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  • 27 Jun 2023 4:51 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Charity care may cut some cost-related barriers to cancer screening access, but organizations need a bigger safety net for potential cancer treatments.

    It’s not uncommon for healthcare organizations to set up free breast cancer screening events as part of their charity care efforts to serve low-income, uninsured people. But what happens when a screening turns into a breast cancer diagnosis, and that person is left on the hook for treatment costs?
    That’s the looming question for healthcare organizations nationwide that are trying to close gaps in cancer screening by way of free or subsidized programs. While those screening events can move the needle on the number of people getting a breast cancer screen—especially low-income folks and people of color who are traditionally underserved by medicine and m]ay experience distrust—they only get at part of the problem. [PatientEngagement Hit]



  • 26 Jun 2023 12:25 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Today, the Biden-Harris Administration awarded $50 million to launch the Persistent Poverty Initiative, an initiative to alleviate the cumulative effects of persistent poverty on cancer outcomes by building research capacity, fostering cancer prevention research, and promoting the implementation of community-based programs. The Persistent Poverty Initiative is the first major program to address the structural and institutional factors of persistent poverty in the context of cancer. It is coordinated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These awards create five new Centers for Cancer Control Research in Persistent Poverty Areas that will advance key priorities of the Administration’s Cancer Moonshot — to reduce inequities in the structural drivers of cancer and prevent more cancers before they start by reducing tobacco use and making sure everyone has access to healthy food. [NIH]

    Persistent poverty areas are defined as those where, for the past 30 years, 20% or more of the population has lived below the federal poverty line. People who live in such areas have a higher incidence of cancer, experience delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment, and are more likely to die from cancer than people who do not live in poverty. However, there has been limited research on how to improve cancer outcomes in persistent poverty areas.



  • 23 Jun 2023 3:22 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    New estimates predict more than 1.3 billion people worldwide will have diabetes by 2050, up from about 529 million in 2021, according to research published in The Lancet.  [Beckers Clinical Leadership & Infection Control}

    "Diabetes will be a defining disease of this century," journal editors wrote in an accompanying editorial on the findings. "How the health community deals with diabetes in the next two decades will shape population health and life expectancy for the next 80 years."

    The surge is expected to be driven by type 2 diabetes, which is largely driven by the prevalence of obesity. In the editorial, researchers pointed to structural racism and geographical inequity as drivers of diabetes, underscoring the importance of social determinants of health. 

    "Addressing structural racism must become a core component of preventive strategies and health promotion — areas that invariably receive too little investment," the editorial said. 


  • 22 Jun 2023 11:05 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Illinois’ healthcare system ranked 23rd in the nation, according to a scorecard released by the Commonwealth Fund Thursday. 

    The fund ranks all states and the District of Columbia annually on how well their healthcare systems perform. This year, Massachusetts led the nation, while Mississippi was at the bottom. [Health News Illinois] 

    Illinois outperformed Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Missouri, but was behind Iowa and Wisconsin. 

    “Looking across states and comparing their healthcare systems is an important way of telling us what is and what isn't working in American healthcare,” Dr. Joseph Betancourt, president of the fund, told reporters. 

    Overall, Illinois ranked:

    ·    14th for reproductive and women’s health.

    ·    19th for access and affordability.

    ·    25th for prevention and treatment.

    ·    46th for avoidable hospital use and cost.

    ·    16th for healthy lives.

    ·    33rd for income disparity.

    ·    17th for racial and ethnic health equity.

    Illinois performed well compared to others by having lower percentages of women between 18 and 44 without regular checkups, women with recent live births reporting no postpartum checkup visits and teens with a major depressive episode not receiving mental healthcare. 

    Its worst performances were for a higher percentage of nursing home residents with antipsychotic medication, a lower percentage of adults with age- and gender-appropriate cancer screenings and a higher hospital readmission rate for recently discharged seniors. 

    Illinois improved the most in recent years for potential avoidable emergency department visits for seniors, preventable hospitals for adults between 18 and 64 and preventable hospitalizations for seniors.

