Articles Posted in Health Care Reform

harrisnhscfunding-300x155For anyone who believes that health care, in the wealthiest nation in the world, is a right and not a privilege, the Biden Administration provided some cause for optimism. It came in the form of an announcement by Vice President Kamala Harris that the nation will invest $1.5 billion to help reduce the shortage of doctors and nurses in underserved communities.

Working with sums provided by the spring’s American Recovery Act, the White House said it will boost financial support for medical workers participating in the National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps.

They provide services to more than 23.6 million patients in this country, the White House said.

stjude-300x157If corporatists are correct and big, wealthy enterprises legally get rights akin to what real folks have, can it also be true that institutions, like people, sometimes just lose their way?

This argument may be evidenced by the tight-fistedness — eased under adverse publicity — of a legendary children’s charitable hospital and the profit-hungry financial schemes of a major Catholic hospital chain.

Credit is due to:

kaiser21healthinsurancesurvey-300x204Most Americans get their health insurance through their jobs, and that coverage continues to increase in cost with the average annual premiums in 2021 exceeding $22,200 for families and $7,700 for individuals — a 4% rise from 2020.

The price increases affecting 155 million non-elderly people with employer-provided coverage, as detailed in the annual Kaiser Family Foundation surve, may seem modest, year over year, especially given that conventional wisdom saw all health care costs hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

But the foundation notes that overall health coverage costs, borne by employers and their workers, have not spiked due to the coronavirus, though they have risen relentlessly over a decade (see figure, above).

califf-150x150Robert Califf, a cardiologist and President Biden’s “new” nominee to head the federal Food and Drug Administration, is a familiar face around the agency and Washington, D.C.

Califf served as the FDA commissioner before — winning U.S. Senate confirmation and holding the important post for the last year of the Obama presidency.

He is 70 and has long history in academic medical research and running clinical trials, including consulting for Big Pharma and giving his foes queasiness about his ability to run the nation’s top overseer of prescription medications and medical devices, as well as food quality and safety.

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.

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.

capitolus-300x200It may be tempting to get caught up in cynical views of congressional lawmaking, budgeting, and spending — seeing it as gross “sausage making” or in sporting “who wins and who loses” score-keeping.

But for anyone who believes that health care in the wealthiest nation in the world ought to be a right and not a privilege, much is at stake in deliberations under way and, perhaps, soon to reach culmination.

It is difficult to predict exactly what will happen with President Biden’s agenda and his “Build Back Better” package, which contains major proposals that would improve Americans’ health.

bloodtest-300x200Lights are flashing and alarms are blaring. A health care nightmare is growing before us and threatens the future of the nation: Younger people — those under age 40 or even age 50 — are sicker than they should be, and their conditions are worsening, not improving, especially with the destructive coronavirus pandemic.

An independent and highly respected federal advisory panel has just recommended a drop in the age at which doctors should screen overweight adults for diabetes and prediabetes, urging that a fasting blood test or possibly a glucose tolerance test be given to these patients and lifestyle questions be posed to them at age 35, not at 40 years old, as was the previous advice.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) — elite specialists who review tests and screenings for their effectiveness and usefulness and issue recommendations that hold big sway, notably with insurers — said that diabetes poses serious and growing risks to young adults. They can benefit from earlier interventions, such as changes in diet and lifestyle, that can prevent prediabetes from developing into a chronic, and potentially debilitating or even fatal condition. As experts reported in an accompanying editorial, published in an online section of the Journal of the American Medical Association:

hospitalinvesting-khn-300x106In an unbelievable fiscal oasis surrounding a spot that a newspaper columnist dubbed Baghdad by the Bay, slick dudes who call themselves VCs (as in venture capitalists) scurry around carrying the equivalent of magic wands and sacks of money in pursuit of elusive unicorns — rare start-up enterprises that Wall Street will value at $1 billion or more.

The sky-high stakes in this modern equivalent of an investing casino typically deters more cautious investors. But apparently not an increasing number of hospitals, which, of course, describe themselves, especially for tax purposes, as nonprofits, reports Jordan Rau of the Kaiser Health News (KHN) service.

As he laid out in a recent article:

diabetesreuterrise-300x120More than 100,000 people in this country died last year due to diabetes. That’s 17% more than the year before. And in younger age groups, it’s even worse: deaths from diabetes climbed 29% last year  among those ages 25-44, federal data show.

The figures should raise huge alarms that diabetes, as exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, is “out of control,” reported Chad Terhune, Robin Respaut, and Deborah J. Nelson for Reuters news service.

Their investigation, including an analysis of federal data to draw a depressing depiction of diabetes’ significant damages to the health of millions of Americans, found that the pandemic only begins to show huge failures in the care of what should be a manageable illness:

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