On Monday, analysis from the Congressional Budget Office showed that 24 million more Americans would become uninsured over 10 years if the U.S. House Republican’s bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) becomes law. Coverage of the CBO report overshadowed other news last week that the proposed American Health Care Act also would slash insurance coverage for those who are addicted to opioids and other drugs, according to reporting in USA Today and the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Deirdre Shesgreen and Terry DeMio on March 9 reported the bill would freeze the ACA’s Medicaid expansion provisions and limit federal payments to the states for all beneficiaries. That would result in a disproportionately adverse effect on patients coping with mental illness and addiction, they wrote. Continue reading
Sarah Ferris has written a new tip sheet for AHCJ members that provides ideas on exploring how partial or complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act could reduce access to mental health care for millions of people.
This comes at a time when the country is grappling with an opioid addiction crisis and scores of people are without adequate access to behavioral health care. Continue reading
Photo: Debora Cartagena/CDC
Health care journalists covering addiction, overdoses, and the heroin epidemic are likely to learn that the health insurance system appears to be part of the problem. That’s what Terry DeMio found on her beat in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. Since January 2016, DeMio has been the Cincinnati Enquirer’s heroin epidemic reporter.
Rather than paying for the best medications for drug addicts in need, health insurers often require patients to start with the lowest-cost drugs. Then if the lowest-cost prescription fails, insurers then pay for the next highest-cost drug. Called fail-first or step therapy, this process repeats until the patient finds one that works. Meanwhile, the patient suffers or could die, DeMio said. Continue reading
With an estimated 78 opioid-related deaths per day nationwide, policymakers, journalists and the public are sounding the alarm on overprescribing of narcotic painkillers.
Reporters covering the opioid crisis might want to look at state efforts to track opioid prescribing by physicians. State prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are electronic databases that gather information from pharmacies on controlled substance prescriptions. PDMPs are potentially powerful disincentives for overprescribing, according to a recent study. Continue reading
Photo: CDC/Debora Cartagena/CDCLegislators, facing an election year, are starting to take action in an attempt to control the drug epidemic surrounding heroin and other opioid abuse.
Stories on how heroin and other opioid abuse shattering communities have been the focus of many powerful pieces in media outlets across the country. After years of inaction, Washington, D.C. ,has begun turning its attention to the issue and moving toward some possible action.
But covering the moving parts of the Department of Health and Human Services, Congress and the White House in tackling the issue is akin to tracking a moving target, all complicated by election-year politicking. What’s a reporter – especially one outside D.C. – to do? Continue reading