A new report from the Louisiana Department of Health examines health access disparities in Louisiana across demographic groups and insurance plans. Data from more than 8,500 households were compiled and assessed if their health insurance met their needs and allowed them to see the providers that they need,breaking down results by gender, race, health insurance plan and location. The report found that females have better insurance coverage than males; white Louisianans have better coverage than Black Louisianans and rural children are more likely to report less access and having coverage that does not meet their needs than those in urban areas.
A new law in Illinois aims to increase telehealth access across the state, reports the Intelligencer. The law builds upon ongoing efforts to ensure that all Illinoisans have uninterrupted telehealth access by permanently extending the payment parity requirement for mental health and substance use disorder services established by an Executive Order at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill also authorizes all other telehealth services to be covered through 2027.
The Salt Lake City Council and Mayor signed a joint resolution declaring racism a public health crisis, reports KSL.com. The resolution commits the city to be conscious of the policies and ordinances created to ensure that inequities are not furthered and that the damage from structural racism is addressed. Additionally, Salt Lake City officials will continue to work with the county health officials to review and report public health data to determine the next steps, current tasks, make the data available online to increase transparency and utilize staff from multiple agencies to address public health barriers.
A new law enacted in Maine establishes an independent, nonpartisan agency to attempt to control healthcare spending and improve access to quality care, reports the Associated Press. The office will analyze health data and make evidence-based policy recommendations to state lawmakers.
The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX) Executive Board voted to adopt recommendations from its Social Justice and Health Disparities Working Group, in an effort to stop racism in healthcare, according to DC Health Link. These recommendations are focused on three crucial areas in order to establish practices, structures and policies that can be implemented by health plans on the exchange to (1) expand access to providers and health systems for communities of color, (2) eliminate health outcome disparities for communities of color, and (3) ensure equitable treatment for patients of color in healthcare settings and in the delivery of healthcare services. The recommendations include: requiring cultural competency training for network providers; stratifying quality measures by race, ethnicity and primary language; and providing incentives for both primary care and specialist physicians to practice in underserved areas in DC.
Patients who initiated COVID-19 testing at a large safety-net health system in Minneapolis were disproportionately white and English-speaking, according to a study by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Patients who initiated testing through the emergency department, however, were disproportionately Black, Native American, non-English speaking and had one or more pre-existing conditions. In addition, the study found that testing initiated through telehealth and outpatient encounters was associated with lower rates of subsequent inpatient and intensive care unit care than testing initiated in more care-intensive settings, such as emergency departments. Researchers posit that the inequities point to structural root causes, including barriers to timely testing access, delays in care seeking, difficulty accessing telehealth services and higher rates of pre-existing conditions among patients who require higher levels of care. However, these inequities could also be partially explained by clinician and clinic variations in telehealth use.
Maine’s Governor signed LD 603 into law, which defines the practice of pharmacy as a provision of healthcare services and recognizes pharmacists as healthcare providers, according to the University of New England. Proponents of the law hope that it will provide more opportunities for pharmacists to provide healthcare services and expand greater access to care for patients, particularly in underserved rural communities.
The University of Minnesota’s Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity got an additional $300,000 in state funding to create a model curriculum for antiracism and implicit bias training in hospitals and birthing centers statewide, reports Fox 9 KMSP. The funding comes from the recently passed Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act, which includes other provisions intended to address and better understand disparities in maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. The new law was based on research indicating that more than half of maternal deaths are preventable, and that racism and bias in the healthcare system create disproportionate barriers to high-quality care.
Healthcare advocates are celebrating legislative victories in the Maine Legislature, including a $35 cap on insulin costs and expanding Medicaid coverage for dental services to adults, reports The Press Herald. Additionally, the legislature passed bills that extend Medicaid coverage twelve months postpartum and sets the minimum wage for direct care workers, such as those who provide home-based healthcare services, to 125 percent of the minimum wage. However, Governor Mills vetoed bills aiming to reduce prescription drug costs that would have outlawed price gouging and required drug manufacturers to justify price increases.
Illinois’ inaugural round of Healthcare Transformation Collaboratives funding has allocated state funds to eight healthcare collaboratives, reports ABC 20. The goal of this influx of funding is to reorient healthcare in the state to reduce healthcare inequities, improve health outcomes, address social determinants of health and improve underserved communities’ access to quality healthcare. This program was set up following the passage of the Healthcare Transformation Collaboratives Public Act 101-650 in March 2021 that sought to develop these collaboratives to invest in underserved communities and increase access to community-based health services.