Log in


  • 26 Apr 2023 4:49 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be a key presence in 2023, even as the public health emergency designation — which has propped up funding and key programs in the sector — winds down in May, sparking a major transition in the industry. [Healthcare Dive]

    Providers, already facing pandemic-fueled labor shortages, may struggle to rein in expenses, and financial cricumstances for hospitals and clinicians may fall into negative margins this year. To make matters worse, clashes are expected between payers and providers during rate negotiations as both groups eye a potential widespread economic recession.


  • 25 Apr 2023 8:38 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

     In an effort to maintain access to coronavirus vaccines for uninsured Americans, HHS has introduced a public-private partnership with pharmaceutical companies.

    The partnership, known as the “HHS Bridge Access Program For COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments Program” (“Program”), took a two-pronged approach to maintain access to coronavirus vaccines for the uninsured population.

    HHS will invest $1.1 billion to establish a partnership with pharmacies so that they will offer coronavirus vaccines and treatments to uninsured individuals for free. Additionally, the program will reinforce the vaccine safety net.


  • 24 Apr 2023 8:14 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Premiums for Affordable Care Act benchmark plans rose across the country over the past year, with some of the lowest-cost silver plan premiums increasing in Illinois, according to a recent report from the Urban Institute. [Health News Illinois]

    From 2022 to 2023, monthly premiums on average increased for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois — one of the cheapest silver plans in Springfield and Chicago — by 2.5 percent in Springfield and 0.2 percent in Chicago.

    Overall, the lowest silver premiums in Chicago increased by an average of 21.2 percent, in part due to a 22 percent increase for a plan by Ambetter, which researchers said was likely due to the insurer offering a "very low" 2022 rate.

    Despite increases in some plans in urban and rural markets nationally, analysts attributed differences between the two to heightened competition in large cities, which drives lower rates.

    “Rural healthcare is always going to be expensive,” said John Holahan, a fellow at the Urban Institute. “In an ideal world, big teaching hospitals would be incentivized (to expand) ... If there are more providers, insurers can maybe negotiate better premiums.”

    Inflation and the uncertain future of enhanced premium tax credits also contributed to higher premiums. While subsidies were extended last fall, insurers needed to prepare in case tax credits did not continue, Holahan said.

    “Rule of thumb is that the more subsidized something is, the more healthy people will be more likely to buy insurance or go into a marketplace,” he said. “If they have to pay more, some healthy people will just forgo, figuring they're healthy enough.”

     Illinois was not the only state facing steeper premiums. While average premiums went down annually from 2019 to 2022, this year was a shift. Benchmark plan premiums went up nationally by an average of 3.4 percent in 2023.


  • 21 Apr 2023 5:24 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    More than half of US adults or their family members have encountered gun violence: they’ve been threatened with a firearm; they’ve witnessed a shooting; or a relative has been killed by a gun, including by suicide, according to nationally representative poll of 1271 people. Black adults were about twice as likely as White adults to report having seen someone being shot or to have had a relative who was killed by a gun in the Kaiser Family Foundation survey. [JAMA Network]

    About 40% of respondents reported living in a household with guns. Most said their gun storage did not reflect accepted safety practices such as storing guns unloaded in a locked location separate from ammunition.

    Although the medical community recognizes that gun violence represents a public health crisis, only 14% of adults surveyed had a physician or health care professional ask about gun ownership or firearms in the home. Pediatricians tended to raise the subject more often, with 26% of parents reporting they had been asked about guns in the home. Overall, less than 10% of adults, including parents, said a health care professional had talked with them specifically about gun safety.



  • 20 Apr 2023 12:10 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    At least 500 000 people in the US experience homelessness nightly. More than 30% of people experiencing homelessness also have a substance use disorder. Involuntary displacement is a common practice in responding to unsheltered people experiencing homelessness. Understanding the health implications of displacement (eg, “sweeps,” “clearings,” “cleanups”) is important, especially as they relate to key substance use disorder outcomes. [JAMA Network] 

    Objective  To estimate the long-term health effects of involuntary displacement of people experiencing homelessness who inject drugs in 23 US cities.



  • 19 Apr 2023 11:09 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Certain groups are now eligible for another dose of the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, and the updated shots have now fully replaced the monovalent shots, the FDA announcedopens in a new tab or window.

    The agency scrapped the emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for the monovalent Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines, and has authorized the bivalent boosters (original plus Omicron BA.4/BA.5 strains) for all doses starting at age 6 months.

    People age 65 and up can now get a second bivalent dose at least 4 months after their initial bivalent dose. FDA said a second bivalent dose for this group is supported by data showing that immunity wanes in this population over time, but that an additional dose restores it.

    Learn more> 


  • 18 Apr 2023 10:37 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The rate of suicide declined in 2019 and 2020 but increased by 4 percent in 2021, according to an April report from the CDC. 

    The age-adjusted rate of suicide per 100,000 people increased from 13.5 in 2020 to 14.1 in 2021. The 4 percent spike was the largest one-year increase since 2001. [Becker's Behavioral Health} 

    The National Center for Health Statistics analyzed death and population data from national databases including the National Vital Statistics System.

     Here are four more findings from the report: 

    1. In 2021, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S.

    2. The suicide rate among men increased from 22.0 in 2020 to 22.8 in 2021.

    3. The suicide rate among women increased from 5.5 in 2020 to 5.7 in 2021.

    4. For both men and women, American Indian or Alaska Native people had the highest rates of suicide in 2021 compared with other groups.



