As the Supreme Court mulls yet another challenge to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we have new evidence of the law’s positive impact on young adults, who were allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26 under the Dependent Coverage Provision (DCP). The ACA helped young adults with cancer maintain continuous coverage, which is key to maintaining access to cancer treatment.
In arecent retrospective cohort study, my colleagues and I found that cancer patients who turned 19 in 2010-2012 (who were eligible to stay on their parents’ insurance) were 15% less likely to lose coverage than those who turned 19 in 2007-2009, before the ACA. We used commercial claims data to identify about 2,800 young adults with a cancer diagnosis between 2000 and 2015, and compared them to their peers prior to the ACA’s implementation. We matched the two groups on cancer type, diagnosis date, and clinical characteristics, and compared time to loss of insurance over 5 years.
The opioid epidemic is in its fourth and possibly deadliest wave, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and disproportionately killing people of color. Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD)—including methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone—are effective in combatting the epidemic, but sorely underused. Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services (DBHIDS) recently enacted a suite of policies to remove logistical, structural, and payment barriers to MOUD in the publicly-funded behavioral health system, but some facilities still do not use these medications.
To better understand MOUD barriers, my colleagues and I interviewed 25 executive directors of publicly-funded treatment organizations in Philadelphia that adopted or did not adopt MOUD, finding that stigma towards medications and ideological beliefs about OUD treatment contribute to non-adoption.
The United States has one of the highest rates of low birthweight (LBW) among OECD countries, with significant disparities by race and ethnicity. We know that maternal “resilience”—protective factors that buffer the health effects of stress and adversity—may be associated with lower LBW rates, but the relationship among maternal resilience, race/ethnicity, and LBW is not clear. Identifying resilience and LBW patterns by race/ethnicity is important to target prevention efforts.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overturned their longstanding requirement that physicians must receive approval and undergo training to prescribe buprenorphine, the topline treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD). This is an historic shift in policy, and its importance cannot be overstated. Last week, there were fewer than 100,000 waivered providers. Now, over one million active physicians are permitted to prescribe buprenorphine to up to 30 patients at any one time (hospital-based physicians who initiate buprenorphine treatment are not subject to the 30-patient limit).
Recognizing that community resources for people who use drugs are threatened by this pandemic, an interdisciplinary team of certified recovery specialists, social workers, nurses, and physicians at the University of Pennsylvania created the “Warmline” in the spring of 2020 to field calls from people seeking connection to treatment for opioid use disorder.
For patients with gynecologic cancers, treatment by a specialist—a gynecologic oncologist—is crucial for improving chances of survival. However, in 2015, as many as 10% of women in the U.S. lived in a county that was more than 50 miles from the closest gynecologic oncologist. In a new study, my co-authors and I found that since 2015, gynecologic oncologists are working at more clinics and hospitals and covering a greater geographic area, thus providing greater access to specialized gynecologic cancer care. Our findings suggest that rural disparities related to access to gynecologic cancer care may be addressed by having doctors travel to their patients, rather than the other way around.
After hospital discharge, about 40% of Medicare beneficiaries receive post-acute care (PAC) services, such as home health care (HHC), skilled nursing, or inpatient rehabilitation. But do they get the right care at the right time? A recent study found that while sicker patients received more intense levels of PAC services, patients with greater chronic illness were more likely to be rehospitalized in the 30 days after discharge. These findings highlight the importance of assessing patient readiness for discharge and strengthening care transitions from the hospital to ensure that patients get the appropriate care at the right time.
At its onset, the COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted medical care, as millions of ‘elective’ procedures were postponed or cancelled. While the volume of many procedures rebounded by the end of July 2020, the disruption caused a massive backlog. A recent article in Health Services Research looks at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on one common procedure, mammograms, and answers the question: When might we expect to clear the queue and return to regular operations?
An estimated 34 million Americans provide informal care to family members or friends, often at high emotional and physical cost. While informal caregivers make up an essential part of the health care continuum, health care policies and payment models rarely take caregivers into account. With growing policy efforts to shift care out of costly institutions and into home and community-based settings, understanding how the increased responsibility affects informal caregivers will only become more crucial.
In a new nationwide study in JAMA Network Open, we describe the current prevalence and geographic distribution of X-waivered obstetrician-gynecologists in 2019 among more than 31,000 who treat patients with Medicaid. We found that only 560 (1.8%) are X-waivered. Those who are X-waivered are more likely to work primarily in outpatient settings and in counties with fewer uninsured patients. Increasing the number of X-waivered obstetrician-gynecologists is critical to reducing the barriers that pregnant patients with OUD face when seeking treatment.
As some college and university leaders plan to resume in-person instruction this spring, it is critical to determine the best way to identify COVID-19 cases among students to safely repopulate campuses. However, there is a lack of consensus about the optimal testing strategy to identify the most infections. In a recent study, we evaluated different screening strategies for the fall term and quantified the number of infected students detected with each approach. While each strategy had costs and benefits, strategies incorporating universal laboratory-based molecular testing detected more cases than symptom-based screening alone. Our findings can serve as a guide for college and university leadership as they look to reopen campuses in the new year.
Women want to have a good birth, in which both they and the baby are healthy and happy at the end. For most women, the optimal birth outcome is a spontaneous vaginal birth (SVB), one without forceps or a vacuum. Some women may be surprised to learn that the hospital where they give birth has a significant effect on the kind of birth they will have. In a new study of nearly 500 hospitals in four states in 2016, Eileen Lake and I find that SVB rates vary widely, even for women at low risk for cesarean section. Let’s take a closer look at these results and what it tells us about hospital deliveries.
As the U.S. enters the tenth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to imagine a time when telemedicine was not a mainstay of health care delivery, particularly in the care of vulnerable patients. However, few studies have examined the scale of how outpatient care has changed at the national level, and whether the changes have been sustained beyond the early months of the pandemic. In our recent study in Hepatology Communications, we found that telemedicine use for outpatient hepatology care in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) not only dramatically increased during the early months, but has continued at similar levels as the pandemic progresses.