5 Things to Read on Health Care Access

Gaps in vision coverage, how homelessness and heart health are linked, and the potential for lifetime limits to Medicaid benefits are all covered in our roundup on access to care.

With gaps in vision coverage, millions live in a blur

About 16 million Americans are living with undiagnosed or uncorrected vision problems, thanks in part to “significant gaps” in vision coverage, Kaiser Health News reports. Medicare and many commercial health plans don’t cover routine eye exams, for instance, and even though the Affordable Care Act requires retail plans to cover pediatric eye exams, copays or deductibles may discourage some people from getting the service.

Homelessness and heart health

People experiencing homelessness are at heightened risk of dying from heart disease, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Several factors contribute to this problem, but access to continuing care is chief among them. “Half of homeless individuals don’t have access to a consistent source of health care, making follow-up visits and lengthy diagnostic tests a challenge,” one doctor told HealthDay. “Clinicians need to make a concerted effort to overcome the logistical hurdles to treating and preventing cardiovascular disease in homeless populations.”

CMS leader takes Medicaid lifetime limits off the table

Five states sought Medicaid waivers that would have instituted lifetime limits on Medicaid benefits. After denying Kansas’ lifetime limit proposal May 1, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said the agency would not approve lifetime limits. That means four other states — Arizona, Utah, Maine and Wisconsin — will see their Medicaid waivers denied, according to FierceHealthcare.

Uninsured rate holds steady

The uninsured rate remained roughly unchanged during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, at around 9.1 percent, even as the administration sought to repeal the ACA and reduced federal funding for enrollment outreach. The New York Times’ Upshot blog breaks down new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Potential changes to reproductive health funding may limit abortion access

Vox provides this explainer about the changes the Trump administration may make to Title X funding, known as a “domestic gag rule.” Title X provides federal funds to health centers that offer family planning services like contraceptives, testing for STIs, and Pap tests. Currently, clinics that perform abortions can receive Title X funds but can’t use the funds for abortions. The administration may pass a “gag rule” that would restrict Title X funds from any clinic that provides abortions, refers patients somewhere else for an abortion or discusses abortion as an option to patients.


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