Healthcare (& Related Issues) News Roundup: 10 March 2017

STAT – House Republicans would let employers demand workers’ genetic test results (10 March 2017)

This takes the ACA’s “workplace wellness” programs (which allowed employers access to worker health records by levying a penalty to workers) further.

As part of my dissertation project, I am looking at “health citizenship”- the biologization of citizenship/belonging via health discourses. Under this regime, the neoliberal subject’s “self-care” and “maintenance” is an individualized responsibility.

“Employers got virtually everything they wanted for their workplace wellness programs during the Obama administration. The ACA allowed them to charge employees 30 percent, and possibly 50 percent, more for health insurance if they declined to participate in the “voluntary” programs, which typically include cholesterol and other screenings; health questionnaires that ask about personal habits, including plans to get pregnant; and sometimes weight loss and smoking cessation classes.”

 

NYTimes – American Medical Association Opposes Republican Health Plan (8 March 2017)

“All of the major hospital groups, including the American Hospital Association, also came out against the bill. We are very concerned that the draft legislative proposal being considered by the House committees could lead to tremendous instability for those seeking affordable healthcare coverage,” the hospitals said in a letter to Congress. The hospitals also raised concerns about Republicans’ plans to alter Medicaid, which they said could result in a loss of coverage and cuts to health care services.”

 

New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) – How ACA Repeal Would Worsen Opioid Epidemic

Citation: Friedman, P.D., MD, MPH, Andrews, C.M., PhD, and Humphreys, K., PhD. How ACA Repeal Could Worsen Opioid Epidemic. N Engl J Med 2017; 376 e17, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1700834

“For millions more Americans, a total repeal of the ACA could reverse the expansion of parity requirements stipulated in the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) to include all private plans, including those offered in the state health insurance marketplaces, as well as Medicaid expansion programs. Parity requirements mandate that insurance-benefit limits on addiction treatment are no more restrictive than those applied to other medical and surgical services. Parity protections are critical to ensure access to adequate treatment without unfair out-of-pocket costs and limits on the frequency and duration of services. Repeal of the ACA would dismantle these protections and turn the clock back to a time when most Americans were subject to restrictive and inequitable limits on coverage for medication treatment and other supplementary treatments for opioid use disorder.

Rural communities would be hit hardest by repeal. In 2015, the 15 counties with the highest mortality from opioid-related overdose were all predominantly rural, and almost all were located in Kentucky and West Virginia — both states that have expanded Medicaid. Repeal would abruptly reverse the dramatic insurance expansions that have occurred in these and other states, revoking coverage for medication treatment for tens of thousands of rural Americans with opioid use disorders in the midst of an escalating epidemic.”

 

ProPublica – What Hospitals Waste

“In 2012 the National Academy of Medicine estimated the U.S. health care system squandered $765 billion a year, more than the entire budget of the Defense Department. Dr. Mark Smith, who chaired the committee that authored the report, said the waste is “crowding out” spending on critical infrastructure needs, like better roads and public transportation. The annual waste, the report estimated, could have paid for the insurance coverage of 150 million American workers — both the employer and employee contributions.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, for instance, recently estimated that in a single year the hospital wasted $2.9 million in neurosurgery supplies alone. Nearly $3 million. On wasted supplies. In one department.””

 

NPR – Report: Environmental Hazards Kill 1.7 Million Kids Under 5 Each Year (7 March 2017)

”That terrible figure” makes up about a quarter of child deaths under 5, says Dr. Maria Neira, WHO’s public health and environment department director and lead author on the reports. In addition, children can experience mental and physical developmental disorders and an increased lifelong risk for certain diseases because of exposure to pollutants.

The causes of death include respiratory diseases and illnesses spread by water pollution like diarrhea and intestinal infections, as well as non-communicable diseases like cancer, congenital diseases and asthma. These might arise from air pollution or from exposure to toxins in the environment like heavy metals.

Because unhealthy environments might include stagnant water where mosquitoes breed, deaths from mosquito-borne diseases like malaria or dengue are included.”

Esquire Magazine – Disabled Americans Have the Most to Fear Under RepubliCare (8 March 2017)

Approximately twenty percent of Americans, or 56.7 million people, identify has having some degree of disability. Many of them require specialized healt1h care, from routine visits for relatively healthy people with stable impairments, to round-the-clock support for those who need help with tasks of daily living. Disabled people may have the most to lose with proposed reforms to the ACA—and, some fear, they also have a smallest voice in the conversation.

Several components of the GOP plan are particularly worrisome to the disability community, but the proposal to roll back Medicaid may be the single biggest concern. The ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which extended coverage to those making up to 133 percent of the poverty level in states that opted into the program, increased health insurance enrollment in America by more than 14 million, and eliminating it will plunge people off a health-care precipice.

Washington Post – People with Autism, Intellectual Disabilities Fight Bias in Transplants

  • In the US, blind people were ineligible to receive organ transplants until the 1980s- later still for people with Down Syndrome.

Paul Corby needs a new heart. On that there is no dispute. The same rare disease that killed his father at 27 is destroying his left ventricle. While there is no cure or surgery that might repair the damage, a heart transplant could extend his life considerably.
But Corby, who lives in Pottsville, Pa., is autistic, suffers from several psychological conditions and takes 19 medications. When he applied to the transplant program at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011, he was rejected because of his “psychiatric issues, autism, the complexity of the process . . . and the unknown and unpredictable effect of steroids on behavior,” according to the denial letter sent to his mother.”

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