OUR OPINION: Rural healthcare crisis demands attention

June 9, 2019, The Daily Journal, Editorial - Election season is a meaningful time to discuss important issues, and we believe there is a significant topic that must receive attention this summer and fall. Across the nation, rural hospitals are being squeezed by various financial pressures, a trend that is more acute in one of the country’s poorest and most rural states. Five Mississippi hospitals have closed since 2013, and four others declared bankruptcy last year, although they each remained open. A report released earlier this year by consulting firm Navigant claimed 31 of the state’s 64 rural hospitals were at risk of closing because of poor finances. It’s a challenge that demands solutions. It’s one that cries out for robust debate from candidates in this year’s statewide elections. Any time a hospital closes in rural Mississippi, it brings a myriad of consequences. Health care options are limited. Residents find themselves farther from emergency care, and many likely skip primary care visits because of inconvenience. Meanwhile, small communities lose a major employer and an economic driver.

Officials want you to know about these 6 Mississippi nursing homes on a problematic list

June 7, 2019, The Clarion Ledger, Giacomo Bologna - One Mississippi nursing home repeatedly failed to administer medication correctly. Another lacked proper plans for residents’ medical conditions. One center allowed a diabetic resident’s toenails to grow long, curling upward and causing her pain. A nurse at a different facility was accused of being verbally abusive to an incontinent resident, who felt humiliated.  These nursing homes are among six in Mississippi that ended up on a list of problematic care centers across the country. Two U.S. Senators from Pennsylvania, concerned about the care of people in nursing homes, released the list of about 400 facilities Monday. The facilities - which comprise about 3 percent of nursing homes nationwide - all qualify for a federal program that puts them under increased scrutiny.

Children’s Safety on Wheels

June 10, 2019, The New York Times, Perri Klass, M.D. -  A 13-year-old patient recently talked to me about the amount of time he spends playing video games (plenty) and about his weight (heavier than he wants, and on the rise). I asked about exercise, and he told me proudly that he rides his bike a lot, now that the weather is good. And then, of course, I had to be the fun police, and ask whether he wears a helmet, and when he told me no, of course, I had to take the opportunity to deliver more good advice that I suspected he was not going to follow, and his parents were not going to enforce. A national poll by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan in May asked parents of children from 4 to 13 about safety rules when their children ride bikes, skateboards and scooters, and found that only 59 percent of parents reported their child always wears a helmet, with the number even lower for skateboards (42 percent) and scooters (39 percent).

Keeping Kids Healthy And Sane In A Digital World

June 6, 2019, KHN, Bernard J. Wolfson - The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding almost all digital media use for kids under 2 and limiting it to one hour of “high-quality programming” for children between ages 2 and 5, with a parent involved. Such programming can improve young children’s learning, literacy and social skills, the academy says. It suggests parents check PBS Kids, Sesame Workshop and Common Sense Media for educational apps and TV programs. The academy also recommends no screen time within an hour of bedtime, and it advises parents to establish a personalized family plan that sets age-appropriate guidelines for the type of digital media allowed and the amount of time kids can spend on it. Create your family’s plan at

Soaring insurance deductibles and high drug prices hit sick Americans with a ‘double whammy’

June 6, 2019, Washington Post, Paige Winfield Cunningham - Expanding health insurance to many more Americans isn’t happening anytime soon. That’s obvious from the endless clashes between Democrats and Republicans over Obamacare and Medicare-for-all. But there might be an opening for legislation to help people afford the care they receive - a problem so common that more than 1 in 4 Americans say they skipped needed health-care services in the past two years because they felt they couldn’t afford them. “If I go church and there is a Bernie Sanders supporter and a Donald Trump supporter yanking on different lapels but agreeing on the same thing, it’s the high cost of medications,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told reporters this week. “I think that’s why you see candidates across the spectrum speaking of it.” On at least four separate occasions, President Trump has given addresses on the need to bring down health care and prescription drug costs, most recently calling for an end to the surprise medical bills patients receive all too often. His White House is reportedly in ongoing conversations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office over drug pricing legislation.

What States Mean by a ‘Public Option’

June 6, 2019, PEW,  Michael Ollove - “Public option means the government being more prescriptive,” said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, a managing director at Manatt Health, which provides consulting and legal services in health care. “There’s more of the state weighing in.“In general, when policymakers use the term “public option,” they mean a health plan with significant government control. That might mean programs created and operated by government, as Medicare and Medicaid originally were, or programs largely under government control but run by private entities. Public option is a “squishy term,” said JoAnn Volk, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. “It does mean different things to different people, depending on your goals and assumptions.“Whatever form it takes, proponents of a public option believe it would provide consumers with health insurance that is more affordable.