Health Care Issues
AAUW believes everyone deserves access to quality, affordable, and accessible health care.
For more information: AAUW Fact Sheets and Position Papers on Affirmative Action, Athletics, Education, Managed Care Reform, Reproductive Rights, and Social Security Reform.
AAUW in the News: AAUW Supports Healthy Families Act (Feb. 14, 2015)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Paid Family Leave Insurance in Watertown, NY. (Video from Jan. 24, 2014)
Updated February 17, 2015
- Amid U.S. Measles Outbreak, Few Rules on Teacher Vaccinations - In most states, there is no law dictating which vaccines teachers and school staff workers are required to get. Some states provide a list of recommended vaccines.
- ARE WE READY FOR THE NEXT GLOBAL EPIDEMIC? - It swept across 214 countries worldwide and killed more than 18,000 people. The 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak, dubbed "swine flu," put the entire world on alert. The outbreak was declared to be a global pandemic until August 2010. But threat of deadly disease outbreaks didn't stop -- or start -- there.
- Philadelphia Mayor Signs Paid Sick Leave Legislation - After vetoing similar legislation in 2011 and 2013, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter finally signed a bill on Thursday that would allow up to 2000,000 workers in the city to earn paid sick leave. The law requires businesses with 10 or more employees to give workers at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Three states and more than a dozen cities have similar laws, and President Obama has called on Congress to pass federal sick-leave legislation.
- The Shockingly Low Wages We Pay People Who Look After the Elderly - Many home health aides love their job, but can't make ends meet. And we can't expect to recruit one million new home health aides-or workers in any service sector-for the mentally and physically demanding jobs they're needed for, if we're going to pay them peanuts and then deride them for needing food stamps to survive.
- Health Care Exchange Enrollment Hits 2 Million - Enrollment in the state's health insurance exchange as grown to two million New Yorkers. The enrollment figure includes the more than 1.4 million who have enrolled in the Medicaid program, with 512,968 enrolled in private plans.
- Appeals Court Upholds N.Y. School Vaccination Requirements - A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a federal constitutional challenge to New York state's school vaccination law, saying it is well-settled that requiring vaccinations to attend school is within the "police power" of the states.
- Puberty comes earlier and earlier for girls - At the turn of the 20th century, the average age for an American girl to get her period was 16 to 17. Today, it is less than 13, according to national data. The trend has been attributed to the epidemic of overweight children and a greater exposure to pollution.
- Plastic chemicals linked to earlier menopause - Women whose bodies contained high levels of certain chemicals found in plastics and cosmetics experienced menopause two to four years earlier than women with lower amounts in their systems, U.S. researchers said Wednesday.
MEDICARE PATIENTS COULD SEE BETTER CARE - The Obama administration Monday announced a goal of accelerating changes to Medicare so that within four years, half the program's traditional spending will go to doctors, hospitals and other providers that coordinate their
patient care, stressing quality and frugality.
- When the food runs out - Families bringing children in for annual checkups at Providence Milwaukie Hospital in Portland, Oregon, are now being asked if they are experiencing food insecurity, part of a new statewide initiative titled "Screen and Intervene." Families experiencing food insecurity are then scheduled for a meeting with an outreach specialist which can help direct them to assistance. Individual clinics in the state participating in the initiative establish their own protocols for helping struggling families.
- More than a third of American workers don't get sick leave, and they're making the rest of us ill - Nationally, nearly 4-in-10 private sector workers -- 39 percent -- do not have access to any sick leave at all. Paid sick leave is also a factor in the nation's income inequality, although whether it's a cause or effect isn't clear. The top 10 percent of private sector wage earners are more than four times as likely (87 percent) to get paid sick leave as the bottom ten percent of workers (20 percent).
- New Survey: Rise in Access to Care and Affordability in First Year of ACA Enrollment - For the first time, The Commonwealth Fund's Biennial Health Insurance Survey-fielded since 2001-finds sharp declines in uninsured rates for working-age Americans, with rates for young and low-income adults now at their lowest levels in 14 years. The number of people reporting that costs were a problem in accessing care also fell, as did the number of people with trouble paying medical bills.
- Across States, Slower Growth in Employer Health Plan Costs, but Wages Still Not Keeping Up - In the issue brief State Trends in the Cost of Employer Health Insurance Coverage, 2003-2013, researchers report that in 37 states, average annual health plan premiums, including both the employer and employee contributions, represented 20 percent or more of household income in 2013. Workers in Southern states, where median incomes are lower than elsewhere in the U.S., face among the highest cost burdens.
- The U.S. Has A Surgeon General, For The First Time In 17 Months - A job that's been open in President Obama's administration since July of 2013 was finally filled Monday, as the Senate voted to confirm Vivek Murthy as America's new surgeon general. The tally was 51-43, ending a confirmation process that began after Obama nominated Murthy to the post in November of 2013 - yes, that's one year ago.
