Weekly Dose of Health News

In this week’s installment of the “Weekly Dose,” you’ll find information on New York’s submission of a Medicaid waiver to the federal government, implementing health insurance exchanges, studies predicting the impact of the Affordable Care Act, and more!

Please let us know us what you think and if there is a particular topic you would like to see covered.

As reported earlier this week in the New York Health Works blog, New York State formally submitted  an application to the federal government for an 1115 waiver. The Times Union profiles how the state plans to invest up to $10 billion in savings generated by the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) reforms into New York’s healthcare system (Vielkind, 8/7). The Department of Health has requested an expedited review of the waiver by officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The full waiver application is available here.

Now that the Affordable Care Act has been upheld, the New York Times writes that federal officials at the Department of Health and Human Services are gearing up to run health insurance exchanges  in a number of states where the state officials are unwilling to establish the insurance market places (Pear, 8/4). The Washington Post wrote about this issue as well (8/7).  On a related note the Wall Street Journal finds that many consumers are confused  by the concept of health insurance exchanges and states are grappling with how to convey information to individuals that will be purchasing their health insurance through the exchanges (Radnofsky, 8/7).

When fully implemented, the Affordable Care Act will expand the number of people with health insurance. On Monday, the August issue of Health Affairs published a study by Sandra Decker of the National Center for Health Statistics which found that about one in three doctors across the country would not accept new patients who are covered by Medicaid. This finding could mean that new Medicaid recipients under the Affordable Care Act will face an uphill battle to find a medical provider.

Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act young adults may stay on their parents’ health plans until they reach the age of 26.  While this is welcome news for many parents and children, the Washington Post finds that some of these plans do not provide maternity benefits­­ causing some families to rethink how to provide for a dependent child’s health care during pregnancy (Andrews, 8/6).

The Los Angeles Times  reports that a recent study by the Mercer consulting firm found that more than 60% of employers anticipate some increase in their health benefit costs due to the federal Affordable Care Act (Terhune, 8/8).

Reuters  examines a concern among undocumented immigrants that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all U.S. citizens and permanent residents obtain health insurance will make it easier for law enforcement to identify undocumented immigrants in health care settings because they lack coverage. (Ebrahim, 8/9).

Another study published in Health Affairs found that hospitals that serve large numbers of minority patients are more likely to struggle with emergency-department overcrowding. Dr. Renee Hsia, the lead researcher in the study, found that hospitals struggling with overcrowding are more likely to reroute ambulances to other hospitals—a practice that can exacerbate existing health disparities as it delays the time it takes for patients to get care.

The federal Government Accountability Office released a report on the costs of blood-borne pathogen outbreaks in doctors’ offices and ambulatory surgery centers. The report analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and concluded that available information likely underestimates the full extent of problems linked to unsafe injection practices.

-Jaime Venditti, 8/10/12