Connect with us

Kaiser Health News

New Help for Dealing With Aggression in People With Dementia



Judith Graham
Tue, 28 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

Caring for older adults with dementia is stressful, especially when they become physically or verbally aggressive, wander away from home, develop paranoia or hallucinations, engage in inappropriate or repetitive behaviors, or refuse to let caregivers help them.

Upward of 95% of patients experience these neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia, which tend to fluctuate over time and vary in intensity. They're the primary reasons people with dementia end up in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. At some point, families and friends trying to help at home simply can't manage.

“When people think about dementia, they usually think about forgetfulness and memory impairment,” said Mary Blazek, director of the geriatric psychiatry clinic at the University of Michigan. “But it's behavioral and psychological disturbances that are most disruptive to patients' and caregivers' lives.”

Now, help is available from a first-of-its-kind website created by prominent experts in this field. It offers free training in a comprehensive approach to managing neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia — a method known as DICE — based on several decades of scientific research as well as extensive clinical practice.

The website's goal is to “give people tools to better manage often-distressing situations,” said Helen Kales, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UC Davis Health in Sacramento, California, and one of DICE's creators. Users learn that neuropsychiatric symptoms are caused by changes in the brain that increase people's vulnerability. Nine modules and two simulations provide comprehensive information and problem-solving techniques.

More than 16 million unpaid caregivers — primarily family members and friends — help people with dementia live at home. (An estimated 20% of patients live in institutional settings.) The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, affects nearly 7 million Americans 65 and older.

DICE is also designed to help “avoid the knee-jerk prescribing of psychoactive medications” that have potentially serious side effects, Kales said. Several medical organizations recommend that non-pharmaceutical approaches to troublesome behaviors be tried before drug therapy, but, in practice, this doesn't routinely happen.

Drugs prescribed for dementia include antipsychotic medications, such as Risperidone, which carry a black-box warning noting an increased risk of sooner-than-expected death in elderly patients; anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin, for which use has been on the rise despite concerns about safety; benzodiazepines, such as Ativan, which are associated with an increased risk of falls and, thus, fractures; and Celexa and other such antidepressants that have limited data supporting their effectiveness in easing dementia symptoms.

DICE is a mnemonic — a pattern of letters meant to serve as a memory aid — that stands for Describe, Investigate, Create, and Evaluate, the four pillars of this approach. At its core is an assumption people with dementia engage in disturbing behaviors for often-unrecognized reasons that can be addressed once they are understood.

Take an example on the website featuring Jennifer, a 55-year-old caregiver for her mother, Betty, 85, whom she tries to bathe daily in the late afternoon. When Betty resists getting into the tub, Jennifer insists, “Let's go! I have things to do.” Betty responds by smacking her and shouting, “Leave me alone. It hurts.”

DICE asks caregivers to step back from the heat of the moment and examine issues from three perspectives: the person with dementia, the caregiver, and the environment. All can contribute to distressing situations and all need to be considered in fashioning a response.

Examining the problem by using a “who, what, when, how, why” prompt can reveal several potential issues:

  • The patient. Betty has arthritis and may experience pain getting in and out of the tub. She may feel tired and overwhelmed in the late afternoon.
  • The caregiver. Jennifer may become easily frustrated when she encounters resistance — adopting a scolding and commanding tone rather than breaking down what Betty needs to do in simple steps.
  • The environment. The bathroom tends to be cold, with overly bright lights, tepid bathwater, and no grab bars around the tub.

Some possible solutions discussed on the website: Offer Betty an over-the-counter pain reliever before her bath. Try baths in the morning, not the afternoon. Relax expectations that she'll have a daily bath and offer sponge baths several times a week. Install grab bars around the tub, and make sure the water temperature is comfortable. Use a nicely scented soap and play music to help Betty relax. Speak calmly, making simple statements.

These embody strategies shown to improve neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with dementia: recognizing and addressing underlying medical issues such as pain, infections, or delirium; simplifying the tasks a person with dementia is expected to perform; and establishing daily routines that give structure to the day.

Other important steps: Engage the person in activities that are meaningful to them, including social interactions. Reduce clutter and the potential for overstimulation in the environment. Make sure the person is using hearing or vision aids, if needed. Get them outside and exposed to light.

