State News

Connecticut | Oct 6, 2022 | News Story | Health Costs

More than Half of Connecticut Residents with Private Insurance had a High Deductible Health Plan in 2020

More than half of Connecticut residents with private insurance are enrolled in a high deductible health plan, according to the Connecticut News Junkie. Patients covered by high deductible plans are one-third times more likely to have medical debt, and their debts average $4,000 higher, than people without high deductibles. Medical debt impacts Connecticut residents across the socioeconomic demographic—the  Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, which operates a charity fund for individuals struggling with medical debt in the state, reports that the majority of their applicants receive insurance coverage through their employer but are underinsured at the time of receiving care.

Oklahoma | Oct 4, 2022 | News Story

Oklahoma DHS Implements 25 Percent Provider Rate Increase for Disability and Senior Services

Oklahoma has approved and is in the process of implementing a 25 percent rate increase for providers who work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, reports The Oklahoman. Policymakers claim that the impetus for the increase is the 13-year wait list for intellectual and developmental disability services in the state, which lead to poor health outcomes and an increased reliance on private and unpaid caregiving across Oklahoma–which can be expensive and time consuming for families. DHS bumped its provider reimbursement rates to increase pay for a variety of medical professionals, including nurses, speech therapists, group home employees and direct care staffers who help developmentally disabled Oklahomans and those who help low-income seniors.

Indiana | Oct 4, 2022 | News Story | Health Costs

Indiana Has Seventh Highest Hospital Costs of All States

The 2022 RAND 4.0 study found that Indiana has the seventh highest hospital costs, relative to Medicare prices, of all states measured, according to WFYI Indianapolis. Around the time of the study, Indiana legislators issued a letter to healthcare providers and insurers stating they would likely take steps to reduce healthcare costs in the next session if the providers and insurers do not make efforts to do so.

California | Oct 4, 2022 | Report | Equity

Focus Groups with Black Californians Discuss Health Systems

The Listening to Black Californians study found that many Black Californian respondents were intentional about their health and have a regular provider, but many have been treated unfairly by healthcare providers because of their race or ethnicity, according to the California Health Care Foundation. In addition, respondents reported avoiding care due to concerns about being treated unfairly or with disrespect. In terms of solutions, respondents reflected on strengthening patient-provider relationships, increasing Black representation among healthcare leaders and providers and expanding community-based education, among other initiatives.

North Carolina | Sep 29, 2022 | News Story | Equity

State’s Free and Charitable Clinics Chart Vision for Health Equity

Upon realizing that their white patients fared better than patients of color, the North Carolina Association of Free & Charitable Clinics launched a new initiative focused on health equity in 2021, reports NC Health News. The initiative brought together a 29-member Health Equity Task Force composed of association staff, board members and clinic leaders for discussions about health equity. As a result, many of the member clinics undertook intentional equity work, often focusing on narrowing gaps in access to vaccines and COVID testing and treatment. The next steps for the Association include creating a long-term task force focused on health equity, rather than one that is time limited.

Connecticut | Sep 26, 2022 | News Story | Rural Healthcare

Access to Affordable Health Insurance Remains Elusive for Farmers

Nearly 30 percent of farmers, surveyed by the New Connecticut Farmers Alliance, describe their health insurance as “unaffordable” or “very unaffordable,” reports Connecticut Public Radio. The article also explains that only 5 percent of farmers or farm workers surveyed in Connecticut receive health insurance through their employer. The challenges surrounding affordable health insurance negatively impact health outcomes and financial security, discourages potential farmers from pursuing the profession and may lead to underinsurance in the population.

Maryland | Sep 21, 2022 | News Story

First-in-the-Nation Legislation Requiring Health Exchange to Operate as State Health Data Utility

Beginning on Oct. 1, 2022, Maryland’s state-designated health information exchange (HIE) connecting healthcare providers and the Maryland Department of Health will have authority to operate as a health data utility (HDU), reports Business Wire. This is the first legislation of its kind to be signed in the U.S. As such, the HIE will be required to provide data in real-time to individuals and organizations involved in the treatment and care coordination of patients and to public health officials to support public health goals. The law also required the Maryland Department of Health, nursing homes, electronic health networks and prescription drug dispensers to provide data to the HIE. Experts note that state designation is key for allowing HIEs to clarify, defragment and secure individual health data before sharing it with the state health department – it also allows enhanced partnership with state public health departments to use data to guide, elevate and ultimately enhance outcomes of public health interventions and state-specific health equity goals.

Kansas | Sep 19, 2022 | News Story

Kansas Uninsured Rate Now Higher than National Average—Gaps in Coverage Highest Among Working Age Population, Diverse Groups

Uninsurance rates in Kansas have not changed since 2019, despite nationwide decreases across the country, reports the Kansas Reflector. Kansas now has a higher uninsurance rate than the national average rate for the first time in years. Racial disparities in coverage permeate the state—health insurance divides in Kansas showed the greatest gaps in coverage for people of color and working adults, especially regarding Hispanic and Black Kansans.

Maryland | Sep 12, 2022 | News Story | Drug Costs

After Slow Start, Prescription Drug Panel is Poised to Offer Recommendations on Prices

Beginning in September, Maryland residents will have the opportunity to present to the Prescription Drug Affordability Board how they’ve been impacted by the cost of medications, as the board prepares to present their ideas in the coming months, reports Maryland Matters. In 2019, Maryland lawmakers launched an effort to force down the price of prescription drugs by creating a Prescription Drug Affordability Board, making Maryland the first state to do this. However, after three years, the board’s initial mandate remains narrow—to determine which medications cost too much, then to set up a legally defensible method of capping the amount that state and local government health plans can be forced to pay to provide these medications to employees. There is hope, however, now that a funding source has been identified, an executive director hired and a Stakeholder Council put in place to provide community and industry input.

California | Jun 27, 2022 | News Story

California to Become First State Offering Healthcare to All Undocumented Residents

California will become the first state to remove immigration status as a barrier to healthcare, making all low-income undocumented residents eligible for state-subsidized insurance regardless of age, according to the Sacramento Bee. The governor announced a budget deal he struck with the legislature that included a new Medi-Cal expansion covering more undocumented adults. The program’s launch, starting no later than Jan. 1, 2024, is expected to provide full coverage for approximately 700,000 undocumented residents ages 26-49 that were not included in previous coverage expansions and will lead to the largest drop in the rate of uninsured Californians in a decade.