KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Senior And Disabled Harvey Evacuees Face Tougher Health Challenges After The Flood

Those in shelters who need medical care the most can find themselves trapped. Other news on how the monster storm will impact the public health landscape cover health IT success stories, emergency rooms working around the clock, mental health care efforts and the risks of chemical exposure.

The New York Times: For Vulnerable Older Adults, A Harrowing Sense Of Being Trapped
A Holocaust survivor waded waist-deep in flood water. Dozens of people were trapped in a 14-story residence for seniors. A disabled man sat alone at home, without the aide who usually helps him, watching the water rise and unsure if anyone would come. Harvey was terrifying for millions of people along the Gulf Coast. But it was particularly difficult for the region’s seniors and disabled, many of whom struggled to escape as the water rose. Now, some wait in shelters for chemotherapy, dialysis, pain medication, a pillow. Rescue teams are still evacuating people from their homes. (Turkewitz and Medina, 9/1)

Politico: Health IT Passes First Big Test With Hurricane Harvey
Policymakers and health care providers can celebrate one quiet success in the wake of the Houston storm: the computers are still running. The preservation of patient health records represents a partial vindication for the HITECH Act, the 2009 EHR stimulus package that was conceived, in part, as a way to ameliorate natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina by replacing waterlogged paper with modern technology. (Tahir, 9/1)

Modern Healthcare: Mental Health Providers Worry About Harvey's Legacy
At least 11,000 Houston residents sought shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center this week after torrential rains forced them out of their homes. For Dr. Sophia Banu, the convention center became her office. The Baylor College of Medicine professor is an attending physician at Ben Taub Hospital and for the past three days, Banu and a team of as many as 10 mental health professionals have been on call to help provide psychiatric services to evacuees. A total of four to five professionals have been at the center to cover two, eight-hour shifts a day, seeing an average of two to three people an hour, depending on their condition. (Johnson, 8/31)

NPR: Harvey Evacuees Need Medical Attention And Mental Health Care
Facing tremendous need after Hurricane Harvey, Texas has made it easier for out-of-state health care providers to come and help. The Texas Medical Board says health care workers who are licensed and in good standing in other states and who are coming to work at a hospital can practice in Texas while the governor's disaster declaration is in place. Hospitals must provide details for each provider. Physicians who are not affiliated with a hospital can apply for an expedited permit. (Hsu and Hersher, 9/1)

Texas Tribune: Crosby Plant Explosion Highlights State Efforts To Block Access To Chemical Information
Federal law requires companies to inventory certain hazardous chemicals on site and submit them to state and local officials in a Tier II report. For decades, the state made these reports available upon request to homeowners, the media or anyone else who wanted to know where dangerous chemicals were stored. But in 2014, [then-Texas Attorney General Greg] Abbott ruled that state agencies could withhold such information, setting a precedent that has continued under current Attorney General Ken Paxton. (Platoff and Malewitz, 9/1)

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