If safety, psychosis, or major depression are urgent concerns, then consider using psychoactive medications after consulting a physician.

Of course, this isn't a comprehensive list of recommendations. Nor is it prescriptive. What works for one person with dementia may not work for another.

Using DICE is an iterative process that involves creativity and frequent evaluation to assess whether strategies are working, Kales said. If not, new interventions should be tried.

Although this is the first time family caregivers can access the DICE toolkit, the program has been available to health care professionals for a while. Notably, all of Wisconsin's dementia care specialists have been trained in DICE over the past few years (every county in that state has a specialist who helps families with dementia).

“It's a really pragmatic approach that's put together in a very thoughtful fashion,” said Art Walaszek, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health who's been involved in that effort.

Other dementia training programs are available, some of which review behavioral and psychiatric symptoms in less depth, and they, too, are increasingly available online. Another valuable resource, Best Programs for Caregiving, launched in March, lists evidence-based programs across the country and their availability. Enter a ZIP code to find information that previously hasn't been assembled in one place. This site, too, is very much worth consulting.

We're eager to hear from readers about questions you'd like answered, problems you've been having with your care, and advice you need in dealing with the health care system. Visit kffhealthnews.org/columnists to submit your requests or tips.

KFF Health News is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues and is one of the core operating programs at KFF—an independent source of health policy research, polling, and journalism. Learn more about KFF.


This story can be republished for free (details).

By: Judith Graham
Title: New Help for Dealing With Aggression in People With Dementia
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/article/dementia-aggression-caregiver-resources-help/
Published Date: Tue, 28 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

Kaiser Health News

FDA Urged To Relax Decades-Old Tissue Donation Restrictions for Gay and Bisexual Men



Rae Ellen Bichell
Fri, 24 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

The federal government in 2020 and 2023 changed who it said could safely donate organs and blood, reducing the restrictions on men who have had sex with another man.

But the FDA’s restrictions on donated tissue, a catchall term encompassing everything from a person’s eyes to their skin and ligaments, remain in place. Advocates, lawmakers, and groups focused on removing barriers to cornea donations, in particular, said they are frustrated the FDA hasn’t heeded their calls. They want to align the guidelines for tissue donated by gay and bisexual men with those that apply to the rest of the human body.

Such groups have been asking the FDA for years to reduce the deferral period from five years to 90 days, meaning a man who has had sex with another man would be able to donate tissue as long as such sex didn’t occur within three months of his death.

One of the loudest voices on lightening the restrictions is Sheryl J. Moore, who has been an advocate since her 16-year-old son’s death in 2013. Alexander “AJ” Betts Jr.’s internal organs were successfully donated to seven people, but his eyes were rejected because of a single question asked by the donor network: “Is AJ gay?”

Moore and a Colorado doctor named Michael Puente Jr. started a campaign called “Legalize Gay Eyes” and together got the attention of national eye groups and lawmakers.

Puente, a pediatric ophthalmologist with the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado, said the current patchwork of donor guidelines is nonsensical considering advancements in the ability to test potential donors for HIV.

“A gay man can donate their entire heart for transplant, but they cannot donate just the heart valve,” said Puente, who is gay. “It’s essentially a categorical ban.”

The justification for these policies, set 30 years ago as a means of preventing HIV transmission, has been undercut by the knowledge gained through scientific progress. Now, they are unnecessary and discriminatory in that they focus on specific groups of people rather than on specific behaviors known to heighten HIV risk, according to those who advocate for changing them.

Since 2022, the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research has put changes to the tissue guidance on its agenda but has yet to act on them.

“It is simply unacceptable,” Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) said in a statement. He was one of dozens of Congress members who signed a letter in 2021 that said the current deferral policies perpetuate stigma against gay men and should be based on individualized risk assessments instead.

“FDA policy should be derived from the best available science, not historic bias and prejudice,” the letter read.

The FDA said in a statement to KFF Health News that, “while the absolute risk transmission of HIV due to ophthalmic surgical procedures appears to be remote, there are still relative risks.”

The agency routinely reviews donor screening and testing “to determine what changes, if any, are appropriate based on technological and evolving scientific knowledge,” the statement said. The FDA provided a similar response to Neguse in 2022.

