Congressional Republicans appear to be moving full speed ahead in repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, prompting debate among California health care experts on how the state could continue encouraging residents to buy health insurance — including imposing a state-level requirement to purchase coverage.
The elimination of the individual mandate, which requires people to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty, is included in the GOP tax bill that is expected to reach President Trump’s desk by Christmas. Repealing the mandate is projected to lead to 1.7 million fewer Californians with health insurance over the next decade, with experts predicting that some young, healthy people may choose to drop coverage if it is not required. Under the Affordable Care Act, California has lowered its uninsured rate to a record 7 percent.
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday proposed a tougher enforcement policy toward homeopathic drugs, saying it would target products posing the greatest safety risks, including those containing potentially harmful ingredients or being marketed for cancer, heart disease and opioid and alcohol addictions.
Homeopathy is based on an 18th-century idea that substances that cause disease symptoms can, in very small doses, cure the same symptoms. Modern medicine, backed up by numerous studies, has disproved the central tenets of homeopathy and shown that the products are worthless at best and harmful at worst.
Under U.S. law, homeopathic drugs are required to meet the same approval rules as other drugs. But under a policy adopted in 1988, the agency has used “enforcement discretion” to allow the items to be manufactured and distributed without FDA approval. Agency officials don’t plan to begin requiring that homeopathic products get approval — officials say that would be impractical — but they are signaling stepped-up scrutiny for items deemed a possible health threat.
New data released Monday show that the number of women enrolling in medical school has exceeded the number of male first-year students for the first time.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, women represented 50.7% of the more than 21,000 new medical school enrollees in 2017. Men still make up 51% of total enrollment in U.S. medical schools in 2017, but the number of women applying to medical school has been on the rise in recent years, compared to a decline in male applicants.
The number of female first-year medical students increased by 3.2% in 2017 over the previous year, and has grown by more than 9% since 2015 while the number of male enrollees fell by 2.3% over the past two years.
Many potential emergency room patients are too sick to drive themselves to a hospital. But an ambulance can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars without insurance.
This where a popular ride-sharing app can step in, while also freeing up the ambulances for those who need them most.
With demand for ambulances decreased by available Uber drivers, emergency personnel have been able reach critical patients faster while also applying necessary treatment on the way to the hospital, according to a new economic study from the University of Kansas:
“Given that even a reduction of a few minutes can drastically improve survival rates for serious conditions, this could be associated with a substantial welfare improvement.”
The study investigated ambulance rates in 766 U.S. cities from 43 different states. Taking into account the timelines of when Uber entered each city, the researchers found that the app reduced per capita ambulance usage rates by around 7 percent.
The ongoing uncertainty about congressional changes to the health law — and their impact on insurance and the online marketplaces — continues to raise questions among consumers. Here are answers to recent queries.
Q: Does the GOP tax bill affect health savings accounts?
At this time, there are no changes aimed specifically at HSAs. These are savings accounts linked to high-deductible plans and exempt from tax liability.
The GOP tax proposal, slated for a vote on Tuesday, would ax the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that most individuals enroll in an insurance plan or pay a financial penalty starting in 2019. The potential repeal of the individual mandate, which is looking like a sure thing, has some health insurers worried and already thinking about potential rate hikes that would be needed to keep them from losing their shirts. Even though open enrollment for 2018 individual coverage ended last week, insurers already have their eyes on 2019. Initial requests for 2019 individual market coverage are due in the spring.
For years, the Obama administration said the health care system as constructed by the Affordable Care Act could not survive without a mandate that most Americans have health insurance. With surgical precision, the sweeping tax bill that Republicans plan to pass this week will do away with that mandate.
What comes next for health care is unclear. The demise of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate will lead to higher premiums and lower enrollment in plans sold on the health law’s marketplace, Wendy K. Mariner, a professor of health law at Boston University, said Monday. But she added, “I don’t think we can say with any confidence” how much premiums will rise or coverage will decline.
The CMS is ending a funding stream that states relied on to transform their healthcare systems to provide more efficient patient care, saying it’s unclear that the program is a good investment.Over the years, states have received billions of dollars through the Designated State Health Programs, or DSHP, which can be used to finance delivery system reform. Those funds have gone toward health issues including lead poisoning prevention or supported employment programs that benefit Medicaid beneficiaries, according to Judy Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The Food and Drug Administration said it plans to crack down on the sale of some homeopathic products.
The agency unveiled a new, risk-based approach to regulating homeopathic treatments Monday that aims to protect the public from dangerous products.
“In recent years, we’ve seen a large uptick in products labeled as homeopathic that are being marketed for a wide array of diseases and conditions, from the common cold to cancer,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement announcing the new policy.
Hospitals are having to cover more of the cost of caring for Medicaid patients, and that growing figure is being increasingly reflected in their community benefit reports.Community benefit reports are important tools for hospital systems nationwide, as they are useful in proving their worth to the communities they serve and as a defense for their tax-exempt status. Traditionally, hospitals’ community benefit totals had largely been comprised of the free care they provided to the uninsured, but the coverage expansion made possible by the Affordable Care Act dramatically reduced those figures.
Xiaoyuan Yang was pregnant and her husband Weiming Lei needed a job when they moved more than 20 years ago from Guangzhou, China, to Los Angeles.
“We knew nothing, and we didn’t understand anything,” Lei said. “Someone told us to live in Chinatown.”
There, Yang found work at a Chinese restaurant, and their neighbors told them about a hospital just down the street where the staff spoke not only Mandarin and Cantonese, but the Toishan and Zhongshan dialects as well.