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  • 30 Mar 2023 6:07 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The recent study by Hoffmann et al1 and accompanying editorial by Carroll and Hayes2 paint a sobering picture of the mental health system and access to care. We would like to make a few comments in response. [JAMA Network]

    First, it is important to note that the while the study by Hoffmann et al focused on mental health conditions and the suicide rate, many adolescents and even younger children may require care for primary or co-occurring substance use disorders, developmental disabilities, and physical health conditions.3 Co-occurring conditions may exacerbate access to care challenges.

    Second, it is important to note efforts to implement needed changes, such as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and recently released National Guidelines for Child and Youth Behavioral Health Crisis Care. These efforts are directly relevant to some of the challenges noted by the above authors.

    Third, while money cannot be the sole metric by which to judge the nation’s commitment to supporting those with behavioral health conditions and their families or caregivers, nor serve alone as a panacea for every conceivable challenge, the importance of sustainable, ongoing, and adequate funding at the federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial levels should not be dismissed or neglected. Together, mental health and substance use account have historically accounted for 6% to 7% of total health spending, which likely does not reflect overall needs for care as identified by Hoffmann et al1 and many others.4

    More> https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2802515?guestAccessKey=9d9bbe50-435b-423a-8577-56c0e544907c&utm_source=silverchair&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=article_alert-jamapediatrics&utm_content=olf&utm_term=032723


  • 29 Mar 2023 7:19 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Democratic senators unveiled a bill Tuesday to lower the state’s cap on the out-of-pocket costs for insulin to $35. [Health News Illinois]

    The plan by Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, would update a 2020 law that caps out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $100 for a 30-day supply for patients who have commercial insurance plans regulated by the state.

    The bill would also task the Department of Public Health with establishing the framework for a program that would let participants buy insulin at a discounted, post-rebate price. 

    The proposal would take effect January 2025.

    The House approved a plan last week by Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, that also relates to lowering the cost of insulin to $35 for a 30-day supply. Murphy told reporters at a press conference in Springfield they intend to go forward with the Senate version.

    She noted her plan to create a framework for a discount program removed opposition from stakeholders, as participants in the program can send rebates back to insulin makers to be reimbursed for the price of the medication.

    “It’s vital we make insulin more accessible to the people who need it,” Murphy said. “It’s past time to put people’s health ahead of financial gain.”

    About 1.3 million Illinoisans have insulin-dependent diabetes. Murphy said she plans to call her bill for a vote later this week.

    Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spokesperson Stami Williams called insulin prices “a prime example for what's wrong with the system.”

    “Insurers and middlemen continue to take a greater share of the rebates and discounts from manufacturers, but they don’t pass those savings along to patients,” Williams said in a statement. “If you want to get to the root of the issue patients face at the pharmacy counter, we must address the role middlemen play in what patients are paying out-of-pocket for their medicines.”


  • 28 Mar 2023 7:59 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The racial gap in overdose deaths is not a new phenomenon, but according to new research out of the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, those racial health disparities got even worse starting in 2018 and extending into 2020.

    Given the heterogeneity of drug overdose deaths during that period, the researchers recommended tailored public health interventions. [Patient Engagement HIT]

    The US has been under assault by the opioid crisis for some time, but these latest figures paint a far grimmer picture than statistics could have indicated, the researchers said.

    The team looked at drug overdose death data from the National Vital Statistics System from between 2013 and 2020, looking at four drug categories: psychostimulants, like methamphetamines; heroin; natural and semi-synthetic opioids, like prescription painkillers; and synthetic opioids, like fentanyl.

    Nationwide and across demographics, overdose deaths from any of those drugs increased during the study period, with the researchers highlighting a significant jump in 2020 past what historical trends could have predicted.

    “The third wave of drug overdose deaths began in 2013 with the arrival of fentanyl on the illicit drug market,” Maria R. D’Orsagna, PhD, one of the study’s authors, stated publicly. “Although overdose deaths have steadily increased since then, the pandemic year 2020 saw a significant rise of fatalities in many states.”



  • 27 Mar 2023 5:52 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which has contracted with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to run the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network for 37 years, announced it will invite organizations to bid for contracts for different parts of the transplant system’s functions. [US News]

    “Every day, patients and families across the United States rely on the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network [OPTN] to save the lives of their loved ones who experience organ failure,” HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson said in a news release announcing the change. “At HRSA, our stewardship and oversight of this vital work is a top priority. That is why we are taking action to both bring greater transparency to the system and to reform and modernize the OPTN."



  • 24 Mar 2023 12:18 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    The nation’s healthcare workforce still is trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic nearly three years after it began as labor shortages stress hospitals and clinicians, spurring increased burnout among staff ranging from nurses to executives. [Healthcare Dive]

    In addition, healthcare workers across the country have waged strikes to gain higher pay and optimal staffing conditions in employment contracts, while resident physicians increasingly have been involved in labor organizing.

    These labor trends will continue posing challenges to health systems this year as facilities work to get back to pre-pandemic operations and stem labor costs that rose last year, experts say.