In 2015, the FDA got rid of a policy dubbed the “blood ban,” which barred gay and bisexual men from donating blood, before replacing it in 2023 with a policy that treats all prospective donors the same. Anyone who, in the past three months, has had anal sex and a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner is not allowed to donate. An FDA study found that, while men who have sex with men make up most of the nation’s new HIV diagnoses, a questionnaire was enough to effectively identify low-risk versus high-risk donors.

The U.S. Public Health Service adjusted the guidelines for organ donation in 2020. Nothing prevents sexually active gay men from donating their organs, though if they’ve had sex with another man in the past 30 days — down from a year — the patient set to receive the organ can decide whether or not to accept it.

But Puente said gay men like him cannot donate their corneas unless they were celibate for five years prior to their death.

He found that, in one year alone, at least 360 people were rejected as cornea donors because they were men who had had sex with another man in the past five years, or in the past year in the case of Canadian donors.

Corneas are the clear domes that protect the eyes from the outside world. They have the look and consistency of a transparent jellyfish, and transplanting one can restore a person’s sight. They contain no blood, nor any other bodily fluid capable of transmitting HIV. Scientists suspect that’s why there are no known cases of a patient contracting HIV from a cornea transplant, even when those corneas came from donors of organs that did infect recipients.

Currently, all donors, whether of blood, organs, or tissue, are tested for HIV and two types of hepatitis. Such tests aren’t perfect: There is still what scientists call a “window period” following infection during which the donor’s body has not yet produced a detectable amount of virus.

But such windows are now quite narrow. Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nucleic acid tests, which are commonly used to screen donors, are unlikely to miss someone having HIV unless they acquired it in the two weeks preceding donation. Another study estimated that even if someone had sex with an HIV-positive person a couple of weeks to a month before donating, the odds are less than 1 in a million that a nucleic acid test would miss that infection.

“Very low, but not zero,” said Sridhar Basavaraju, who was one of the researchers on that study and directs the CDC’s Office of Blood, Organ, and Other Tissue Safety. He said the risk of undetected hepatitis B is slightly higher “but still low.”

At least one senior FDA official has indirectly agreed. Peter Marks, who directs the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, co-authored a report last year that said “three months amply covers” the window period in which someone might have the virus but at levels too low for tests to pick up. Scott Haber, director of public health advocacy at the American Academy of Ophthalmology, said his group’s stance is that the tissue donation guideline “should be at least roughly in alignment” with that for blood donations.

Kevin Corcoran, who leads the Eye Bank Association of America, said the five-year abstinence required of corneal donors who are gay or bisexual isn’t just “badly out of date” but also impractical, requiring grieving relatives to recall five years of their loved one’s sexual history.

That’s the situation Moore found herself in on a July day in 2013.

Her son loved anime, show tunes, and drinking pop out of the side of his mouth. He was bad at telling jokes but good at helping people: Betts once replaced his little sister’s lost birthday money with his own savings, she said, and enthusiastically chose to be an organ donor when he got his driver’s license. Moore remembered telling her son to ignore the harassment by antigay bigots at school.

“The kids in show choir had told him he’s going to hell for being gay, and he might as well just kill himself to save himself the time,” she recalled.

That summer, he did. At the hospital, as medical staff searched for signs of brain activity in the boy before he died, Moore found herself answering a list of questions from Iowa Donor Network, including, she recalled: “Is AJ gay?”

“I remember very vividly saying to them, ‘Well, what do you mean by, “Was he gay?” I mean, he’s never had penetrative sex,’” she said. “But they said, ‘We just need to know if he was gay.’ And I said, ‘Yes, he identified as gay.’”

The Iowa Donor Network said in a statement that the organization can’t comment on Moore’s case, but said, “We sincerely hope for a shift in FDA policy to align with the more inclusive approach seen in blood donation guidelines, enabling us to honor the decision of all individuals who want to save lives through organ and tissue donation.”

Moore said her son’s organs helped save or prolong the lives of seven other people, including a boy who received his heart and a middle-aged woman who received his liver. Moore sometimes exchanges messages with her on Facebook.

She found out a year later that her son’s corneas were rejected as donor tissue because of that conversation with Iowa Donor Network about her son’s sexuality.

“I felt like they wasted my son’s body parts,” Moore said. “I very much felt like AJ was continuing to be bullied beyond the grave.”

