In response to the nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction, health care leaders including U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy have urged providers to consider alternatives when helping patients manage pain.
Among those receiving the appeals are dentists, who have been among the leading prescribers of opioid pain medications, according to numerous studies. Dentists regularly write the prescriptions for patients who have undergone surgical tooth extractions, according to a research letter published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Continue reading
In-depth investigations into heroin and pain-pill abuse drew several top awards in this year’s Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism.
The 2016 awards, announced today by the Association of Health Care Journalists, recognize the best health reporting in 11 categories. This year, the contest’s 13th, drew nearly 400 entries.
Winning entries included investigations into inflated prescription-drug prices, agricultural practices fueling antibiotic resistance, and poor oversight of dangerous drug interactions.
Read more about the winners.
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