- Job health insurance costs rising faster than wages - Total premiums for covering a family through an employer-based plan rose 73 percent from 2003 through 2013, while workers' personal share of those premium costs leaped 93 percent during the same time frame, the Commonwealth Fund report said. At the same time, median family income grew just a measly 16 percent. Families are "being squeezed by health-care costs," said report co-author Sara Collins, vice president for Health-Care Coverage and Access at the Commonwealth Fund. "Growth in family income is so slow that people still feel a pinch from health costs."
- Many New Yorkers Responding To A New Poll Satisfied With Health Marketplace - 92 percent of those polled report being somewhat or completely satisfied with their coverage. Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed report they'll need at least some help reapplying for coverage during the next open enrollment starting November 15th.
- Obama administration closing loophole that allowed substandard health-care plans - Closing what many see as a loophole that could trap millions of people in substandard insurance, the Obama administration said Tuesday that large-employer medical plans lacking hospital coverage will not qualify under the Affordable Care Act's toughest standard. It also offered relief to workers who may be enrolled in those plans next year.
- Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation - As the population ages and people live longer in bad shape, the number of older Americans who fall and suffer serious, even fatal, injuries is soaring. So the retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes where millions of Americans live are trying to balance safety and their residents' desire to live as they choose.
- Ensuring Access to Sexually Transmitted Infection Care for All - At some point in their lives, most sexually active people will be infected with a sexually transmitted infection, or STI. About 20 million new cases of STIs are diagnosed annually. Despite being a common, preventable, and treatable health problem, a lack of information, shame, and stigma tend to characterize the nation's discussions about STIs-even though they represent a severe risk to the public and economic health of the United States.
- Unable To Meet The Deductible Or The Doctor - About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families - the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low. The result is that some people - no firm data exists on how many - say they hesitate to use their new insurance because of the high out-of-pocket costs.
- Report Card: Many States Fail To Meet Women's Health Needs, Disparities Persist - NYS gets an "A" and is in 7th place overall. The Alliance for a Just Society -- a coalition of 14 racial and economic justice organizations -- compiled the report card based on data from CDC, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index and the Kaiser Family Foundation. The researchers took three factors into account to determine states' grades: the proportion of women in the state who lack health coverage; women's access to timely and quality medical care; and women's health outcomes, including rates of asthma, diabetes, hypertension, mental disabilities, sexually transmitted infections and other conditions.
- Many insured struggle with medical bills, poll shows - The survey found the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in. Such plans already represented a growing share of employer-sponsored coverage. Now, they're also the mainstay of the new health insurance exchanges.
- Health Premiums And Costs Set To Rise For Workers Covered At Work - Fall is enrollment season for many people who get insurance through their workplace. Premium increases for 2015 plans are expected to be modest on average, but the shift toward higher out-of-pocket costs overall for consumers will continue as employers try to keep a lid on their costs and incorporate health law changes.
- CMS Names Names in Disclosing Payments to Doctors - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a trove of data surrounding physicians and academic hospitals' financial ties to drug and device makers, identifying recipients of 4.4 million payments totaling nearly $3.5 billion during the last five months of 2013.
- 80% of Hospitals in NY Face Medicare Reimbursement Penalties - The federal government wants to reduce the number of avoidable hospital readmissions. This is the third year Medicare will cut reimbursements to hospitals based on the number of patients who have to check back in with complications from lung ailments, heart failure, heart attack, pneumonia, or after a hip or knee replacement.
- Discussion stresses health challenges for north country - Out of the 62 counties in New York, Lewis County ranks 21st in overall health, while Jefferson County is 31st and St. Lawrence County is 55th. Obesity, smoking rates, childhood tooth decay and colon cancer rates in the north country are above state averages.
- Health Researchers Will Get $10.1 Million to Counter Gender Bias in Studies - In an effort to begin addressing persistent gender bias in laboratory research, the National Institutes of Health announced Tuesday that it will distribute $10.1 million in grants to more than 80 scientists studying a diverse array of subjects, including drug addiction, fetal development, migraines and stroke. Women are not adequately represented in many clinical trials of new drugs and medical devices. The gender bias starts at an early stage of the scientific process: Traditionally many investigators have worked only with male lab animals, concerned that the hormonal cycles of female animals would add variability and skew study results.
- Health insurance rates will rise about 6 percent next year - The state Department of Financial Services, which must sign off on insurance rate is out with next year's schedule for health insurance. Overall, approved rates will be going up just under 6 percent, although insurance carriers asked for higher increases.
- Affordable Care Act: insurance coverage has improved for young adults - Researchers analyzing the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have found that it has led to increased health insurance coverage among young adults aged 19-25.
- Higher ed shifting more healthcare costs to employees - A new survey shows over a quarter of institutions increasing in-network deductibles, as well as the employee's share of dependent coverage.
- Number of FMLA Lawsuits Spiked From 2012 to 2013 - Employees in 2013 filed 877 lawsuits against their employers for allegedly violating the Family and Medical Leave Act, up from 291 in 2012, according to data from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
- NPWF: In celebration of the Family and Medical Leave Act's 21ys borthday today, we've released the 7th edition of our Q&A guide!
