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A peoples movement: Massachusetts community health centers' historic fight for access

RCHN Community Health Foundation (interview with Ellen Hafer), April 16, 2014
Today, there are 37 federally qualified community health centers throughout Massachusetts, a large number relative to the state's population and geographic size. This is no accident, and reflects the long-standing history of health care activism in the state. Significantly, Massachusetts has the unique distinction of being the home of the first urban federally-funded community health center in the country, founded by Drs. Jack Geiger and Count Gibson in the Columbia Point housing development located on an isolated peninsula in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. On a recent visit to the state, I met with Ellen Hafer, the EVP and COO of Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, to discuss the history of community health centers in Massachusetts. Read more »

Hospital closing roils North Adams

Boston Globe, April 16, 2014
NORTH ADAMS - Dr. Charles O'Neill had taken this route countless times during his 27 years at North Adams Regional Hospital - through the lobby and down the halls to the maternity ward where he delivered thousands of babies. But his walk two weeks ago was like no other. The hospital, once humming with activity, was eerily quiet. And instead of arriving to help bring a child into the world, O'Neill came to carry out a mundane task: retrieving a pair of shoes he left behind when the 129-year-old hospital abruptly shut in late March. Read more »

Census survey revisions mask health law effects

New York Times, April 16, 2014
WASHINGTON - The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama's health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said. Read more »

Legislators push effort on prostate cancer care

Boston Globe, April 16, 2014
Three members of the Massachusetts Legislature are speaking out about their own battles against prostate cancer in an effort to elevate awareness of the threat and screening options. The chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, Stephen Brewer; Senator Kenneth Donnelly; and the vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Stephen Kulik, are all prostate cancer survivors and support creation of a statewide program for prostate cancer education and awareness. Read more »

Is Obamacare a success? We might not know for a while

NPR, April 16, 2014
After months of focusing on how many people have or haven't signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, we now have a rough total (7.5 million), and everyone's een to get to the bigger questions: How well is the law working? How many of those who signed up have paid their premiums and are actually getting coverage? How many were uninsured before they signed up? And just how big has the drop been in the number of uninsured people? Read more »

Mass. health website not expected to hurt state funds

WBUR, April 15, 2014
BOSTON - The breakdown of Massachusetts' health exchange website was not expected to have a significant impact on the state's current finances, a top state official told lawmakers Tuesday, but stopped short of giving similar assurances for the future. Read more »

Boston hospitals reflect with pride on marathon bombing response

WBUR, April 15, 2014
Early in the afternoon last April 15, Dave Reisman was laughing as he left a meeting to update hospitals around the city about conditions at the Boston Marathon. It looked like a light year for patients. The weather was sunny, but not too hot. Read more »

Patients often win if they appeal a denied health claim

NPR, April 14, 2014
Federal rules ensure that none of the millions of people who signed up for Obamacare can be denied insurance — but there is no guarantee that all health services will be covered. To help make sure a patient's claims aren't improperly denied, the Affordable Care Act creates national standards that allow everyone who is denied treatment to appeal that decision to the insurance company and, if necessary, to a third party reviewer Read more »

Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning

NPR, April 11, 2014
Health Secrerary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning after a five-year term that will no doubt be remembered for the calamitous implementation of President Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. If you remember, when the federal government unveiled HealthCare.gov, where Americans could buy health insurance mandated by Obamacare, the site was essentially useless for weeks after it launched in October. Read more »

Boston officials issue advisory due to unusual rise in flu cases

Boston Globe, April 10, 2014
The beginning of this flu season seemed relatively mild across Massachusetts, but even in December state health officials were concerned about higher case numbers creeping up in Boston. Read more »

Mayor Walsh announces study of city's addiction & recovery services

Mayor's Press Office, April 9, 2014
BOSTON - Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today that the city will collaborate with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation on a study of the current capacity of addiction and recovery services in the City of Boston. The study will focus on how to better align the city's addiction and recovery services with demonstrated best practices and will inform the creation of the city's first ever Office of Recovery Services. An advisory committee of experts in related fields will be created to assist with the study, which is slated for completion in 2014. Read more »

Google Glass embraced at Beth Israel Deaconess

Boston Globe, April 9, 2014
Dr. Steven Horng launched a Google Glass pilot program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center late last year because he thought the futuristic device could help save lives. One night in January proved that. A patient with bleeding in the brain told Horng he was allergic to certain blood pressure drugs - which the doctor needed to slow the hemorrhage - but didn't know which ones. Horng had little time to leaf through the man's medical files or search for records on a computer, but with Google Glass, he didn't have to. Instead he quickly called up the patient's information on the device's tiny screen and saved his life with the correct medication. Read more »

Those long lines to enroll in the ACA

Kaiser Health News, April 8, 2014
On the last day of open enrollment for private insurance plans under Obamacare Twitter was full of powerful photographs of people waiting in long lines to sign up for coverage. Read more »

Community Health Programs provides temporary relief to NARH patients

Bershire Eagle, April 3, 2014
NORTH ADAMS -- Although it may not resemble a common doctor's office, Community Health Programs deployed a "relief services" van, with a doctor and other staff, to the campus of North Adams Regional Hospital on Wednesday. Read more »

President Obama trumpets victory for health law

Boston Globe, April 2, 2014
WASHINGTON - Mocking his critics, President Obama boasted Tuesday that 7.1 million people have signed up for his health care law, an unexpected comeback after a disastrous rollout sent his poll numbers plummeting and stirred fears among Democrats facing reelection this fall. Read more »

Small health insurance co-ops seeing early success

NPR, April 2, 2014
Many of us know the names of some of the big U.S. health insurance companies - like Blue Cross, Aetna, and Wellpoint. But what about CoOportunity Health, or Health Republic Insurance of New York? These are among 23 new companies started under The Affordable Care Act. They're all non-profit, member-owned insurance cooperatives that were begun, in part, to create more competition and drive prices down. Read more »

Obesity: A disease by any other name

WBUR CommonHealth Blog, April 2, 2014
When the American Medical Association declared obesity a disease last year, most of us - advocates who work to help those with obesity - were thrilled. We saw the new definition's potential to change how medical professionals regard people with obesity, increase society's focus on obesity, push insurance companies to cover obesity treatments, reduce social stigma and moderate the anxiety and depression often afflicting those with obesity. Read more »

Rural states seek to sap research funds from Boston

Boston Globe, April 2, 2014
WASHINGTON - Two dozen rural states stretching from Maine to Mississippi and Montana are clamoring to increase their share of federal research dollars now disproportionately awarded to Boston-area institutions and scientists. Read more »

Republicans target food stamps, Medicaid

Boston Globe, April 2, 2014
WASHINGTON - Representative Paul Ryan laid out a tough, election-year budget Tuesday that purports to come into balance by 2024, in large part through steep cuts to Medicaid and food stamps and the full repeal of President Obama's health care law, just as millions begin to see its benefits. Read more »

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