Health Care Issues
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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Paid Family Leave Insurance in Watertown, NY. (Video from Jan. 24, 2014)
Health Care: Opiod Addiction
Updated November 13, 2017
- Trump Chooses Alex Azar for Health and Human Services Secretary - President Trump nominated a pharmaceutical executive to be the next secretary of the Health and Human Services Department. The nominee, Alex M. Azar II, served as a deputy at the department under former President George W. Bush. Until January, he was the head of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly’s United States division.
- GOP Tax and Budget Plans Will Destroy Finances of Average Americans With Sick Elders or Family Members With Disabilities - But most of all, the poster child for the GOP’s latest version of “I’ve got mine, go get yours” public policy is the House bill’s proposal to end a federal income tax deduction for medical expenses if those costs exceed 10 percent of one's adjusted gross income. Should that measure, or some version of it, emerge in the final bill—such as imposing a cap limiting deductions—it would be devastating to households with disabled family members or those who incur high medical costs, such as seniors or children.
- Ending Medical Tax Break Could Be a ‘Gut Punch’ to the Middle Class - According to an analysis in January from the Joint Committee on Taxation, most taxpayers who claim the deduction have incomes below $100,000, with about 40 percent below $75,000. More than half of those who claim it are older than 65, according to AARP, the lobby for older Americans. They often face staggering medical and long-term care costs. The deduction also helps younger families struggling to pay the enormous cost of caring for children with chronic conditions or disabilities, and couples going through costly fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization. In interviews, some who claimed it said the deduction is the difference allowing them to afford mental health care, new chemotherapy drugs, or cancer surgeries by doctors who fall outside insurance networks.
- No Excuses, People: Get the New Shingles Vaccine - Dr. William Schaffner, preventive disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said, “This vaccine has spectacular initial protection rates in every age group. The immune system of a 70- or 80-year-old responds as if the person were only 25 or 30.” “This really looks to be a breakthrough in vaccinating older adults,” agreed Dr. Jeffrey Cohen, a physician and researcher at the National Institutes of Health.
- Record number of Americans sign up for Obamacare - More than 200,000 people signed up Nov. 1, a Trump administration source told The Hill, which first reported on the surge. That’s double the 100,000 who signed up on the first day of enrollment a year ago. Web traffic to the healthcare.gov site that enrolls people in the Affordable Care Act also set a new record. Roughly 1 million visitors browsed the site, compared to 750,000 on Nov. 1 a year ago, The Hill said.
- Health Insurance Marketplaces Offer More Low-Cost Options than Ever Before - There is at least one issuer participating in every county in the country, and 71 percent of HealthCare.gov enrollees live in counties where two or more issuers will be offering 2018 coverage. A significant number of consumers will have options that have a net premium—the premium after accounting for any premium tax credits—of less than $10 or that is even free. CAP analysis revealed hundreds of scenarios in which consumers would be able to obtain bronze, silver, or gold coverage for $0, options that were not as widely available at that price in 2017. We find that a single 27-year-old making $25,000 can obtain coverage for less than $20 in more than half of counties.
- New York Hospitals Rank Among Worst in Nation for Patient Safety, Study Finds - New York came in at No. 47 and was one of five states with the lowest percentage of "A" hospitals this fall. A total of 142 hospitals were assessed, and just seven of those (4.93 percent) had a top rating for safety. None of the top seven were in the city, though, and just one was on Long Island.
- Open enrollment for the state health exchange underway - Open enrollment for the health care exchange is underway. Despite uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act, state officials are encouraging people to sign up. Open enrollment for insurance bought through the federal marketplace will end December 15th, but New York isn't following that deadline. New York State of Health Executive Director Donna Frescatore joins us to talk more about this.
- Local pharmacies to offer health insurance marketplace information and assistance - New York’s health insurance marketplace has teamed up with pharmacies across the state to host enrollment information events, and even provide on-site assistance in choosing the right plan. As part of its expanded outreach campaign, NY State of Health is working with Rite Aid, CVS Pharmacy, Kinney Drugs, ShopRite Supermarkets and TOPS Pharmacies to educate customers about “quality, low-cost health insurance options.” NY State of Health Customer Service Center can be reached at 1-855-355-5777 to talk with a certified in-person assistor.
