as to how companies are maneuvering to:

  • keep prescription drug prices sky high

kidvax-300x195The coronavirus pandemic’s fourth, lethal Delta-variant surge keeps receding from its scary September peaks, with “fewer than half as many cases … being identified each day, and tens of thousands of fewer coronavirus patients … hospitalized.”

Still, as the New York Times also has reported, “trouble spots continue to emerge in parts of the West. Alaska leads the country in recent cases per capita, while Colorado has the fastest rate of case growth.”

The pandemic’s grim toll also is lessening but still takes an unacceptable 1,400 lives daily (versus 2,000/day in September).

boseaids-e1634953901247-150x150Millions of Americans soon may be able to buy much cheaper devices to help them with their mild to moderate hearing loss and avoid costly hearing aids prescribed by specialists.

It took far too long for this big step to occur, and consumers won’t see its full benefits for a bit still.

But the Food and Drug Administration, by issuing a new, draft hearing device regulation, took a major step in helping ordinary folks, as Congress intended with bipartisan legislation passed in 2017.

canursestaffingprotest-300x149The U.S. health care system and all who rely on it may be reaching painful reckonings on how the coronavirus pandemic keeps affecting caregiving personnel, whether with highly trained nurses who are forcing hospitals to pay them more or see them leave or with poorly paid and ill-trained aides who still aren’t getting Covid-19 shots to protect themselves and their vulnerable patients.

Great doctors, of course, may be vital to patients’ positive outcomes. But ask anyone knowledgeable how hospitals succeed — or don’t — and they will point to nurses. And that’s a professional treasure that has been battered by the pandemic,  Kaiser Health News service reported in partnership with NPR and WPLN radio in Nashville, Tenn.

Broadcast news reporter Blake Farmer found in Tennessee and nationally that hospitals are struggling to maintain their nursing ranks, particularly among their most seasoned and specially trained pros. They have spent grueling months giving patients the round-the-clock, intensive care demanded in serious cases, notably for coronavirus infections.

covidshotcloseup-260x300Don’t doubt the central role that vaccines are playing in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal officials — even as the Delta-variant surge is easing — have dominated the news by approving yet more boosters for those who have gotten the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson shots and announcing preparations to vaccinate kids ages 5 to 12.

Experts now have endorsed boosters for the millions who have gotten Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J shots. They also approved proposals to mix and match vaccines, an approach especially advised two months after those 18 and older receive the one-shot J&J product.

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