    Ongoing staffing shortages and use of temporary labor...



  • 23 Mar 2023 5:45 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Although life expectancy in industrialized countries has lengthened over the past century, increases in US life expectancy ceased after 2010, a trend attributed to rising mortality rates among individuals aged 25 to 64 years.1 Although midlife mortality rates increased over the past decade, mortality rates among children and older adults continued to decrease. The COVID-19 pandemic altered this trend and resulted in a sharp increase in mortality among older adults, an unsurprising outcome. However, pediatric mortality rates also increased, and COVID-19 contributed little to this surge. This increase in all-cause pediatric mortality has ominous implications. A nation that begins losing its most cherished population—its children—faces a crisis like no other. [JAMA Network] 

    A close examination of mortality data for 1999-2020 and provisional data for 2021 spells out the problem.2,3 Between 2019 and 2020, the all-cause mortality rate for ages 1 to 19 years increased by 10.7%, and it increased by an additional 8.3% between 2020 and 2021 (Figure, A).2,3 These increases, the largest in decades, followed a period of great progress in reducing pediatric mortality rates. Although most of the upsurge in pediatric mortality was attributable to deaths among older children (ages 10-19), all-cause mortality in younger children (ages 1-9) also increased in 2021 (by 8.4%).3 Infants (<1 year) were the only age group that experienced no significant increase in mortality. 

    Download PDF of full article here>



  • 22 Mar 2023 6:08 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    My mom lost her business…we were trying to maintain everything but the bills just kept piling up. Food prices went up, rent, everything went up.…We didn’t know if we were gonna get food the next day, if we were even going to have our place.…It got to the point where I wasn’t able to sleep properly anymore or eat properly anymore, and I did gain a lot of anxiety and depression.

    This is just one of many stories from children and youth who experienced the worst pandemic in US history. Although the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is set to end on May 11, 2023, it is clear it has, and will continue to have, deleterious effects on the children and youth who experienced the pandemic during sensitive periods of their development. [JAMA Network]

    The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a consensus report that reviews the impact of COVID-19 on the health and well-being of children and families thus far, and what needs to be done to attenuate longer-term negative effects.1

    The NASEM committee for this report was intentionally designed to address areas most relevant to children and families (education, social and emotional development, physical and mental health, economic well-being), and to focus on the groups who bore the brunt of the pandemic: those from racial and ethnic minoritized groups and low-income families.



  • 21 Mar 2023 6:14 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Public health, care delivery organizations, federal agencies, and researchers have advocated for better collection of patient social risk factor information. Social factors can determine referrals to community partners, increase awareness of patients’ needs, measure population health, or improve risk prediction models. [JAMA Network]

    Popular electronic health record (EHR) systems include screening questionnaires assessing various social risk factors.1 While these multidomain screening questionnaires are commonly used in practice, their accuracy has not been established.2 We assessed the accuracy of EHR-based multidomain questionnaires using single-domain questionnaires on food insecurity, housing instability, and financial strain as external standards. 



  • 20 Mar 2023 3:22 PM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    Researchers have discovered new data around the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, and WHO is calling on China to be transparent about their research and data, Science reported March 17. [Beckers Hospital Review]

    Recently, researchers found new genetic data that links SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with raccoon dogs sold at a market in Wuhan, China. The genetic data was made publicly available on Jan. 30 and showed a mix of COVID-19 and animal DNA, including raccoon dogs and civets. Although they don't prove the pandemic's origins, WHO said they support the theory that the virus likely jumped from animals to humans.

    "These data could have — and should have — been shared three years ago," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said at a press conference, according to the article. "We continue to call on China to be transparent in sharing data, and to conduct the necessary investigations and share the results."

    At the March 17 press conference, Dr. Tedros said the China market data had been taken down.

    Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, infectious disease epidemiologist who oversees WHO's program on emerging diseases and zoonoses, set up a meeting with the Chinese scientists who found the new data but reportedly still has a lot of unanswered questions due to the apparent lack of data disclosure, according to her interview with Science.

    "It's inexcusable," she told Science. "The scientific imperative, the public health importance, the moral importance of this should override everything else that's happening and it's not."

    Other news from WHO on this topic>


  • 17 Mar 2023 1:33 AM | Deborah Hodges (Administrator)

    CVS Health announced earlier this year that Sinai Chicago was one of three initial partners of a new initiative to address barriers to care in underserved communities across the country. [Health News Illinois]

    As part of the initiative, CVS will provide funding to each institution for local initiatives that expand the community health worker workforce. Sinai will use those funds to recruit residents in local neighborhoods to become community health workers through a program that trains individuals to connect residents with critical health information and resources.

    The collaboration is just one way the Chicago-based health system works to address health disparities within the city’s south and west sides, said Debra Wesley, president of the Sinai Community Institute, which supports programs in those communities.

    She recently spoke with Health News Illinois about the collaboration and its goals, and what challenges remain to achieve health equity.


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