A selection of health policy stories from Colorado, Minnesota, Virginia, Massachusetts and California.
Stateline: For Aging Inmates, Care Outside Prison Walls
Providing health care to an aging prison population is a large and growing cost for states. Not only do inmates develop debilitating conditions at a younger age than people who are not incarcerated, but caring for them in the harsh environment of prisons is far more expensive than it is on the outside. Of the 2.3 million adults in state and federal prisons, about 246,000 are 50 or older, according to the National Institute of Corrections. The U.S. currently spends more than $16 billion annually caring for these aging inmates, and their numbers are projected to grow dramatically in the next 15 years (Vestal, 8/12).
The Washington Post's Morning Mix: How Colorado's Teen Birthrate Dropped 40% In Four Years
Since 2009, the state has provided 30,000 contraceptive implants or intrauterine devices (IUDs) at low or no cost to low-income women at 68 family-planning clinics across Colorado through the Colorado Family Planning Initiative. The effort was funded by a five-year commitment of $23 million from an anonymous donor (Sullivan, 8/12).
MinnPost: Minnesota Responds To Rural Doctor Shortage With Teams, Training, Telemedicine
The health care provider landscape of Greater Minnesota is one where primary-care physicians are becoming older and fewer, while their patients also are older but growing in number, said Mark Schoenbaum, director of the Minnesota Department of Health's Office of Rural Health and Primary Care. Medical schools, health-care systems and legislators alike know of the problems and are doing their best to solve them. The Minnesota Hospital Association released a report last month warning that the state faces a shortfall of about 850 primary-care physicians by 2024 due, in part, to "a lack of annual growth" in state residency or clinical training positions. "Funding and the number of 'slots' for residency programs have been frozen since 1996," according to the study (Cronin, 8/11).
The Washington Post: McAuliffe Sets Up Boards To Address Children's Issues In Virginia.
A program of the cabinet called the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success will have a more narrow mission: improving access to pre-kindergarten, education, nutrition and health care from birth to third grade. It will be led by Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who is a full-time pediatric neurologist in Norfolk (Portnoy, 8/11).
Kaiser Health News: To Beat Heroin Addiction, A Turn To Coaches
Two young men sit in a car outside a church or union hall where they just attended a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Both men are addicted to heroin. But they haven't used the drug since they finished a residential treatment program a week or so earlier. … Of patients addicted to heroin who stop, 40 to 60 percent relapse within the first year. For many it happens soon after finishing a recovery program. Wurzberg is now in a new young adult recovery program. It's a one-year pilot project at Gosnold, which runs a network of addiction treatment services on Cape Cod (Bebinger, 8/11).
The San Francisco Chronicle: Two California Catholic Universities Limit Employees' Abortion Coverage
California has some of the nation's strongest protections for abortion rights. But the recent decisions by two Catholic universities, Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount, to eliminate most abortion insurance coverage for their employees were cleared in advance by state agencies. Now Gov. Jerry Brown's administration is taking another look (Egelko, 8/11).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.