New restrictions on co-pay assistance programs will cost patients more

It is no secret that healthcare costs continue to rise, with premium increases topping 58 percent since 2006, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation; but what may be surprising to lawmakers in Hartford is that patient out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, co-insurance and higher specialty pharmacy tiers have outpaced premium increases by four times, which speaks directly to tactics being taken by health plans and their pharmacy benefit managers.

A critique: Connecticut Magazine 2018 Best Doctors issue.

Connecticut magazine recently published its April edition of 2018 Best Doctors: 779 doctors were named in 78 medical, pediatric, surgical and other specialties. … Mixed into the listing of best doctors were many advertisements for medical/surgical individuals and groups totaling 12 glossy photographs — none featuring clinicians practicing primary care. Overall, three times as many sub-specialists were named as “Best Doctors” as those practicing primary care. Sadly, in Connecticut there are twice as many sub-specialists practicing as primary care physicians.

Promoting the health of incarcerated women and their children

Imagine giving birth. Lower back searing with pain; muscles internally twisting and seizing with each contraction; hips feel like they’re being slowly dislocated; body rocking to distract from the pain.

Now imagine all of this but in a prison cell, with metal shackles cutting into your body and questionable medical care that may heighten, rather than calm, your anxiety. For many, the word “torture” comes to mind and, for many, it would be unthinkable that this type of treatment is occurring in Connecticut — but it is.

Medicare Savings Program cuts are harming low-income seniors

I am writing to express my concerns over the funding of the Medicare Savings Program here in the state of Connecticut. I am a social worker. I work with low-income seniors all across the state of Connecticut and this issue is extremely important to my clients. I am writing to inform you of what the cuts to the Medicare Savings Plan will do to many low- income seniors across the state.

The value of a young mind — a Hartford case in point

What really makes a difference? At the High Road School of Hartford, we would say teamwork. We saw the power of collaboration in action recently when a new, innovative mobile dental program was piloted at our high school. The program addresses a critical need in the local area by serving underprivileged students who might not otherwise have access to such care. For some, it was the first time they received basic dental exams and cleanings.

Paid family medical leave proposals hurt those they’re trying to protect

One key exemption included in a pair of paid family and medical leave proposals provides all the evidence Connecticut lawmakers need to vote against these costly new mandates. Advocates say businesses have “a moral responsibility” to provide the benefit to their employees, yet the public sector is exempted from both bills, with state and local government workers left behind.

The human side of healthcare: When treatment is at risk because profit takes priority

For the New Haven parents of one young boy who needed a tonsillectomy, the news was grim. Not because his diagnosis was risky or complicated, but because the family’s hospital rejected their health insurance and demanded $9,000 up front for the procedure. By the time their son would be eating ice chips and Jell-O post-surgery, a minimum of $10,000 more would be due. This inflexible posture taken by a reputable Connecticut provider in the face of a healthcare consumer in need is disturbing.

Further privatize the VA? Not on my watch

Last week’s dismissal of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin undoubtedly will renew the long-standing debate over privatization of Veteran healthcare. It’s no secret the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has had its problems, as the inspector general’s report on Shulkin’s personal use of travel funds has revealed. Other high-profile debacles, like the wait-times scandal at the Phoenix VA in 2014 and, more recently, the staggering cost overrun of the Denver VA, have caused an erosion of the VA’s brand in the public eye. Yet for all these administrative difficulties — real or perceived — further privatization of VA care is not the solution we need.

Now is the time for addiction treatment solutions that work

Every fatal opioid overdose means our system has failed to provide treatment. A patient of mine — I’ll call him John — overdosed and almost died last year. After missing a visit in our addiction treatment clinic, he was brought in to the emergency department after being found nonresponsive in his car. John’s close call could have been avoided. When he had first come to our clinic months before, worn-down from years of addiction to heroin and prescription opiates, he was ready to change his life and get treatment.

Why we should believe Hartford is getting better and stronger

In his third State of the City address, Mayor Luke Bronin described Hartford as “better and stronger” and cited awards won and initiatives championed. While residents, public officials, and pundits debate the extent to which “Hartford Has It,” unprecedented collaboration among Hartford’s community-based organizations, anchor institutions, city government, residents, and community activists is reason for hope. Cooperation in developing compelling grant applications to support new city initiatives is impressive evidence of a collective commitment to improve the health and well-being of all residents, including those most disadvantaged.

Addiction is a disease, not a moral failure

As the father of a child struggling to overcome a serious substance abuse problem, I’ve been forced to confront deeply held personal and societal beliefs about the relationship between addiction and personal responsibility. A quote from philosopher Brendan de Kenessey’s excellent article, captures how I long thought about the issue. But I’ve come to understand that this deeply held belief is mistaken. Addiction is not a choice.  And because it is not a choice, it is also a mistake to think of addiction as a moral failure.