State News

Ohio | Sep 9, 2021 | News Story | Equity Social Determinants of Health

Health Policy Fact Sheet: Connections Between Racism and Health

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio released a fact sheet on the connections between racism and health, aimed at engaging policymakers to take action to advance health equity. The fact sheet highlights three key findings for policymakers: racism is a health crisis; racism manifests itself across all levels of society; and many opportunities exist to dismantle racism. In addition, it details the health impacts of racism and health disparities across Ohio. Finally, the fact sheet details ways for policymakers and others to take action to dismantle racism and achieve health equity for all Ohioans.


California | Sep 7, 2021 | News Story | Equity Social Determinants of Health

​​​​California Prepares to Offer New Medi-Cal Services for Homeless People and Others

Under a new Medi-Cal program, California hopes to help vulnerable patients, such as those experiencing homelessness, better manage their care and address their social determinants of health, reports Kaiser Health News in the LA Times. Under the program, patients will be assigned a personal care manager to coordinate their treatments and daily needs, such as paying bills and buying groceries. These patients will receive services that aren’t typically covered by insurance, such as getting security deposits paid, receiving deliveries of fruit and vegetables and having toxic mold removed from homes to reduce asthma flare-ups. Eligible individuals include homeless individuals or those at risk of losing their homes, heavy users of emergency rooms, children and seniors with complicated physical and mental health conditions and people in expensive institutions such as jails, nursing homes and mental health crisis centers. In addition, California is forcing Medi-Cal managed care plan providers to reapply and meet stricter standards to remain in the program, in an effort to hold these companies more accountable for the quality of care they provide.


California | Sep 7, 2021 | News Story | Social Determinants of Health

​​​​California Prepares to Offer New Medi-Cal Services for Homeless People and Others

Under a new Medi-Cal program, California hopes to help vulnerable patients, such as those experiencing homelessness, better manage their care and address their social determinants of health, reports Kaiser Health News in the LA Times. Under the program, patients will be assigned a personal care manager to coordinate their treatments and daily needs, such as paying bills and buying groceries. These patients will receive services that aren’t typically covered by insurance, such as getting security deposits paid, receiving deliveries of fruit and vegetables and having toxic mold removed from homes to reduce asthma flare-ups. Eligible individuals include homeless individuals or those at risk of losing their homes, heavy users of emergency rooms, children and seniors with complicated physical and mental health conditions and people in expensive institutions such as jails, nursing homes and mental health crisis centers. In addition, California is forcing Medi-Cal managed care plan providers to reapply and meet stricter standards to remain in the program, in an effort to hold these companies more accountable for the quality of care they provide.


Texas | Sep 1, 2021 | News Story | Price Transparency Affordability

New Texas Laws Target Price Transparency; Surprise Medical Bills

Texas has recently enacted laws improving hospital price transparency and evaluating ambulance surprise billing, according to AARP. SB 1137 mirrors federal price transparency requirements but levies harsher penalties for non-compliance. SB 790 requires the state to study ambulance surprise medical billing and allows counties and municipalities to outlaw balance billing for claims by counties or municipalities.


Colorado | Sep 1, 2021 | News Story | Health Costs Affordability Equity

Survey Finds Healthcare Costs is Top Concern for Colorado Residents

survey conducted by Consumers for Quality Care found that Coloradans are increasingly worried about the rising cost of healthcare, reports Public News Service. Many families report struggling to pay medical bills, even with insurance coverage. Communities of color disproportionately experience a healthcare affordability burden, with nearly half of Latinx Coloradans having an unpaid medical bill.


Washington | Aug 27, 2021 | News Story | Affordability Consumer Voices

Jaw Surgery Takes a $27,119 Bite Out of One Man's Budget

For years, Ely Bair dealt with migraine headaches, jaw pain and high blood pressure, until a dentist recommended surgery to realign his jaw to get to the root of his health problems, reports Kaiser Health News. Bair had his first of two surgeries in 2018 and his out-of-pocket costs were $3,000. However, before having his second surgery, he switched jobs but retained the same brand of healt insurance. His second surgery at the same hospital went well, but he was billed for $27,119. Even though he retained the same insurance company, his new plan had a $5,000 lifetime limit on coverage for his orthognathic surgery, which is not considered an essential health benefit in Washington. After working with a patient advocare, appealing to his insurer three times and filing a complaint with the state attorney general's office, Bair's bill was reduced to $7,164. 


Montana | Aug 26, 2021 | News Story | Health Costs

Montanans Support Medicaid Expansion; Worry About Increasing Costs

A recent poll by Consumers for Quality Care reveals that Montanans are concerned about the rising cost of healthcare and broadly support Medicaid expansion, reports the Missoula Current. The research shows that 63 percent of respondents agreed that Medicaid should be permanently expanded, with over half of both Republicans and Independents agreeing. In addition, more than 1 in 4 respondents have overdue or unpaid medical bills and worry about their ability to afford medical care. Furthermore, 68 percent of respondents have struggled to pay a medical bill at some point even while they had health insurance.


Illinois | Aug 26, 2021 | News Story | Health Costs

Illinois Governor Signs Legislation Meant to Lower Costs, Improves Access to Healthcare

A new law in Illinois will advance health equity by lowering costs and improving access to care for low-income and uninsured residents, reports My Journal CourierSB 1840 amends both the Illinois Community Benefits Act and the Hospital Uninsured Patient Discount Act to decrease the maximum amount collected by uninsured patients for services rendered by a hospital from 25 percent to 15 percent of a person’s income and lowering the cost threshold for all medically necessary healthcare services that make uninsured patients eligible for discounts from $300 to $150. Among numerous other stipulations, the legislation also requires nonprofit hospitals’ community benefits plans to describe activities the hospital is undertaking to address health equity, reduce health disparities and improve community health.


Maryland | Aug 25, 2021 | News Story | Equity

$60 Million Allocated to Improve Health Disparities in Maryland’s Underserved Communities

In response to increasing health disparities, which cost Maryland more than $1 billion per year in direct medical costs, the Maryland Health Equity Act is allocating $60 million to address health inequities across the state, reports State of Reform. The newly formed Health Equity Resource Community (HERC) Advisory Committee, consisting of state officials and health policy experts from across the state, will decide how best to use these funds. The committee will be meeting throughout August and will begin accepting grant applications for funds as early as October.


Colorado | Aug 25, 2021 | Report | Health Costs

Colorado Hospitals Have Highest Profit Margins in Country, Translating to Increased Prices for Payers, Patients

report released last week by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) found that Colorado hospitals have the highest profit margins in the country, leading to increased prices for payers and patients, reports AboutHealthTransparency.org. The department evaluated the Medicare Cost Report Data for Colorado’s hospitals from 2009 to 2018; however, it only included hospitals with 25 or more beds, excluding most rural hospitals. HCPF estimates that Colorado hospitals’ operating costs were $1.3 billion above the national median.