A lack of direction from federal administrators is causing confusion for many hospital administrators. Rural hospitals are among the ones hit hardest.
While insulin is the poster child for outrageous prescription costs, patients are paying ever more to treat depression, asthma, HIV, cholesterol and more. And the pandemic has overtaken efforts to force the issue in Congress.
The legislation falls short of the big challenge.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, more patients are administering dialysis to themselves at home rather than receiving it in a clinic. Although home dialysis limits exposure to the virus, it comes with its own challenges.
President Donald Trump this week issued a prescription drug pricing order unlikely to lower drug prices, and he contradicted comments by his director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the need for mask-wearing and predictions for vaccine availability. Meanwhile, scandals erupted at the CDC, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration. And the number of people without health insurance grew in 2019, reported the Census Bureau, even while the economy soared. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Tami Luhby of CNN and Sarah Karlin-Smith of the Pink Sheet join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this and more. Plus, for extra credit, the panelists recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week they think you should read, too.
Rural hospitals have been closing at a quickening pace in recent years, but a number of inner-city hospitals now face a similar fate. Experts fear that the economic damage inflicted by the COVID pandemic is helping push some of these urban hospitals over the edge at the very time their services are most needed.
Many actors, directors, backstage workers and others in the entertainment industry are often eligible for health coverage through their unions, a model that some experts promote for other gig workers. But coverage is determined by past employment, and many of these professionals aren’t working because of the coronavirus.
Studies show that at least half of ground ambulance rides across the nation leave patients with “surprise” medical bills. And a $300-a-mile ride is not unusual. Yet federal legislation to stem what’s known as balance billing has largely ignored ambulance costs.
Once there were 23 of these nonprofit plans across 26 states; in January there will be only three, serving Maine, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
When people had a health insurance headache, these two words were a relief: “Call Barbara.” No problem was too big, or too small, she’d fix it.