By: Rae Ellen Bichell
Title: FDA Urged To Relax Decades-Old Tissue Donation Restrictions for Gay and Bisexual Men
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/article/tissue-donation-rules-fda-gay-bisexual-men-cornea-transplant/
Published Date: Fri, 24 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…

Continue Reading

Kaiser Health News

An Obscure Drug Discount Program Stifles Use of Federal Lifeline by Rural Hospitals



Sarah Jane Tribble, KFF Health News
Thu, 30 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

Facing ongoing concerns about rural hospital closures, Capitol Hill lawmakers have introduced a spate of proposals to fix a federal program created to keep lifesaving services in small towns nationwide.

In Anamosa, Iowa — a town of fewer than 6,000 residents located more than 900 miles from the nation’s capital — rural hospital leader Eric Briesemeister is watching for Congress’ next move. The 22-bed hospital Briesemeister runs averages about seven inpatients each night, and its most recent federal filings show it earned just $95,445 in annual net income from serving patients.

Yet Briesemeister isn’t interested in converting the facility into a rural emergency hospital, which would mean getting millions of extra dollars each year from federal payments. In exchange for that financial support, hospitals that join the program keep their emergency departments open and give up inpatient beds.

“It wasn’t for us,” said Briesemeister, chief executive of UnityPoint Health-Jones Regional Medical Center. “I think that program is a little bit more designed for hospitals that might not be around without it.”

Nationwide, only about two dozen of the more than 1,500 eligible hospitals have become rural emergency hospitals since the program launched last year. At the same time, rural hospitals continue to close — 10 since the fix became available.

Federal lawmakers have introduced a handful of legislative solutions since March. In one bill, senators from Kansas and Minnesota list a myriad of tactics, including allowing older closed facilities to reopen.

Another proposal introduced in the House by two Michigan lawmakers is the Rural 340B Access Act. It would allow rural emergency hospitals to use the 340B federal drug discount program, which Congress created in 1992.

The 340B program, named after its federal statute, lets eligible hospitals and clinics buy drugs at a discount and then bill insurance companies, Medicare, or Medicaid at market rates. Hospitals get to keep the money they make from the difference.

Congress approved 340B as an indirect aid package to help struggling hospitals stay afloat. Many larger hospitals say the cash is used for community benefits and charity care, while many small hospitals depend on the drug discounts to help cover staffing and operational shortfalls.

Currently, emergency hospitals are not eligible for 340B discounts. According to a release from U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), the House proposal would “correct this oversight.” Backers of the House bill include the American Hospital Association and the National Rural Health Association.

In Iowa, Briesemeister said the 340B federal drug discount program “can be used for tremendous good.” The small-town hospital uses money it makes from 340B to subsidize emergency services and uninsured and underinsured patients who frequent the emergency department, he said.

Chuck Grassley, Iowa’s longtime Republican senator, shepherded the Rural Emergency Hospital program into law. His spokesperson, Gillie Maddox, did not respond directly to questions about why the federal law creating rural emergency hospitals omitted the 340B program. Instead, Maddox said the designation was a “product of bipartisan negotiations.”

A survey conducted by the health analytics and consulting firm Chartis, along with the National Rural Health Association, found that nearly 80% of rural hospitals had participated in 340B and nearly 40% said they reaped $750,000 or more annually from the program.

Sanford Health, a largely rural health system headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, considered converting a handful of smaller critical access hospitals into rural emergency hospitals.

Martha Leclerc, vice president of corporate contracting for Sanford, said the system analyzed how much revenue would be lost by closing inpatient beds, which is also a requirement of the emergency hospital program, and by being unable to file for drug discounts.

In the end, she said, switching did not “make a lot of sense.”

While many rural hospitals are clamoring for the 340B provision to be added to the rural emergency hospital program, opponents have said 340B can be a cash cow for hospitals that don’t serve enough vulnerable patients.

Nicole Longo is deputy vice president of public affairs for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the nation’s largest, most influential pharmaceutical lobbying group. She wrote in a recent blog post that hospital systems and chain pharmacies are “exploiting the program” and said patients have not benefited from the growth in the program.

In an interview, Longo said PhRMA supports rural emergency hospitals being able to access 340B because they are treating “vulnerable patients in underserved communities” and are “true safety net providers.”