- Will New York's school health centers survive Medicaid change? - Officials say changing disbursement rules pose threat to 252 centers statewide. The number of New York public schools with on-site health centers has nearly doubled in the past two decades, with data showing benefits to both student health and academics. But a looming change in the way these centers are reimbursed for Medicaid patients could cause them to scale back services or close altogether, officials warned. State legislators and health and education leaders called on the governor to sign legislation that would halt the change, by granting school-based health centers a permanent “carve-out,” or exemption, from the state’s Medicaid Managed Care program.
- 5 Points To Keep In Mind When Shopping For Health Insurance This Year - Open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15. That means there are only 45 days to shop for coverage. The shorter enrollment period this year is just one of the changes to the process for buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act. In New York State, you will have until the end of January 2018!
Here are five important factors to keep in mind if you plan to sign up for ACA coverage for 2018.
- What to know: NY health exchange opens Nov. 1 - Four million New Yorkers will have to re-enroll for their health insurance starting Nov. 1 amid uncertainty over the future of the federally funded program. For 2018, 12 insurers are on the exchange offering individuals private insurance, called qualified health plans. 15 insurers will offer the Essential Plan, which is available for lower income New Yorkers who are ineligible for Medicaid. Monthly premiums on the Essential Plan will continue to be $20 per person or less, the Health Department said. Call the state's customer service line at 1-855-355-5777 for more information or to enroll. The state will also have "in-person enrollers" at events across the state to help people pick their plans.Those locations will be posted on the NY State of Health website.
- Get this: health care premiums are actually down in New York this year - More than a dozen companies will be selling private insurance plans on New York's exchange, called the New York State of Health. This is the marketplace for people who don't have insurance through their jobs and need to buy their own coverage. The number of people without insurance in the North Country has gone way down since Obamacare went into effect back in 2013. According to statistics from Enroll America, the uninsured rate dropped from 14 percent in Jefferson County and 16 percent in St. Lawrence County to just about 7 percent in both places. information, visit the NY State of Health website.
- What it’s like to look for health insurance now that Trump has tried to undermine Obamacare - “We’re in no man’s land,” said Purvance, 44, who makes too much money to qualify for federal assistance. “You know how it is with health insurance — it’s so confusing. It becomes this game of: Which plan can I find that most of my doctors are on, and how much am I going to have to give up?” Shopping for health insurance has always been confusing. But consumers looking for coverage at the start of open enrollment on Wednesday face an especially baffling experience, and this year, they will have less time and less help to reach a decision because of funding cuts and rule changes.
- Americans Are Retiring Later, Dying Sooner and Sicker In-Between - Americans in their late 50s already have more serious health problems than people at the same ages did 10 to 15 years ago, according to the journal Health Affairs. At the current retirement age of 66, a quarter of Americans age 58 to 60 rated themselves in “poor” or “fair” health. That’s up 2.6 points from the group who could retire with full benefits at 65, the Michigan researchers found. While death rates can be volatile from year to year, Choi and Schoeni’s study is part of a raft of other research showing the health of Americans deteriorating.
- NY plans regional cancer studies statewide - Cancer is now the second leading cause of death in New York, behind heart disease. Each year, nearly 110,000 New Yorkers learn they have cancer, and around 35,000 die from the disease, according to state data. More than 1 million residents are living with a current or former cancer diagnosis. Researchers at the Department of Health will work with colleagues at the Department of Environmental Conservation to consider environmental contributors to the disease, state officials said. They will also look for patterns related to demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral or occupational factors.
- The Uninsured Rate Is Rising as Trump Successfully Sabotages Obamacare - 3.5 million more Americans are now going without health care.
According to Gallup, which has been tracking the uninsurance rate since 2008, the percentage of Americans without health care has been gradually ticking up since Trump was elected. The uninsured rate had been on a steady downward trajectory since the Affordable Care Act was implemented, hitting historic lows over the past several years. But Gallup’s most recent report, released Friday, found the uninsured rate has risen 1.4 percentage points since the end of 2016. That works out to be almost 3.5 million more Americans going without insurance this year.
