Health News Roundup

Federal funding for community health centers is expiring, and more in this week’s roundup

Matt Pilon, Hartford Business Journal, November 15
Hoping to influence and inform healthcare policy debates in Connecticut in the years ahead, the state comptroller and Office of Health Strategy are developing a new way to measure how healthcare costs impact households’ ability to afford other basic needs. The so-called “healthcare affordability standard” aims to calculate how much money individuals and families around the state must earn in order to afford health care without compromising other basic needs like food, housing and child care.

After past legislative failures, Conn. lawmakers consider new ways to lower health costs
Nicole Leonard, WNPR, November 20
Connecticut has one of the highest per person health care spending amounts in the nation, estimated at an average of $9,859 a year among those with Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance. That’s why both Democratic and Republican lawmakers met with health policy experts in Hartford this month to look at three possible solutions to making health care more affordable for people in Connecticut.

Nicole Leonard, WNPR, November 15
Laying off employees of Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford isn’t something CEO Nichelle Mullins wants to do just before the holidays. But if federal funding for the center in Hartford stops coming, she said she may have to. Charter Oak is one of more than a dozen federally funded community health centers in Connecticut that serve about 390,000 patients. Centers offer primary and specialty health care, regardless of insurance status, and they often treat Connecticut’s most vulnerable populations. But the federal funds that support these kinds of centers nationwide are set to expire if Congress doesn’t appropriate more money for the programs. Mullins said funding at Charter Oak will run out by Dec. 31.
Jenny Gold, Kaiser Health News, November 20
Eleven years after Congress passed a law mandating that insurers provide equal access for mental and physical health care, Americans are actually finding it harder to obtain affordable treatment for mental illness and substance abuse issues. A recent report found that patients were dramatically more likely to resort to out-of-network providers for mental health and substance abuse treatment than for other conditions.