State News

Georgia | Oct 15, 2021 | News Story | Drug Costs Health Costs Affordability

Survey Finds Most Georgians Struggling to Afford Healthcare

70 percent of Georgia adults reported having burdensome healthcare costs in the last year and 80 percent are worried about being able to afford healthcare in the future, according to The Current. Specifically, 58 percent of adults encountered cost-related barriers to getting needed care, including skipping doses of medication and foregoing care altogether. Results were drawn from the Altarum Healthcare Value Hub's CHESS survey.

Michigan | Oct 14, 2021 | News Story | Health Costs Equity

Michigan to Change How It Funds Mental Health and Addiction Services

Multiple Michigan behavioral health clinics will now be able to seek Medicaid reimbursement for mental health services, according to MLive News. Thanks to the new "transforming behavioral health initiative," thirteen selected Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics will be reimbursed through Medicaid for expanded services, including 24-hour psychiatric crisis services. The new model, supported by both federal and state funding, is intended to address disparities in who can afford and/or access mental health services.

Connecticut | Sep 28, 2021 | News Story | Health Costs Affordability

Study Analyzes Effect of Connecticut 2016 Surprise Billing Law on Emergency Physician Services Market

A study by USC Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy reveals preliminary evidence concerning Connecticut's 2016 Surprise Billing Law, reports The law requires that a patient’s out-of-pocket costs be no greater than their in-network cost-sharing amounts if they are unknowingly treated by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility. Researchers observed a stark and sudden increase in allowed amounts for fully insured plans within the state, coinciding directly with the implementation of the law. These findings suggest that the law, by pegging the minimum out-of-network payment requirement to the 80th percentile of provider charges, may have driven a substantial increase in allowed amounts paid to emergency physicians from fully insured plans. These increased allowed amounts are likely to be passed to consumers in the form of higher premiums.

Massachusetts | Sep 27, 2021 | News Story | Drug Costs Health Costs Affordability

Survey: Government Action Needed to Ease Health Cost Hardships

More than half of Massachusetts adults said they had experienced healthcare cost hardship in the past year, and almost three-quarters said they were worried about their ability to afford care in the future, according to a State House News Service article in The Patriot Ledger. Results were drawn from the Altarum Healthcare Value Hub’s CHESS survey.

Maryland | Sep 27, 2021 | News Story | Health Costs Affordability

​​​​​​​Maryland Healthcare Payment Model Reduces Costs and Complications

A recent study in JAMA Network Open shows that Maryland’s reimbursement model—that sets annual statewide caps for hospital spending—reduces costs and the incidence of avoidable complications, reports Rice University. Maryland’s model holds hospitals to a global budget for total expenditures related to the care of state residents across all sites (inpatient, emergency department and outpatient), and also requires the state to meet spending and savings targets, such as $330 million or more in Medicare savings, as well as quality-of-care-targets. The study also found that in the first three years following the adoption of the all-payer model, Maryland patients undergoing common surgical procedures had significantly fewer avoidable complications and the rate of growth of hospital bills was lower.

Texas | Sep 24, 2021 | News Story | Rural Healthcare

Texas Expands Pediatric Telehealth Services to Four Rural Hospitals

Texas is expanding telehealth services for children through a grant of more than $530,000 to rural health clinics, according to State of Reform. The grants will help four hospitals expand or implement telehealth pediatric services through video chats and phone calls. The funding is part of a grant program to establish and administer a tele-connectivity resource program for children’s health in rural Texas.

Wyoming | Sep 20, 2021 | News Story | Consumer Voices

Wyoming Residents Share Stories of Those Who Died Without Healthcare at Vigil

Wyoming residents shared stories of people who died without healthcare at a vigil held to advocate for Medicaid expansion, according to Oil City News. Attendee Linda Jones's friend Earl lost his job and insurance while recovering from a fall injury, eventually selling his prized car to pay medical bills. His health declined rapidly and he was found dead in his home.

Georgia | Sep 18, 2021 | News Story | Consumer Voices

Insurers are Restoring Deductibles and Co-Pays for COVID, Leaving Patients with Big Bills

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, insurers announced that they would cover all of the costs for COVID-19 treatment, but now, most insurers have reinstated co-pays and deductibles for COVID-19 patients, reports The Washington Post. Jamie Azar, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 in July, is facing thousands of dollars in co-pays, deductibles and out-of-network charges for her hospital and rehab stays for her treatment, with potentially thousands of dollars more in uncovered expenses as her recovery continues. The financial burden of COVID-19 is falling unevenly on patients across the country: health plan coverage varies widely across states, with only two states (Vermont and New Mexico) mandating complete insurer coverage of treatment. Azar—whose insurer reinstated patient cost-sharing on Jan. 31—now joins millions of other Americans with serious illnesses who face uncertain, confusing and expensive medical billing and insurance practices.

District of Columbia | Sep 15, 2021 | News Story | Equity Social Determinants of Health

DC Awards Grants Aimed at Addressing Health Disparities

DC Mayor Bowser announced the awardees of the Health Innovation QuickFire Challenge that are aimed at addressing racial and socioeconomic health disparities within the District of Columbia. Grantees proposed potential solutions to transform patient outcomes in maternal mortality, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmunity and kidney diseases.

Oregon | Sep 9, 2021 | Report | Health Costs Affordability

Report Finds Medical Debt Contributes to Majority of Oregon Bankruptcies

A new report found that the sixty percent of people who file for bankruptcy in Oregon have medical debt, according to The Lund Report. Furthermore, medical debt accounted for more than half of their debt. The report’s authors argue that the high percentage of those with medical debt who filed for bankruptcy is due to the high cost of healthcare and health insurance and recommend several strategies for the state to pursue to lower costs for consumers.