Many consumers who obtain insurance through Connecticut’s health care exchange don’t understand the plans they buy—and can struggle to access care as a result, according to a new report. Insurance plans typically use complicated language that is difficult to understand, according to the Health Disparities Institute, UConn Health. As a result, some patients have trouble accessing care, experience delays in care, encounter administrative hassles and face other hurdles, the study found. The institute conducted a statewide poll last year among 516 adults who enrolled in qualified health plans through Access Health CT (AHCT), the state health insurance exchange created under the Affordable Care Act. Many struggled to understand basic insurance terms like “premium,” “deductible” and “co-pay.”
More needs to be done to educate all health insurance consumers, regardless of where they buy their policies, said Lisa Freeman, executive director of the nonprofit Connecticut Center for Patient Safety.
A licensed practical nurse from Ansonia who is accused of murdering an Eastern Connecticut State University student has lost his nursing license in an unrelated case involving a fight he had with a visitor in a patient’s home. The Board of Examiners for Nursing voted Wednesday to revoke the license of Jermaine V. Richards, 34, after holding a hearing. Richards did not attend the hearing because he is being held on a $500,000 bond at Northern Correctional Institution in Somers on a charge that he murdered his is ex-girlfriend, Alyssiah Wiley, 20, of West Haven in 2013. After an extensive search, her dismembered body was found in Trumbull in May 2013, less than two miles from Richards’ home, the Connecticut Post has reported. Richards, who denied the nursing charges in a letter to the state Department of Public Health in December, was not represented by a lawyer at the hearing.
The state Board of Examiners for Nursing on Wednesday disciplined eight nurses, including seven for cases involving the theft or abuse of drugs and alcohol. The board revoked the registered nurse license of Enrique Lopez of Washington Depot, finding that between September and December, while working at Life Spring Home Health Care of Waterbury, he took a drug used to treat panic attacks from patients, records show. He also failed to properly document medical records and falsified a drug record, state Department of Public Health records show. From June to November, he also took an anti-anxiety drug from a patient and offered to pay the patient’s cable bill in return for the drug, records show. The board also found that Lopez made inappropriate comments or had inappropriate physical contact with a patient, records show.
Last fall, Sharon Boland was worried she’d never lose the extra 70 pounds she was carrying. At age 54, everyone told her, it would be nearly impossible to slim down. “I’ve probably carried weight most of my life,” said Boland, a business lawyer who lives in Greenwich, but she had gained an extra 25-30 pounds in the previous few years. Her friends were right: It is undeniably harder to lose weight after about age 50. Eating and exercise habits that worked fine during the 30s and 40s can quickly lead to extra pounds and paunches a decade or two later.
Six nursing homes have been fined for violations, including two incidents where residents died. The Reservoir in West Hartford was fined $3,000 after a resident died and investigators found staff did not administer CPR for the required period of time, according to the state Department of Public Health (DPH). The resident, who was at the facility for short-term rehabilitation, had difficulty breathing on Feb. 6, 2016. A licensed practical nurse (LPN) began performing CPR compressions but soon after, a registered nurse told the LPN to stop the compressions, according to DPH.
A genetic test that helps doctors determine how best to treat breast cancer—and whether chemotherapy is likely to help—is significantly more likely to be administered to white women than blacks or Hispanics, a Yale study has found. The test, called Oncotype Dx (ODx), uses gene expression to gauge how early-stage breast cancer is affecting patients’ gene activity. It uses the information to determine how likely cancer recurrence would be, and physicians and their patients can use that knowledge to decide how to proceed with treatment. Yale researchers retrospectively analyzed a group of more than 8,000 Connecticut women who were diagnosed with hormone receptor positive breast cancer between 2011 and 2013, and found “significant racial and ethnic disparities in use of this new gene test,” said study leader Dr. Cary Gross, a member of Yale Cancer Center and professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine. “It reinforces that, at the same time we are investing in developing new treatments and new testing strategies and we’re promoting them with great excitement, we really need to double-down our efforts to eliminate disparity,” Gross said.
Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHCs) in Connecticut have expanded services, upped their staffing and renovated their facilities mostly due to increased revenue streams from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Connecticut and the 30 other states that opted for the ACA Medicaid expansion program have benefitted from billions of dollars in additional core grant funding, with Connecticut receiving $150.7 million from 2011 to 2016, according to a January report by the Congressional Research Service. Health centers in Connecticut used some of that funding to hire professionals to enroll thousands of residents in health insurance—residents who were previously uninsured and used the centers for their health care. Now the centers are serving about 70,000 more insured patients, mostly covered by Husky Health plans. The cost of treating uninsured patients has declined by about $10 million since 2012, according to Deb Polun, director of government affairs and media relations at the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut.
The Board of Examiners for Nursing today disciplined seven nurses, including five for abusing drugs or alcohol. The board members also recommended that the state Department of Public Health hold a hearing in the case of Mary Howe of Griswold, a registered nurse who has been accused of inappropriate care of an inmate at York Correctional Institution in Niantic. DPH records show that on Nov. 1, 2014, the inmate bumped her head against a wall and fell out of a wheelchair and suffered a serious brain injury while in the prison medical unit. The inmate was hospitalized in critical care until February 2015 and remains in a long-term care facility, records show.
The state Medical Examining Board Tuesday fined a Yale New Haven Hospital doctor $10,000 for abandoning a patient who was detoxing and reached an agreement with a Norwalk doctor to stop practicing medicine because his lapse in care contributed to the death of a patient. Dr. Martin Perlin of Norwalk admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to stop practicing medicine on Aug. 31. The consent order the board approved Tuesday also reprimands him and places his license on probation. It said that Perlin’s lapses in care contributed to a patient death and serious injury to another patient.
Nearly 1,400 new cases of lead-poisoned children under age 6 were reported in Connecticut in 2015, a slight drop from the year before, but more children showed higher levels of poisoning. A child whose blood test shows 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter or higher is considered poisoned. The 2015 numbers show 98 new cases of children with lead levels of 20 micrograms or higher, four times the threshold number and a 32 percent jump from 2014. “We cannot, with any certainty, explain why this is the case,” said Krista M. Veneziano, coordinator of the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s (DPH’s) Lead, Radon, and Healthy Homes Program, about the disproportionately larger numbers of higher toxicity. Exposure to lead can damage cognitive ability, including a measurable and irreversible loss in IQ points.