Monday Health Blog Roundup
by The Opportunity Agenda, Tue Jun 17, 2008 at 05:50:38 AM EDT
* Last week, Governor M. Jodi Rell signed legislation that established a "Commission on Health Equity" in the state of Connecticut. The act is a crucial step forward in ensuring that all people in Connecticut have equal and appropriate access to health care. It also explicitly recognizes that health is a human right:
Whereas the General Assembly finds that: 1) Equal enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is a human right and a priority of the state...
The Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, an organization that works to achieve quality, affordable health care for every resident of Connecticut, applauded the Governor's decision to sign the legislation. Foundation President Juan A. Figueroa said in a statement (that can be accessed here):
The new commission represents an important first step toward addressing racial and ethnic health care disparities, a serious problem facing our state. Dismayingly, the health and health care trends of our state's African American and Latino communities reflect a troubling national trend. There is much work to be done here in Connecticut and throughout the nation.
* The New York Times reported that a study conducted by researchers at Dartmouth University and released by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that there are wide racial and geographic disparities in the treatment of Medicare beneficiaries. Race and place of residence can have a significant impact on the level of care a patient receives:
For instance, the widest racial gaps in mammogram rates within a state were in California and Illinois, with a difference of 12 percentage points between the white rate and the black rate. But the country's lowest rate for blacks -- 48 percent in California -- was 24 percentage points below the highest rate -- 72 percent in Massachusetts. The statistics were for women ages 65 to 69 who received screening in 2004 or 2005.
In all but two states, black diabetics were less likely than whites to receive annual hemoglobin testing. But blacks in Colorado (66 percent) were far less likely to be screened than those in Massachusetts (88 percent).
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has committed $300 million to improve health care quality in regions across the United States. Foundation President and CEO Risa Lavizzo Mourey said:
Despite having the most expensive health care system in the world, patients are subject to too many mistakes, too much miscommunication and too much inequity. As a result, too many Americans aren't receiving the care they need and deserve. This unprecedented commitment of resources, expertise and training will turn proven practices for improving quality into real results in communities across America.
* On June 15, an article that appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that health care for female veterans "lags behind" the care that male veterans receive at VA facilities. The review of the facilities, which was conducted the Department of Veterans Affairs, found that there are clear needs for more equipment and more physicians trained in women's care, as well as improved access to outpatient services for female veterans.
* A recent posting on the Health Care Renewal Blog refers to a number of stories regarding the recent actions of UnitedHealth Group, the largest for-profit health insurance or managed care corporation in the U.S. For example, the Hartford Courant recently reported that UHG had to refund $50 million to the small businesses in New York that it overcharged. The Courant claims:
[Eric] Dinallo [the superintendent of the New York State Insurance Department] and New York Governor David A. Paterson said the settlement came about because insurers have the right to raise rates at will while regulators are empowered to review them only retrospectively. The agreement was reached after UnitedHealth's Oxford Health Insurance unit spent 70.6 percent of premium revenue on medical benefits in 2006, less than the 75 percent minimum.
* Matthew Holt, blogger from The Health Care Blog and organizer of the Health 2.0 User-Generated Healthcare Conference, was recently interviewed on MDNG and gave his thoughts on the impact of Health 2.0:
The impact of the ability to search into other people's experiences and match with cases online in these communities is going to be substantial. A doctor may see one or two of these cases in a lifetime, but there may be 20 or 30 or 1,000 of these people, and if you can put them all together in one group, it makes the information much easier to find.