Oral Health Care of People with Special Health Care Needs

The Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) Best Practices Committee shared an updated Best Practice Approach Report, “Oral Health Care of People with Special Health Care Needs.” This report is the result of efforts by the ASTDD Best Practices Committee to identify and provide information on developing successful practices that address people with special health care needs.

Click here to read the report.

Status of Cancer Annual Report to the Nation Released

The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer was recently released and contains some good and bad news. The good news – mortality rates for lung cancer in the United States rapidly declined from 2001 to 2018. Among the bad news- age-standardized oral and pharyngeal cancer incidence rates increased during that period and pharyngeal mortality rates also increased for men but dropped slightly for women. The incidence of most smoking-related cancers (lung, larynx, bladder) has been declining in the U.S. largely due to the declining prevalence of smoking.

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Telehealth Essential for Millions to Continue Access to Health Care Once Pandemic is Over

A new report and infographic from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) present recently collected survey data on community health center experiences with audio-only telehealth during the pandemic. The report examines the lifeline telehealth provided for health centers and patients during the pandemic and stresses that unless lawmakers ensure the emergency flexibilities granted during the public health crisis continue, millions of patients could lose access to care. See the infographic for a summary of the impact of termination of emergency flexibilities.

Out of Reach 2021: The High Cost of Housing Report

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) recently released Out of Reach 2021: The High Cost of Housing. This report highlights the mismatch between the wages people earn and the price of decent rental housing in every state, metropolitan area, and county in the U.S. This robust report and data are extremely valuable in making the case for rental assistance, affordable housing, and livable wages among other important policy priorities. The report also includes housing cost and wage data specific for Pennsylvania and our counties. Explore the full report that includes an interactive website with an easy-to-use search function for data by metropolitan-area ZIP codes.

Young Invincibles Releases State of Enrollment Report

The current enrollment landscape is and has been quite tumultuous. With many trying to return to a regular routine, taking a step back and looking at what we learned about enrollment assistance during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic is key. With millions losing job-based health insurance, assisters stepped up to the plate, creating new and initiative ways to conduct enrollment, outreach virtually, harnessing the power of social media, and continued to enroll despite lack of internet or Wi-Fi access or the ability to meet in-person with those who needed assistance the most. Young Invincibles, founded by a group of students in 2009, is a network of advocates committed to educating young adults on all aspects of life from finances to the importance of health insurance coverage to making smart economic choices to build a better future. This new report discusses the current enrollment landscape, COVID-19 enrollment, and highlights some federal policy recommendations.

Read the full State of Enrollment Report.

New Report: Oral Health in Patients Experiencing Homelessness

The National Network for Oral Health Access (NNOHA) and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) developed a publication to bring awareness to the intersection of oral health and behavioral health concerns or cognitive impairment in people experiencing homelessness (PEH). The publication shares the impacts of behavioral health illness on oral health and how behavioral health and dental providers can work together to address this intersection in their practices.

Women’s Health Workforce to Increase

HRSA’s National Center for Health Workforce Analysis projects a 32 percent increase in certified nurse midwives and an 89 percent increase in women’s health nurse practitioners by 2030. HRSA has published a new report on the national-level supply and demand projections for women’s health service providers using HRSA’s Health Workforce Simulation Model.

Check out other highlights from the report.

Study Quantifies Impact of Vaccination on Death and Hospitalization

As the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 surges in parts of the United States, a new study from Yale University and the Commonwealth Fund finds that the U.S. vaccination campaign has significantly curbed the virus’s death toll, saving as many as 279,000 lives and averting up to 1.25 million hospitalizations. The study examined the impact of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program on the pandemic’s trajectory through July 1, 2021, considering the emergence of more transmissible variants in recent months. The findings demonstrate that the speed of the U.S. vaccination rollout prevented numerous additional COVID-19 fatalities and hospitalizations. Researchers warn, however, that the Delta variant’s spread among unvaccinated populations could produce a surge in new cases and reverse the downward trend of infections and deaths across the country.

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How A Fire Department Funding Model Could Preserve Rural Emergency Departments And Quality Emergency Care

Health Affairs, Commentary, June 14, 2021

Nearly 60 million rural Americans depend on local hospitals and their emergency departments (EDs) when serious (for example, trauma, stroke, heart attack) and potential (for example, chest or abdominal pain) emergencies occur. Yet, since 2010, 136 small and rural hospitals have closed. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend, with a record 20 new hospital closures in 2020 and many more at risk. Mortality worsens when hospitals close because of reduced access to the life-saving skills of emergency physicians and the hospitals where they work.

Recent policy initiatives have attempted to address rural hospital closures. Some Pennsylvania rural hospitals and all Maryland hospitals are funded through global budgets. Starting in January 2023, a new rural emergency hospital (REH) designation will allow rural critical access hospitals to convert to an REH and receive fixed payments to support infrastructure and a 5 percent increase in fee-for-service payments in return for maintaining an ED and specified outpatient services. A weakness of these models is that they focus on supporting the hospital facility alone. None ensure sufficient resources to pay for the 24/7/365 on-site emergency physician, plus some level of surge capacity, needed to provide ED patient care.

To understand why rural and small hospitals struggle to maintain high-quality emergency physicians in their EDs, it is important to describe the economics of ED staffing and how the COVID-19 pandemic changed those economics for the worse. Pre-pandemic, a delicate balance of volume, complexity, and payer-mix supported ED staffing with fee-for-service payments. Some visits reimbursed well and required few resources (for example, privately insured, low acuity). For other visits (for example, Medicare, Medicaid, high acuity, and uninsured), reimbursement did not cover costs. Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act reduced uninsured visits but has been no panacea. Medicaid expansion replaces unreimbursed visits by uninsured patients but only with well-below-cost Medicaid rates. Expansion also generates payer crowd-out: Some visits, previously well-reimbursed by commercial insurance, become low-paying Medicaid visits.

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