- ACA enrollment schedule may lock millions into unwanted health plans - Millions of Americans with insurance through the Affordable Care Act could find themselves locked into health plans they do not want for the coming year because of the Trump administration’s schedule for the enrollment season that starts in less than two weeks. The administration’s unannounced decision about the nuances of auto-enrollment is part of a pattern in which President Trump’s antipathy for the ACA — he erroneously terms its insurance exchanges “dead” — has filtered into a series of actions and inactions that could suppress the number of Americans who receive coverage through the marketplaces for 2018.
- Schneiderman Joins Bid To Keep ACA Subsidies - Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is backing an effort with fellow state AGs to preserve Affordable Care Act subsidies President Donald Trump’s administration wants to end. The lawsuit was filed with a coalition of 19 attorneys general.
- Trump, Ryan Oppose Bipartisan Deal to Stabilize Obamacare Insurance Marketplaces - It would be all but impossible for Republicans lawmakers to support the deal — let alone bring it up for a vote in the House or Senate — without Trump's endorsement. Republicans, still smarting from their failure to fulfill their years-long promise to repeal Obamacare, would have an extremely hard time voting for anything perceived as supporting the law without political cover from the president.
- NY takes steps to increase organ donation - New York State is taking steps to make it easier to sign up as an organ donor. The order also directs officials to offer the choice of signing up whenever New Yorkers apply for state services or benefits. The state is also revamping the registry enrollment website to make it easier to use. The governor says more than 84,000 people have signed up to be donors in New York state so far this year.
- White House’s decision to stop ACA cost-sharing subsidies triggers strong opposition - The administration’s move, which officials formalized through a filing in a federal appeals court, could throw the ACA sign-up season that begins Nov. 1 into disarray. Some insurers and state regulators are scrambling to reconsider rates for next year, and the uncertainty is sure to make an already challenging enrollment period even more so. The American Medical Association said in a statement that it was “deeply discouraged by the administration’s decision” and urged Congress to “accelerate” its efforts to “reinstate these payments before further damage is done.”
- Pro-Trump states most affected by his health care decision - Nearly 70 percent of those benefiting from the so-called cost-sharing subsidies live in states Trump won last November, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. The number underscores the political risk for Trump and his party, which could end up owning the blame for increased costs and chaos in the insurance marketplace.
- Halt in Subsidies for Health Insurers Expected to Drive Up Costs for Middle Class - The decision will most directly affect middle-class families who buy their own insurance without financial help from the government. Consumers who earn more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level — an individual with income of about $48,000 or a family of four that makes more than $98,400 — will likely see their costs for coverage rise next year by an average of about 20 percent nationwide. Ironically, the decision to end the $7 billion-a-year cost-sharing payments is likely to cost the federal government more than making them — nearly $200 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
- Trump to Scrap Critical Health Care Subsidies, Hitting Obamacare Again - The twin hits to the Affordable Care Act could unravel President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, sending insurance premiums soaring and insurance companies fleeing from the health law’s online marketplaces. After Republicans failed to repeal the health law in Congress, Mr. Trump appears determined to dismantle it on his own. Without the subsidies, insurance markets could quickly unravel. Insurers have said they will need much higher premiums and may pull out of the insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act if the subsidies were cut off. Known as cost-sharing reduction payments, the subsidies were expected to total $9 billion in the coming year and nearly $100 billion in the coming decade.
- AG Raises Possibility Of Court Challenge To Trump Order - “Let me be clear: if the Trump Administration takes any action that violates the law — or tramples on New Yorkers’ constitutional rights — we will take them to court,” Schneiderman said. “In the meantime, my office will continue to defend the vital ACA subsidies in federal court for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and millions of Americans who rely on the quality, affordable health care they provide.”
- Total Health Costs of Industrial Food Systems Are 'Staggering' - A new report by international experts draws significant linkages between industrial food and farming practices and many of the "severest health conditions afflicting populations around the world," from respiratory diseases to a range of cancers and systematic livelihood stresses. They found that malnutrition costs the world US$3.5 trillion per year, while obesity alone will cost US$760 billion per year by 2025. They found that combined European Union and U.S. losses from exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals amount to US$557 billion per year, while antimicrobial-resistant infections are already thought to be incurring US$20 billion to US$34 billion of annual costs in the U.S.
