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Nearly 9 in 10 US adults now have health insurance

The ACA is accomplishing one of its goals: to see all Americans covered by health insurance. It is a first step. But we now need to ask if that coverage is getting Americans better health care? Do Americans understand their coverage and do they know how to access care? And even more importantly, is health care yet affordable?  Our website has many resources to help you maneuver the health care system.  This article assessing the progress made in terms of enrollment, talks about the future of the Affordable Care Act.  Read more.

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Connecticut needs transparency in health care

The current legislative session in Hartford holds promise for improving the safety and quality of health care in Connecticut. There are a number of bipartisan bills introduced by Senator Looney and Senator Fasano, as well as other Senators that call for transparency of infection rates, health care costs, prices and quality information as well as a bill to allow for dispute resolution of surprise billing and emergency services. Letters to your legislators are always encouraged and you can get more information about the bills at the CGA Public Health Committee and the Insurance Committee websites. You can also read Lisa Freeman’s Op-Ed from the CT Mirror here.

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Op-Ed: CT assembly should enact informed consent law for nursing home elders

When it comes to the use of antipsychotic drugs to address challenging behaviors presented by seniors with dementia, CT exceeded one goal for reduction of use, but still ranks last in New England and 34th in the nation for the use of antipsychotic medications.  While better able to be measured in facilities, the use is believed to be high in the community as well.  For more in-depth information on this read the CT Mirror Op-Ed written by Paul Caron, a CTCPS member has been a conservator for elderly parents in long-term care over the last five  years . He is also a representative at a nursing home family council in New Haven.

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Rants of a Patient Safety Advocate – True Story in the Emergency Room: The Emergency Room Dilemma

My friend and fellow advocate, Ilene Corina, wrote: “Just imagine walking into a supermarket and the carts are all sitting in the aisles so scattered you can barely get through. Cans and boxes of food are mixed up and piled high so you would knock it down if you bumped into it ever so slightly. The lines at the cashier are 10-15-20 people long and you have to wait and wait. The cashier leaves to take care of another customer leaving you waiting even longer. Every item you bought was announced loud enough so anyone standing close by in tight, cramped quarters can hear. ROLAIDS, TAMPONS, 3 POUNDS OF APPLES and finally, no one smiles, no one looks at you and you are treated as if you are a bother. Would you shop there? What if you were forced to?”  Her resulting blog post, written following her visit to a hospital emergency room gives us all something to think about – but what can we be doing? Read her entire blog post here

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A Call to Action: It’s Time to Break Another Glass Ceiling

Patient-Centered Care involves healthcare systems embracing a culture and a philosophy that includes and considers patient’s perspectives in everything that they do.  I recently wrote an article for Planetree’s Planetalk publication titled: A Call to Action: It’s Time to Break Another Glass Ceiling.  In it, I talk about the missed opportunity when hospital, long-term care facilities and physician practice governing boards do not have patient members on them.  After all, this represents the ultimate partnership with patients and their perspective should become part of business as usual.  Please share this link and encourage everyone to consider the valuable insight and expertise that patients can bring to governing boards. Read my article here.

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What you should know about Obamacare and taxes

The Affordable Care Act has provided for expanded coverage for many residents.  It has also created new considerations and a new component to tax filing.  For residents who bought their insurance through a public exchange, Access Health CT in Connecticut, there are some things that you should be aware of.  The CT Mirror has just published an article with information that will help you understand what is going on.

It is through your tax filing that the government will confirm whether you purchased health insurance— and you will pay a penalty if you didn’t.  A new IRS form, the 1095, will be sent to you by your exchange and should be received in the beginning of February.  In CT, 3600 recipients will not get their form due to a problem that the exchange ran into, and for them, the forms are expected to be received by the end of February.  This form will provide you with the information that you need to complete Form 8962 – which you will now file with your return if you received premium assistance through advance credit payments (whether or not you otherwise are required to file a tax return) or if you want to claim the premium tax credit when you file your return.

There are things that some residents may not have clearly understood when they applied for insurance through the exchange.  Did you know that the subsidies that many residents received are tax credits that were paid in advance?  The amount is based on a person’s income, so when you file your taxes, you will be reconciling the credit with your income.  It may balance out.  However, you may get a refund or you may actually have to pay some back.

For more information and a more detailed explanation of what you should know, read more in the CT Mirror article, Six things to know about Obamacare and taxes.

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10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You…

Did you know that common objects like stethoscopes in a hospital can be contaminated with disease-causing germs?  Or that the best time to schedule surgery is during banking hours?  10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Hospital Infections by Rosemary Black and 10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You Before Surgery by Jennifer J. Brown, PhD, are two articles on the everyday HEALTH Healthy Living website.  They are both filled with useful suggestions and a wealth of additional information through the included links. 

 

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Hospital Reports Of Surgical, Medication Errors Climb

Connecticut Health I-Team By: Lisa Chedekel | 1/6/2015 |  Connecticut hospitals reported record numbers of patients killed or seriously injured by hospital errors in 2013, with large increases in the numbers of falls, medication mistakes and perforations during surgical procedures, a new state report shows.

The report, covering 2013, marks the first time that the number of so-called “adverse events” in hospitals and other health care facilities has topped 500 – double the number in 2012, when 244 such incidents were reported. Much of the increase was due to an expansion of reporting on pressure ulcers, which added a new category with 233 “unstageable” ulcers that were not counted before. Even without that category, however, reports of adverse events climbed 20 percent over 2012.   Read more

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When It Comes to Health Insurance, People Don’t Know What They Need

Earlier this month, Lisa Freeman wrote a guest blog on the Connecticut Health Foundation website sharing her view that the health care system is not giving our residents the necessary information or knowledge to make informed choices in their health care insurance plans.  The difference, between choosing one plan over another can mean the difference in thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.  You can read the complete post here.

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Medicare Cuts Payments To 721 Hospitals With Highest Rates Of Infections, Injuries

Medicare is penalizing hospitals with high rates of potentially avoidable mistakes that can harm patients, known as “hospital-acquired conditions.”  To determine penalties, Medicare ranked hospitals for three types of HACs: Central-line associated bloodstream infections or CLABSIs, Catheter-associated urinary tract infections or CAUTIs and Serious Complications which is based on eight types of injuries, including blood clots, bed sores and falls.  Based on the hospital’s ranking from Medicare on these three specific hospital-acquired conditions, those whose score fell within the highest numbers are seeing their reimbursement impacted.   The full story and list can be found in the Kaiser Health News Article.

Connecticut’s hospitals on the list can be viewed at this link.

 

 

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