PhRMA, she said, wants to encourage a thoughtful conversation about “which types of hospitals should be in the program.” Last year, PhRMA formed an unlikely pact with community health centers to create the Alliance to Save America’s 340B Program, or ASAP 340B.

Vacheria Keys, associate vice president of policy and regulatory affairs at the National Association of Community Health Centers, said, “There is a new day of openness, from all parties.”

Use of the drug discount program skyrocketed after provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, allowed hospitals and clinics to contract with an unlimited number of retail pharmacies, such as Walgreens and CVS, which are paid a fee to dispense the discounted drugs.

Adam J. Fein, president of the industry research organization Drug Channels Institute, reports that the 340B program is the second-largest federal drug program, trailing Medicare Part D. The flow of drugs purchased under the 340B program reached $53.7 billion in 2022, about $9.8 billion more than in 2021.

In response to the exploding use of contract pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturers have restricted the drugs they offer at a discount through the pharmacies. That throttling is affecting rural hospitals like Labette Health, a Kansas hospital whose president asked President Joe Biden for help in dealing with the pharmaceutical companies.

Rena Conti, an associate professor of markets, public policy, and law at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, has studied the drug discounts for years and said she has “significant worries about expanding” the 340B program.

“There is a lot of money being generated in this program that we really can’t understand exactly how much that really is and exactly who it is benefiting,” Conti said.

At the same time, said Conti, a health care economist, giving rural hospitals access to the federal drug discounts “makes sense because they are hospitals that are serving particularly vulnerable patient populations.”

By: Sarah Jane Tribble, KFF Health News
Title: An Obscure Drug Discount Program Stifles Use of Federal Lifeline by Rural Hospitals
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/article/rural-emergency-hospitals-340b-drug-discount-program/
Published Date: Thu, 30 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

Continue Reading

Kaiser Health News

Safety-Net Health Clinics Cut Services and Staff Amid Medicaid ‘Unwinding’



Katheryn Houghton
Thu, 30 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

One of Montana’s largest health clinics that serves people in poverty has cut back services and laid off workers. The retrenchment mirrors similar cuts around the country as safety-net health centers feel the effects of states purging their Medicaid rolls.

Billings-based RiverStone Health is eliminating 42 jobs this spring, cutting nearly 10% of its workforce. The cuts have shuttered an inpatient hospice facility, will close a center for patients managing high blood pressure, and removed a nurse who worked within rural schools. It also reduced the size of the clinic’s behavioral health care team and the number of staffers focused on serving people without housing.

RiverStone Health CEO Jon Forte said clinic staffers had anticipated a shortfall as the cost of business climbed in recent years. But a $3.2 million loss in revenue, which he largely attributed to Montana officials disenrolling a high number of patients from Medicaid, pushed RiverStone’s deficit much further into the red than anticipated.

“That has just put us in a hole that we could not overcome,” Forte said.

RiverStone is one of nearly 1,400 federally funded clinics in the U.S. that adjust their fees based on what individuals can pay. They’re designed to reach people who face disproportionate barriers to care. Some are in rural communities, where offering primary care can come at a financial loss. Others concentrate on vulnerable populations falling through cracks in urban hubs. Altogether, these clinics serve more than 30 million people.

The health centers’ lifeblood is revenue received from Medicaid, the state-federal subsidized health coverage for people with low incomes or disabilities. Because they serve a higher proportion of low-income people, the federally funded centers tend to have a larger share of patients on the program and rely on those reimbursements.

But Medicaid enrollment is undergoing a seismic shift as states reevaluate who is eligible for it, a process known as the Medicaid “unwinding.” It follows a two-year freeze on disenrollments that protected people’s access to care during the covid public health emergency.

As of May 23, more than 22 million people had lost coverage, including about 134,000 in Montana — 12% of the state’s population. Some no longer met income eligibility requirements, but the vast majority were booted because of paperwork problems, such as people missing the deadline, state documents going to outdated addresses, or system errors.

That means health centers increasingly offer care without pay. Some have seen patient volumes drop, which also means less money. When providers like RiverStone cut services, vulnerable patients have fewer care options.

Jon Ebelt, communications director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, said the agency isn’t responsible for individual organizations’ business decisions. He said the state is focused on maintaining safety-net systems while protecting Medicaid from being misused.

