By 1900, there had already been some three-dozen deaths by motor vehicles. This was at a time when the top speed of the Columbia, made by Hartford-based Pope Manufacturing, was 13 miles an hour. Cars got faster, and ubiquitous. Just a half century later, the number of motor vehicle deaths had reached epidemic proportions, 53,000 and rising. All along, safety features were being added, from turn signals in the ‘20s to padded dashboards in the ‘40s.
Over a dozen of the cooperative health insurers that started under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have failed, but leaders of Connecticut’s co-op say it is on track to turn a profit next year. “We’re very viable,” said Ken Lalime, CEO of Wallingford-based HealthyCT, a member-run, nonprofit health insurance co-op. “There are a lot of stable pieces of” HealthyCT. The co-op is enduring when others have died off, he said, by strategically adapting to changes in the ACA, and diversifying its portfolio. About a third of its business is insuring individuals, a third is small group policies and a third is large group insurance policies, he said.
More than 60 medical experts, state health directors and advocacy groups have asked federal Medicare officials to remove questions related to pain treatment from hospital patient surveys that are used to rate hospital quality, saying such questions “have had the unintended consequence of encouraging aggressive opioid use in hospitalized patients and upon discharge.”
In a letter to Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the group said “aggressive management of pain should not be equated with quality healthcare, as it can result in unhelpful and unsafe treatment, the end point of which is often the inappropriate provision of opioids.” The coalition asked that CMS survey questions such as “During this hospital stay, how often was your pain well controlled?” be removed. The group sent a similar letter to the Joint Commission, which accredits U.S. hospitals, asking that it revise its pain management standards – specifically, guidelines directing doctors to ask patients to assess their pain, as they assess other “vital signs.”
“Mandating routine pain assessments for all patients in all settings is unwarranted and can lead to overtreatment and overuse of opioid analgesics,” they wrote. The letters come as Connecticut and other states grapple with a surge in opioid-related overdoses. Last week, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., joined several other senators to support a bill that would factor-out the pain-related questions on patient surveys from hospitals’ Medicare reimbursement determinations. Meanwhile, at the state legislature, the Public Health Committee has proposed a bill that would cap initial prescriptions of opioids to seven days for acute pain.
Beating Diabetes: Food, Fitness and Focus
The Conn. Health I-Team, in collaboration with ConnectiCare and the Hispanic Health Council, is hosting a panel discussion on the latest developments in early screening and treatment of diabetes, and adopting a healthy lifestyle – with a special appearance by Chef Jay Lewis, who will present a sampling of healthy food choices. Thursday, April 7, 5:00-7:30 PM • Chrysalis Center, 255 Homestead Ave., Hartford • Free on-site parking available • Live Spanish translation provided
WALK-INS WELCOME!! Panelists
Dr. Robert M. Oberstein
Endocrinologist and Medical Director
Diabetes LifeCare, Hartford Hospital
Dr. Jorge Diez
Endocrinologist and Internal Medicine Specialist,
Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center
Elizabeth Caffrey MPH, RD, CDE
Registered Dietitian and Educator
Diabetes LifeCare, Hartford Hospital
Nutrition Educator and Research Assistant,
Hispanic Health Council
Moderator: Diane Alverio
5:00-6:00 PM: Meet Executive Chef Jay Lewis
Author of “The Gentleman’s Cook Book”
Thanks to our sponsors! Supporters
Special Recognition: This event is supported by a grant from the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
Citing the escalating incidence of opioid addiction and overdoses in Connecticut, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Monday that the state needs a “comprehensive, multifaceted” approach to combat the problem and identify areas in which federal funds might support those efforts. More than a dozen educators, physicians, law-enforcement representatives, substance-abuse experts, public-health professionals, and members of advocacy groups joined Blumenthal at the standing-room-only event at the offices of Community Mental Health Affiliates in New Britain. Also attending were two young adults who were in recovery after years of addiction that led to their incarceration and eventual treatment, along with a mother who lost her 26-year-old son to an overdose. “Drug addiction among young people is a horrendous and life-threatening epidemic – a deadly epidemic, as we have seen in the last few days,” Blumenthal said, referring to the nine heroin overdoses, one of them fatal, that occurred in New London County this past weekend. Blumenthal said that educators, physicians, social services and lawmakers must work together.
Patients billed for a facility fee for outpatient hospital services will get a clearer explanation of the charge, under legislation taking effect Friday. Connecticut has taken various steps to educate patients about the fees. The latest changes, passed this year as part of a broader health care bill, put further mandates on institutions that charge the fees. Patients have complained they were blindsided by the fees on their medical bills, and patient advocates say the fees are difficult to understand. A facility fee is charged by a hospital or health system for outpatient services provided in a hospital facility, intended specifically to compensate the facility for operational expenses.
Despite national debate on whether doctors should use social media, some physicians are forging ahead, using platforms such as Twitter to interact with colleagues, expand their knowledge and even connect with patients. Dr. Nick Bennett, the infectious disease and immunology medical director for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, said he benefits professionally from Twitter. He created his account, @peds_id_doc, a few years ago to see what Twitter was about, and he’s remained a loyal user. Bennett started by following health-related accounts and live tweeting from conferences. He also joined Twitter chats – conversations that use hash tags to link tweets.
For all of recorded history, the contraceptive of choice for men—short of sterilization, withdrawal or abstinence—has been the condom. How ubiquitous are condoms? The federal government says 18 billion condoms will be used worldwide this year alone. They’re sold in latex, lambskin (good for pregnancy prevention, not good for prevention of STDs or HIV), and ribbed with something called “tattoo-inspired textures.”
The choices are dizzying, but only within an extremely small field that involves placing an expandable sheath over an erect penis. Not a single new form of male contraceptives has been introduced on the market in this century—or the last.
State Attorney General George Jepsen wants a California-based drugmaker to explain why the cost of a medication used to treat heroin overdoses has suddenly jumped, claiming the increase could jeopardize lives if Connecticut first responders can no longer afford to administer it. Jepsen wrote a letter this week to Jack Zhang, CEO of Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc., asking why the cost of Naxolone, a drug also known as Narcan, has “dramatically and unexpectedly” risen.
The drug is injected into patients to counter the effects of an opioid overdose, and first responders in Connecticut often use it to treat those suffering from heroin overdoses, according to Jepsen.
To read full report by ctnewsjunkie.com click here.
C-HIT (Connecticut Health I-Team) won four awards from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists for stories published in 2014, covering topics ranging from health disparities, to the use of restraints in state psychiatric units. C-HIT columnist Susan Campbell won a first-place award for online general column writing for her piece, Racial Health Divide in Utero, which the judges said examined a “serious and important issue in Connecticut: the disparity in health care for pregnant moms and newborns. Well researched and written.”
C-HIT senior writer and co-founder Lisa Chedekel won second-place in online investigative reporting for her piece, State Restrains Psychiatric Patients at High Rate, which found that hospitals in Connecticut restrain psychiatric patients at more than double the average national rate, with elderly patients facing restraint at a rate seven times the national average. C-HIT contributor Jodie Mozdzer Gil won a second-place award for in-depth online reporting for a story that examined emergency room visits for asthma. And contributor Peggy McCarthy won a third-place award in the same category for an article that looked at the myriad health problems of women veterans of Iraq.