Some states plan to scale back transportation benefits for Medicaid beneficiaries, while others may adopt their own individual insurance mandates. Find these stories and more in this week’s five reads on health care access.
Since 1966 Medicaid has required the state programs to pay for transporting people to and from certain medical appointments. Now some states are pursuing waivers to scale back this benefit, known as non-emergency medical transportation. The federal government has approved such waivers from Iowa, Indiana and Kentucky. Read more from Kaiser Health News.
Public health experts have identified dozens of “pharmacy deserts” — areas where there isn’t a pharmacy within one mile — in Chicago. “When pharmacies are not around and people do not have transportation beyond their feet, it really affects their ability to obtain medication,” one doctor told the Chicago Tribune. Dive further into the issue in the full article.
As of Jan. 29, about 11.8 million people bought health care coverage from the federal or state exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. That’s nearly on par with the 12.2 million people who signed up during the last open enrollment window — even though this one was six weeks shorter than last year’s in most states. Bloomberg breaks down the numbers.
While access to care and the quality of that care factors into a person’s overall well-being, Patricia Maryland, president and CEO of Catholic hospital system Ascension Healthcare, argues that much of a person’s health is determined by other factors, like the community they live in. “You can’t properly treat an individual for a stress-related heart condition when that person doesn’t feel safe in their home or neighborhood,” she wrote in a commentary piece published in Modern Healthcare. Click here to read the full article.
Nine states are considering legislation that would create their own, state-level requirement that residents purchase health insurance. These state-level requirements would replace the federal individual mandate, which was repealed in the tax overhaul bill, effective Jan. 1, 2019. The original requirement, part of the Affordable Care Act, was intended to help keep premiums affordable. Read more from the Wall Street Journal.