A recent survey of New Jersey voters by ALG Research and Bully Pulpit Interactive shows that New Jersey residents remain concerned about the rising cost of healthcare, particularly in the wake of the COVID pandemic, reports New Jersey Business Magazine. The findings reveal that 71 percent of respondents say that their healthcare costs are rising faster than income levels, and this number jumps to 80 percent among those who are struggling financially. Furthermore, nearly a quarter of all respondents have unpaid or overdue medical bills, though disparities in this data point exist – 35 percent of respondents of color say they currently have unpaid or overdue medical bills, while 43 percent of those struggling financially stated the same.
This summer, Connecticut launched a new Covered CT Program, which aims to reduce the number of residents who are uninsured by helping them afford insurance, reports Fox 61 News. The program is going to provide no-cost health coverage to up to 40,000 people in Connecticut when it’s fully implemented in 2022. In this new program, the state will pay the consumer portion of the monthly premium directly to insurance carriers and will also pay for the cost-sharing amounts that consumers normally would have to pay with a health insurance plan. Beginning in 2022, this program will also include coverage for visiting the dentist and non-emergency medical transportation to see providers.
Connecticut recently passed a bill that expands the types of entities to which billing and collection restrictions apply, placing further limitations on collection efforts by such entities and making several changes to Connecticut’s exiting laws concerning facility fees, reports the National Law Review. Among other changes, the new law prohibits hospitals, entities that are owned by or affiliated with a hospital and collection agents that receive referrals from hospitals or such other “affiliated with” or “owned by” entities from: reporting a patient to a credit rating agency for a period of one year beginning on the date that the patient first receives a bill for healthcare provided; initiating an action to foreclose a lien on a patient’s primary residence if the lien was filed to secure payment for healthcare providers; or applying to a court for an execution against a patient’s wages or otherwise seeking to garnish a patient’s wages, to collect payment for healthcare services, if such patient is eligible for the hospital bed fund.
An investigation by NC Public Radio and WRAL-TV found broad price differences for the same services, depending on insurance plan and hospital in the Triangle area. Following a Trump Administration rule that went into effect in January 2021, hospitals must now post detailed price and negotiated rate information online for 300 procedures. Across the Triangle's largest hospitals, the negotiated rate for a colonoscopy runs from $504 to $5,397. The investigation revealed that while hospitals in the Triangle are following the rules better than those in other parts of the nation, big information gaps still create blind spots for consumers who want to effectively shop for healthcare services. A separate report by Patient Advocate Rights randomly selected ten North Carolina hospitals and just one provided complete transparency as the mandate instructs. However, advocates note that even if every hospital complied fully, consumers would still need to understand the information provided to avoid surprise medical bills.
New Jersey recently passed legislation to improve New Jersey’s maternal and infant health outcomes. The bill, S690, establishes a statewide universal newborn home visitation program within the New Jersey Department of Children and Families. The program will provide a registered nurse to conduct home visits for all mothers and newborns within two weeks of birth, as well as for families who experienced stillbirth, at no cost to the family. Home visits will feature an evidence-based evaluation of the physical, emotional and social factors affecting parents and their newborn, and will include assessments of health and physical wellness, breastfeeding support, reproductive planning, environmental assessments of the home and assessments for social determinants of health. This program is part of the state’s Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan which hopes to implement strategies to reduce maternal mortality and eliminate racial disparities in birth outcomes.
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.
One out of eight Michigan hospitals failed to meet federal price transparency requirements, according to State of Reform. The study surveyed hospitals and found many were noncompliant for a variety of reasons, including lack of complete standard charge files, lack of negotiated rates and lack of payer and plan data.
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.