Category Archives: Healthcare

“woman’s story personifies failures in Medicaid waiver program” – A long read about “system failures” at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

trib review article“Fran Morgante moves her mom, Vilma Morgante, 100, to spend some time in the front room, Thursday, June 20, 2019, at the family’s Lower Burrell home. Fran Morgante, a professional musician lives in New York State and has moved back home to care for her mother.” – SOURCE: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

by Deb Erdley

“Fran Morgante brushed back her mother’s hair tenderly as she offered the tiny elderly woman a drink of water on a hot June day.

“Vilma Morgante, who celebrated her 100th birthday June 21 in her Lower Burrell home, never asked much of the world.

“Her one desire: to die in the neat brick bungalow she and her late husband, Steve, scrimped and saved for and then built from the ground up seven decades ago.

“Frail, suffering from moderate dementia for the previous year and a half and forced to use a wheelchair, she relied on her daughter — a professional violinist with the Buffalo Philharmonic — to steer her through the complex web of rules and regulations that govern the safety net designed to protect the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

“‘Years ago, I tried to talk her into coming to live with me, and she said, “Chica, I want to die at home,” Fran Morgante recalled.

“On July 4, Vilma died at home, one year and two days after qualifying for 24-hour home care — care that never arrived.”

Click here to read this Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article in its entirety.

HHS’s Proposed Changes to Non-Discrimination Regulations Under ACA Section 1557 – Kaiser Family Foundation

Removing gender identity and sex stereotyping from the definition of prohibited sex-based discrimination could allow health care providers to refuse to serve individuals who are transgender or who do not conform to traditional sex stereotypes.”

On June 14, 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed what it describes as “substantial revisions” to its regulations implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in health programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Notably, it is the first federal civil rights law to prohibit discrimination in health care based on sex. The 60-day public comment period on the proposed changes closes on August 13, 2019. The proposal cannot change Section 1557’s protections in the law enacted by Congress but would significantly narrow the scope of the existing HHS implementing regulations, if finalized, by:

  • Eliminating the general prohibition on discrimination based on gender identity, as well as specific health insurance coverage protections for transgender individuals;
  • Adopting blanket abortion and religious freedom exemptions for health care providers;
  • Eliminating the provision preventing health insurers from varying benefits in ways that discriminate against certain groups, such as people with HIV or LGBTQ people;
  • Weakening protections that provide access to interpretation and translation services for individuals with limited English proficiency;
  • Eliminating provisions affirming the right of private individuals to challenge alleged violations of § 1557 in court and to obtain money damages, as well as requirements for covered entities to provide non-discrimination notices and grievance procedures;
  • Narrowing the reach of the regulations by only covering specific activities that receive federal funding, but not other operations, of health insurers that are not “principally engaged in the business of providing health care,” and no longer applying the regulations to all HHS-administered programs;

HHS also requests comment on whether to change certain provisions intended to ensure equal access for people with disabilities. It also proposes eliminating prohibitions on discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in 10 other Medicaid, private insurance, and education program regulations outside Section 1557. If finalized, HHS’s proposed changes would substantially narrow, and in many cases entirely eliminate, the regulations’ existing protections against discrimination in meaningful ways.

Continue reading this article at the Kaiser Family Foundation, click here.

 

“The Elderly Are Getting Complex Surgeries. Often It Doesn’t End Well.” – The New York Times

“Complication rates are high among the oldest patients. Now a surgeons’ group will propose standards for hospitals operating on the elderly.”

senior surgeryCredit: Stuart Briers

By Paula Spahn

“People over 65 represent roughly 16 percent of the American population, but account for 40 percent of patients undergoing surgery in hospitals — and probably more than half of all surgical procedures.

“Those proportions are likely to increase as the population ages and more seniors consider surgery, including procedures once deemed too dangerous for them.

“Dr. Clifford Ko, a colorectal surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles, recently performed major surgery on an 86-year-old with rectal cancer, for instance.

“‘Ten years ago, I’d think, “My god, can this person even survive the operating room?”’” Dr. Ko said. ‘Now, it’s increasingly common to see octogenarians for these types of operations.’

Read this New York Times article in its entirety here.

“Number of Cancer Surgeries Performed in Pennsylvania Hospitals” – Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council

surgery

An article in the May 23/2019 LNP – Always Lancaster states:

“Before scheduling surgery, experts say, it’s a good idea for patients to see how often the procedure is done at the hospitals they’re considering.

“Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council issues an annual report to make that process easy for cancer patients, and the latest version came out today, for July 2017 through June 2018.”

The report released Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council “provides information about the number of cancer-related surgeries performed at Pennsylvania hospitals. Hospital surgical volume is reported for 11 types of cancers including bladder, brain, breast, colon, esophageal, liver, lung, pancreatic, prostate, rectal, and stomach cancer. This information can be helpful to cancer patients, their families, and others when making decisions about cancer surgical care in Pennsylvania.”

At its Website, this question asks: Why is hospital surgical volume important? And according to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, “There is strong evidence in the scientific literature that links hospital surgical volume and patient outcomes for the cancer surgeries included in this report. In other words, patients requiring one of these 11 surgeries are likely to have better results if their surgery is performed at a higher volume hospital. Lower volume hospitals are more likely to have worse outcomes, such as more deaths. While in general the volume of cases reflects the degree of experience a hospital has with performing each type of surgery, volume data should not be used in isolation when making conclusions about hospital quality since many other factors such as patient level of sickness (stage of cancer) or surgeon experience may also contribute to the overall outcome.”

