Wednesday, June 30. 2010
A group of patient advocates with representatives from all 50 states are meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss access and care needs of those with life-threatening conditions.
The Patient Advocate Foundation is seeking legislative action to ensure patients have access to the care they need.
PAE chief executive officer Nancy Davenport-Ennis says that that last year, two-thirds of the patients that contacted the foundation for assistance were struggling financially because of health care expenses. Eighty percent of those patients reported struggling even though they had health insurance.
"We are committed to creating programs and services that ensure no patient is turned away and that all people receive the quality care they need and deserve," says Davenport-Ennis. "We will continue working with Congressional leaders to ensure that patients across the nation are protected from health care discrimination and the many forms that it takes."
Health care costs can run so high that they deplete whole savings accounts. Earlier this month, the American Cancer Society released results from a poll that revealed a third of cancer victims had difficulty paying for basic needs like food and housing.
A costly trend is taking place in Massachusetts. Residents are signing up for health insurance coverage while ill only to cancel the service within a year, research from the Massachusetts Division of Insurance found.
The data shows that the number of people cancelling their health insurance coverage within the first year went from 13.8 percent in 2006 to 24.2 percent in 2008.
People who maintain the health insurance coverage are the ones that end up paying for the care, according to the report.
The Boston Globe reports that Senate President Therese Murray is sponsoring a bill that will prevent people from abusing the system by narrowing insurance enrollment to only one month a year.
Governor Deval Patrick also wants to combat the issue. The Globe says that his plan would provide two yearly enrollment periods and allow people to enroll any time there is a major life change.
Massachusetts was the first state to require all residents have health insurance. Since the plan was implemented in 2006, the state has been viewed as a source of insight as to what may happen nationwide with health care reform.
Tuesday, June 29. 2010
Despite having funds to transition to computerized medical records, many hospitals say they don't believe they will be able to "meaningfully use" them by the government deadline of 2015, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey.
Hospital chief information officers also said that they are uncertain of their ability to meet later deadlines as well, according to the survey. Other requirements include the ability to share information electronically with insurers and patients.
Most hospitals are lagging behind because they lack properly trained staff. PricewaterhouseCoopers says the government estimates a shortage of 50,000 qualified health IT workers.
Getting everyone on board with EHRs will help create meaningful use, says PricewaterhouseCoopers.
"Nowhere would the meaningful use of EHRs be more valuable than in a hospital emergency department, where it could mean life or death for a patient," PricewaterhouseCoopers leader of the health information practice Daniel Garrett said. "Emergency department physicians aren't eligible for stimulus incentives but their meaningful use of EHRs is crucial to the hospital and its patients."
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that EHRs are an important tool to help avoid medical errors and increase medical record accuracy.
Parents with children under the age of 18 are less likely to squeeze exercise into their schedules, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
Given the reported lack of exercise, it is not surprising that parents with children under 18 are more likely to be overweight or obese, the research found.
The overall lack of exercise is a disturbing find.
"While the exercise habits and weight issues of parents themselves are a significant problem on their own for those individuals and for the United States in terms of quality of life and health care costs, the potential effects on the children of these parents represent an even bigger crisis," says Gallup.
Research has shown that parents who struggle with their weight raise children who have the same problem, according to Gallup.
To help reverse the trend of more Americans becoming overweight or obese, First Lady Michelle Obama launched an initiative, "Let's Move," aimed at getting doctors, parents and teachers to join forces and put an end to obesity.
Expenses associated with medical coverage for obesity and obesity-related ailments can be exorbitant and reduced through patients eating a proper diet and getting enough exercise.
The number of whooping cough cases in the state of California has surged and is on track to reach the highest level in 50 years, according to California Department of Public Health director Dr. Mark Horton.
Five infants less than three months old have already been killed by the disease, with 910 cases being confirmed this year. The health department is looking into 600 more potential cases at this time.
To help mitigate the disease, the government is encouraging people to get the immunization if they haven't already.
"Whooping cough is now an epidemic in California," says Horton. "Children should be vaccinated against the disease and parents, family members and caregivers of infants need a booster shot."
The Los Angeles Times reports that the state's low immunization levels could be driving the spread of the disease. California is one of the few states that does not require middle school students to meet the Centers for Disease Control's recommendation of getting a booster shot for the whooping cough.
Health care expenses may be a reason why the shot is not a requirement, reports the paper. The state's health insurance program for the poor would have to cover "hundreds of thousands of dollars for vaccinations" if the vaccination became required.