- New York's Unusual Law Is Boosting Hepatitis C Testing - A New York state law makes hepatitis C screening a required part of primary care for baby boomers. The measure, which the state legislature passed in 2014, was the first of its kind in the U.S. It required health-care providers to test anybody born between 1945 and 1965 for hepatitis C. Now a new study conducted by the New York State Department of Health suggests it might be paying off. The study found that 50 percent more patients were tested in the year following the law’s implementation. The data also showed that about 40 percent more of the patients diagnosed with hepatitis C received follow up care that year.
- Why A Long-Term Disability Policy Is More Important Than Pet Insurance - Sixty-five percent of respondents surveyed this year by LIMRA, an association of financial services and insurance companies, say that most people need disability insurance. But the figure shrank to 48 percent when people were asked if they believe they personally need it. The proportion shriveled to 20 percent when people were asked if they actually have disability insurance. Long-term disability insurance generally has a waiting period of three or six months before benefits kick in. That period would be covered by short-term disability insurance, if you have it.
- Republicans privately admit defeat on Obamacare repeal - After multiple failures to repeal the law, the White House and many GOP lawmakers are publicly promising to try again in early 2018. But privately, both House and Senate Republicans acknowledge they may never be able to deliver on their seven-year vow to scrap the law.
- Why America Needs Foreign Medical Graduates - The American system relies to a surprising extent on foreign medical graduates, most of whom are citizens of other countries when they arrive. By any objective standard, the United States trains far too few physicians to care for all the patients who need them. We rank toward the bottom of developed nations with respect to medical graduates per population. We don’t have enough graduates even to fill residency slots. This means that we are reliant on physicians trained outside the country to fill the gap. A 2015 study found that almost a quarter of residents across all fields, and more than a third of residents in subspecialist programs, were foreign medical graduates.
- It Takes a Village to Improve A Community’s Health - Halifax County had some of the lowest health rankings in the state. Alarmed by this, the community pulled together to start making major changes. The local medical community was alarmed by this rating, and by the number of people suffering complications from hypertension, cancer and heart disease. Patients were coming in with diabetes-related amputations and blindness, said Audrey Hardy, a nurse and community health coordinator for Halifax Regional. In response, Hardy said, the medical community formed the Roanoke Valley Community Health Initiative. The group talked about changing the healthcare landscape from caring for people who are already sick to preventing disease. An additional motivation was cost: Practicing “sick care” and treating chronic diseases is costly and patients didn’t always have the best insurance.
- How Would ‘Medicare for All’ Help Health-Care Workers? - Without robust worker protections built in to single-payer legislation, health-care workers will continue to be undervalued. If you get a check-up at any health clinic in America today, you may have no idea how much it will cost, but two things are virtually certain: The bill will be too high, and the nurse who saw you will be paid too little. The sickening paradox at the root of the American health-care system is that, despite skyrocketing costs for patients, front-line workers like medical assistants and home-care aides are shockingly underpaid—while insurers and health-care corporations pocket the difference. The health-care-reform debate in Washington is finally starting to grapple with the equity gap in the health system for consumers, and momentum is gaining for a fairer government-run single-payer system. Yet, for all the promise of the “Medicare for All” proposal, there’s surprisingly little discussion on how an overhaul of our health-care system would affect the people delivering our care.
- Trump administration narrows Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate - The Trump administration issued rules Friday that immediately carve broad exceptions to the Affordable Care Act’s promise of no-cost contraceptive coverage, touching off fresh lawsuits and renewed debate about the proper scope of religious liberty.
- As ACA enrollment nears, administration keeps cutting federal support of the law - Supporters of the Affordable Care Act see the president’s opposition even to changes sought by conservative states as part of a broader campaign by his administration to undermine the 2010 health-care law. In addition to trying to cut funding for the ACA, the Trump administration also is hampering state efforts to control premiums. HHS has slashed grants to groups that help consumers get insurance coverage, for example. It also has cut the enrollment period in half, reduced the advertising budget by 90 percent and announced an outage schedule that would make the HealthCare.gov website less available than last year. The White House also has yet to commit to funding the cost-sharing reductions that help about 7 million lower-income Americans afford out-of-pocket expenses on their ACA health plans.
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