    However, the state worsened the most for measures related to premature deaths from preventable causes, children who did not receive needed mental healthcare and adults with age-appropriate vaccines. 

    Overall, all states saw large jumps in avoidable deaths between 2019 and 2021, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    For the first time, the scorecard ranked states’ healthcare systems on health outcomes and access to care for women, mothers and infants. Data were primarily collected in 2021, prior to the Supreme Court overturning the constitutional right to abortion.

    Meanwhile, health insurance coverage rates reached record highs in 2021, thanks to temporary policies that kept people on Medicaid, decisions by several states to expand the program, enhanced subsidies available for Affordable Care Act plans and ACA outreach. 

    The gains through Medicaid’s continuous coverage requirement “may prove ephemeral” since it ended earlier this year and states are now facing the "complicated and complex task" of redetermining eligibility, the report noted. 

    The study offers a bevy of recommendations to reduce the number of preventable deaths, like lowering insurance and administrative barriers for addiction treatment, expanding the primary care workforce and integrating behavioral healthcare with primary and pediatric care.

    Lawmakers could create a federal insurance option for those with low income in states that have not expanded Medicaid and make temporary enhanced ACA subsidies permanent to help boost accessible and affordable healthcare coverage.

    Extending postpartum Medicaid coverage to a year, advancing policies that support access to reproductive care, funding community-based organizations focused on maternal health, and diversifying and growing the maternal health workforce could help improve women’s healthcare. 

    “Our findings are important, urgent and deserve our nation's full attention,” Betancourt said.


  • 21 Jun 2023 11:18 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Gov. JB Pritzker signed the annual Medicaid omnibus into law last week, which will boost rates for a variety of healthcare providers. [Health News Illinois]

    The plan includes a 30 percent increase for substance use disorder treatment, 12 percent for nursing home support, a 10 percent increase for hospitals and an additional $50 million annually to support increases for federally qualified health centers.

    Most rate increases will be implemented next January. 

    The proposal also gives the Department of Healthcare and Family Services the ability to address the cost of a program that provides Medicaid-like coverage to certain undocumented individuals.

    The agency released emergency rulemaking later Friday afternoon, which includes halting enrollment in the program as well as implementing copays for some hospital services.

    Other provisions in the law include:

    ·    Setting aside funding for specified services provided by community mental health centers, such as mobile crisis response and crisis intervention. Rate increases will be determined “with significant input from Illinois behavioral health trade associations and advocates.”

    ·    Providing $3.5 million for the Department of Public Health to support critical access hospitals in Illinois, specifically for perinatal and behavioral healthcare services.

    ·    Establishing reimbursement for telehealth for developmentally disabled individuals.

    ·    Granting the Departments of Human Services and Healthcare and Family Services emergency rulemaking to address substance use disorder residential and detox rate equity.

    ·    Laying the groundwork, procedures and limitations for pharmacy audits.


  • 20 Jun 2023 11:04 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The Department of Healthcare and Family Services released proposed rules last week intended to address the rising costs of a program that provides Medicaid-like coverage for certain undocumented individuals. [Health News Illinois]

    That includes a pause for new enrollees between 42 and 64 on July 1. Seniors can still join, unless their enrollment reaches 16,500. The department said it will reopen enrollment “as soon as fiscally possible.”

    Additionally, the department may implement copays for hospital services not eligible for a federal match, such as $250 for inpatient hospitalizations and $100 for emergency room visits.

    The program offers coverage to undocumented immigrants 42 years and older who do not qualify for other medical assistance and have an income at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

    Officials have estimated the program will cost the state $1.1 billion without restrictions. Advocates of the program have pushed back on those figures.

    The agency said it has already taken steps to enhance revenue for the program, including maximizing “federal reimbursement for emergency medical expenses” and pursuing supplemental prescription drug rebates for the covered undocumented population.

    It will also transition enrollees to Medicaid managed care next year, which HFS said will generate additional funds through taxes it collects on managed care organizations.

    The Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus said in a statement that the proposal “is disappointing but is also a call to action.”

