Time is ticking to take advantage of reduced or no-cost health insurance plans through the American Rescue Plan Act Special Enrollment Period, which ends August 15. Residents can access discounted insurance coverage by enrolling through Access Health CT, Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace. “The American Rescue Plan Act has made health insurance coverage significantly more affordable and this special enrollment period provides access to this help for many more people,” said James Michel, chief executive officer at Access Health CT. “We ask that if you or someone you know is uninsured or unemployed, please enroll by Aug. 15.”
According to Access Health CT, people at nearly every income level can expect reduced fees, with an average yearly savings of nearly $1,400 per household.
Residents testing positive for COVID-19 totaled 355,580, up 1,245 since Friday; the positivity rate is 3.18%, the Department of Public Health (DPH) reported. The state reported 9,944,525 COVID tests completed, up 39,189. Hospitalizations rose by 32 to total 148, since Friday. The state reported 7 deaths since July 23, bringing the death total to 8,293. COVID deaths are reported weekly on Thursdays.
With federal and state eviction moratoriums ending soon, a team of researchers from Yale University and two other universities has found an apparent link between landlord-related forced housing moves and risky sexual behavior. In a study of 360 New Haven residents between 2017 and 2018, the researchers from Yale, American University and Drexel University found that such forced moves made some people sexually vulnerable and less likely or able to negotiate the use of condoms in a relationship. Seventy-seven New Haven residents in the study reported having been evicted or forced to move in the last two years because a landlord raised the rent or went into foreclosure, or for other reasons such as illegal drug use or sales. The study consistently found that those participants were more likely to report having unprotected sex or multiple sex partners than others in the study. Four percent of the residents who reported a forced move also reported providing sex for a place to live, and 8% reported having sex in exchange for money or drugs, said one of the researchers, Allison K. Groves, an assistant professor of community health and prevention at Drexel.
The state Medical Examining Board voted Tuesday to discipline two physicians with fines and ordered a Newington woman to stop providing injections for a fee without a medical license. In the first case, Dr. Richard Kravitz, who works at the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Haven and a private office in Hamden, came under scrutiny in August of 2018 after a female patient in his private practice reported that he had failed to inform her about side effects from the medication he prescribed, according to a consent order approved by the board. The woman contended in a letter to the board that Kravitz prescribed toxic levels of Lithium for three years but never sought blood tests, even though she complained of neurological symptoms. He also prescribed a “cocktail” of five other drugs, leaving the woman with side effects that changed her personality and appearance, she said. An investigation into the allegations revealed that Kravitz had failed to order laboratory testing for the woman and failed to document her treatments for three years, beginning in December 2015, documents said. Under a consent order, Kravitz must pay a $10,000 fine and follow the stipulations of an 18-month probation period including attending classes in proper documentation and laboratory monitoring of prescriptions.
The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday issued $5,000 fines to two physicians, including one who failed to further evaluate a lesion found by an MRI in the vertebra of a patient; and slightly loosened the restrictions placed on a Torrington doctor who successfully completed a five-year probationary period. Gabriel Abella, a doctor practicing physical medicine and pain management, provided care to a patient from August to October 2017, state Department of Public Health (DPH) documents show. During that time, the patient received an MRI which showed a suspicious lesion within the vertebrae, the DPH said. But Abella did not acknowledge the radiologist’s report that indicated there was a lesion and didn’t order any further follow-up care to evaluate the lesion, DPH documents show. In addition to the $5,000 fine, the board reprimanded Abella’s license and placed it on probation for one year.
If you are without health insurance, you can find coverage during a special enrollment period that runs through Aug. 15, Access Health CT announced. The newly-approved federal American Rescue Plan is making health insurance more affordable by eliminating or vastly reducing monthly premium costs for people with low to moderate incomes. Even people with higher incomes who are enrolled in health insurance through Access Health, the state’s insurance exchange, may see their monthly premium costs reduced. The special enrollment period at Access Health CT runs from May 1 to Aug.
The Medical Examining Board issued this week a four-year probationary period to a psychiatrist who is accused of excessive drinking and failing to follow state law on utilizing Connecticut’s prescription monitoring program. Department of Public Health (DPH) investigators determined that Dr. Susannah Tung, a psychiatrist, who runs a private practice while also working for the state Department of Correction (DOC), abused alcohol to excess at least twice; on Oct. 11 2017 and Feb. 20, 2020. The board, in addition to the probation, reprimanded Tung’s license.
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down many aspects of college students’ lives, but one student advocacy group has continued its work toward strengthening the law on the reporting of sexual assaults on college campuses. The Every Voice Coalition in Connecticut, part of a national group of students and advocates, convinced lawmakers to sponsor a bill, An Act Concerning Sexual Misconduct on College Campuses, during this year’s legislative session. The bill, which was aired at a recent public hearing of the Higher Education and Employment Advance Committee, says that:
• Colleges will impose amnesty policies to protect students from being punished for reporting due to alcohol or drug use at the time of the assault; and
• Campus Climate Surveys will be disseminated to collect data on sexual violence and to increase transparency. Advocates and health officials maintain that sexual assaults on college campuses are under-reported. In 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut reported 436 incidents of sexual assaults and stalking on college campuses, but added that figure represents only a small percentage of all incidents on campuses.
Kimarra Thorbourne planned to restrict added sugar in her babies’ diet as long as possible, but the Windsor mother recently started giving her 7-month-old twins “Motts for Tots” juice “to introduce them to something new.” At their 6-month checkup, the babies’ pediatrician said nothing about avoiding fruit juice or sugar. But research shows that the food and beverages babies and toddlers consume influences their taste preferences and eating habits throughout life. For babies, human milk, formula and water are all they need to drink for the first year, pediatricians say. Dr. Michelle Van Name, a pediatric endocrinologist with Yale Medicine, tells her patients that cow’s milk is the recommendation for toddlers—and it’s less expensive than juices. She said toddlers should be introduced to water at an early age so they develop a taste for it because if they get used to sweet drinks, they won’t like water.
Six Connecticut hospitals will lose 1% of their Medicare reimbursements this fiscal year under a federal program that levies penalties for high rates of hospital-acquired injuries and infections. It’s the lowest number of hospitals penalized since the program began leveling funding cuts in 2015, data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show. The hospitals are among 774 nationwide that will lose funding under the Hospital-Acquired Conditions Reduction Program, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis. The program was created by the Affordable Care Act. When assessing hospitals, the government examines how many infections and other potentially avoidable complications patients suffered – things like blood clots, sepsis, bedsores and hip fractures.