Friday's Feature

Greetings All, spring is officially here. Monday marked the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere…the point at which the day and the night are both 12 hour long, after a winter of shorter days and longer nights. The word “equinox” comes from the Latin words for “equal” and “night.”

Breaking News: House Leaders Pull Replacement Bill from Floor After Failing to Lock Up Votes

News, Announcements, Celebrations

  • This year’s Colorado Health Symposium sponsored by the Colorado Health Foundation in Keystone, August 2-4 is titled, Let’s Talk About…Inequality. Registration opens May 22nd. Read more from president, Karen McNeil-Miller here.
  • WHO World Health Day…April 7th.

Community Prevention

Policy Efforts

  • 7 Reasons to Save the ACA On Its 7th Birthday is a posting by Dr. Sanjeev K. Sriram on The Huffington Post who says “it is a great time to remind Congress what the law and everyday Americans have accomplished for health justice.” Not the least important is reason #7: Some states are putting patients before politics.
  • Eleven health-care bill changes aimed at wooing moderates and the far-right is a posting by Amy Goldstein and colleagues in The Washington Post that spells out the amendments to the proposed health plan as of last night.
  • Medicaid expansion moves forward in Kansas amid federal uncertainty is a story in The Kansas City Star by Jonathan Shorman about how Kansas state lawmakers advanced a Medicaid expansion proposal Thursday as Congress contemplated a bill that could halt states from expending the program. This fall voters elected a number of new Democratic and moderate Republican lawmakers, giving a boost to supporters of expansion.
  • Vital Direction for Health and Health Care: Priorities from a National Academy of Medicine Initiative is an article by Dr. Victor J. Dzau and colleagues in JAMA is a review of the salient health challenges and opportunities facing the United States to identify practical and achievable priorities essential to health progress, and to present policy initiatives critical to the nation’s health and fiscal integrity. The authors write how Issues central to the future of health and health care in the United States transcend the ACA provisions receiving the greatest attention. Initiatives directed at certain strategic and infrastructure priorities are vital to achieve better health at lower cost.
  • Vital Direction and National Will is an editorial by Dr. Don Berwick in JAMA in which he says there would be neither an interstate highway system nor footprints on the moon if the United States had undertaken road building or space exploration in the same manner it is chasing health system reform.
  • Medicaid Work Requirement Wouldn’t Shrink Spending Much is an NPR story by Alison Kodjak who reports that forcing people to work as a condition of Medicaid doesn’t help people get jobs, it’s a barrier to getting care. She points to the experience of welfare reform as a guide.
  • It’s Not Clear How Many People Could Actually Work to Get Medicaid is a story on NPR by Jessica Boddy about one of the changes to the GOP health care proposal being to let states impose work requirements on some Medicaid recipients. This is an interview with Leighton Ku, professor of health policy at George Washington University who disagrees that this creates opportunity for people. This will actually disallow some people to pursue other opportunities.
  • Widow says mental health stigma killed her husband is a story on Michigan Radio about how a personal tragedy opened the eyes of a Detroit News columnist about stigma, that has been built up around mental health problems. Her husband waited too long to seek care due to the associated stigma, she believes.
  • What’s at Stake in a Health Bill That Slashes the Safety Net is a story by Eduardo Porter in The New York Times about how the United States still spends less than most of its peers across the industrialized world to support the general welfare of its citizens. But during the Obama administration the gap shrank to its smallest size since the early 1980s.
  • GOP Health Plan Has Its Own Financial Stick to Prod People to Buy Insurance is an NPR story by Jordan Rau about the GOP approach called the “continuous coverage” penalty, which increases the cost of the premiums for anyone buying an individual insurance policy if they have gone 63 or more consecutive days without health insurance in the previous 12 months. The monthly premiums would rise by 30%, and that surcharge would last for a year.
  • NC mental health system needs rebuilding is a posting by John Nathan Copeland on The News & Observer about how North Carolina has massively reduced and misused mental health resources for decades. The state has the resources, talent and services to significantly improve this situation but must convince the legislators to reverse the defunding of mental health, pass the STOP Act, and invest in a dynamic and comprehensive mental health system.
  • How the GOP Bill Could Change Health Care, in 8 Charts is a posting on FiveThirtyEight by Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Charles Smart with graphics you might find useful.
  • Cost-of-Care Conversations is an annotated bibliography put together by Drs. Ashley Stillwell and Jack Westfall (Farley Health Policy Center) that presents current literature to provide guidance for further research on improving the frequency and quality of cost-of-care conversations between clinicians and vulnerable patients.
  • Medicaid is out of control. Here’s how to fix it. Is an opinion piece in The Washington Post by Robert J. Samuelson about how 75% of Medicaid recipients are either children or young adults and account for 33% of costs; the elderly and disabled constitute the other 25% of recipients, but represent 67% of the costs. Medicaid covers nursing home and other long-term care and Medicaid covers these for the poor elderly and disabled. A solution…transfer Medicaid’s long-term care to the federal government and the states would assume all Medicaid’s costs for children and younger adults.
  • We need to talk about military mental health is an opinion piece by Sgt. Jared Evans, force recon Marine veteran and president of My Carolina Veterans Alumni Council who believes that supporting active servicemen and women and veterans who struggle with PTSD is critical…leave no brother or sister behind…and that mentality shouldn’t end once you leave the battlefield.
  • Colorado hospitals, health care experts give GOP’s repeal of Obamacare a shaky prognosis is a posting on The Colorado Springs Gazette by Jakob Rodgers about the dramatic changes Coloradans could face if the GOP healthcare proposal would be approved.
  • University of Minnesota students say mental health help lags is a posting on the Rapid City Journal site that talks about increasing needs on college campuses and the inadequate resources.
  • Colorado’s opioid abuse problem draws state lawmakers’ attention is a story in The Denver Post by John Frank about how the State Senate is expected to approve two bills to expand opioid substance abuse treatment due to the spike in Colorado opioid overdose deaths. One involves creating a substance abuse research center at the University of Colorado and another bill to launch a pilot project in Pueblo and Routt, two hard hit counties.
  • Rural Areas Brace for a Shortage of Doctors Due to Visa Policy is a story in The New York Times by Miriam Jordan about how a little-publicized decision by the government to alter the timetable for some visa applications is likely to delay the arrival of new foreign doctors, and is causing concern in the places that depend on them.
  • Proposed Cuts to Medicaid Could Mean Big Cuts to School-Based Health Services is a posting by Lisette Partelow and Kami Spicklemire on the Center for American Progress site about, known to few, public schools receive a small portion of Medicaid dollars to cover medical expenses they incur for providing services to students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and for providing services such as health screenings, vaccinations, and behavioral health services to Medicaid-eligible children…equaling approximately $3 billion annually in federal funds.
  • Late Move to Dump Essential Benefits Could Strand Chronically Ill is a posting on Kaiser Health News by Jay Hancock about the last minute attempt by conservative Republicans this week to dump standards for health benefits in plans sold to individuals would probably lower the average consumer’s upfront insurance costs, but will likely also induce insurers to offer much skimpier plans, potentially excluding the gravely ill.

 Research, Data, Evaluation