    “We will continue to fight for healthcare for all Illinoisans,” they said. “Latino Caucus members have not given up — and will pursue closing the gap in coverage until we achieve healthcare for all residents. The often-disenfranchised communities we represent sent us to Springfield to be their voice; we will never turn our backs on them.”

    The Healthy Illinois Campaign condemned the agency’s proposal, calling on the Pritzker administration to work with lawmakers and advocates to ensure healthcare access.

    “By slashing live-saving health coverage for Illinois immigrants, Gov. Pritzker is turning his back on the communities he claims Illinois welcomes and aligning himself with anti-immigrant Republicans around the country,” they said in a statement.


  • 16 Jun 2023 10:15 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in the summer of 2022, almost half of states have banned abortion or placed gestational limits on the procedure. These restrictions disproportionately impact individuals who live in the South and Midwest—and much has been written about the dire consequences for women who face reproductive emergencies and physicians who face potential prosecution (or license forfeiture) for exercising their professional judgment in providing care. The consequences for training in lifesaving procedures is another area of great and growing concern.

    There is another consequence to restricting abortion that many policy makers may not have considered: banning abortion is likely to deter physicians from practicing in those states altogether.


  • 15 Jun 2023 4:00 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Gov. JB Pritzker joined stakeholders Wednesday to launch the next step in an initiative aimed at addressing homelessness in the state.

    Officials said the summit aimed to bring potential solutions and strategies to the state’s multi-year approach to expand affordable housing options; assist individuals in high-risk situations, specifically those who need medical care; and provide additional support for those experiencing homelessness. [Health News Illinois]

    “The summit is an opportunity to come together and hear from the lived experiences of those who have experienced homelessness," Deputy Gov. Sol Flores said in a statement. "That perspective and the equity it centers is invaluable in this work."

    Additionally, Pritzker’s office said the initiative aims to support the safety net and address the mortality gap through a racial equity lens.

    “This is a first-of-its-kind, multi-agency endeavor — bringing together state agencies, nonprofit organizations, advocates and people with lived experience to take an intergovernmental approach to preventing and ending homelessness,” Pritzker said in a statement.

     The governor’s office noted the recently approved state budget allocates nearly $360 million for the effort, including $118 million to support unhoused populations seeking shelter and services and $35 million for services like medical respite.


  • 14 Jun 2023 6:19 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Black Chicagoans continue to face significant health disparities, including a 10-year life expectancy gap compared to white residents, according to a recent report  from the Chicago Urban League. [Health News Illinois]

    The report, which was prepared by both the league and the Institute for Racial Justice at Loyola University Chicago, also found 45 percent of residents of the city’s 27 predominately Black neighborhoods have low food accessibility, compared to 27 percent of residents living in the 11 predominately white neighborhoods.

    Hypertension and obesity are twice as high in Black neighborhoods compared to others. Lead poisoning in children ages five and under was nearly seven times more likely in Black neighborhoods than white ones.

    The data represents the continued impact of social determinants of health on Black Chicagoans.

    “In assessing the health of Black Chicagoans, it must be understood that the lack of health is a consequence of historical systems of oppression that created significant barriers to healthcare,” the report says. “There are numerous social, economic and environmental determinants of health, including access to education, fresh and healthy food, economic stability, safe homes and neighborhoods as well as a responsive healthcare system.”

     About 29 percent of Chicagoans are Black, down 3 percent over the past decade.

    Download report here.


  • 13 Jun 2023 5:22 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    CMS Announces Multi-State Initiative to Strengthen Primary Care

    New Model Aims to Enhance Access and Quality of Primary Care, Improve Health System

    Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new primary care model – the Making Care Primary (MCP) Model – that will be tested under the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation in eight states. Access to high-quality primary care is associated with better health outcomes and equity for people and communities. MCP is an important step in strengthening the primary care infrastructure in the country, especially for safety net and smaller or independent primary care organizations. The model seeks to improve care for patients by expanding and enhancing care management and care coordination, equipping primary care clinicians with tools to form partnerships with health care specialists, and leveraging community-based connections to address patients’ health needs as well as their health-related social needs.

    More> https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-announces-multi-state-initiative-strengthen-primary-care


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