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.
North Country Matters: Public Heath Today in the Face of Current Events Dr. Timothy Sellati, who joined Saranac Lake's the Trudeau Institute in 2013 as an Associate Member, talks about public health, both from a historical perspective and how it applies today in the face of the current events, including the recent measles outbreak and how climate change is affecting disease. (March 31, 2015)
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 May 24, 2015
- 12 million have enrolled on an Obamacare exchange, which is bad for the repeal effort - For the first time, the number of people who have signed up for a health-care plan under the Affordable Care Act has reached 12 million, according to Charles Gaba of ACAsignups.net. The milestone is significant largely because it ends in six zeroes. But it's significant for a political reason, too: It means that 3.7 percent of the country has selected a plan in the politically contentious system.
- CDC Map Reveals 'Most Distinctive' Cause Of Death State by State - Your geography can have a big impact on how you bite the dust. In New York and Connecticut, the most distinctive cause of death is inflammatory diseases of female pelvic organs, which may suggest challenges in women's healthcare in these states.
- Physicians Group Backs LGBT-Inclusive Health Policies - The American College of Physicians has expressed support for policies that the group said will improve health among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, according to a policy paper published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
- Massachusetts Town Says It Will Stop Arresting Drug Addicts, Get Them Medical Help Instead - Gloucester's police chief said they can't reduce illegal drug supply, but they can reduce demand. The police department has decided to be the first in the country to categorically refuse to arrest drug addicts. Instead, it is inviting them to come to the department, where they will then help them find medical treatment.
- Insurers Dodge Obamacare Women's Health Mandates, Study Finds - Some insurers are dodging women's health coverage requirements in Affordable Care Act, according to a new report, but advocates stopped short of calling for new laws to bring those health plans into compliance. The review found 14 plans were not covering maternity care and other health services for dependents, as required by law. One of the more popular provisions of the overhaul was allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until they are 26.
- 'Family Glitch' Puts 1.9 Million CHIP Kids at Risk - When Congress reauthorized federal funding for the state-managed Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years in April, it did not address a so-called family glitch that could jeopardize coverage for nearly 2 million children, according to state CHIP directors and children's health advocates. The glitch is a faulty benchmark under the federal health law that bases the affordability of health plans for families on the cost of coverage for individuals. The cost of a family plan is typically more expensive than individual coverage-but the law didn't set parameters for the affordability of family plans. That means many families can't afford the coverage or qualify for subsidies to help them pay for it, which could cause up to 1.9 million CHIP children to lose coverage altogether, according to the Government Accountability Office.
- Comptroller outlines plan to help governments pay retirees' health care - Legislation backed by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli would address a growing problem of state and municipal funding of post-retirement benefits. The bill calls for the creation of trusts - to which state and certain local governments could contribute - to help pay for retiree benefits. The system would ensure that governments have a pot of money to rely on, instead of using the current "pay-as-you-go" method.
- Sharp decline in the uninsured since the ACA came online - Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the share of the uninsured has fallen sharply. The largest gains have accrued to the young, those with low incomes, and Hispanics.
- When Work and Sleep Conflict, Work Wins - In general, the factor that seems the most closely tied with how much sleep people get is how much they work. More hours of work tend to crowd out sleep. People who work two jobs sleep the least of anyone, according to a recent study, and are most likely to be in the bottom 10 percent of sleepers, sometimes called "short sleepers."
- White House to explore how climate change makes you sick - President Obama launched an initiative aimed at highlighting the connections between climate change and public health, bringing both medical and data experts to the White House. As part of the effort, the White House will hold a Climate Change and Health Summit later this spring, featuring Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
- How inequality harms health - and the economy - Recent research from UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health finds that when inequality is very large, it can lower economic growth, and income inequality is associated with health inequality. The researchers write that lower income is associated with "high levels of stress, exhaustion, cardiovascular disease, lower life expectancy and obesity," and that these health effects on parents also show up in their children.
- Why Smiling Is Turning Into a Luxury For the Middle Class - In his landmark 2000 report, "Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General," Surgeon General David Satcher Satcher wrote that while the United States had made great strides in other areas to improve the health of Americans, "there are profound and consequential disparities in the oral health of our citizens." Those disparities persist, according to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research and released last week by the Children's Dental Health Project, a Washington-based independent nonprofit organization. Not only that, but lack of access to affordable dental care has spread to the middle class.
- St. Lawrence, Jefferson near bottom of healthy counties list - St. Lawrence County is ranked among the worst in the state when it comes to community health, and Jefferson County is not far behind. St. Lawrence County placed 57th out of 62 counties across the state in overall health outcomes such as quality and length of life. The study showed that the county had 1,321 more premature deaths in 2015 than the state's average per county. Jefferson County ranked 44th in terms of health outcomes, but is 26th in the state in quality of life, according to the annual county health rankings.
- ACA Insurer Requirement Generated $5 Billion in Consumer Benefits Over Three Years - The Affordable Care Act's "medical loss ratio" requirement, which limits how much health plans can spend on administration and profits versus patient care, saved $5 billion for consumers from 2011 through 2013, either through rebates or reduced plan spending on overhead, a new Commonwealth Fund analysis finds.
- Number Of Uninsured Fell By More Than 11 Million Since Passage Of Obamacare, CDC Reports - The number of uninsured U.S. residents fell by more than 11 million since President Barack Obama signed the health care overhaul five years ago, according to a pair of reports Tuesday from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although that still would leave about 37 million people uninsured, it's the lowest level measured in more than 15 years.
- 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.
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