Click here to see the report, Number of Cancer Surgeries Performed in Pennsylvania Hospitals State Fiscal Year 2018 (July 2017 – June 2018).:

 

“A.I. Took a Test to Detect Lung Cancer. It Got an A. | Artificial intelligence may help doctors make more accurate readings of CT scans used to screen for lung cancer.” – The New York Times

lung scanA colored CT scan showing a tumor in the lung. Artificial intelligence was just as good, and sometimes better, than doctors in diagnosing lung tumors in CT scans, a new study indicates. Credit Voisin/Science Source

by Denise Grady

“Computers were as good or better than doctors at detecting tiny lung cancers on CT scans, in a study by researchers from Google and several medical centers.

“The technology is a work in progress, not ready for widespread use, but the new report, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, offers a glimpse of the future of artificial intelligence in medicine.

“One of the most promising areas is recognizing patterns and interpreting images — the same skills that humans use to read microscope slides, X-rays, M.R.I.s and other medical scans.

“y feeding huge amounts of data from medical imaging into systems called artificial neural networks, researchers can train computers to recognize patterns linked to a specific condition, like pneumonia, cancer or a wrist fracture that would be hard for a person to see.”

Read this New York Times article in its entirety, click here. 

 

“Hospitals look to computers to predict patient emergencies before they happen” – STAT news

command centers(MIKE REDDY FOR STAT)

by Mike Reddy

CLEVELAND — Seven floors, and long odds, were stacked against John S. He was undergoing a test on the first floor of a Cleveland Clinic hospital when his nursing team — on the eighth floor — got a call, telling them the 57-year-old had developed a dangerously rapid heartbeat that was spiraling toward cardiac arrest.

“It is a predicament that often ends badly. Only about 25 percent of U.S. patients survive when their hearts stop in hospitals. Crucial minutes elapse before help arrives, sometimes because alarms are missed amid the din of beeping monitors.

“But the call that day didn’t come from within the hospital. It came from a darkened room in an office park several miles away, where a technician in the clinic’s Central Monitoring Unit (CMU) was watching the patient’s vital signs on a computer monitor and noticed the onset of ventricular tachycardia.”

Continue reading this STAT  news article in its entirety, click here.

Nurses: “the professionals Americans trust most”

Today is the beginning of National Nurses Week.

nurses“Clinical Nurse Elise Ross stands in front of the nurses station central monitor for patient vital signs in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit in MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC on June 25, 2013.”

“Nurses consistently rank at the top of the country’s most trusted professionals. And this week, America celebrates them.

“National Nurses Week begins on National Nurses Day, May 6, and concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

“Here are some facts about the nurses that tend to you when you’re sick — and the week that celebrates them:” continue reading this WNGO.com article here.


nurses 2“A nursing class in 1942.” – LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Here’s another article that reinforces the trust that people have in nurses:

“Doctors need to regain patients’ trust. Nurses can help them do that”STATNews.com

“More than half of middle-income seniors will lack resources for housing and care, study says” – The Boston Globe

senior careSenior housing with health care services will be out of reach for more than half of middle-income Americans over 75 years old in the coming decade, according to a new study. (SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF/FILE/2012)

by Robert Weisman

For more than half of middle-income Americans over 75 years old, senior housing with health care services will be out of reach in the coming decade, a new study warns.

“The report, published Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs, is the first comprehensive look at a vast and growing demographic group researchers call the ‘forgotten middle’ — people who can’t afford private assisted-living facilities but don’t qualify for subsidized nursing home care unless they spend down the assets they accumulate during their working years.

“As the ranks of retired baby boomers swell and many live longer than their parents, the study projects that by 2029 about 14.4 million middle-income seniors — nearly double today’s number — will lack the financial resources for housing that offers personal care assistance.”

Continue reading this Boston Globe article, click here.


Read the article at Health Affairs here.

“Hospitals Stand to Lose Billions Under ‘Medicare for All’” – The New York Times

medicare for allProponents held up signs as Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the Medicare for All bill in Washington this month.” Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

by Reed Abelson

“For a patient’s knee replacement, Medicare will pay a hospital $17,000. The same hospital can get more than twice as much, or about $37,000, for the same surgery on a patient with private insurance.

“Or take another example: One hospital would get about $4,200 from Medicare for removing someone’s gallbladder. The same hospital would get $7,400 from commercial insurers.

“The yawning gap between payments to hospitals by Medicare and by private health insurers for the same medical services may prove the biggest obstacle for advocates of ‘Medicare for all,’ a government-run system.

“If Medicare for all abolished private insurance and reduced rates to Medicare levels — at least 40 percent lower, by one estimate — there would most likely be significant changes throughout the health care industry, which makes up 18 percent of the nation’s economy and is one of the nation’s largest employers.”

Keep reading this New York Times article, click here.

“Telemedicine, urgent care use on the rise” – STAT: Morning Rounds

A new white paper released today from the nonprofit FAIR Health looked at medical pricing and other health care trends from 2012 to 2017 and found that people in the U.S. used more telehealth services and urgent care centers in 2017 than during the previous year.

telehealth

Here’s a closer look at the report’s findings:

  • Telehealth: Use of telemedicine services grew nationally by 53 percent between 2016 and 2017, with 55 percent growth in urban areas and 29 percent growth in rural areas. Oklahoma had the most telehealth usage, New Jersey the least.
  • Urgent care centers: The use of urgent care centers in urban areas increased by 15 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, while staying the same in rural areas. The average price per 30-minute visit was most expensive for urgent care centers, at $213, compared to $207 in a doctor’s office and $129 in a retail clinic.
  • Emergency care: Emergency department use decreased 2 percent between 2016 and 2017 — by 1 percent in urban areas and 10 percent in rural areas. Women were more likely than men to use the ED, and among adult patients not in college, the diagnosis with the most ED visits was acute respiratory infections.