  • 18 Apr 2023 7:37 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    ICAAP's Collaborative on Child Homelessness – Illinois (COCHI) Quarterly Meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 19 from 1-2pm. The guest speakers are from Building Changes to discuss their Perinatal Housing Diversion Project

    Register . 

    Building Changes Guest Speakers: Kalyn Yasutake, MPH, Director of Research and Evaluation and Megan Veith, JD, Director of Policy and Advocacy

    Building Changes' mission is to advance equitable responses to homelessness in Washington State with a focus on children, youth, and families and the systems that serve them. Kalyn and Megan will be discussing the work Building Changes has done on integrating Diversion housing services into Maternity Support Services (MSS) and Infant Case Management (ICM). This model strives to bring housing services to those who are pregnant or post-partum where they are already receiving their health services. By creating better access and having more pregnant and post-partum people and families stably housed, we can expect better outcomes for the client and family overall.


  • 17 Apr 2023 2:20 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Seventy human services providers in Illinois will receive more than $14 million in state funding for facility upgrades and accessibility, officials announced Friday. [Health News Illinois]

    The state's human services and commerce agencies are distributing the funds. They are the first grants awarded as part of a program announced last fall.

    “(Friday’s) awards demonstrate our commitment to building up the community-based organizations that are making a difference every day for communities in need,” Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou said in a statement.

    Funds will head to providers in 24 counties, with nearly $6.5 million to 31 groups in Cook County.

    See the full list of recipients here.


  • 14 Apr 2023 9:00 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Recently, two major news stories in the technology world broke out. The first one was about a call by big names in the technology sector to pause the development of artificial intelligence. The second was about the use of large language models, or LLMs, in health care. That followed a recent interview with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, who revealed that ChatGPT and other applications based on LLMs will allow us to “have medical advice for everybody.” [Chicago Tribune] 

    Some technology leaders are calling for pausing AI development altogether while another suggests that we should integrate AI into one of the most vital sectors of the society: namely, health care.

    If this seems confusing, it is — because both ideas are radical and can be seen as the opposite ends of a spectrum regarding technology. But I think we can find a middle ground.

    The idea of pausing the development of technology indicates misconceptions about how science and technology evolve. Technological developments arise organically when a combination of social demands, enthusiastic investors and a vision for harnessing innovation are present. Investments can be loosely supervised, but the other two factors cannot be paused. Indeed, pausing is not only unfeasible, but it also is dangerous because it deters transparent development and communication about recent improvements.

    Technology is like an unstoppable train that runs on tracks we’ve laid. To minimize risks of harm, it is essential to be proactive and strategically guide technology development by steering it away from areas with high potential for harm and direct it toward small-scale experiments.

    Let’s take health care, for instance. Pausing AI development completely would mean losing out on potential benefits that time-strapped clinicians could use to improve care. For instance, clinicians might one day use LLMs to write letters to insurance companies and investigate medical notes for tracing liabilities.

    That said, as an ethics expert, I cannot ignore my responsibility to warn society about the risks and trade-offs of a hurried approach regarding the integration of LLMs in health care. These efforts could pave the path to collecting patients’ health data, which might include medical notes, test results and all kinds of information.

    Thanks to OpenAI’s newly released GPT4, which can understand and analyze images, in addition to text, scans and X-rays could be among the collected health data. Data collection efforts often start with offering applications that facilitate efficiency. For example, analyzing notes to summarize a patient’s history, which could be a major help for overworked clinicians, could be the pretext needed to collect a patient’s historical data.

    So what is the middle ground?

    Whether we like it or not, vital sectors including health care use technologies that collect our data. While we are not even remotely prepared for the integration of LLMs in health care, pausing their development is not the solution. Like other technologies, LLMs will eventually be integrated into sectors like health care, and so small-scale experiments open up space for reflection and evaluation of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Furthermore, experimenting with LLMs allows their developers to collate and address concerns around privacy, data security, accuracy, biases and accountabilities, among others.

    Ethical issues aside, incorporating LLMs into existing health care systems — while also navigating legal issues — is not only extremely challenging, but it also takes time and requires implementation instead of pausing to explore potential legal obstacles. The medical landscape is heavily regulated and has all kinds of checks and balances to protect patients, clinicians, health care providers and wider society.

    In some now-hypothetical scenarios involving AI — for example, drawing wrong conclusions from available data, misleading or interfering with the diagnosis, sharing health data with third parties — our legal systems and the notion of liabilities could be pushed to their limits because they were not designed to deal with these challenges and thus are not ready for such an enormous shift.

    In the case of loosely regulated data — similar to a web browser’s cookies that keep revealing information about us — we don’t know what information can be collected and transferred by LLMs. We have yet to learn about the purposes for which our data could be analyzed, where it will be stored, who will have access, how well it will be protected and so many other unknowns. While pausing is not helping any of these, a cursory adoption could be catastrophic.

    So the middle ground involves cautious experimentation with small-scale LLMs and evaluating their performance, while observing what their developers will do with our information and trust.

    Instead of pausing AI, we should collectively negotiate with AI developers, demanding good faith and transparency to ensure that technology will not make us vulnerable in the future.

    Mohammad Hosseini, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral scholar in the preventive medicine department at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, a member of the Global Young Academy and an associate editor of the journal Accountability in Research.


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software