With Rural Health Care Stretched Thin, More Patients Turn To Telehealth

July 8, 2019, NPR, Patti Neighmond - Telehealth turned Jill Hill’s life around. The 63-year-old lives on the edge of rural Grass Valley, an old mining town in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. She was devastated after her husband Dennis passed away in the fall of 2014 after a long series of medical and financial setbacks. “I was grief-stricken and my self-esteem was down,” Hill remembers. “I didn’t care about myself. I didn’t brush my hair. I was isolated. I just kind of locked myself in the bedroom.” Hill says knew she needed therapy to deal with her deepening depression. But the main health center in her rural town had just two therapists. Hill was told she’d only be able to see a therapist once a month.

Affordable Care Act gears up for momentous test in court

July 8, 2019, CNN, Joan Biskupic -  Nearly a decade after President Barack Obama signed the legislation, and after it twice survived challenges at the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act faces a momentous test in a New Orleans courtroom this week. Millions of Americans, including those with cancer, diabetes and other chronic conditions, cannot be denied coverage because of the ACA’s sweeping insurance regulations. With this fresh case, destined to climax at the Supreme Court yet again, the stakes for the continued existence of the ACA are as high as ever. The case, to be heard Tuesday by a three-judge appeals court panel, was initiated by Texas and other Republican-led states. Joined now fully by the Department of Justice, they want the ACA declared unconstitutional. At an earlier stage of this litigation, the Trump administration had said only certain parts of the law, tied to the individual insurance requirement, should be struck down.

5 ways Trump is undermining Obamacare without the courts

July 7, 2019, CNN, Tami Luhby - Obamacare is facing its next big court challenge this week, but regardless of what the judges decide, President Donald Trump has already succeeded in hobbling the landmark health reform law. Trump has been trying to dismantle Obamacare from the first day he took office. Hours after his inauguration, he signed an executive order directing agencies to interpret regulations as loosely as possible and to minimize the financial burden of the law through waivers, exemptions or delays. But after the Republican-controlled Congress failed to repeal Obamacare in 2017, Trump unleashed a series of executive changes to further undermine the law. Trump has repeatedly said his administration would unveil a plan to replace Obamacare, though Republican senators have distanced themselves from that promise. He told ABC News in June that he’ll release a plan in the next two months.

‘Sometimes, there’s no do-over’: Pool safety campaign aims to reduce child drownings

July 6, 2019,The Washington Post, Erin Blakemore - With summer in full swing, pools beckon children who are eager to jump in, cool off and have fun. Brain injury or death are far from the minds of most families who own or use pools. But they shouldn’t be. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional deaths among children between 1 and 4 years old. For every child who drowns, another five visit the emergency department for a nonfatal injury associated with submersion. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a national public education campaign aimed to reduce child drownings and swimming pool entrapments. Pool Safely was designed to educate parents and children about pool risks - and how to sidestep them without giving up the pursuit of summer fun.

What Would Giving Health Care to Undocumented Immigrants Mean?

June 3, 2019, The New York Times, Jan Hoffman - Providing comprehensive health coverage to undocumented immigrants has long been nothing more than a wouldn’t-it-be-nice item on the far left’s wish list. But in the crowded field of candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, nearly everyone supports it. Almost all of the 19 candidates who responded to a recent New York Times survey on health care positions said “yes” to a question about whether undocumented immigrants should be covered under a “Medicare for all” system, a public option or other government health programs. And during the second night of the Democratic debates last week, the idea received a unanimous show of hands in support.

Why the flight to the hospital is more costly than ever

July 1, 2019, The Washington Post, Christopher Rowland - Air ambulance rates in the United States are soaring. The cost of a medical ride in a helicopter or airplane climbed about 60 percent from 2012 to 2016, to a median of $39,000, according to a study of federal data released Monday. The list charges rose to as much as 10 times what Medicare pays for the service, despite a surge of air ambulance carriers entering the market, the study said. Because many air ambulance companies are not part of insurance networks, patients often get hit with the huge bills, according to the findings by Johns Hopkins University researchers, whose study was published in the journal Health Affairs.