Nationwide, health centers face a similar problem: a perfect financial storm created by a sharp rise in the cost of care, a tight workforce, and now fewer insured patients. In recent months, clinics in California and Colorado have also announced cuts.

“It’s happening in all corners of the country,” said Amanda Pears Kelly, CEO of Advocates for Community Health, a national advocacy group representing federally qualified health centers.

Nearly a quarter of community health center patients who rely on Medicaid were cut from the program, according to a joint survey from George Washington University and the National Association of Community Health Centers. On average, each center lost about $600,000.

One in 10 centers either reduced staff or services, or limited appointments.

“Health centers across the board try to make sure that the patients know they’re still there,” said Joe Dunn, senior vice president for public policy and advocacy at the National Association of Community Health Centers.

Most centers operate on shoestring budgets, and some started reporting losses as the workforce tightened and the cost of business spiked.

Meanwhile, federal assistance — money designed to cover the cost of people who can’t afford care —remained largely flat. Congress increased those funds in March to roughly $7 billion over 15 months, though health center advocates said that still doesn’t cover the tab.

Until recently, RiverStone in Montana had been financially stable. Before the pandemic, the organization was making money, according to financial audits.

In summer 2019, a $10 million expansion was starting to pay off. RiverStone was serving more patients through its clinic and pharmacy, a revenue increase that more than offset increases in operating costs, according to documents.

But in 2021, at the height of the pandemic, those growing expenses — staff pay, building upkeep, the price of medicine, and medical gear — outpaced the cash coming in. By last summer, the company had an operational loss of about $1.7 million. With the Medicaid redetermination underway, RiverStone’s pool of covered patients shrank, eroding its financial buffer.

Forte said the health center plans to ask state officials to increase its Medicaid reimbursement rates, saying existing rates don’t cover the continuum of care. That’s a tricky request after the state raised its rates slightly last year following much debate around which services needed more money.

Some health center cuts represent a return to pre-pandemic staffing, after temporary federal pandemic funding dried up. But others are rolling back long-standing programs as budgets went from stretched to operating in the red.

California’s Petaluma Health Center in March laid off 32 people hired during the pandemic, The Press Democrat reported, or about 5% of its workforce. It’s one of the largest primary care providers in Sonoma County, where life expectancy varies based on where people live and poverty is more prevalent in largely Hispanic neighborhoods.

Clinica Family Health, which has clinics throughout Colorado’s Front Range, laid off 46 people, or about 8% of its staff, in October. It has consolidated its dental program from three clinics to two, closed a walk-in clinic meant to help people avoid the emergency room, and ended a home-visit program for patients recently discharged from the hospital.

Clinica said 37% of its patients on Medicaid before the unwinding began lost their coverage and are now on Clinica’s discount program. This means the clinic now receives between $5 and $25 for medical visits that used to bring in $220-$230.

“If it’s a game of musical chairs, we’re the ones with the last chair. And if we have to pull it away, then people hit the ground,” said CEO Simon Smith.

Stephanie Brooks, policy director of the Colorado Community Health Network, which represents Colorado health centers, said some centers are considering consolidating or closing clinics.

Colorado and Montana have among the nation’s highest percentages of enrollment declines. Officials in both states have defended their Medicaid redetermination process, saying most people dropped from coverage likely no longer qualify, and they point to low unemployment rates as a factor.

In many states, health providers and patients alike have provided examples in which people cut from coverage still qualified and had to spend months entangled in system issues to regain access.

Forte, with RiverStone, said reducing services on the heels of a pandemic adds insult to injury, both for health care workers who stayed in hard jobs and for patients who lost trust that they’ll be able to access care.

“This is so counterproductive and counterintuitive to what we’re trying to do to meet the health care needs of our community,” Forte said.

KFF Health News correspondent Rae Ellen Bichell in Longmont, Colorado, contributed to this report.

By: Katheryn Houghton
Title: Safety-Net Health Clinics Cut Services and Staff Amid Medicaid ‘Unwinding’
Sourced From: kffhealthnews.org/news/article/safety-net-health-clinics-cut-services-staff-medicaid-unwinding/
Published Date: Thu, 30 May 2024 09:00:00 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…

Continue Reading

News from the South