There’s a lot of focus on health care and health insurance in the news these days. But whether one ever sees a doctor or enters a hospital, there are things each of us can do, right now, to minimize our health problems.
Every once in a while a report comes out that’s a game-changer, it makes you look at an issue in a different way . . . or at least it offers the opportunity to do so. Falling Behind: The Impact of the Great Recession and the Budget Crisis on California’s Women and their Families is such a report, released Wednesday by the California Budget Project (CBP), along with the study’s funder, the Women’s Foundation of California.
To help expand access to high-quality, cost-effective care for all California citizens, the California Academy of Physician Assistants (CAPA) has partnered with NeedyMeds, a national non-profit organization, to launch a prescription drug discount card that will help Californians lower the costs of their medications and other health care services. The discount card is free and can be used by all California families to save up to 80% off the cost of prescription medications.
We get a lot of blank stares when we tell people what we do for a living. Our title is unfamiliar, but once we explain what we do, heads begin to nod. We are Patient Navigators, a health care position that has emerged recently and must be commonplace if we’re to adapt to the changes that health reform will soon bring.
As we ring in 2012, most of us take stock of this new beginning by creating New Year’s resolutions. We think about life’s everyday realities, such as what we eat, our exercise habits, our aspirations, and vow that this year will be different – better. As a physician, I encourage New Year’s resolutions, especially when they involve altering your lifestyle to support healthy aging. This year, I suggest a different kind of resolution, one that may be more difficult to consider. I invite you to think about what aging with dignity and independence means. Then take time to have the tough conversations with your loved ones about what is important to you as you grow older, and how you will get help should you require daily assistance.
For decades, Americans have debated health care reform as if it was one issue. But, in reality, there are two different issues. The first is how to expand access to care for the 30 million most vulnerable Americans. The second is how to seize control of escalating health care expenses and insurance premiums.
LGBT patients, according to a March report by the Institute of Medicine, have unique healthcare needs and concerns – just like other minorities. The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research also revealed in March that older LGBT adults in California have higher rates of chronic disease, mental distress and isolation than heterosexuals.
California faces a devastating future because too many students are not graduating or are in remediation classes at college, especially children of color and lower income students. Too many kids are disengaged and don’t care if they drop out, stay in school or just get by.
After months of budget battles, California’s child care system was ultimately pared down with a sharp scalpel, as were most health and social service programs. For child care it was a triple whammy – sharp reductions in reimbursement rates for licensed and unlicensed providers, increased fees and more restrictive income eligibility for parents, and a 15 percent across-the-board cut to all preschool and child care programs (excluding two programs that support parents in welfare-to-work).
As California continues toward implementation of federal health care reform, efforts to contain health care costs have become increasingly critical, and all parties to the health care delivery system share responsibility. California health insurers, however, have implemented many procedures and protocols under the guise of cost containment that threaten the doctor-patient relationship and interfere with effective patient care by denying or delaying patient treatment. These practices carry innocuous-sounding names, such as “prior-” or “pre-authorization,” “pre-approval,” or “step edits,” but the impact can be anything but innocuous.