Roughly 68,000 seniors and disabled residents will lose access to a Medicare financial assistance program January 1, when income eligibility requirements change under the newly enacted state budget. Currently, through the Medicare Savings Program, the state Department of Social Services (DSS) pays Medicare Part B premiums for low-income elderly and disabled adults earning less than 246 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $29,667. Part B covers things like doctor visits, lab tests and outpatient care. Those earning less than 234 percent of the poverty level, or about $28,220, can receive additional help covering co-pays, deductibles and prescriptions. In the new year, only those earning less than 100 percent of the poverty level—or $12,060—will qualify to receive all benefits under the program, and those receiving subsidies for premiums alone must earn less than 135 percent of the poverty level to be considered for eligibility.
Various violations that jeopardized patient safety, including several before and after a newborn died, have taken place in Connecticut hospitals, according to the most recent hospital inspection reports from the Department of Public Health (DPH). The reports, which can be found in C-HIT’s Data Mine section, cover inspections that took place at hospitals between 2016 and first few months of 2017. Some of the violations resulted in injuries to patients, while others showed lapses in infection control standards and other protocols. The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain was cited for several violations that preceded a newborn’s death in 2016. DPH found several errors were made during and after the baby’s birth.
The state has fined six nursing homes for various violations that jeopardized patient safety, including one in which a resident was struck by a nurse and others that resulted in residents suffering broken bones. The Nathaniel Witherell in Greenwich was fined $1,940 for two instances, the state Department of Public Health (DPH) said. On March 24, a resident with Parkinson’s disease, dementia and other diagnoses suffered a broken collarbone and broken right hip after falling onto the floor in a bathroom. The resident required supervision for standing and transfers, but a nurse aide left the resident alone for privacy, according to DPH. The resident was treated at local hospital.
Consumers can begin shopping for 2018 health insurance through Access Health CT (AHCT) Wednesday, but will see sizeable price increases and have far less time to enroll than in previous years. Officials at the state’s health insurance exchange are boosting marketing and outreach efforts at a time when many consumers may be confused, said Andrea Ravitz, AHCT’s director of marketing and sales. Despite efforts by President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which created AHCT, the legislation and the marketplace still stand. “The constant mixed messages are confusing people,” Ravitz said. “There are certain things that are affecting the federal platform that are not affecting Connecticut at all.
Millions of Americans will have a hard time falling or staying asleep tonight, and research says most of them will be women. “Insomnia is definitely more common in females, and it seems to begin fairly early on,” said Dr. Meir Kryger, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine who studies sleep. Sleep problems can appear in women as early as their teens or 20s, he said. Various research shows women are more likely than men to experience the sleep disorder. Women are about 1.5 times more likely to have insomnia, said Kryger, who has written several books on the topic, including “The Mystery of Sleep,” which was published in March.
There’s no denying it: most of us are stressed. Stress levels in the country are at their highest in at least a decade, research shows, and a recent American Psychological Association (APA) study found two-thirds of respondents feel stressed about the future. To learn about the leading sources of stress, how stress affects your health and how to reduce stress, the Connecticut Health I-Team will host a community forum, “Getting Ahead of Stress: A Primer on Medicine, Mental Health and Mindfulness,’’ from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, 370 Bassett Road in North Haven. The free event is open to the public and you can register here.
State health officials cited and fined eight nursing homes for various violations that resulted in lapses in care. The Reservoir in West Hartford was fined $2,360 after staff failed to give a resident’s spouse proper written notice that the resident was being transferred to another facility. The resident was moved on July 12 and the resident’s spouse opposed the move because it was far from the spouse’s home. The move came a week after the resident had left the facility despite being identified as an elopement risk and wearing a WanderGuard sensor, the Department of Public Health (DPH) citation said. Police found the resident in a wooded area about 50 feet behind the facility.
The number of low-income Connecticut children receiving dental sealants, a treatment to prevent tooth decay, has grown in recent years and the state’s participation rate outpaces the nation. In 2016, 44,497 (19.6 percent) of the 226,111 children ages 5 to 16 enrolled in the Connecticut Dental Health Partnership had sealants placed on molars, up 9 percent from 2011, according to the state Department of Social Services. Nationally, in the 2015 fiscal year, 14.9 percent of eligible children – 2.7 million out of more than 17 million – received sealants, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. State officials and dental providers make a concerted effort to educate families about the importance of sealants, said Donna Balaski, director of dental services at DSS. “Sealants are shown to be an effective treatment for preventing disease,” she said, and is part of a broader DSS strategy to teach families about overall dental health.
As the opioid epidemic deepens, Yale researchers say starting treatment with medication is the most cost-effective way to treat patients in hospital emergency departments. People with opioid addiction often seek treatment in EDs for overdoses and other ailments. Those who receive buprenorphine, a medication that reduces drug cravings, in the ED incur lower health care costs over the following month than those who get a referral to treatment services or receive a brief intervention with a facilitated referral, according to a new analysis of a randomized clinical trial. The analysis, published today in the journal “Addiction,” compared the estimated health care costs for patients over the 30 days following their ED visit. Those costs included ED care, addiction treatment, inpatient and outpatient costs and medications.
State health officials have fined a Norwalk residential care home $1,000 and ordered it to hire an independent consultant after uncovering safety violations there earlier this year. Carlson Place was ordered to hire a consultant within four weeks of the consent order, which was signed June 26 by state Department of Public Health (DPH) officials and Carlson Place manager and owner Diane Mortali. The consultant must be familiar with public health codes, federal regulations, state building and fire codes, and others standards the facility failed to meet. According to the consent order, which is in effect for two years, the consultant will evaluate the facility’s engineering and maintenance program, assess the coordination of daily maintenance services various vendors provide, make recommendations and report back to DPH on the facility’s compliance efforts. The facility manager must meet with DPH representatives every 90 days.