Viewpoints: ‘A Lot To Explain’ At VA; Pence’s Medicaid Plan; Lack Of Competition In Some Markets
USA Today: VA Chief Shinseki Has A Lot Top Explain: Our View
Barry Coates, a 44-year-old Army veteran, visited VA hospitals and clinics in South Carolina seven times starting in 2010, complaining of severe stomach pain and rectal bleeding and practically begging for a routine cancer screening test. When Coates finally got the colonoscopy, more than a year after his first visit, it was too late. Doctors found a huge tumor and diagnosed him with late-stage colon cancer, which has since spread to his liver and lungs. "I stand before you terminally ill," Coates told a House hearing last month, adding, "Someone should be held accountable." So far, no one has been, although that might be about to change (5/15).
USA Today: VA: ‘We Can, And Must, Do Better’
We, at the Department of Veterans Affairs, are committed to consistently providing the high-quality care our veterans have earned and deserve in order to improve their health and well-being. We owe that to each and every veteran who is under our care. VA operates the nation's largest integrated health care delivery system, with more than 1,700 points of care. On average, we provide 236,000 appointments each day, or about 85 million a year (Robert Petzel, 5/15).
The New York Times’ The Upshot: Another Opponent Of Obamacare Starts To Soften
Another die-hard opponent of the Affordable Care Act may be finding a way to expand Medicaid. Few have stood as firm against Obamacare as Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, but on Thursday he announced a new proposal that would accept federal funds for increased coverage of low-income state residents — though by giving them access to private insurance plans rather than standard Medicaid (Aaron E. Carroll, 5/15).
The New York Times’ The Upshot: One Reason Health Insurance Premiums Vary So Much
Across all 34 insurance marketplaces run by the federal government, the average is $287, about 25 percent cheaper. The reason for the higher prices in some markets? Paltry competition, say Leemore Dafny and Christopher Ody from Northwestern University, and Jonathan Gruber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jackson has only two insurers on the marketplace: Humana and Centene. By contrast, four insurance companies slug it out on Nashville’s exchange. In Tucson, there are eight (Eduardo Porter, 5/15).
The Star Tribune: Minnesota Sensibly Bolsters Funding To Provide Expanded Services For Kids
“Windshield time” is the term often used to describe a key barrier to kids getting or completing mental health care treatment. The energy and effort away from work responsibilities required for parents to drive children for diagnosis or therapy — appointments may stretch out over weeks or even longer — can be daunting, especially when treatment centers aren’t close by. But thanks to pragmatic leadership by state policymakers, more Minnesota families will soon have a new, convenient place where they can choose to get this crucial care. It’s close to home and where kids already spend much of their day: their schools (5/15).
Los Angeles Times: Recording Seems To Refute Claims Made By Anthem
We've all heard stories about health insurance companies refusing to budge after denying a claim, often asserting that the policyholder was in the wrong. David Cienfuegos said his wife was told by Anthem Blue Cross that his doctor was part of the insurer's coverage network, but then was left with the tab for about $5,800 in medical costs after Anthem insisted that it never said any such thing (David Lazarus, 5/15).
The New York Times: A Once-A-Day Pill To Prevent AIDS
Federal health officials are urging hundreds of thousands of healthy people at high risk of contracting AIDS to take a pill every day to protect themselves from the virus that causes it. The recommendation could help reduce the stubbornly high number of infections, which has held steady at 50,000 new infections a year in the United States. But the pill carries risks that must be addressed as well (5/15).