Health Care Issues
AAUW believes everyone deserves access to quality, affordable, and accessible health care.
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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Paid Family Leave Insurance in Watertown, NY. (Video from Jan. 24, 2014)
Updated December 18, 2014
- 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.
- In the News:North Country Ranks Low In County Health Study - The north country ranks better when you consider what they call Health Outcomes, which includes statistics like length of life as well as physical and mental health days taken. Lewis County ranks 21st, Jefferson 31st, and St Lawrence is 55th. But, when you look at Health Factors, which are largely behaviors, Lewis County is 46th, Jefferson is 52nd, and St Lawrence ranks 56th.
- In the News: Looking at Costs and Risks, Many Skip Health Insurance - Americans who have chosen to be uninsured cited cost, frustration and ideology as some of the reasons they sat out the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act. A common thread running through stories of the unenrolled is cost. Many people either do not qualify for federal subsidies or believe that the assistance is not enough to make insurance affordable, interviews with consumers and experts suggested. According to enrollment counselors in several states, people who have gone without health insurance or major illness for years can be especially resistant to investing in coverage.
- In the News: Cost of Treatment May Influence Doctors - Traditionally, guidelines have heavily influenced the practice of medicine, and the latest ones are expected to make doctors more conscious of the economic consequences of their decisions - even though there is no obligation to follow them. Medical society guidelines are also used by insurance companies to help determine reimbursement policies.
- In the News: Enrollments Exceed Obama's Target for Health Care Act - Eight million people have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, including what the White House said were a sufficient number of young, healthy adults needed to maintain the plan's viability.
- In the News: Hard Choices on Health Exchange Spell Success in N.Y. - More than 900,000 residents signed up for health plans, and premiums have dropped, though the state limited consumers' choices.
- In the News: Sebelius Resigns After Troubles With Health Law Website - Ending a five-year tenure marred by the disastrous rollout of President Obama's signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, Kathleen Sebelius is resigning as secretary of health and human services. He will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, officials said.
- In the News: US Prisons House Ten Times More Mentally Ill Than State Hospitals - There are 10 times more mentally ill Americans in prisons and jails than in state psychiatric hospitals, a report found - adding that those individuals' conditions often deteriorate while they are incarcerated.
- In the News: New York's Paid Sick Leave Law Quietly Takes Effect - The law went into effect on April 1. And despite the naysayers and the critics, the skies didn't fall. Instead, without hoopla or hullabaloo, the city quietly became the largest in the nation to ensure that a vast majority of workers wouldn't lose their jobs or a portion of their paychecks if they or their close relatives got sick.
- In the News: Medicaid sign-ups rise by 3M under Obamacare - Three million lower-income Americans have enrolled in the Medicaid program for the poor so far during the rollout of President Obama's health-care law, the administration announced on Friday.
- In the News: Why Americans Have the Worst Dental Insurance Ever - Why does American dental insurance cover so little for such expensive procedures?
- In the News: Cuomo administration pushes for out-of-network billing protection - The state's Superintendent of Financial Services, Benjamin Lawsky, stood with health care consumer advocates in Albany Monday urging lawmakers to pass legislation Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined in the Executive Budget that would protect patients from surprise out-of-network medical bills.
- In the News: Making Vaccination Mandatory for All Children - Room for Debate asks whether outbreaks of measles are a sign that exemption from immunization should no longer be allowed.
- In the News: New Insurance Rights for Same-Sex Couples - The Obama administration announced that health insurers who provide coverage for heterosexual couples must also provide coverage to married same-sex couples. This announcement followed complaints that insurers were excluding married same-sex couples from benefits.
- In the News: Paid-family-leave bills gain momentum in Albany - On the heels of sweeping paid-sick-leave legislation becoming law in New York City, there's new momentum for another government-mandated benefit for employees: legislation giving weeks of paid time off to workers with a newborn child or seriously ill relative.
- In the News: Expanded paid sick leave is now law - NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill into law: a mandate to require all businesses in New York with five or more employees to provide paid time off to its workers. The bill signing completes a four-year effort by progressive groups and elected officials to push a paid-sick-leave mandate past a skeptical business community and a recalcitrant city government led by Michael Bloomberg and Christine Quinn.
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