Health

News and information about health, health care, health care policy from Charlotte and the Carolinas. 

erikhuiberts / Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Kaiser Health News

A few years ago, when a young woman delivered her baby at Alleghany Memorial Hospital in Sparta, North Carolina, it was in the middle of a Valentine’s Day ice storm and the mountain roads out of town were impassable. The delivery was routine, but the baby girl had trouble breathing because her lungs weren’t fully developed. Dr. Maureen Murphy, the family physician who delivered her that night, stayed in touch with the neonatal intensive care unit at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, a 90-minute drive away, to consult on treatment for the infant.

The recently-named CEO of a planned mental health care program in Charlotte has resigned, after about one month on the job. The HopeWay Foundation says Daniel Brown stepped down December 10 to return to his previous employer, Albemarle-based behavioral health care provider Monarch. 

In a statement, Brown cited “family considerations” for his decision. HopeWay co-founder Bill Blue says the organization is resuming its search for a CEO.    

North Carolina is among about 17 states that have recently legalized a marijuana extract for the treatment of children with epilepsy. Amazing turnaround stories from parents and their kids have driven the change, but some in the medical community have cautioned there's yet to be a national study. Now, there is, and doctors found the treatment has great potential.

Public Health Report Shows NC As Most Improved State

Dec 10, 2015
www.americashealthrankings.org/reports/annual

North Carolina showed the most improvement of any state in a major public health report released Thursday. But its ranking is still below average, like most of the South.

http://www.wakehealth.edu/

Sometimes it really is just in your head.

Wake Forest researchers have found that mindfulness meditation has a significant impact on pain relief compared to using a placebo.

healthcare.gov screenshot
WFAE

On the Obamacare exchanges, there are large disparities in how health insurance premiums are changing next year based on where you live. While coverage is getting cheaper in states like Indiana and Mississippi, in North Carolina, it's becoming much more expensive. Federal data show that North Carolina's average premium increase is among the highest in the country.

nffcnnr / Flickr

North Carolina consumers who purchase their own health insurance will pay more next year. The State Department of Insurance approved average rate increases of between 10 and 33 percent. 

Construction is scheduled to begin next month on a new mental health treatment center in Charlotte that’s expected to open this summer.

The center will be run by an organization called the Hopeway Foundation. Bill Blue started the foundation nearly two years ago in response to problems his family experienced in dealing with the mental health system. He says it was apparent the system has two major gaps.

medisave / Flickr https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

Researchers in North Carolina and nationwide may have finally answered an important question in health care: for people with high blood pressure, how low should they aim for? Late last week, the National Institutes of Health released results from a landmark study early because it’s already been conclusive.

5 Challenges Facing Medicaid At 50

Jul 28, 2015
LBJ Library photo by Unknown

A “sleeper” provision when Congress created Medicare in 1965 to cover health care for seniors, Medicaid now provides coverage to nearly 1 in 4 Americans, at an annual cost of more than $500 billion. Today, it is the workhorse of the U.S. health system, covering nearly half of all births, one-third of children and two-thirds of people in nursing homes.

Medicare Turns 50 But Big Challenges Await

Jul 27, 2015
Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, has come a long way since its creation in 1965 when nearly half of all seniors were uninsured. Now the program covers 55 million people, providing insurance to one in six Americans. With that in mind, Medicare faces a host of challenges in the decades to come. Here’s a look at some of them.

Michael Tomsic

Roughly half a million North Carolinians could soon lose money they depend on for health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court will rule as soon as next week on a key part of the Affordable Care Act. It governs federal subsidies for states like North Carolina that did not set up their own exchange or marketplace. It may sound wonky, but the result could be disastrous for many low-income Americans and insurance markets.

Leaders on health policy in the North Carolina House are pushing their version of a bill to overhaul the state's most expensive health care program: Medicaid. The lawmakers rolled out the bill in committee Wednesday.

House leaders want to overhaul Medicaid by putting groups of doctors and hospitals in charge of managing the program. The state would give them a set amount of money based on who they treat, and the doctors would face financial penalties or rewards based on how they do. 

Republican Representative Nelson Dollar is one of the bill's sponsors. 

Alan Cleaver/Flickr
Alan Cleaver / Flickr/https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

In North Carolina, health insurance companies are planning to raise average premiums between 11 and 26 percent next year on the Affordable Care Act exchange or marketplace.

The state's dominant insurance company, BlueCross BlueShield, wants to raise average premiums about 26 percent – almost twice as much as last year's increase.   

Kaiser Health News

On Monday morning, a mayor in eastern North Carolina will begin walking to Washington, D.C, to highlight the challenges facing rural hospitals. Adam O'Neal is mayor of the small town of Belhaven, where the only hospital closed about a year ago.

After a heart attack or other health care emergency, the time it takes to get to a hospital can mean the difference between life and death.

Mayor Adam O'Neal says for the roughly 1,600 residents of Belhaven, "you have to go 30 miles on country roads for emergency care."

NC, Other States Suing 'Phony' Cancer Charities

May 19, 2015

North Carolina leaders are calling out several cancer charities that barely used any of the money they raised to actually benefit cancer victims. Attorney General Roy Cooper and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall announced Tuesday they're part of a lawsuit against what they call "phony" charities. 

Secretary Marshall says government leaders "are sending the message to those trying to rip-off the giving public that we can find you, shut you down, and take you to court."

Michael Tomsic

In Charlotte and across the country, there’s a growing need at community health centers. They treat patients regardless of their ability to pay. And the increased need is a surprising result to some clinic leaders, who thought the Affordable Care Act would mean fewer people needing charity care.

NC Nursing Homes Rate Poorly

May 14, 2015
kff.org

North Carolina has some of the worst rated nursing homes in the country. A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation released Thursday shows the federal government gave more than 40 percent of the state's nursing homes one or two star ratings.

Nine nursing homes in the Charlotte area received the lowest possible rating, one star:

Carolinas Healthcare System and UnitedHealthcare have come to terms on a new contract. The agreement means that most UnitedHealthcare customers in the Charlotte metro area will continue to receive “in-network” coverage for services provided at CHS facilities.

Michael Tomsic / WFAE

One of the nation's most respected cancer hospitals for children is establishing an affiliate clinic in Charlotte. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital announced Tuesday it's partnering with Novant Health on the clinic.

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