Today's News and Commentary

About health insurance

What Percent of New Medicare Beneficiaries Are Enrolling in Medicare Advantage? Medicare Advantage (MA) plans continue to be popular; but the enrollment rates vary dramatically across the country. The share of new Medicare beneficiaries enrolling in MA plans ranges from 81% in Puerto Rico to 7% in Vermont. Over all, new enrollees choose MA plans 29% of the time.

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California OKs health care for some adult immigrants: California’s Democratic-controlled legislature approved a plan to cover all Medicaid-eligible adults between the ages of 19 and 25, including those living in the country illegally. The additional 90,000 people in the latter group will cost the state’s taxpayers $98 million annually.

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About the public’s health

Scientists feel chill of crackdown on fetal tissue research: The article provides some examples of how the federal “crackdown on fetal tissue research” (reported last week) will affect important research projects.

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Cardiovascular Events and Mortality in White Coat Hypertension [WCH]: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis: “White coat“ hypertension is high blood pressure [BP] detected in the doctor’s office. But is it an excuse for the high reading or is it significant? The only way to really find out is to monitor blood pressure outside the office- like at home. What happens with treatment? ”Untreated WCH, but not treated WCE, is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality. Out-of-office BP monitoring is critical in the diagnosis and management of hypertension.”

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Bridging Gaps to Build Healthy Communities: Opportunities to better address social determinants to improve health: This study by the Anthem Public Policy Institute has a number of interesting observations about the social determinants of health [SHOH]. One finding I found especially thought-provoking is that " individuals, researchers, and the media perceive and discuss the role of SDOH differently. Individuals emphasize the intermediary influences that impact their health and healthcare on a daily basis—whether they have adequate support from family, for example, or can find the right provider for their condition. These factors attract far less attention from researchers and journalists (the ‘public’) who tend to frame health outcomes through the lens of structural factors like education and income level perhaps, in part, because these factors are easier to measure.”

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Here’s where the jobs are — in one chart: "“Health care and social services, including ambulatory outpatient care, hospitals and nursing and resident facilities added 24,000 jobs” last month- out of the total of 75,000.

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Comparison of Services Available in 5-Star and Non–5-Star Patient Experience Hospitals:Can you be all things to all people and still do those things well? Short answer in hospital care is: No.
The research found: “Hospitals that provided broader clinical services were less likely to receive 5-star patient experience summary ratings. This remained true after specialty hospitals were excluded. Patients who seek ‘elite’ care and narrow their search to 5-star patient experience hospitals might therefore be surprised that many types of expected services (eg, emergency department, cardiology, and neurology) may not be available. Hospitals that provide comprehensive services are more likely to receive “nonelite’ ratings, in part because of challenges related to communication and responsiveness among more complex patient populations.”

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