- Medicare finances improve partly due to ACA, hospital expenses, trustee report says - Trustees for Medicare and Social Security released their annual report. They predicted that Social Security will be able to afford checks for retirees and workers' survivors until 2034, although they dwelt on vulnerabilities in Social Security Disability Insurance program. In the last year, 41 million retired Americans received benefits from Social Security.
- STUDY: OBAMACARE GAVE 10 MILLION AMERICANS HEALTH INSURANCE - About 10.3 million Americans gained health coverage this year, primarily as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to a study by the federal government and Harvard University, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
- Obamacare Has Helped Americans Save Nearly $2 Billion on Their Insurance Premiums - Millions of Americans can expect to get a refund from their insurance companies this year, at an average of about $80 dollars per family, thanks to a little-known Obamacare provision that's helping people save money on their premiums.
- One in six adolescents in the ER has experienced dating violence - Of adolescents visiting the emergency department for any reason, one in five girls and one in eight boys reported dating violence in the past year. According to a study, dating violence among adolescents was also strongly associated with alcohol, illicit drug use and depression.
- Consumers Will Spend More on Health Care in 2015, Report Predicts - The report, from PricewaterhouseCoopers's Health Research Institute, forecasts medical cost growth of 6.8 percent over all in 2015, compared with the institute's estimate of 6.5 percent for this year.
- Once again, U.S. has most expensive, least effective health care system in survey - A report released Monday by a respected think tank ranks the United States dead last in the quality of its health-care system when compared with 10 other western, industrialized nations, the same spot it occupied in four previous studies by the same organization. Not only did the U.S. fail to move up between 2004 and 2014 - as other nations did with concerted effort and significant reforms - it also has maintained this dubious distinction while spending far more per capita ($8,508) on health care than Norway ($5,669), which has the second most expensive system.
- Treating Food as an Investment - We need to rethink our calculus on food spending. We've gotten where we are today in the United States because the negative impacts associated with poor diet choices don't show up immediately; there's a lag time between those initial years eating chips, sodas and hamburgers and the negative consequences that eventually send us to the hospital for our first biopsy or to the pharmacist for insulin. Rather than looking at food as an expenditure with no long term implications, we instead need to view our food spending as an investment.
- Disparate State Laws Result in Rape Survivors Paying for Treatment, Study Finds - Some rape survivors are still required to pay for medical services related to their assaults, including care related to sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy, according to a new study from the Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice, Kaiser Health News reports.
- Hospital Charges Surge for Common Ailments, Data Shows - Charges for some of the most common inpatient procedures surged at hospitals across the country in 2012 from a year earlier, some at more than four times the national rate of inflation, according to data released by Medicare officials.
- Health Department proposes first-ever youth sexual health plan - New York's first-ever Youth Sexual Health Plan was unveiled last week to combat the growing epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies among young people. "Reproductive and sexual health are key issues for adolescents and young adults," acting state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. "Providing accurate and comprehensive information to protect adolescents' health and prepare them for responsible decision making is a public health priority."
- Goals of the New York State Sexual Health Plan
- Preventive Services Coverage Uneven Despite ACA Requirements - The Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) requires health plans to cover many preventive care services at no out-of-pocket cost to beneficiaries, but confusion among insurers and providers has left some consumers with unwarranted charges, Politico Pro reports.
- Labs Are Told to Start Including a Neglected Variable: Females - From sleeping pills to statins, women have been blindsided by side effects and dosage miscalculations that were not discovered until after the product hit the market. Now the National Institutes of Health says that this routine gender bias in basic research must end.
- New Benefits for Breastfeeding Moms: Facts and Tools to Understand Your Coverage under the Health Care Law - As part of women's preventive services under the ACA, new plans are required to cover breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling. This is a significant step forward in making breastfeeding more accessible and affordable for millions of Americans.
- Pick to Replace Sebelius Draws Senators' Praise at Confirmation Hearing - Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President Obama's nominee to replace Kathleen Sebelius as secretary of health and human services, charmed senators at a surprisingly cordial confirmation hearing on Thursday. Ms. Burwell, 48, has been Mr. Obama's budget director for the last year.
- Most Who Signed Up for Health Care Have Paid Up - About 80 percent of people who chose plans under the Affordable Care Act are paying initial premiums as required.
- The Uninsurance Rate Is Dropping Among People Who Need Health Care the Most - The uninsurance rate continues to drop to record lows, according to polling from Gallup - and it's declining the fastest among the communities who have historically lacked adequate access to health care. The data suggests that Obamacare is effectively expanding coverage to the people who need it the most.
- New Health System Scorecard: States Made Little Progress in Years Prior to ACA - Our new Scorecard on State Health System Performance is out, and the results are disappointing: in the five years preceding implementation of the Affordable Care Act's major coverage provisions, the majority of states declined or failed to improve on two-thirds of the measures that could be tracked over time.
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